Fairfax County Celebrating ‘Try Transit’ with Chances for Free Bus Fare and Prizes This Week

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation is offering residents free bus fare and prizes this week to celebrate Try Transit Week, which is in effect through Friday.

Fairfax County residents can try transit and go car-free with a free $50 Smart Trip Card to use on transit or parking at county Metrorail parking garages to residents. In order to receive the gift card, residents must complete an online survey. Social media users can also share photos of their “smart commuting” experience on the FCODT’s Facebook for a chance to win a free Echo Dot.

Other regional and statewide partners are also offering other promotions:

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation is invested in improving the infrastructure and resources to give commuters choices to get to work or get around town. Fairfax County invites residents to try some of these options during Try Transit Week and Car Free Days to build better commuting habits that will benefit us personally and globally today and well into the future,” according to FCDOT.

File photo

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Friday Morning Notes

Great Decisions Event at Reston Regional Library Today — Speaker Gen. James Clapper will discuss the movie, which is produced by the Foreign Policy Association, from 2-4 p.m. today. Clapper’s book, “Cyber Conflicts and Geopolitics,” will also be on sale. [Reston Regional Library]

The Importance of Longterm Planning — “This week, the second week of National Preparedness Month 2019, highlights the importance of knowing your community’s risks and what to do when they occur. Having a plan and taking action in advance means that everyone can be prepared, no matter where or when disaster strikes.” [Fairfax County Government]

Try Transit Week Next Week — “To encourage Fairfax County residents and visitors to get out of their cars and give transit a try, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, Fairfax Connector, Fairfax County Commuter Services, and other regional transportation partners are offering commuters the chance to win great prizes during Try Transit Week (Sept. 16-20, 2019) and Car Free Days.” [Fairfax County Department of Transportation]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

 

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Proposed Fairfax Connector Changes to Impact Reston, Herndon Riders

A community meeting next week will tackle proposed Fairfax Connector changes that would impact riders in Reston and Herndon.

Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) is seeking the public’s input on proposed service changes to six routes:

  • Route 396: a new route servicing Backlick North Park-and-Ride to the Pentagon
  • Route 306: GMU- Pentagon
  • Route 395: Gambrill-Pentagon Express
  • Route 640: Stone Road-Westfields Boulevard
  • Route 650: Chantilly
  • Route 950: Herndon-Reston

The proposed changes to the Herndon-Reston adjust the running time on Elden Street on Saturdays heading eastbound and westbound between 3-7 p.m.

FCDOT says that the proposed changes for all of the routes “will improve on-time performance.”

The meeting is set for 7 p.m. at the cafeteria at Eagle View Elementary School at 4500 Dixie Hill Road in Fairfax on Thursday, Sept. 19.

“In addition to the community meeting, Fairfax Connector staff will connect with customers, in-person throughout September, on routes that are affected by the proposed service changes,” according to FCDOT.

People can submit comments until Oct. 1. After reviewing the feedback, FCDOT plans to bring the proposed changes to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors this fall.

If approved, riders can expect the changes to go into effect in January.

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Pedestrian Walkway Improvements Planned on Sunrise Valley Drive

Two federally funded projects are in the works to improve the walkability of Sunrise Valley Drive.

The county plans to widen an asphalt trail on the north side of the road to 10 feet and install a new asphalt trail that will later be incorporated into a planned cycle track for the Sunrise Valley Drive corridor. That track will separate bikes from the pedestrian walkway, according to county spokeswoman.

On the south side of Sunrise Valley Drive, the county plans to install a five-foot concrete sidewalk. Currently, no walkway exists for pedestrians.

“There’s currently very narrow trails in that area or nothing at all,” Tom Biesiadny, director of the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, said. “It’s not in great shape.”

Construction for both projects is expected to cost $1.5 million. The county anticipates receiving a contract award in July and construction is expected to begin later this year.

The projects are intended to improve access to the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station from surrounding communities.

Map (for reference only) via FCDOT

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Environmental Approval Still Pending for $170 Million Soapstone Connector Project

State and local transportation officials have been working for more than a year on clearing the Soapstone Connector through the environmental approval phase — one of the latest hurdles for the roughly $170 million project.

The connector — which extends Soapstone Drive from Sunrise Valley Drive over the Dulles Toll Road to Sunset Hills Road — provides a new north-south alternative to tackle increasing traffic congestion on Wiehle Avenue. By the time the project breaks ground, hundreds of additional residential units are expected to come on the market in Reston.

County transportation officials are working with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to determine the next steps for the project after the state determined a group of buildings on Association Drive the project could cut through are considered historic. The Fairfax County Department of Transportation must conduct an alternatives analysis to find possible ways to reduce the impact on the buildings.

Discussions have been ongoing for more than year. The county’s Architectural Review Board first determined the collection of buildings could be historically significant in early 2018. Since then, county staff have been trying to chart the best path forward to minimize the impact on the buildings  — which are considered historic as a collection, but not on an individual basis.

More hurdles are expected as the project goes through design and planning. Construction isn’t expected to begin until the mid to late 2020s.

“Anytime you’re building a new major project in a built environment, it’s more challenging than if we’re working out in a cornfield,” Tom Biesiadny, FCDOT’s director, told Reston Now. “None of them are insurmountable.”

Although funding for the project has not been secured yet, Biesiadny says the county has enough dollars to finish project design, which will move forward once the county receives necessary environmental approvals. The county plans to then tackle right-of-way and land acquisition between 2022 and 2024. Utility relocation is also complicated by the fact that area businesses rely on fiber optic cables along Sunrise Valley Drive and Sunset Hills Road.

“At the moment, money is not holding anything up,” Biesiadny said. “It’s several years out before we need the construction dollars.”

So far, the project has $24 million secured from federal, regional and local funds. A $45.4 million grand application for Smart Scale funding has been submitted. The county plans to continue to aggressively apply for grant funding.

The connector has been on the county’s planning books for years. A hybrid design for the project received county approval in 2014.

Map via Fairfax County Government

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New Details on Capital Bikeshare Stations Coming to Reston Next Year

Fairfax County officials have called Capital Bikeshare in Reston a success since the program was launched in 2016.

Now, the county plans to install 10 stations by next spring.

At a Fairfax County Board Transportation Committee meeting yesterday (May 14), staff discussed plans to expand the program throughout Reston, Tysons, Vienna and Merrifield.

The 16 stations already in Reston are used more frequently than the 13 in Tysons, according to county data.

Staff have been hesitant to pinpoint exact locations of the stations, but did release a list of possible sites during yesterday’s meeting:

  • Baron Cameron Avenue
  • North Shore Drive corridor
  • Glade Drive corridor
  • Reston Community Center Hunters Woods
  • Discussions are also underway to fund even more stations in the Reston and Herndon Transit Station Areas.

Overall, bikeshare use in the county increase by 3.3 percent between 2017 and 2018. The county is also now seeing more bicyclists use the bikes for trips beyond Wiehle-Reston East in Reston.

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