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by Dave Emke — March 31, 2017 at 10:15 am 26 Comments

Speaking to community business leaders Thursday in Herndon, Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said the amount of development taking place within Reston’s Transit Station Areas has surpassed expectations and has positioned Reston as an economic driver for the county, region and state.

At the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce’s legislative panel event, Hudgins said she and others believed Tysons Corner would grow faster than Reston when their respective plans were first laid out.

“I think it’s the reverse of that now, and I think it’s the reverse of it because Reston is a very stable community,” Hudgins said. “[It is] a community well-established, different from this [transit-oriented] development but very much in concert with it.”

Hudgins showed her audience a map featuring the three Reston TSAs — encompassing the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station as well as the future Reston Town Center and Herndon stations — and pointed out more than 40 development projects that are in the works within those boundaries.

“This would not be happening if we had not approved the transit that is coming to the area,” she said. “It’s working.”

Hudgins said the Tax Service Districts that have been established in Reston and Tysons in order to help fund transportation improvements in the community were “a lot of work” to develop, but they represent a “success model” for the county. She said increasing public transit and making more walkable communities around the stations is “a creative, very smart way to approach how we develop and keep economic development going.”

“Many folks — not just millenials, but seniors — find it important to be able to live in a community where everything is at their fingertips,” Hudgins said. “[With transit-oriented development], they feel that there is housing that fits for them, there’s recreation that fits for them, and there are restaurants and the thriving other services that they need. They aren’t getting in their car. They want to be able to walk or take transit, and that’s what’s happening here.”

Hudgins said that when the Reston Plan was approved over 50 years ago, it said “Fairfax County would be wise if they would establish these areas, preserving more open space for single-family homes and others, but bringing these more dense areas to concentrate things.”

“Fifty years later, we’re getting there,” she said. “I think it’s going to be the story about how Fairfax County continues to thrive.”

by Dave Emke — March 30, 2017 at 2:45 pm 17 Comments

There may be a sense of frustration and concern regarding ongoing construction of Metro’s Silver Line, area elected officials said Thursday, but its great potential must be remembered.

Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and state delegates Ken Plum (D-Fairfax) and Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax/Loudoun) talked about Metro and the surrounding future development during a legislative panel discussion sponsored by the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce and hosted by Dominion Virginia Power in Herndon. Plum, the former state chair of the Dulles Corridor Rail Association, said it is important to put the status of Metro’s Silver Line in perspective.

“We really ought to stop for a moment and celebrate where we are,” Plum said. “For 25 years of my life I worked on that project, and it was announced to be dead half a dozen times, at least. … Now, by 2020, we’re going to have it all the way out into Loudoun County. And we have an incredible opportunity with that.”

A large amount of development has happened or is in the works in the area of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station, the current western terminus of the Silver Line. Other projects are also springing up near the line’s future stations in Fairfax and Loudoun counties.

The Metro Washington Airport Authority’s Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, which is overseeing construction, announced recently that Phase 2 work to extend Metro through Reston into Dulles Airport and onward to Ashburn is more than 56 percent complete. However, deficiencies in Metro’s budget and decreasing ridership have raised a number of questions in recent months about the future viability of the transit system.

Boysko, whose district includes Herndon, praised the state’s creation of the Metrorail Safety Commission to examine how Metro is being organized and managed. She said as Phase 2 of the project continues, it is imperative that safety issues as well as financial and operational performance are properly monitored and addressed.

“People say this is the least functional transit system in the country,” she said. “We have such a great opportunity as we are expanding into Phase 2, [but] it has to be a success. We have really focused our economic development around Phase 2 being successful.”

Hudgins, who is also a member of Metro’s Board of Directors, said this is a conversation she “live[s] every day.” She said Metro is unique in many ways, most notably in its partnership between multiple jurisdictions as well as in its infrastructure itself.

“I think people need to understand, it is a different kind of railroad,” she said. “That system is one of the most difficult systems [to maintain] of all those in the country.”

Plum said Metro needs to be revitalized, and in order for that to happen, it needs to continue to receive the support of the surrounding community.

“Please, don’t wash your hands of Metro,” Plum said. “It’s vital to the economic development of our region and I think we all recognize [that].”

The legislative recap event sponsored by the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce is a chance for local businesspeople to keep abreast of important issues in the community, said Mark Ingrao, GRCC president and CEO.

“We’re a catalyst for business growth and entrepreneurship in this area of Fairfax County,” he said. “We think that we have the type of programming our members are looking for to connect them with other businesses [and] to educate them on legislative things like this.”

by Dave Emke — March 24, 2017 at 9:00 am 46 Comments

Morning Notes - Winter

Report: Golf Course Could Sell for $25-$35M — Real-estate news website GlobeSt.com reported earlier this week that it hears anyone who buys Reston National Golf Course for that price and gets approval for development might be looking at a $200 million windfall. [GlobeSt.com]

Mobile DMV Service Coming to Reston — DMV 2 Go, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles’ mobile service, will soon visit Reston. DMV 2 Go is a handicapped-accessible full-service office that provides all DMV transactions. The mobile DMV will be at the North County Government Center (1801 Cameron Glen Drive) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 3-6. [Virginia DMV]

Independent Panel to Study Metro’s Woes — Former U.S. transportation secretary Ray LaHood will take charge of a panel to examine Metro’s governance and long-term financial needs. Meanwhile, Metro’s general manager says the system needs major work to fix its “unsustainable cost model.” [Washington Post]

South Lakes Lacrosse Team Kicks Off 2017 — The Seahawks’ boys lacrosse team won its conference and advanced to the state tournament last year. They started the 2017 season with a 16-3 win over Fairfax last week, and though they dropped their second contest to Stone Ridge, they still have big dreams. [South Lakes Athletics]

by Dave Emke — March 22, 2017 at 2:45 pm 1 Comment

Silver Line construction/Photo by Jennifer Thomas Alcott, Capital Rail Constructors

Phase 2 of construction on Metro’s Silver Line is more than 56 percent complete, according to information released today by the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is overseeing construction of the 11.4-mile Phase 2 extension of the Silver Line from Reston through Dulles Airport to Ashburn. Engineering and design work on the phase began in July 2013, and the project is expected to be complete by 2020. All told, the stretch will include six rail stations; nine entrance pavilions and pedestrian bridges; aerial guideways through Dulles Airport; and 89,000 feet of track.

Silver Line construction/Capital Rail Constructors“Bad weather never really stopped us,” project vice president Charles Stark is quoted as saying regarding construction efforts in recent months.

Station wall work is currently underway at the future Reston Town Center station, while structural steel installation for the vault roof has begun at the future Herndon station, also located in Reston. In addition, piers for pedestrian bridges are being put up. All needed pier caps have been poured, along with 76 percent of deck spans. Construction on the rail yard at Dulles Airport is 46 percent complete, according to project officials.

Work also began in December on a new Herndon Metro parking garage, a county project.

Phase 2 of the Silver Line was originally projected to be completed by late 2018; however, design modifications later pushed that date back.

Photos courtesy Capital Rail Constructors/Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project

by Dave Emke — March 17, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Morning Notes - Winter

Early Education Teachers Sought — Bright Horizons will host an on-site interviewing session Tuesday at its Vienna location as it looks for early childhood teachers and associate teachers for its centers throughout Fairfax County. Dinner will be provided for event attendees. [Bright Horizons/Eventbrite]

Public Art Reston logoPublic Art Organization Has New Image — As it celebrates its 10th anniversary, The Initiative for Public Art Reston has been re-branded. Now known simply as Public Art Reston, the nonprofit has unveiled its new website and logo. The organization seeks to inspire an ongoing commitment to public art and create a new generation of artworks in Reston. [Public Art Reston]

Construction on Metro to Detour Some Traffic — Again this weekend, work in the median of the Dulles Airport Access Road will result in eastbound traffic being detoured onto the Dulles Toll Road. The work will be done from about 9 p.m. Saturday to 5 a.m. Sunday, as crews set several large precast concrete elements at the Silver Line’s future Herndon and Reston Town Center stations. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Community Matters Reston logo‘Community Matters Reston’ Plans First Meeting — A new volunteer organization promoting community-building initiatives and outreach has scheduled its first public meeting. Community Matters Reston will meet Monday from 6:30-8 p.m. at Sunset Hills Montessori School (11180 Ridge Heights Road). The organization is also selling decals featuring its logo, designed by Dana Scheurer, with all proceeds going to Cornerstones. The group’s goal is to “promote two of the founding principles of Bob Simon’s neighborhood: fostering and celebrating diversity, and offering a helping hand to those who need it.” [Community Matters Reston/Facebook]

by Dave Emke — March 10, 2017 at 9:00 am 3 Comments

Morning Notes - Lake Thoreau

Have Coffee with a Cop — The Herndon Police Department is inviting community members out to Virginia Kitchen (450 Elden St.) on Monday morning for coffee and conversation. [Herndon Police Department/Facebook]

Metro Rate Hikes Get Approval — As expected, the Metro Finance Committee voted Thursday to increase rates and reduce rush-hour service. The Board will make the final vote March 23 on what would be Metro’s first rate hike in three years. [WTOP]

County Seeking Input on New Website — As Fairfax County has plans to update its website, it is inviting feedback from the community in the process. The county has devised four example pages of possible new designs, as well as surveys to find out what is most important to users. [Fairfax County]

Local Artist’s Work Displayed at NYC Gallery — The art of Herndon-based Lisa Tureson is being exhibited at New York’s Touchstone Gallery through April 2. “Scribbles” was inspired by street art in Denmark. [Reston Connection]

by Dave Emke — March 8, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Morning Notes

Possibly Rabid Fox Bites Woman, Cat — Animal Protection Police officers responded Tuesday to two different scenes in Great Falls where a fox had gone on the attack. A 71-year-old woman suffered serious injuries after being bitten “multiple times” around 3 p.m. in the 600 block of Ad Hoc Road; about an hour later and about three miles away, a 54-year-old woman fought off a fox that had bitten her cat. The fox believed to have been involved in both incidents was euthanized and is being tested for rabies. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Metro Station Work to Affect Toll Road Traffic — Eastbound traffic on the Dulles Airport Access Highway will be diverted onto the Toll Road on Saturday night into Sunday morning. The detours will be to allow workers to set large precast concrete elements for the future Herndon and Reston Town Center Metro stations. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Reston-Based Soccer Academy Gets Leader — Tom Torres has been named the head of the Washington Spirit’s U.S. Soccer Girls’ Development Academy, which is scheduled to start play in Reston this fall. Torres has been a coach with the D.C. United’s academy for the past 10 years. [Black and Red United]

With Spring Showers Comes Flooding — With the start of spring less than two weeks away, county officials are reminding residents of tips to keep themselves and their homes safe from potential flooding. [Fairfax County]

by Dave Emke — March 7, 2017 at 2:45 pm 9 Comments

METRO Wiehle-Reston EastThe Metro board is set to vote Thursday to approve an FY2018 budget that includes 10-cent fare increases on rush-hour rides and 25-cent hikes at other times. Regular and express bus fares will also go up by 25 cents, while the rate for the bus to Dulles Airport will jump from $7 to $9.75.

The increases in fares are expected to raise $21 million for Metro as the transportation system works to shore up a projected $125 million shortfall in its budget.

Ridership on Metro plummeted from 2015 to 2016, with stations in Virginia seeing a decrease in users of more than 12 percent when comparing the fourth quarters of each year. Wiehle-Reston East’s decrease was 13.4 percent, the greatest drop among Virginia stations on the Silver Line, which had a 9 percent decrease overall.

Service frequency during rush hour outside of DC will also be decreased as part of the plan. For the Silver Line, trains will run every eight minutes instead of the current six-minute interval. The original proposal had called for off-peak frequency to be decreased as well, from 12 minutes to 15; however, that has been dropped from the final plan.

Virginia representatives on the Metro board discussed the proposed changes, as well as increased local contributions to the budget, during a January public forum in Reston.

The new rates are expected to go into effect around July 1.

by Dave Emke — March 6, 2017 at 9:00 am 7 Comments

Morning Notes - Lake Anne trail sign

Police: Bodies Found in County Park Linked to Gang Activity — Two sets of human remains were located Friday in a park near Falls Church. These are just the latest apparent victims of gang activity in Fairfax County, Police Chief Edwin Roessler said. [WTOP]

Registration for SLHS Summer Sports Camps Underway — Signups are now available for youths looking to participate in summer camps for basketball, field hockey, football, lacrosse and volleyball. [South Lakes High School]

Another Round of Metro SafeTrack Work in State — Work on the Blue and Yellow lines in Northern Virginia began over the weekend and will last into April. This is expected to be the final round of the work. County supervisors Sharon Bulova and Cathy Hudgins are urging patience from commuters. [Washington Post]

Feds: Herndon Man Previously Jailed for Bank Robberies Strikes Again — Bruce Wayne Higgins Jr. served four years in prison after robbing banks in D.C. and Arlington in 2009. Now law enforcement says he committed heists at five more banks in December in Baltimore, Ocean City and Atlantic City. [NJ.com]

by Dave Emke — March 1, 2017 at 9:00 am 2 Comments

Morning Notes

Strong Storms Possible Later Today — Temperatures in the 70s are again predicted for this afternoon. However, showers and thunderstorms are possible into the evening, with damaging winds and large hail also possible. [Capital Weather Gang]

More Craft Beer on the Way? — New zoning regulations approved Tuesday by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors may open the door for more small breweries in Reston. There are currently seven licensed craft breweries in the county. [Fairfax County]

Rider: Metro Worst System He’s Used — David Ballard, of Reston, compares his experience on the Metro to public transportation systems in Denver, Salt Lake City, Portland, Dallas and Mexico City. He says the DC system not only is “by far” worse than the others, it’s more expensive. [Washington Post]

Metro Ridership Down Dramatically — At the Wiehle-Reston East station, ridership was down 13.4 percent in the last quarter of 2016. Ridership on the Silver Line as a whole was down 9 percent. [WTOP]

by Dave Emke — February 17, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Morning Notes - Winter

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]

Washington’s Day Holiday Will Alter Public Transportation — Both Metro and Fairfax Connector schedules will be different Monday because of the federal holiday. [WMATA/Fairfax Connector]

by Dave Emke — January 26, 2017 at 2:45 pm 11 Comments

Wiehle-Reston East Metro/Northern Virginia Transportation Commission

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

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.

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.

WMATA FY2018 Budget Jurisdictional Contributions (proposed)

Proposed operational funding from Fairfax County in FY2018 is $138.6 million, a 17 percent increase from the current fiscal year.

WMATA FY2018 Budget Jurisdictional Operational Contributions (proposed)

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)

Metro has planned an open house Monday from 4:30-6:30 p.m. to receive feedback on the budget. In addition, feedback can be provided via an online survey.

Photo via Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, charts via Metro FY2018 budget proposal

by Dave Emke — January 25, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Morning Notes - Winter

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]

by Dave Emke — January 23, 2017 at 4:00 pm 0

DTR Work - Jan. 23, 2017

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.

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.

by Dave Emke — January 13, 2017 at 9:00 am 4 Comments

W&OD Trail -- January 12, 2017

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]

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