Member Assessment is Due March 1 — In case you’ve forgotten, there is only a week and a half left to pay member assessments. Reston Association’s Member Services office will be open additional hours (Saturday, Feb. 25, from 9 a.m.-noon; and Wednesday, March 1, from 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m.) if you need to take advantage of them. Fees can also be paid online. [Reston Association]
South Lakes High Track & Field Stars Advance to States — Olivia Beckner, Sean Casey, Ronak Cuthill, Mary Gregory, Sophie Halkett, Devyn Jones, Alex Loukili, Timiebi Ogobri, Aly Rayle, Peter Sepulveda, Jack Watkins and Dont’a Whitley will all represent the Seahawks at the state Indoor Track and Field Championships next weekend in Hampton. [Reston Patch]
Metro Call Center Hours Reduced Starting Next Month — Citing a five-year decline in call volume, Metro’s Customer Information Call Center will cut its hours of availability beginning March 1. Metro says fewer customers are using the call center as they rely more on sources of information including mobile apps and social media. [WMATA]
Metro board members continue to probe the public for feedback as they address how to close their budget gap.
In a public forum Wednesday night in Reston, the Virginia members of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority board discussed their $3.1 billion proposed FY2018 budget.
Board members estimate $17 billion will be needed over next decade “just to maintain a state of good repair,” but also acknowledge that the impact of delays associated with the SafeTrack program are significant.
DC CFO estimates Metro delays led to:
— lost productivity between $153 million and $235 million annually in the region
— ridership declines that reduce Metrorail’s fare box recovery
— NVTC (@NoVaTransit) January 26, 2017
Proposed investments, totaling $1.25 billion, outlined by board members to help make Metro more safe and reliable include new 7000 Series railcars; replacement buses and paratransit vehicles; rehabilitation and maintenance of existing railcar and bus fleets; rehabilitation and replacement of track and structures, rail power, radio/wireless and bus garages; and reinvestment in station escalators, elevators, lighting and platforms.
— NVTC (@NoVaTransit) January 26, 2017
Proposed capital funding from Fairfax County for the FY2018 Metro budget is $101 million, up $66 million from FY2017. Increased contributions in FY2018 include funds to repay short-term debt projected to be used in FY2017.
Proposed operational funding from Fairfax County in FY2018 is $138.6 million, a 17 percent increase from the current fiscal year.
The proposed budget also features fare hikes including:
- 10 cents on rush-hour rail fares, 25 cents on non-rush-hour fares
- 25 cents on regular and express Metrobus fares
- $2.75 on Dulles Airport Metrobus fares
Service frequency would also be adjusted in the following ways:
- 8-minute frequency on Silver Line during weekday rush hour (up from 6)
- 15-minute frequency on all lines all other times (up from 12)
Photo via Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, charts via Metro FY2018 budget proposal
Monthly ‘Beer Run’ is Tonight — Lake Anne Brew House (11424 Washington Plaza W., at Lake Anne) will be the meeting point for anyone looking to combine some exercise with some cold ones this evening. The event, scheduled for 6:30 p.m., involves doing laps around the lake, followed by imbibing in the taproom. [Lake Anne Brew House/Facebook]
Metro Inviting Feedback on Budget, Service — The public is being asked to share its thoughts on Metro’s FY2018 budget proposal, fare adjustments and service changes. Comments can be made by filling out an online survey, providing feedback to staff in person or attending an open house Monday at Metro Headquarters. (Don’t forget, Virginia’s WMATA board members will be in Reston tonight to discuss these matters as well.) [WMATA]
Virginia Senate Votes on Knives for Kids — The difference between suburban and rural Virginia played out on the state Senate floor Tuesday, as legislators debated a bill that would make it legal to provide children with switchblades, Bowie knives and other such implements. Rural senators argued about the practicalities of having such a tool when hunting, while at least one Northern Virginia senator is reported to have been “aghast.” [Washington Post]
Concrete is expected to be poured overnight for the foundation of the Herndon Metro Station pedestrian bridge.
The work is planned to be done between 10 p.m. Monday and 4 a.m. Tuesday, according to the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project. The two right lanes of the westbound Dulles Toll Road will be closed between the Fairfax County Parkway overpass and the Monroe/Van Buren Street overpass for the duration of the work.
— DCMP (@DullesMetrorail) January 20, 2017
The pedestrian bridge, when complete, will provide access to the Silver Line’s Herndon Station, near the Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride. Ground was broken in late November for a new, second parking garage at the Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride.
A large amount of other work along the Dulles Toll Road related to the Metro’s expansion continues as well.
The Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project recently reported that work on the Silver Line expansion is progressing steadily.
Metro Board Members to Hold Forum in Reston — The Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce will host Virginia’s WMATA Board delegation Wednesday, Jan. 25 for a public discussion about Metro’s budget. Subjects will include the decision-making process when it comes to increasing fares and reducing train frequency. [Northern Virginia Transportation Commission]
Fairfax County Schools FY2018 Budget Proposed — A $2.8 billion budget for county schools would include $44 million for an average step increase of 2.5 percent for all eligible employees, including teachers and non-teachers. [Fairfax County Public Schools]
Sunrise Valley Elementary School Teacher Earns Grant — Six Fairfax County Public Schools teachers, along with five schools, were recently awarded grants from Apple Federal Credit Union. Among them was Sara Balcanoff at Sunrise Valley Elementary School. [Fairfax County Public Schools]
Number of Local Events Honor Dr. Martin Luther King — Don’t forget there will be plenty to do in Reston this holiday weekend. Scheduled activities include special speakers, performances and community service projects. [Reston Now]
Metro to Operate on Saturday Schedule for MLK Day — Trains and buses will be moving at different times than usual Monday as the federal holiday is observed. [WMATA]
Traffic Management Solutions Firm Sets Up in Herndon — All Traffic Solutions plans to add 25 employees and create up to 86 new jobs over the next three years, and invest more than $100,000 in its new headquarters at Worldgate Centre. [Fairfax County EDA]
Nominations Open for Fairfax County Volunteer Service Awards — The deadline to submit applications to honor outstanding volunteers in any organization, club, school, library or neighborhood is Feb. 3. [Volunteer Fairfax]
Silver Alert Issued for Woman Last Seen in Fairfax County — Police are looking for 80-year-old Catherine Hemlepp, pictured here. She is believed to be in a maroon 2017 Ford Escape, with Pennsylvania license plate WR9679P. She was last seen wearing an orange vest, flowered pants and a white hat. She and her husband were traveling from Pennsylvania to South Carolina when they became separated Tuesday. [Virginia State Police/Twitter]
Route 7 Getting Upgrades to Connect Communities — The widening of Route 7 will also include new trails and a tunnel that will connect Tysons Corner to Reston. The plans apply to a seven-mile stretch from the Dulles Toll Road to Route 193, and work is expected to be completed by 2025. [Greater Greater Washington]
Two Area Schools Get New Principals — Fairfax County Public Schools welcomed five new principals this week. Among the schools to receive them are Herndon High School and Herndon Elementary. Herndon High welcomes Elizabeth Noto and Herndon Elementary welcomes Teresa Fennessy. [FCPS News]
Track Work Will Disrupt Weekend Metro Service — Repairs to Metro tracks will mean disrupted Silver Line service this weekend, including some routes being replaced by shuttle buses. In addition, WMATA says Metro will shut down and buses will replace the Orange, Blue and Silver Line routes in downtown D.C. the weekend of Feb. 4-5. [WMATA News]
County’s Legislative Delegation to Hold Public Hearing — Fairfax County’s delegation to Virginia’s General Assembly will hold a hearing for public comment Saturday at 9 a.m. at the County Government Center (12000 Government Center Pkwy.). Speakers who wish give opinions on issues the General Assembly is likely to consider in its upcoming session can register in advance. [Fairfax County]
Virginia Macy’s Stores on the Chopping Block — After disappointing holiday sales, Macy’s announced this week that it will close more than 60 stores nationwide. On the list of closures are the stores in Alexandria and Lynchburg. In addition, the Tysons Corner store’s building has been sold, but Macy’s said it plans to keep the location open by leasing it back. [CNBC]
At Reston Now, we’re taking a break, too. We won’t publish Monday in observance of Christmas Day, but we’ll return with more local news Tuesday.
According to locals officials, here’s what’s closed in Reston around the Christmas holiday:
Reston residents may be able to get once again take a free Metro ride on New Year’s Eve.
The transit agency is in the final stages of another partnership with MillerCoors to provide free rides between midnight and 3 a.m. on all six Metro lines this year, as it did for last year’s holiday. The agenda item was up for approval during the Dec. 15 meeting of Metro’s Board of Directors.
According to a staff report, MillerCoors paid WMATA more than $160,000 last year to subsidize all Metrorail and Metrobus rides on New Year’s Eve between midnight and 3 a.m., as part of he company’s Free Rides promotion. The amount was based on expected ridership.
This year, if approved, MillerCoors will pay just over $81,000, as ridership on New Year’s Eve was only about half of what was expected last year. However, the amount is guaranteed regardless of actual ridership, the report states.
MillerCoors has offered its Free Rides program in more than 20 major cities across the U.S. for more than a decade.
“Our partnership with Metro is part of MillerCoors’ overall commitment to help prevent drunk driving by bringing alcohol responsibility programs to more markets,” a MillerCoors spokesperson said during the inaugural promotion in 2015.
In addition to Metro, local New Year’s Eve party-goers can also call for a free taxi ride of up to $30 thanks to the local nonprofit, the Washington Regional Alcohol Program.
Photo courtesy of MillerCoors Free Rides
A half dozen Metro employees are without jobs after the transit agency investigated a derailment near the East Falls Church Metro station earlier this year and found “flagrant misconduct,” general manager Paul Wiedefeld said today.
Metro fired the four inspectors and two supervisors in connection with the July 29 incident, which sent a Silver Line train with 75 riders off the rails about 100 feet from the stop. An internal investigation found that workers falsified track inspection records, according to Wiedefeld.
The transit agency also has taken or is considering taking disciplinary action against almost two dozen other employees, he said.
Metro has demoted a superintendent and an assistant general superintendent. The transit agency also is in the process of terminating another supervisor and deciding how, or if, it will discipline two other supervisors and 16 track inspectors. An assistant superintendent, who faced possible disciplinary action, left Metro, too.
The 28 employees make up almost half of Metro’s track inspection department.
“I want the Board, our employees and our customers to know that this review revealed a disturbing level of indifference, lack of accountability, and flagrant misconduct in a portion of Metro’s track department which is completely intolerable,” Wiedefeld said in a statement. “Further, it is reprehensible that any supervisor or mid-level manager would tolerate or encourage this behavior, or seek to retaliate against those who objected. It is also entirely unacceptable to me that any employee went along with this activity, rather than exercise a safety challenge, or any of the multiple avenues available to protect themselves, their coworkers, and the riding public.”
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) took a trip with Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld on the Silver Line today to check on the progress of its construction, WTOP reported.
The senator got on a train at Tysons Corner and rode it to the Wiehle-Reston East station. He then took a bus to Dulles International Airport, which is one of six future Silver Line stops.
“I’m very excited to see it,” Kaine said, according to WTOP. “It’s just a necessary project to keep up with the growth of Northern Virginia.”
Photo via Twitter/Tim Kaine
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors this week approved plans for a new 260-unit apartment complex near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station.
The seven-story apartment complex, dubbed “the Lincoln,” will be located next to the site of the future Metro Commerce Center, a multi-acre development by Vornado Realty planned to consist of four towers featuring offices, residences, retail and a hotel.
The Lincoln is slated to be built on three acres near the corner of Sunrise Valley Drive and Commerce Park Drive, where a surface-level parking garage for the Executive II office building is located now.
“The developer will also help to build the planned shared-use path along Sunrise Valley,” the board said in its announcement Thursday.
The site for the Lincoln complex is close to Reston National Golf Course and Soapstone Drive, where a future toll road crossing is planned.
A Winter Wonderland for Reston’s Young Ones — The Reston Association plans to welcome little ones to its annual Winter Wonderland celebration on Wednesday, Dec. 14, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Kids can enjoy holiday arts and crafts, games and a festive snack. Registration is $8 for RA members and $12 for non-members and must be made in advance. [Reston Association]
Reminder: GRACE to Unveil New Art Exhibition This Week — The Greater Reston Arts Center is slated to debut a new art show featuring the work of six visual artists this Friday. During the new art show, six artists will showcase work that explores “spirituality, modern life, and ecological concerns through a variety of delicate and precisely crafted cut paper.” [Reston Now]
Members of Congress Slammed Metro Board Friday — Members of the Metro Board appeared before Congress Friday and were not met with a warm welcome. In particular, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) called board member Corbett Price’s suggestion to cancel Virginia’s Silver Line extension “parochial theater,” and labeled some board members’ comments as “cheap and reckless.” [Washington Post]
A Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority panel this morning endorsed new Metro operating hours to allow for more repair and maintenance time, NBC Washington reported. The new hours, which still need the support of WMATA’s full board, would go into effect July 1, 2017, and last for two years.
Under the plan, Metro would have service on the Sliver Line and its other lines:
- Mondays to Thursdays from 5 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
- Fridays from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m.
- Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m.
- Sundays from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Since SafeTrack repairs began earlier this year, the system has closed at midnight every day and opened at 5 a.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m. on weekends. Trains previously operated from 5 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday, 5 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. to midnight Sunday.
Do you back WMATA’s plan? You can weigh in through the poll and in the comments.
Photo courtesy of Mike Heffner
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Wednesday to kick off construction of a new parking garage at the Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride, which will service the forthcoming Herndon Metro Station as part of the Silver Line extension.
Several local elected officials were on hand with shovels to make the first ceremonial dig, including Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova.
“As we celebrate the ground-breaking of this new multi-modal parking facility, we reaffirm our efforts to provide alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles, to improve mobility, and to provide greater opportunities for people to connect with the entire metro region and the rest of the world,” Bulova said in a statement.
The new garage will have spaces for 2,007 cars, as well as feature a pedestrian bridge leading from the new garage to the future Metro station, and connections for both cars and pedestrians to the existing Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride lot, which contains 1,745 parking spaces.
The new garage also will have secure bicycle storage facilities, a spot for bus pick-offs and drop-offs and a “kiss-and-ride” area.
Construction of the garage, done by Manhattan Construction Co., will cost $44.5 million, and is expected to wrap up in the spring 2019, Fairfax County officials said.
Though officially named the Herndon Metro station, the stop is technically located at 12530 Sunrise Valley Dr. in Reston, just across the street from the border with Herndon.
Photo courtesy of Fairfax County Department of Transportation