Reston, VA

Although Metro is currently cutting routes and closing stations due to COVID-19, planning continues for the extension of the Silver Line into Loudoun County.

Initially, officials estimated phase two of the project would open by the summer. After delaying the projected opening several times and by several months, Metro officials now say the first trains will not begin running until April 2021, according to budget documents.

The 11-mile extension, which includes six new stations, will provide service to Dulles International Airport and Loudoun County.

A vote on Metro’s $2.1 million operating budget for the overall system is set for Thursday. But changes could be enacted by June as the coronavirus outbreak unfolds in the region.

The proposal includes an increase in rush-hour rail fares, the restoration of some late-night service, and cuts to the number of bus routes.

Trains would run every 12 minutes instead of every eight minutes on all lines on weekdays between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Photo by Jay Westcott

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Friday Morning Notes

Metro Services Limited to 26 Bus Routes — Metro is only running a core network of 26 bus routes and twice-hourly rail service only for the region’s “essential travel needs.” [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]

Local Unemployment Resources Available — Job seekers and employers in N. Virginia can access Virginia Career Works Centers, which offer a system of employment of training services through on-stop resource centers. Although the centers are closed, webinars, career coaching, and local labor market information is available. [Fairfax County Government]

Local Fire Station Demolished — Station 25 on Wiehle Avenue was officially demolished on Tuesday, making way for an upgraded facility that’s expected to open in May 2021. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department]

Reminder: Voting Underway for Reston Association Election — The last day to cast a vote for the annual Board of Directors’ election is April 3, 2020 at 5 p.m. [Reston Association]

Photo via Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Blood Drives in Fire Station Parking Lots — “Several Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Volunteer Fire Departments are partnering with Inova Blood Donor Services to hold blood drives in their fire station parking lots. Due to current events, blood supplies in Fairfax County and the nation are at dangerously low levels and dropping.” [Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department]

County Buildings to Close to Public — All government facilities and buildings will be closed to the public beginning Friday, March 27 at 5 p.m. The county government remains open for business online and by phone and email. [Fairfax County Government]

Metro Closes More Stations — “Metro’s Pandemic Task Force today announced the strategic closing of 17 additional stations, effective Thursday, March 26, 2020, in an effort to conserve critical resources and protect the health and safety of Metro employees and the public. This follows drastic measures already taken to reduce travel on Metro to essential trips only, leading to a Metrorail ridership decline of 90 percent.” [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]

Economic Injury Loans for Small Businesses — Small businesses in the state can apply for low-interest Economic Injury Loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration. Businesses can get up to $2 million in working capital loans. [SBA]

Don’t Use Drug Take-Back Boxes  The boxes at the county’s police district stations will be closed until further notice to protect residents and first responders. [Fairfax County. Government]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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A long-awaited report by Metro’s Office of Inspector General flags new major concerns with the extension of the Silver Line into Loudoun County. It’s unclear if new issues will cause further delays for the long-awaited project, which is expected to open next year.

The 23-page report flags longstanding concerns and new issues that have arisen.  The report cautions Metro from accepting the project from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority — which is in charge of construction — until problems have been resolved.

Specifically, the report finds that WMATA has had trouble ensuring that the Automatic Train Control (ATC) system is integrated between the first and second phases of the project.

The unresolved issues with ATC system acceptance requirements create the potential for even more schedule delay beyond what is already reported. Additionally, these deficiencies do not engender confidence in system safety,” the report states.

Issues that have been long under discussion — such as issues with surge arresters, switches, and misplaced rail joints — are also discussed in the report.

Overall, the report finds two major issues: ineffectiveness and inconsistencies in the contractor’s efforts to ensure problem areas are addressed and the absence of an integrated approach to view the extension’s infrastructure from a holistic and outsider perspective.

The report does not delve into issues of cracks in concrete panels just yet. The Office of the Inspector General is working with an independent contractor to inspect each panel to determine its condition, according to the report. So far, the MWAA’s contractor has found cracks in 24 panels.

It’s possible the latest report could delay Metro’s opening even further. Officials expect it to open in the spring.

Staff photo by Jay Scott

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More Time for Metro Budget Comments — Metro has extended the public comment period for the next fiscal year’s budget by one week. Feedback will be accepted online or by mail through 9 a.m. on Monday, March 9. [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]

Search for Lifeguards Underway — Reston Association is actively recruiting lifeguards for the summer. Information on the position and the application is available online. [Reston Association]

Local Students Compete in International Conference — A total of 226 students from 14 Fairfax County Public Schools were selected as finalists for the DECA International Career Development Conference in Nashville. [FCPS]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Friday Morning Notes

More Delays for Phase Two of the Silver Line — Yes, you read that right. Originally expected to open in 2016, the extension of Metro’s Silver Line likely won’t open until the spring of 2021, according to general manager Paul Wiedefeld. [WJLA]

Reston Association Phone Service Down Later Today — If you’re trying to reach RA offices later today, you might want to try again. Phone service will be down between 5:30-6:30 p.m. today (Friday) and on Tuesday (Feb. 25) from 5:30-8:30 p.m. The organization is moving to Verizon. [Reston Association]

County Schools to Host Free Sessions on Digital Learning — “Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) students, families, and community members are invited to attend any of five upcoming digital learning and digital citizenship events.  All sessions are being held free of charge.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Metro is seeking feedback on its proposed budget for the next fiscal year.

The proposal includes expanded service hours and fare increases during peak service hours. Some suggestions under consideration include:

  • Metro will close at midnight Monday through Thursday and stay open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday
  • Metrobus customers who pay or load their SmarTrip card with cash will pay $0.25 more per trip
  • A flat fare on weekends that will be “simple” and “easy-to-remember,” according to Metro
  • Elimination of low-ridership routes for Metrobus

Metro users can complete an online survey and provide comments. Open houses are also planned in Arlington, New Carrollton, and the District.

The proposed budget is available online.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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The garage at Innovation Center Metro Station is nearly complete.

The $52 million project is almost entirely built-out. Crews must now install elevators, finish installing utilities and complete the final concrete work outside the garage.

Metro officials said the project required $5 million less than what was originally allocated.

Construction on the 11-mile extension of the Silver Line is also nearly complete, but concerns about deficiencies in the concrete panels and concrete ties have stalled the project.

Currently, site inspections and safety testing are ongoing. Previously approved shutdowns for the Wiehle-Reston East Station on weekends were canceled due to pending system integration work.

Metro does not plan to accept the rail project the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority until both the rail yard and mainline tracks are complete. The start of service is expected to begin by October this year.

Photos via handout/Fairfax County Government

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Metro Releases Operating Budget for Silver Line Extension — “Metro will need $24 million from the District, Maryland and Virginia to begin hiring employees and preparing for service on the Silver Line extension, according to an operating budget proposal for the project released Monday. The transit authority plans to devote $60 million — including the local contribution — in this fiscal year to staff the long-awaited nearly-11-mile rail extension, which will connect Dulles International Airport to Loudoun County.” [The Washington Post]

Washingtonian Features Reston Company —  Today Parabon has become the hottest thing in cold cases, with law-enforcement agencies lining up for help in solving old crimes. Using an innovative method that can analyze DNA from incredibly small samples, Parabon’s Snapshot creates a genetic-genealogy report that’s used to find possible familial links via public DNA databases. Parabon contributed to breaks in several hundred crimes over the last year alone.” [Washingtonian]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Metro users should plan ahead for a major shutdown at the Orange and Silver Line in Arlington.

The service will not run from Rosslyn to East Falls Church on Saturday (Jan. 11) and Sunday (Jan. 12). There will also be no Silver Line service between Largo Town Center and Rosslyn this weekend.

Trains are scheduled to run every 12 to 15 minutes between East Falls Church and Vienna and between East Falls Church and Wiehle-Reston East.

Free shuttle buses will replace trains between East Falls Church and Rosslyn on the Orange Line. The Ballston, Virginia Square, Clarendon and Court House stations will be closed.

Metro riders traveling through the work zone will be charged for a single, continuous trip.

More information on weekend service changes is available online.

Photo via Dario Piparo/Flickr

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The new silver line metro expansion is expected to be completed around September — instead of its July 2020 goal.

Testing is already underway for the new trains, and Fairfax County reported earlier this month that the project is about 97% complete, but several structural issues hinder project completion, according to WTOP.

The concerns revolve around cracks in concrete outside the station, deterioration of panels framing the station and uneven tracks where trains cross one another, WTOP reported in November.

“The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and its contractors who are building the rail line are confident the concrete panel issues have been addressed with protective sealant, which will be reapplied approximately once every 10 years,” according to WTOP.

Now, final construction continues around Reston and Herndon.

The Innovation Center Station garage is 92% complete, $5 million under budget and is expected to be completed in February, according to Fairfax County’s Department of Transportation (FCDOT).

For the Innovation Center Station itself, FCDOT staff told the Board of Supervisors earlier this week that crews were working on fixing communication systems and placing art in the north pavilion.

At the Reston Town Center Station, crews were installing speakers in the ceiling and working on stormwater management.

Photo via Fairfax County

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Friday Morning Notes

Bulova Reflects on 31 Years as County Board Supervisor — Sharon Bulova, chairwoman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, wraps up 31 years of service this month. She discusses her career and the evolution of Fairfax County with the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. [Fairfax County EDA]

Three Orange Line Stations to Close Next Summer — “Three Orange Line stations will be closed next summer as part of Metro’s platform repair program, similar to shutdowns last summer that impacted Blue and Yellow line commuters.”[Inside NOVA]

Racial Equity Council Shares Key Insights — The Chairman’s Stakeholders Council on Race – a group appointed in February that is composed of residents, staff and the civic, faith, nonprofit, philanthropic and business communities – has concluded its work and presented its findings to the Board of Supervisors at its Dec. 3 meeting. The goal of the group was to foster open and honest discussions on issues surrounding race.” [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Thursday Morning Notes

Meeting on Local Department of Historic Resources Survey Set for Next Week — A pubic information session on state preservationists’ efforts to study Reston this fall and wanter is set for Dec.  17 at 7 p.m. The project is being managed by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. [Fairfax County Government]

Metro Cancels Summer 2020 Shutdown — “Metro is canceling a planned Green and Yellow Line shutdown next summer that the agency had announced in 2018, WTOP has learned. Internal Metro documents suggest that when Metro announced the shutdown plans, Metro did not fully understand the scope and cost of additional work at Greenbelt, College Park, Prince George’s Plaza and West Hyattsville stations, so any significant repairs to crumbling platforms could be delayed several years.” [WTOP]

Staff photo by Jay Westcot

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Monday Morning Notes

Wireless Service Now Available for Green Line — Metro users can now take advantage of full cell service through four major wireless carriers on the Green Line. [WTOP]

Metro to Build New Lines to Handle CongestionMetro planners have come up with six ideas to address congestion through the Rosslyn Tunnel on the Blue, Orange and Silver Lines. But many fixes, including re-routing or creating new lines, would be multibillion-dollar deals that would take 25 years to execute. [WAMU]

Tom Susco Completes Eight-year Run — “In St. Louis, Missouri, Tom Susco of Arlington finishes his quest to run a marathon or half marathon in every state and D.C. in honor of his brother Tim, raising awareness for brain aneurysms and organ donation. It took eight years to complete.” [The Connection]

Parking Rate Adjusted for Local Shopping Malls — The Board of Supervisors approved a new minimum parking rate for large shopping malls at its Tuesday, Dec. 3, meeting. The changes give Fairfax County’s largest commercial retail centers additional flexibility to adapt to a changing retail marketplace as residents increasingly shop online. The minimum parking requirement for malls of 800,000 net square feet or more is being reduced from four spaces per 1,000 square feet to a rate of 2.5 spaces per 1,000 square feet.” [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Friday Morning Notes

Fairfax Connector Offers Limited Service Today — As day two of a worker strike continues, several routes will only run on Sunday service and some routes will not run at all. [Fairfax County Government]

Metro Releases Concepts to Improve Service — Metro “released several preliminary concepts to improve reliability, meet future ridership demand, and better serve customers on the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines. The concepts, part of the two-year Blue/Orange/Silver Capacity and Reliability Study (BOS Study), include a range of infrastructure improvements and service alternatives to address both short- and long-term needs.” [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]

Wiehle-Reston East Station Closed This Weekend — “Crews are gearing up to try and finish construction of Phase Two of the Silver Line extension in time for a September opening, and it’s going to mean some continuous inconveniences for weekend Metro riders. Just like the past few weekends, the Wiehle-Reston East Station will close again order as crews work on the expansion project. The work (and the closures) will continue most weekends through February 2020, per Metro. Free shuttle buses will be available between the Spring Hill and Wiehle-Reston East stations.” [DCIST]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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