Town officials reviewed a contract yesterday (Tuesday) to make street improvements for pedestrians along a key corridor in Herndon.
The 0.57-mile project affecting Van Buren Street, from Herndon Parkway to Spring Street, will involve a “complete streets” enhancement, according to the town.
During its work session, the council approved putting the item on a consent agenda for its regular meeting next week, where it’s slated to get the go-ahead.
Upgrades include the addition of curbs-and-gutters, widening of travel lanes to 11 feet, on-and-off-road bike lanes in each direction, five-foot-wide sidewalks, added crosswalks, traffic signals at Alabama Drive and more.
At the meeting, the town noted that A&M Corporation Construction was the low bidder at $5.3 million. The project involves local, regional and federal funds, and the town is prepared to approve an $800,000 (approximately 15%) contingency.
It’s part of an effort to upgrade pedestrian and bicycle connectivity with the pending Herndon MetroStation.
When Herndon mayor-elect Sheila Olem was sworn in last December, the traditional ceremony was much different than usual: It took place as a private affair with attendee limits due to COVID-19.
“We all got individually sworn in,” she said Monday, reflecting on her time in office. “It’s been a year.”
Olem previously listed COVID-19 as her top priority for her term, which lasts for two years. Since starting her new role, the town has scaled back from the staggering of schedules for public works crews, which began in 2020, to mitigate and help control the spread of the virus.
With vaccines now readily available and Olem fully vaccinated with a booster, all Pfizer-BioNTech shots for COVID-19, some pre-pandemic routines are returning. In June, meetings went back to in person. And in August 2020, the Herndon Community Center reopened.
Much has changed, but the pandemic’s effects still linger in this town of nearly 25,000 people. The Town Council is back to meeting in person, but face-mask-required signs still cover government buildings.
About 75% of the town’s costs are personnel, and town leaders, including the mayor, have sought to help keep their morale up, Olem said. The vacancy rate for the town’s 200-plus positions is 10% or higher, she said, noting that she and town Manager Bill Ashton will deliver meals to town departments to thank them for their service, although a holiday celebration with awards will have to be done virtually.
The town is also getting $25.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act money, so staff are reviewing how the funding could help with one-time expenses that they’re allowed to be used for, such as infrastructure costs. Olem noted money could be used for a pool-cleaning system at the Herndon Community Center.
The pandemic’s uncertainty comes as the town is still waiting for the Herndon Metrorail Station to begin serving the yet-to-open Silver Line Phase II extension, which would include service to the Dulles airport.
Mayor discusses development, parking and future
During Olem’s time as mayor, the town has begun moving forward with a proposal for three developers to pay $500,000 to help study an area for redevelopment. The review, within 1/4 to 1/2 miles of the Metro station, would cover an area mostly north of Herndon Parkway. A committee that will include a representative for each developer has not yet formed, but Olem said the town is in no way bound to the committee’s recommendations.
However, there is still no firm groundbreaking date on the delayed redevelopment of downtown Herndon by Comstock.
Meanwhile, the town considered in August whether rules should be changed to address off-street parking, which isn’t metered. Olem said other areas have done so and noted how commercial trucks can sit in areas in the town.
“We’ve got to bring this back,” she said. “If we don’t have anything on the books, there’s nothing we can do.”
The Town Council considered a proposal to allow $50 fines against drivers who park within 10 feet of driveways to help with safety due to traffic visibility and to help with access for trash pickup, but it decided during an Aug. 10 meeting that it would hold off on the matter. Council members asked for more information on neighborhoods affected and possible consequences.
For the remainder of her term, Olem, who has been on council since 2010, said she’s interested in maintaining Herndon’s sense of place and historical homes where possible.
Luxury two-bedroom condominiums starting in the low $400,000s are going up adjacent to an upscale apartment complex, The Ian, near the yet-to-open Herndon Metrorail Station.
The first of four buildings being constructed by NVR, the parent company of NVHomes and Ryan Homes, is slated to open up for sales at the end of this year with anticipated move-ins as early as April, the company tells Reston Now.
The development, dubbed The Flats at Woodland Park Station, includes two bedroom and two-bedroom-den condos, each with two bathrooms per unit. It’s located by a roundabout along Woodland Grove Place.
“Our two-bedroom and two-bedroom-den condos are arriving this Winter, with pricing from the mid $400s to the mid $500s – and these residences include more fine features than you ever imagined possible, plus the convenience of a building elevator serving all levels,” the company says on a promotional page for the development.
To build the four residential buildings with 96 units, the company got the county’s OK in 2019 to amend an approved plan from 2017, which would have involved creating a nearly 211,000-square-foot multi-family building for 148 units. The county’s Planning Commission’s Hunter Mill District representative, John Carter, noted at the time that the change allowed for more open space.
An NVHomes representative said the company expects all four buildings in The Flats at Woodland Park Station to be completed by the end of 2023.
Meanwhile, a 2017 county-approved development plan presented by NVR and New York City-headquartered real estate firm Tishman Speyer called for creating high rises for offices near those residential buildings.
The companies identified a parcel called Block E, abutting the Dulles Toll Road and Monroe Street, for two office buildings with the option for ground-floor retail.
Noting the proximity to the Herndon Metrorail Station, county staff noted a development plan called for office buildings to be 16-stories and 14-stories tall, each with five levels of above-ground parking.
Crews leveled the previously forested area to make way for the developments, and the vacant parcel could be developed with high rises, even as the pandemic has led many companies to rethink the need for the commercial office space that they used to require.
Townhome prices along the Silver Line extension saw prices increase this year, though the real estate industry has noticed pullbacks from a buyer frenzy.
A development for 40 townhomes near the Herndon-Monroe Park & Ride is slated to move forward.
According to Atlanta-based housing developer PulteGroup, which wanted to have model homes ready by late 2020, the project at 12700 Sunrise Valley Drive will have sales in the spring.
As part of the project, a parking garage was built to the right of the existing American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics four-story office building. Bethesda-based real estate company JBG Smith has looked to sell the building.
The company is touting the units as four-level luxury townhomes from the mid-$700,000s. The townhomes will generally be located to the southwest of the AIAA building.
Marketing materials promote the development, which the company says offers a walkable lifestyle and “a commuter’s dream” due to access points to the future Herndon-Monroe Metro Station, Fairfax County Parkway, and the Dulles Toll Road. ,
A spokesperson for the company, formerly known as Pulte Homes, didn’t immediately respond to a media inquiry.
Meanwhile, development by the proposed Herndon Metro Station could drastically change the northern side of the Dulles Toll Road along the Herndon Parkway.
The town’s mayor, Sheila Olem, said last month during a Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce event that multiple development scenarios are being considered for 593 Herndon Parkway, where some 222 to 675 units could be built.
The town also agreed to accept $500,000 from a handful of property owners to study how to develop a nearby area, dubbed the Herndon Transit-Related Growth Area, that’s generally north of the Herndon Parkway.
With Silver Line Phase 2 finally reaching substantial completion, the clock has started ticking on when the line will actually open to riders.
Late last week, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) announced the completion of major construction on the long-delayed multi-billion dollar transportation project that will extend the Silver Line from Reston into Loudoun County with six new stations.
“This is a significant step toward completing the 11.5-mile extension that will provide rail service for residents in Reston, Herndon and eastern Loudoun County and give Metro riders direct access to Dulles Airport,” wrote Jack Potter, MWAA’s president and CEO, in last week’s press release.
However, the project has not been handed over to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) just yet, an authority spokesperson confirmed to Reston Now.
“Metro looks forward to entering the next phase of the project, during which we will perform hundreds of tests to ensure the extension can be operated safely and reliably before the Board accepts ownership and sets an opening date,” they wrote. “Metro takes full ownership only after the operational readiness evaluation and pre-revenue activities are satisfactorily completed.”
While this is fully expected and doesn’t necessarily impact the timeline for the line’s opening to riders, there are several steps that still need to happen prior to the handover.
First, Metro’s set to conduct about 200 safety tests with any necessary repairs being made. At the same time, Metro’s safety oversight body – Washington Metrorail Safety Commission – will start the certification that the line is safe.
Additionally, the railyard needs to be completed before Metro takes over the project. It currently remains unfinished, both WMATA and MWAA spokespeople confirmed to Reston Now. Hensel Phelps is the contractor for that portion of the project.
When testing, repairs, certification, and the railyard all are done, the Metro Board will vote to take “provisional control” of the project. After that happens, WMATA will set a date to launch passenger service and will begin employee training, simulations, and emergency drills.
In total, this all should take about six months, meaning that a tentative date for opening could be May 2022.
“We’re not projecting an opening date. [It is] dependent on many factors, and the Board will ultimately make that determination,” wrote a WMATA spokesperson.
In the meantime, the public can expect to see more trains running on the line, according to MWAA, as there’ll be a significant increase in testing in the coming months.
While months remain before passengers can catch a ride to Herndon or Ashburn, substantial completion marks a significant milestone for the long-delayed project.
“This is a major step in bringing passenger rail service to Dulles Airport and beyond. And as our residents know well, rail to Dulles has been years in the making,” Hunter Mill District Supervisor (and alternate on the Metro Board) Walter Alcorn wrote in a statement to Reston Now. “The progress of this phase of the Silver Line is made possible by Dulles Toll Road users and landowners who funded most of the project and have waited patiently for this day. I look forward to all parties working together to initiate passenger service during the coming months.”
McKay appeared to reiterate his frustration in a statement to Reston Now.
“This is great news from WMATA this week. While the work was still incredibly behind and WMATA has a lot to do to rebuild trust with customers, I’m happy to see that significant [progress] has been made so we can fully open the Silver Line soon,” wrote McKay.
Initially, Silver Line Phase 2 construction was scheduled to be completed in 2018. But contractor issues, design changes, flawed materials, defective panels, and bad concrete all led to the years-long hold up which has tested the patience and viability of local businesses near the stations.
(Updated, Nov. 9) After years of delays, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) has announced that it has reached substantial completion on Silver Line Phase 2.
The announcement came Thursday afternoon and nearly two weeks after the successful tie-in of the two lines at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station
MWAA is preparing to hand over the $2.8 billion public transportation project to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). Metro currently owns the project and still has sole responsibility for the project until Metro assumes ownership.
WMATA has confirmed to Reston Now that the agency will still need about six months to complete testing and pre-revenue preparations before opening to riders. However, they are not yet setting an official opening date.
“Metro looks forward to entering the next phase of the project, during which we will perform hundreds of tests to ensure the extension can be operated safely and reliably before the Board accepts ownership and sets an opening date,” writes a WMATA spokesperson to Reston Now.
If that six month timeline does remain accurate, Silver Line Phase 2 should open to riders in May 2022.
From MWAA’s press release:
Silver Line Phase 2 Reaches Major Milestone
Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority officials announced Thursday they have declared substantial completion for work by Capital Rail Constructors (CRC) on Phase 2 of the Metrorail Silver Line extension project. The work by CRC, a joint venture led by Clark Construction Group and Kiewit, is a key component of the project to extend the region’s Metrorail public transit system to Dulles International Airport and beyond.
Substantial Completion means major construction is complete and allows operational readiness testing to begin, during which the contractor will demonstrate the project’s functionality, as a key step toward delivering the new rail line to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which operates the Metrorail system.
“This is a significant step toward completing the 11.5-mile extension that will provide rail service for residents in Reston, Herndon and eastern Loudoun County and give Metro riders direct access to Dulles Airport,” said Jack Potter, president and CEO of the Airports Authority. “In addition to providing new public transportation options, the Silver Line is a major catalyst for jobs and economic development in the National Capital region.”
The project also includes a 90-acre rail maintenance yard at Dulles International Airport, being built by Hensel Phelps, which is also nearing completion under a separate contract.
Phase 1 of the Silver Line opened in 2014, extending Metrorail service from East Falls Church to the eastern edge of Reston and triggering major transformations in the Tysons Corner and Wiehle Avenue areas. Those same trends are beginning along Phase 2, with changes already underway along the Dulles Corridor in Reston, Herndon and Ashburn, and at Dulles International Airport. The Silver Line’s goal is to help ease traffic congestion by providing alternative routes and easier commuting times, access to regional entertainment, shopping and Dulles Airport.
In a statement, contractor Capital Rail Constructors calls this a “significant milestone.” Here’s more from Keith Couch, the company’s project director:
“After successful Phase 1 and Phase 2 tie-in testing at Wiehle Avenue, MWAA has approved substantial completion of the Package A Silver Line Phase 2 project. The project will now move into Operational Readiness Testing, which will be completed by MWAA and WMATA. This significant milestone is a testament to the hard work, dedication, and collaboration of the project team and stakeholders. The CRC team is proud to have been a part of this transformational piece of infrastructure for the region.”
Two office buildings are listed for sale, following an eight-figure transaction in 2016.
At the time, prior owner Brandywine Realty Trust, now headquartered in Philly, sold Herndon Metro Plaza I and II at 196 and 198 Van Buren St. for $44.5 million.
The buildings currently have seven tenants, making the properties 53% leased and “offering investors a true value-add, transit-oriented office investment opportunity in a rapidly transforming, high-growth Northern Virginia submarket,” commercial real estate giant JLL says on its listing.
JLL, which didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment, touts the benefits of the property as ranging from prominent Dulles Toll Road signage opportunities to below-grade parking and being next to the Herndon Metro station, which the company says is slated for access in early 2022 (despite how numerous delays in completing it have already occurred).
The 6.5-acre site features a net building area of over 204,000 square feet, nearly four times the square footage of the White House.
The listing also notes the site is at the “intersection of federal spending” and Big Tech, with Amazon, Microsoft and Google continuing to expand along the Dulles Toll Road corridor.
Herndon is moving toward examining mixed-use possibilities near the pending Herndon Metro station and expects to use money from private landowners to “study” the area.
Under the agreement, certain property owners would pay the town up to $500,000 for planning consultant services for preparation of a Transit-Related Growth Area Plan, which the town has studied previously.
The new development area, within 1/4 to 1/2 miles of the Metro station, would cover area mostly north of Herndon Parkway from Haley M. Smith Park and also extend southeast of Herndon Parkway to the Fairfax County Parkway.
Two different property owners approached the town and proposed ideas for funding the hiring of consultants to create the plan, deputy attorney Lauri Sigler said yesterday during a town council work session.
According to the town:
The Town Manager received a letter dated May 5, 2021, in which Herndon Van Buren LLC and Herndon Hotel Ownership LLC, who are owners of several properties located in the Transit-Related Growth (“TRG”) Area, made a proposal to the Town where the property owners would provide the funding for the Town to hire a planning consultant for the preparation of a TRG Small Area Plan. The Town was also approached by an owner of additional properties, MBC Property Owners LLC, who is also interested in contributing funds for this effort.
The town would hire a consultant or consultants through a request for proposals and contract directly with the consultants, Sigler said.
The town asked for proposals on Oct. 12, and they’re due Nov. 12. “According to the terms of the agreement,” the town must select the consultant no later than Jan. 31, Sigler said.
The town plans to appoint a seven-member advisory committee, consisting of two of those property owners funding the effort, two planning commissioners, a town planning staff member and two Town of Herndon residents.
Town manager Bill Ashton said the town would get varying points of view in advising how the project develops.
He said the advisory group is only advising on the “mechanics of how this is going to unfold” and added that the request for proposals identifies a “lot of collaboration … that’s going to be expected out of the consultant to collaborate with neighbors.”
“This advisory committee … will act as almost as a liaison with the consultant,” Sigler said. “They don’t have any, um, real voting rights to make final decisions, but they will help guide the consultant through the long planning process.”
The property owners would make the half million dollar payment in four installments, which would pay the consultant in phases. The plan is slated to take 18 months.
“Them paying the fee, does that create any sort of conflict of interest?” town council member Pradip Dhakal said.
Ashton said he’s very cognizant of the ethical ramifications of things like this. He said it’s an arm’s length transaction.
“They’re paying it,” he said. “We’re managing it.”
The town is slated to go before the town council for approval on Tuesday on its consent agenda, meaning there won’t be as much discussion than a regular board item.
Town Mayor Sheila Olem noted that it “doesn’t etch us in stone on anything.”
As Silver Line Phase 2 slowly pulls into the station of completion, local officials are expressing their frustration at constant delays and missed deadlines.
In a brief update at yesterday’s (Sept. 28) Fairfax County Transportation Committee meeting, it was reiterated that Silver Line Phase 2 is expected to be substantially completed by the end of the year.
“In our discussions with [Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority], they are holding, at the moment, to the fourth quarter of 2021,” said Martha Elena Coello, special projects division chief for the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.
There are currently only two unresolved issues, according to a slideshow presented at the meeting, both of which are at the railyard and do not need to be resolved for substantial completion.
Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said he was hopeful that meant MWAA would be handing over the project to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority [WMATA] in late October, after the planned outage at Wiehle-East Reston Metro Station to tie-in the two lines. That work was supposed to be completed in June.
Alcorn and others at the meeting showed their frustration at how Silver Line Phase 2 has been besieged by constant delays.
“This is four years overdue from the original date,” said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay. “To not express some frustration here… would be a mistake. I think all of us are very frustrated.”
Alcorn also was noticeably exasperated at the pace of the project.
“Our next meeting of the transportation committee is December 14. We better have substantial completion by then,” he said.
In response, MWAA acknowledges the disappointment that many have about the delays.
“We understand the frustrations of everybody, elected officials and public alike,” MWAA spokesperson Marcia McAllister told Reston Now. “Our goal is to proceed with the [October] outage, evaluate the work that is done that weekend, and make decisions as soon as possible.”
McAllister also reiterated that MWAA is “holding on to fourth quarter 2021” as a timeline for substantial completion.
While MWAA said it would be completed by the end of the year, CRC said spring 2022.
But now, CRC seems to be backing off their timeline, noting that increased collaboration with the authorities have quickened the pace.
“We are working together with MWAA and WMATA on coordinating and finalizing testing to target substantial completion of the Silver Line Phase 2A in Q4,” CRC project executive Keith Couch wrote in a statement to Reston Now.
Even if Silver Line Phase 2 is substantially completed by late October, as noted in the presentation provided to the committee, WMATA will still need approximately six months to complete testing, pre-revenue preparations, and to open the system to riders.
That could mean an opening date of April or May 2022.
The $2.8 billion public transportation project will include six new stations, extending Metro from Reston to Loudoun County.
It remains a potential game changer for the region, though many with financial investment connected to the project have grown understandably impatient.
“A lot of folks have contributed substianal money to making this happen,” said McKay at the transportation committee meeting. “And they are sitting here, waiting for service.”
(Updated 7/19/21) The Town of Herndon and developers eyeing land near the soon-to-be opened Metro station agree that the area could be better prepared for the transit system’s arrival, but funding for an effort to determine what that future should look like remains a question.
That’s the area located between Herndon Parkway and the Dulles Toll Road. Just north of the immediate Herndon Transit-Oriented Core (HTOC), it sits within a walkable distance of a quarter to half mile away from the Herndon Metro station.
Currently, the area is made up of aging office flex space with lower density. There’s no mixed-use or residential development, and it’s all car-dependent.
“The uses there don’t match the arrival and benefits of mass transit,” Herndon Director of Community Development Lisa Gilleran said.
Recently, the town council was approached by the property owners seeking to assist in redeveloping this area into something more transit-oriented.
“They want to see what they can or can’t do,” Town Manager Bill Ashton said. “Property owners are hungry to know what they can see happen there.”
This could include the introduction of higher-density, mixed-use development as well as more housing and a greater focus on transit. Redevelopment would generate more revenue for Herndon, help cut dependence on fossil fuels, and make it more equitable for people without cars.
According to the town, the first step in the process is to conduct a TRG small area plan study to determine the best and most practical use of the area. The study will factor in current constraints (like the single-family homes that abut one side of the TRG), what traffic would look like, how it would impact infrastructure, and equity needs.
Consultants would need to be hired due to the town’s lack of capacity and staff to conduct such a study.
This could cost a “significant investment” of between $450,000 to $550,000, according to town staff.
There are a number of ways that this study could be paid for: out of the town’s reserves, by the property owners in a “blind system,” or a hybrid of both.
The “blind system” would have the property owners and developers pay for the study, while enabling the town to select and direct the consultant. This would give the town some say in the process, but allow the developers to stop payment if development doesn’t happen on an agreed-upon timeline.
“[The developers’] limitation is tied to the timeline. It’s not ‘oh, we don’t like what the design is,'” said Gilleran.
Both Alexandria and Arlington have used this system with success, according to town officials.
The town council didn’t make any decisions Tuesday night, but members asked for more information about how neighboring jurisdictions used the “blind system” and ways to ensure that whatever development happens remains in the best interest of Herndon.
The council seemed to lean towards supporting a blind system and having the property owners pay for the consultant.
As of the moment, the plan is to proceed incrementally, start developing a request for proposals for consultants, and circle back on the discussion (and a decision) on how to cover the costs when the council meets in August.
The Herndon Metro station and the rest of Silver Line Phase 2 was initially supposed to open in 2018, before eventually getting pushed to early 2022. Now, even that opening date could be delayed again.
Screenshot via Town of Herndon
Updated the story to reflect it was Lisa Gilleran, Herndon’s director of Community Development, who spoke.
Paul Olsen opened a second location of Weird Brothers Coffee at Worldgate Metro Plaza in October 2019.
The shopping center on Worldgate Drive was specifically marketed and named in anticipation of the Herndon Metro Station opening less than a quarter of a mile away as part of the Silver Line’s second phase.
Two years later, the Herndon station and the other Silver Line Phase II stops still won’t be operational for at least another eight months.
“At the time, we weren’t even considering expansion,” Olsen tells Reston Now. “We saw the Metro and…figured this is a great situation. But, then, obviously things changed. COVID hit a few months later. Then, we saw more Metro line delays.”
Olsen’s situation isn’t unique. Many businesses specifically set up shop near a future Silver Line Phase II Metro station thinking it would provide a boost, only for Metro’s opening to be continuously delayed.
“We initially thought that the Metro would open, at the latest, early 2020,” said Don Lee, co-owner of Alo Vietnam Restaurant in Herndon.
The restaurant is about a five-minute walk from the not-yet-opened Innovation Center Metro station. Alo Vietnam is also expected to start a location in Reston at Faraday Park.
“We did invest in 2019…thinking that we will carry the load the first year until the Metro opens,” Lee said. “Then, we will have a good location with a lot of foot traffic with tourists and from all the businesses around.”
Seven years ago this July, the most expensive transportation project in the D.C. region’s history began operations. The opening of the Silver Line and its five new stops brought Metro into Tysons and up to the Wiehle-Reston East station.
However, the intention was always to extend the transit system further into D.C.’s growing Northern Virginia suburbs. Construction on five additional stations, including one at Reston Town Center and two in Herndon, began even before Phase I opened and originally had a completion date of 2018.
However, issues proliferated, from design changes and defective panels to flawed rail ties and bad concrete. Soon, the opening got pushed to early 2020, but the problems kept coming and coming. Read More
Three left lanes on the eastbound Dulles Toll Road will be closed tonight so that construction crews can perform civil work near the Herndon Metro station.
The closures will start at 9 p.m. around the 3.3 mile marker by the rail station and extend past the Reston Town Center Metro station to the 5.2 mile marker just beyond Reston Parkway, according to a construction alert from the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.
“Drivers are asked to use caution and pay attention to all signage and barricades,” the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project says. “Traffic should be aware of the change in pattern.”
Traffic stoppages on the toll road could last up to 20 minutes at a time.
Christopher Beausoleil, a project manager for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, tells Reston Now that the lane closures are necessary to allow crews to repair a damaged safety cable on the roof of the pedestrian bridge connecting the Herndon station to the new Herndon-Monroe Parking Garage.
According to Beausoleil, the repairs needed are relatively minor, but the Dulles Toll Road lanes will be closed “out of an abundance of caution” to ensure the workers’ safety, since they aren’t allowed to be on the pedestrian bridge when there is traffic on the highway below.
While the lanes are scheduled to be closed until 5 a.m. tomorrow (Wednesday), Beausoleil says the actual repair work will likely not take that long. It could potentially be completed within half an hour.
“It will probably be shorter than advertised,” Beausoleil said.
A full list of lane and ramp closures scheduled for this week in the Dulles Toll Road corridor due to ongoing construction activities related to the Silver Line phase two project can be found on the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project website.
Image via Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project
A new audit from the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission has found a dozen items that Metro needs to correct as soon as possible and before the opening of Silver Line Phase 2.
Many of the items are related to the lack of guidance and training for employees on a new structural inspection manual. Additionally, the audit also says Metrorail does not review contracted inspectors’ credentials or qualifications thoroughly enough.
In all, how Metro currently handles structural inspections creates “the risk that safety issues could be misidentified or slip through the cracks.”
Another issue is that Metrorail has yet to provide load ratings for its elevated structures, meaning it’s unclear the size and weight limit of trains and equipment that can safely traverse a bridge or station. This creates a risk that the structures “could be inadvertently overloaded,” according to the audit.
The audit makes the conclusion that all of these issues “demonstrates a separate significant, ongoing problem facing Metrorail: siloed departments that do not fully coordinate on work instructions, materials or procedures.”
All aspects of Metro are audited over a three-year cycle, but the structural inspection process was audited now “due to other othersight work that identified concerns,” a WMSC spokesperson tells Reston Now.
Metrorail has 45 days to submit corrective action plans for the issues to the safety commission.
Beyond that, the timeline isn’t clear of when these required changes will actually take place.
The WMSC spokesperson also tells Reston Now that while some of these items are “relatively straight forward” others, like proper training, could take more time.
When reached for comment, a Metro spokesperson wrote Reston Now via email that they are addressing the issues:
Metro appreciates the efforts of the WMSC in completing this audit, especially the acknowledgement of the substantial progress that Metro has made with our structural assessment and maintenance programs. We require inspection of bridges and related structures at least every two years, more frequently in some instances, to ensure structural integrity and the safety of the riding public.
In addition to inspection and maintenance programs, Metro is investing in an aggressive capital program to ensure the state of good repair of our elevated structures, including addressing priority projects. As we review the findings of this audit and develop our responses, we remain committed to continuous improvement of our program and enhancing the safety of the system.
All of this has left the status and timeline of Silver Line Phase 2, which includes the opening of Reston Town Center Station, Herndon Station, and four other stations extending into Northern Virginia, up in the air.
Over the last several months, a number of audits and reports have called out Metro and have threatened to delay the openings.
In the fall, a WMSC audit reported that Metro’s Rail Operations Control Center is a “toxic workplace” with “racial and sexual comments, harassment, and other unprofessional behavior.”
In September, a report from the Metro’s Office of Inspector General found 342 cracks in concrete panels at a number of Silver Lane Phase 2 stations. This was due to the use of faulty materials, read the report.
As of last month, Phase 2 could still open by the fall this year, but that’s at the earliest.
Reston Now followed up with the Metro spokesperson about an updated timeline for the opening of Silver Line Phase 2, but has yet to receive an answer as of publication.
Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
The proposed changes would impact a number of Herndon-Reston routes and create new ones, including Sterling-Herndon and Reston Town Center Metro station (when it finally opens) to Herndon High School.
The goal of the changes is to provide better access to destinations, improve travel times, increase schedule reliability and frequency, and increase overall services, according to the county’s press release.
The county is also looking to provide more access to schools, hospitals, and transit centers, decrease average travel times on popular routes, and to improve efficiency by cutting duplicating connections. Changes would be “initially developed as budget neutral,” according to the county.
There will be three virtual community input meetings next week (Jan. 12, 13, and 14) and public comments will be accepted until Feb. 21.
To increase participation, Fairfax County Department of Transportation is mailing out a brochure to every county resident this month that will direct people to the online survey. The brochure is also translated into nine different languages. The public has already had some chance to comment on a number of the subareas, including the Herndon-Reston routes, according to Robin Geiger, a spokeswoman for the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.
Due to this, these particular route updates can go to the Board of Supervisors and will be implemented prior to the entire transit strategic plan. These route changes and updates are expected to be approved and ready to go for when phase two of the Silver Line, Geiger tells Reston Now, since it incorporates two Metro stations into the routes.
Silver Line Phase 2 is currently scheduled to open in the fall, at the earliest.
However, if residents would like to comment on the Herndon-Reston routes and how they will be incorporated into the county’s overall transportation plan, Geiger says they are welcome to do so.
“We want to hear from everyone,” she says.
Walmart Labs is expanding its presence in the Reston area. The announcement comes as a growing number of technologies — including Microsoft — expand their footprint in the community.
The company’s technology arm has signed to lease establish a new technology center at 2245 Monroe Street, according to the Washington Business Journal.
WBJ also reports that the company will take up roughly 162,300 square-feet of a building owned by an affiliate of Barings Real Estate.
The building, which is located near the Herndon Metro Station, was recently renovated. The company already leases spaces at 10780 Parkridge in Reston.
The move would bring more than 100 jobs to Reston.
Photo courtesy Transwestern