Long-Term Study to Identify Metro’s Future Regional Needs

Metro is launching is a two-year study of the Blue, Orange and Silver Line in order to find long-term options to meet future regional needs.

The study is intended to improve reliability, meet future ridership demands, and improve service for customers, according to a statement released yesterday (June 17).

Because all three Metro lines share a single set of tracks between the Rosslyn tunnel and the Anacostia River, Metro says that bottlenecks are inevitable and disruptions on one line have a “ripple effect” on all three lines.

The study will explore infrastructure improvements and service alternatives to address the above issues.

Here’s more from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority:

The first phase of the study will assess key issues and trends and document why improvements to the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines are necessary. Subsequent phases will include the development and evaluation of alternatives, as well as a thorough analysis of costs and benefits, with recommendation of a preferred alternative expected to occur by the fall of 2020.

Ultimately, the study will identify and analyze a range of potential alternatives before recommending a “locally preferred alternative” to move forward with federal environmental review, full design, and competition for federal funding. Over the next two years, Metro plans extensive outreach to engage the community, stakeholders, and transit experts to gather feedback and make recommendations.

More information about the study is available online.

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Following Allegations of Civil Rights Violations, Comstock Grants Campaigning Rights for Two Days

In anticipation of the Democratic primary tomorrow, Comstock Companies is now allowing campaigning and electioneering for two days at Reston Station Plaza after the county threatened legal recourse due to potential free speech violations.

Chris Clemente, Comstock’s CEO, told Reston Now that the company is inviting all candidates on the June 11 ballots to campaign at the plaza today and tomorrow “on their own schedules and without the need to coordinate schedules with Comstock.”

The temporary change comes after Comstock came under fire for its longstanding restrictions on soliciting, including campaigning and electioneering, at the plaza. The county says the forum qualifies as public space — even though Comstock leases the property from the county through a 99-year ground lease. Comstock disputes this claim.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Sharon Bulova lashed out against the company when she learned about the policy late last week. Bulova accused the company of favoritism and civil rights violation after she said it allowed Maggie Parker — Comstock’s vice president of communications — to post campaign signs but barred her opponents from approaching voters.

“Allowing one’s own employee to engage in such highly protected activity in a public area, while excluding other candidates from doing the same, is clearly wrong and cannot be tolerated,” Bulova said in the letter, which threatened legal action.

Parker said that she never campaigned at the plaza and purchased large advertisements from the company at the plaza and on Comstock’s building — a possibility that she said is open to all other candidates.

Ads cost between $2,000 and $3,500 per week.

Claire Gastanaga, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Virginia chapter, said the lease to the private company does not renege individual’s free speech rights.

Ray Morrogh, the county’s commonwealth’s attorney, directed the Fairfax County Police Department to decline any requests to prosecute individuals for campaigning at the train station and the plaza above it. 

“It would not be appropriate to prosecute anyone exercising their First Amendment rights in public areas,” Morrogh wrote in a May letter to the police department.

Clemente did not indicate what led to the two-day allowance for campaigning.

“Although we had hoped to provide the residents of the Hunter Mill District an opportunity to meet all the candidates in a casual setting during these last days of the campaign, we were unable to secure commitments from all candidates to participate in a coordinated event,” he said.

The debate over whether or not the plaza qualifies as a public forum was catapulted into the county spotlight after candidates running for Hunter Mill District Supervisor attempted to campaign at the plaza.

Over the past several weeks, candidates, volunteers for their campaigns, and a representative for a local advocacy group said they were kicked off the property and told to apply for permits.

Photo via Fairfax Connector

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Friday Morning Notes

Six Metro Stations to Close from Memorial Day through September 8 — Fairfax County commuters should plan to travel ahead and avoid gridlock as six Metrorail Blue and Yellow line stations close for major reconstruction and station improvements. County officials are urging commuters to use online tools to travel via transit, ride sharing, and alternate connections.  [Fairfax County Government]

Reston Association Board of Directors Meets to Discuss Boats, Docks, and Other Issues — At the board’s meeting last night, a new at-large director was appointed. Board members also heard findings from the lakes, docks and boats working group, among other issues. [Reston Association]

Ravel Dance Studio Presents “Sleeping Beauty and the Street Scene” — Young dancers will perform a variety of dance genres at Reston Community Center’s CenterStage today at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25. [Reston Community Center]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Thursday Morning Notes

Wireless Service Available in Two-Thirds of Metro Tunnels –“Metro and the nation’s leading wireless carriers, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless announce that as of today approximately two-thirds of Metro’s tunnels are now wired for cellular and data service. This marks the near completion of underground wireless service in Virginia, with the addition of the newest tunnel segments on the Yellow and Blue lines that are “wireless ready.” [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]

Dense Fog Advisory Ends at 9 a.m. The National Weather Service has issued a dense fog advisory, which means that driving “could be impaired due to reduced visibility.” [National Weather Service]

Opening Reception: A Purposeful Manner Towards a Vague Destination — Douglas Moulden brings his artwork to the Greater Reston Arts Center’s exhibition at the Signature (11850 Freedom Drive). The opening reception takes place today from 6-8 p.m. [Greater Reston Arts Center]

Photo by Joe Heflin

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Valley and Park Townhomes Aiming to Get Finished by 2021

Work on a new townhome community is on schedule to add to the growing residential options along Sunrise Valley Drive.

Construction crews are currently framing the 54 open-concept townhomes Toll Brothers’ Valley and Park development, a Toll Brother spokeswoman told Reston Now.

The spokeswoman said that the project is “currently on schedule” with anticipated completion in 2021.

When asked about the sign on the site that says the development is “opening early 2019,” the spokeswoman responded that Toll Brothers expects a late spring or early summer opening.

Work started on the project in 2017 when trucks tore down a six-story office building that was on the site at 11720 Sunrise Valley Drive, which is close to both the Wiehle-Reston East and the future Reston Town Center Metro stations.

The four different townhome plans all feature three bedrooms, two full bathrooms and three half bathrooms and are priced in the upper-$700,000s, according to Toll Brothers.

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Photos: Work Underway for Valley and Park Townhomes Along Sunrise Valley Drive

Construction crews are busy working on a new townhome community that will turn part of Sunrise Valley Drive into a bustling residential area.

Work started on the project in 2017 when trucks tore down a six-story office building that was on the site at 11720 Sunrise Valley Drive. Now, 54 open-concept townhomes are on the way in Toll Brothers’ Valley and Park development.

The square footage varies for the four different townhome plans, but they all feature three bedrooms, two full bathrooms and three half bathrooms. They are priced in the mid-$800,000s, according to Toll Brothers.

The site is about a 5-minute drive away from both the Wiehle-Reston East and the future Reston Town Center Metro stations. A sign says that the development is “opening early 2019.”

The residential project was added to the Reston Association around this time last year, which means that the owners will have to pay annual assessments.

The site neighbors the new Sekas Homes development that includes 34 townhouses and 10 condos. Up the road, VY at Reston Heights opened its 385-apartments community early last year and includes space for a handful of retailers, which have not opened yet.

Last seven images via Toll Brothers 

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Silver Line snags — “Though there are three outstanding concrete issues for the line from Wiehle-Reston East to Ashburn, only one of them has had a plan approved to address it: The more than 1,000 faulty framing panels at stations.” [WTOP]

Mardi Gras party — Head to the Tall Oaks Assisted Living from 3-4:30 p.m. for a Mardi Gras celebration. Partygoers can enjoy a live performance by the Louis Pettinelli Jazz Duo. The event is free. [Facebook]

School lottery — Eyeing the magnet school program at Hunters Woods? Registration for FCPS elementary magnet lottery programs opened today at 8:30 a.m. [FCPS]

Photo via Marjorie Copson

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Town of Herndon Continues Work with Comstock on Downtown Plans

Comstock’s newest redevelopment plans for downtown Herndon are moving forward.

Town Manager Bill Ashton told the Herndon Town Council at its public session last night (Feb. 26) that the staff has finished reviewing the fourth resubmission of the site plans. The staff began the review at the start of February.

Now, the staff is preparing to send a consolidated list of questions back to Comstock.

“It’s something we’re working on diligently, but it’s deep in the staff weeds right now,” Ashton said.

The next step will involve the Heritage Preservation Review Board, he said.

At the meeting, the Town Council approved a special exemption to increase the number of nonresidents from four to seven in a 24-hour period at a home-based business.

The change affects a hair salon at 767 Monroe Street. The salon’s website says:

The salon is located in an English basement on a private residence. Please park in the driveway.  On the left side of the house you’ll see a fence gate, if it is closed please let yourself in, then follow the concrete sidewalk all the way around back where you’ll find a staircase down to the salon.

“We really want to make it easier for home-based businesses to thrive in Herndon,” Councilmember Cesar del Aguila said, urging locals to share any advice they may have.

The Town Council also approved an amendment to the town’s Comprehensive Plan to create a design concept for improvements on South Elden Street between Sterling Road and Herndon Parkway.

“I know this is the first step, and we need to secure the funding so we can get into the nitty-gritty with trash cans and raised medians,” Mayor Lisa Merkel said. “As the Metro station opens, this does need to be a more walkable and friendly area.”

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Snowstorm Sparks Closures, Altered Schedules Around County

Winter weather today means not just kids are enjoying a snow day. Several offices and services are closed or have altered schedules today as a mix of snow, rain and sleet hits Fairfax County.

Transportation 

The Fairfax Connector is running on a Saturday schedule today.

Metro trains will run every 12 minutes, while buses are on a “severe snow service plan” with only limited service on major roadways.

Fairfax County

Fairfax County government offices are closed, along with golf courses and county parks.

The Fairfax County Circuit Court, General District Court and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court are closed as well.

The county’s Planning Commission won’t meet tonight.

Reston

The Reston Animal HospitalReston Community Center and Reston Association offices including the Walker Nature Center and Central Services Facility are closed.

The open house for Lake House for today has been canceled.

The Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce canceled its events for today.

Herndon

HealthWorks in Herndon will be closed.

If you live in Herndon, don’t expect your recycling to get picked up today. Mayor Lisa Markel posted on Facebook that recycling will be collected on Thursday instead.

Items from the Town of Herndon’s previously planned meetings for the Architectural and Heritage Preservation review boards are now moved to the March 20 public hearing.

The Town of Herndon’s offices and the Herndon Community Center are closed.

Photo via @billwhe67/Twitter

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Reston, Herndon and Fairfax County Presidents’ Day Closures

Presidents’ Day is coming up on Monday (Feb. 18). Whether or not you plan to spend the day remembering past U.S. presidents, check this list if you’re planning to visit government facilities around Fairfax County.

Fairfax County 

Fairfax County’s libraries and courts will be closed.

The county’s public schools will be closed.

The Fairfax Connector will be running on a holiday weekday schedule and some routes won’t operate.

Colvin Run Mill Historic Site will be closed, while Frying Pan Farm Park will remain open.

County trash and recycling collection will not have any changes to the collection schedule next week.

Reston

The Reston Association offices, including the Central Services Facility and Nature House, will be closed.

Reston Community Center will be open.

Herndon

Town of Herndon government offices will be closed.

Refuse will not be collected and will resume service on Tuesday (Feb. 19).

The Herndon Community Center will be open from 6 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Classes will be held as scheduled.

The Herndon Centennial Golf Course will be open from 8 a.m. to until dark.

DMV and more

All Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) customer service centers will be closed.

Metrorail will be running on a weekend schedule, while Metrobus service will operate on a Saturday supplemental schedule, with some late-night trips canceled on select routes.

Speaking of closed offices, Reston Now will be on a break as well on Monday.

File photo

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Thursday Morning Notes

Free health expo — WUSA9 will offer information and free screenings with the Reston Hospital Center and the YMCA Fairfax County Reston today. Head to the YMCA Fairfax County Reston at 12196 Sunset Hills Road from 7 a.m. to noon and 2-7 p.m. [WUSA9]

The Hungry Hungry Games — Kids ages 12 to 18 can eat snacks and play life-sized Hungry Hungry Hippos from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Great Falls Library. [Fairfax County]

Dabke choreography — Dabke, which is based on a Middle Eastern folk dance, is a line dance often performed at celebrations. The dance performance — in partnership with Dance Place — will take place starting at 8 p.m. tonight at CenterStage. Tickets cost $20 for Reston residents. [Reston Community Center]

Temporary Reston road closure this morning — Southbound on Fairfax County Parkway at Walnut Branch Road shut down due to an accident shortly before 5 a.m. The parkway opened back up around 5:11 a.m. [Fairfax County Police on Twitter]

Silver Line test trains hit track problems — “The first test train on Metro’s Silver Line extension to Dulles Airport made it only 1,000 feet out of the Wiehle-Reston East station before running into trouble, sources told News4 … But the two-car train, pushed by an older locomotive, made it about 1,000 feet along an 11-mile journey before it ran into issues with the new tracks, sources said.” [NBC4]

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Wine Wednesday — Discuss our favorite books while sipping wine starting at 6 p.m. at the Tasting Room in Reston Town Center. [Scrawl Books]

Hunter Mill seat contenders — “In the Hunter Mill District, home to both Reston and Vienna, current member Cathy Hudgins is retiring. The three declared candidates, thus far, all have platforms which argue the county has been too favorable to development in Reston.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Silver Line train tests — “There were no passengers, of course, but Metrorail trains made their first pass of the Silver Line extension between Reston and Ashburn early Wednesday morning.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Reston, Herndon and Fairfax County MLK Holiday Closures

Several government facilities around Fairfax County are closed today (Jan. 18) for Lee-Jackson Day and on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this coming Monday (Jan. 21).

Fairfax County 

Fairfax County’s courts are closed today and Monday.

Fairfax County’s government offices and libraries will be closed on MLK Day.

The county’s public schools will get off three hours early today and be closed on MLK Day.

The Fairfax Connector will run on a holiday weekday schedule MLK Day. A full list of routes running in the Reston area is available online.

Frying Pan Farm Park will remain open on MLK Day, while Colvin Run Mill Historic Site will be closed.

County trash and recycling collection will not have any changes to its schedule on MLK Day.

Reston

The Reston Association offices, including Central Facilities and the Nature House, will be closed on MLK Day.

Herndon

Town of Herndon government offices will be closed on MLK Day.

The Community Center will have altered hours from 6 a.m.-10 p.m. on MLK Day.

Metro, DMV and more

All Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) customer service centers will are closed today and Monday.

Metro will operate on a Saturday schedule, opening at 5 a.m. and close at 11:30 p.m. on MLK Day. Off-peak fares will be in effect all day, and parking will be free at all Metro-operated facilities. Meanwhile, Metrobus will run on a Saturday supplemental schedule with some late-night trips canceled on selected routes.

Speaking of closed offices, Reston Now will be on a break on MLK Day.

File photo

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Friday Morning Notes

Herndon’s HawkEye 360 aims high — The Herndon-based company behind a space-based civil global intelligence network successfully sent its first three satellites into orbit last month. [Financial Times]

Bike ban ends — Starting next week, Metro will allow bikes on trains during rush hours, which means Metro riders can now bring their bikes onboard at any time. The ban on bikes during rush hours ends on Monday. [WMATA]

Metro crime decreases — Metro recently announced there were fewer serious crimes on the transit system in 2018 than any year since 1999. The decline was driven mostly by a 19 percent reduction in theft. Robberies decreased 6.2 percent and aggravated assaults declined at slightly 3 percent. [WMATA]

County tallies up most traffic fatalities statewide — Fairfax County had the most traffic fatalities in 2018 in Virginia with 44 deaths — an increase from 35 in 2017. On Dec. 30, a 16-year-old South Lakes High School student died after a hit-and-run in Reston. [DCist]

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Wednesday Morning Notes

(Updated at 11:43 a.m.) Reston teen killed in a pedestrian hit-and-run crash — Marvin Daniel Cruz Serrano, a 16-year-old South Lakes High School student, was hit by a car while crossing South Lakes Drive Saturday evening. Fairfax County Police are still looking for the driver who killed the Reston teen. [Reston Now]

Metro’s “Rush Hour Promise” starts today — Starting today, Metrorail or Metrobus customers using a registered SmarTrip card who experience a rush-hour delay of 10 minutes or more will receive a Metro credit for future travel. [WMATA]

A look inside the upcoming Bombay Velvet — More details emerge about the Indian restaurant set to open in early 2019 at 12100 Sunset Hills Road. [Washington Business Journal]

Tons of toys — People donated more than three tractor-trailer loads worth of toys to Fairfax County’s fire and rescue stations for this year’s Toys for Tots campaign. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department]

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