Trains Run, But No Date for Silver Line Opening — Trains for the extension of the Silver Line into Loudoun County have begun running as part of testing. But the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority still does not have an opening date yet for the long-delayed project. [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Steps for Superintendent Search Outlined — A timeline for the search process for the school system’s next superintendent has been outlined. GR Recruiting has hosted stakeholder meetings with staff this week. Community meetings will be held Jan. 10 through 12. A survey is expected to be emailed to the FCPS community sometime this week. [Reston Patch]
Fairfax High School Students Stage Walkout — Hundreds of students from Fairfax High School staged a walkout to support a student believed to be the victim of an Islamophobic incident. [WTOP]
Photo by Marjorie Copson
Grandfather Accused of BASE Jumps — Police believe that a 70-year-old grandfather — a former local runner — is the prime suspect in several BASE jumps from area skyscrapers. It’s possible that Chuck Moeser got away with as many as six plunges, including a 32-story plunge over evening traffic. [The Washington Post]
Local Houseplant Swap Today — Residents can swap houseplants today at 1 p.m. at Reston Regional Library. Registration is required for the event. [Reston Regional Library]
Taxi Certificates on Hold — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to maintain the area’s current fleet of taxi cabs. The limit for taxi certificates stands at 654 as demand for other transportations options like Uber and Lyft grows. [Sun Gazette]
Metro to Restore Some Cars — Metro may begin restoring some 7000-series railcars as the system transitions back to service. The move comes after a go-ahead from the Washington Metrorail Satefy Commission, which said it has no technical objections to the plan submitted by Metro. [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]
The 11.5-mile extension of the Silver Line into Loudoun County has cleared another major hurdle.
Contractors have finally completed the rail yard associated with the multibillion-dollar project, according to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.
The announcement comes a little less than a month after most of the work on the phase two extension had been completed. The transportation project would bring the Silver line from Reston into Loudoun County with six new stations.
Metro has not yet announced when phase two trains will begin to run. But a tentative date of spring 2022 is under consideration. The transit agency will manage and operate the rail line.
MWAA is currently overseeing the construction of the delayed project, which will be handed off to Metro. The project has been marred by delays and construction-related issues.
The 90-acre rail yard and maintenance facility is located at Dulles International Airport.
John Potter, president and CEO of the MWAA, said that substantial completion of the rail yard is a “critical” step to complete the extension project.
“We are now one step closer to making that happen,” Potter wrote in a statement.
The rail yard contains facilities that enable trains to complete maintenance and pairs, along with providing storage for trains, spare parts, and maintenance. The facility can store 184 rail cars.
Phase two was first scheduled to finish off in 2019. Contractor issues, flawed materials, defective panels, bad concrete, and other issues have resulted in years of delays.
Photo via MWAA
Seed Money Dedicated to Clean Up Lake Anne Plaza — A local foundation has donated $25,000 in seed money to help clean up Lake Anne Plaza. The beautification project is called “Lake Anne Rising.” [Reston Patch]
Reduced Metro Service to Remain — Metro plans to continue reducing service through Dec. 31 because it has not established a timeline to return the 7000-series fleet in the interest of safety. Nearly 75 percent of Metrorail stations have trains arriving at least every 10-12 minutes. Testing to determine if new inspection intervals are sufficient to safely return trains to service is underway this month. [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]
Updates to County COVID-19 Dashboard Expected — The Fairfax County Health Department has updated its COVID-19 dashboard after it discovered that roughly 200 reported cases — mostly from last year — were incorrectly marked as hospitalized. While the individuals were seen at emergency department, they were not hospitalized. [Fairfax County Government]
Photo by David Taube
To date, the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA) has been running fare collection at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station — a county-owned facility — without compensation.
As a hand-off date for the 11.5-mile extension comes close to fruition, officials are now contemplating the best way for fare collections to continue. In a proposed agreement that goes before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors today, the county is hoping to compensate WMATA for its efforts by paying roughly $45 per parking space per year.
The county does not own any other garages, a spokesperson for the Fairfax County Department of Transportation told Reston Now.
“We are paying for WMATA to operate the fare collection system in those garages so it is the same for all customers in the county,” said Robin Geiger, FCDOT’s spokesperson.
The yearly payment would amount to around $366,000, with funds largely being offset by parking fees collected at the facilities.
WMATA’s board is expected to take up the matter in a few months.
Wiehle-Reston East has the county’s first county-owned parking facility. With 2,300 spaces, it is the second largest of the new station. The Herndon station will have a 3,751 parking space garage while Innovation Center will have a 2,072-space parking garage.
The parking garage at Innovation Center Metro Station is located on the south side of the station. The $52 million facility was sinking in 2019 and has since been repaired.
The Herndon Metro Station will serve the Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride garage, which has parking for roughly 3,500 cars. The new facility, constructed by Manhattan Construction Co., cost roughly $44.5 million.
The Wiehle-Reston East garage has 2,300 spaces, but some commuters have reported difficulty snagging spots and navigating signs in the garage, especially during early morning hours.
The county’s Board of Supervisors is expected to discuss the issue at a meeting today.
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.
Metro Restores More Service — After the Oct. 12 derailment of a 7000-series train in Virginia, Metro is increasing service on the red and yellow lines. Blue, Orange, and Silver lines will continue to run every 30 minutes while the Green line runs every 20 minutes. [Reston Patch]
Tennis Courts Closed for Repairs — The tennis courts at Lake Newport will be closed today. The closure impacts courts three to six and not courts one and two. [Reston Association]
Herndon Company Raises $145 Million — HawkEye 360 raised $145 million in series d round funding. The last round was led by New York-based global private equity and venture capital firm Insight Partners and Seraphim Space Investment Trust. [PR Newswire]
Cloudpermit Chooses Reston — The Finnish software company has made Reston its North American headquarters. The business employs 10 people and already has a small office in Reston. It hopes to double that headcount by the end of the year. [Washington Business Journal]
Photo by Marjorie Copson
(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.”
Attempted Robbery, Abduction in Reston — On Sept. 28, an attempted robbery was reported on the 22000 block of Colts Neck Road. Police believe a man grabbed the victim and demanded property. In a separate incident, police believe a man demanded property and car keys from an individual around 11:46 a.m. on the 11800 block of Breton Court. The man drove away in the victim’s car. The victim was treated for non-life-threatening injuries. [FCPD]
A Look at the District 36 Race — Democrat Ken Plum is the incumbent candidate in 36th district for the Virginia House of Delegates. He faces Republican challengers Matthew Lang. [Reston Patch]
Metro to Add More Trains Today — Metro plans to have 39 trains in shrive today. Seven trains were added after major service cuts last month. Metro removed all of its 7000-series railcars from service as part of its investigation into the derailment of a Bue Line train on Oct. 12. [Popville]
Schools Seek Substitutes — The Fairfax County Public School system is seeking substitute teachers. Once a candidate’s application, orientation and background check is approved, hiring can begin within one week. [FCPS]
Increased Police Presence Still In Effect — Northern Virginia police departments continue to increase their presence at shopping malls and high-volume roads and transit areas in response to a purported threat from ISIS. The move was made out an abundance of caution, according to Fairfax County Police Department’s police chief Kevin Davis. [WTOP]
Photo by Marjorie Copson
(Updated, 3:50 p.m.) Work to tie-in Silver Line Phase 2 to Phase 1 was completed this past weekend, a Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) spokesperson tells Reston Now.
“The tie-in was a success and the Automatic Train Control System has been connected,” says spokesperson Marcia McAllister.
The work nessicated a shutdown of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station.
One of the main goals was to finish the automatic train control system and it was completed, says McAllister. Additionally, signal infrastructure tests were done and those are still being reviewed.
There remains one or items that need to be finished, but those items can be completed without service outages, says McAllister.
However, MWAA is not committing to a date or specific timeframe for substantial completion and for when the $2.8 billion public transportation project could be handed over to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).
“We are now following procedures set forth in the contract so we can move forward with what needs to be done to keep this project moving forward,” wrote McAllister when asked about a specific timetable.
In September, WMATA scheduled a weekend shutdown of Wiehle-Reston East Metro station in order to allow MWAA and the contractor Capital Rail Contractors (CRC) to connect the first and second phase of the Silver Line as well as perform tests related to signal infrastructure.
This work was crucial to keeping the opening of Silver Line Phase 2 on track and originally was supposed to be finished in June, but that didn’t happen as expected and necessitated a second shutdown.
All of this comes at a particularly fraught time for Metro as service has been drastically reduced to at least mid-November due to ongoing investigations into 7000-series cars related to the Blue Line train derailment in Arlington earlier this month.
“The Airports Authority, WMATA and lead contractor Capital Rail Constructors worked together to make this a success,” reiterated McAllister.
Reston Now has reached to CRC about how the tie-in work this past weekend may impact their own assessment of a timeline for substantial completion, but have to yet to hear back as of publication.
Early last month, WMATA officials noted that it could be done and handed over to them in November.
However, there now seems to be some hedging on this timeline. At the Fairfax County Transportation Committee meeting at the end of September, it was announced that MWAA was “holding, at the moment, to the fourth quarter of 2021.”
A clearly-frustrated Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn responded at the meeting that it better be done prior to the Christmas holiday.
“Our next meeting of the transportation committee is December 14,” he said. “We better have substantial completion by then.”
LuminoCity Festival Comes to Roer’s Zoofari — The annual LuminoCity Festival has selected the local zoo for this year’s annual exhibit. The light exhibit is inspired by different cultures. This is the first year the festival is being held outside of Manhattan. [Local DVM]
Metro Service Reduced through October — Metro is reducing its service through at least Oct. 31 as it examines the safety of its 7000-series railcars. Trains will operate basic service every 15-20 minutes on the Red Line and every 30-40 minutes on all other lines. Silver Line service will run between Wiehe-Reston East and Federal Center SW only. [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]
Search for New Schools Superintendent Underway — The Fairfax County School Board has hired GR Recruiting to conduct a nationwide search for the next schools’ superintendent. In July, Scott Brabrand, the current superintendent, announced that he will not be seeking an extension of his contract beyond the 2021-2022 academic year. [FCPS]
Photo by Jay Westcott
Snow Days to Stay — The Fairfax County Public Schools System is resuming snow days this year after the pandemic changed the school system’s inclement weather policy. The first five snowy days will be traditional inclement weather days. But after that, the school system plans to have unscheduled virtual learning days “wherever possible.” [FCPS]
Metro Hires Consultants to Analyze Safety — The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Board of Directors plans to hire an external consultant to offer advice on safety. The move comes a week after the derailment of a Metrorail train on the Blue Line. [Reston Patch]
Reston Company Raises $4.5 Million in Seed Round — ForecastEra, Reston-based company, formally announced a new seed round investment of $4.5 million. The company offers a account planning, sales, revenue and demand forecast suite that is native to Salesforce. [InsideNOVA]
Metro Cuts Back Service for the Week — Expect reduced Metrorail service through at least the ned of this week as officials continue their investigation of last week’s derailment. Silver Line trains will operate between Wiehle-Reston East and Federal Center SW only. [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]
Southgate Community Center Gets New Name — The center was renamed after former Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, who helped transform the old county property into a new community center. [Reston Patch]
Appraisal Roadshow Returns — Reston Association’s annual appraisal roadshow returns on Saturday, Nov. 6. Attendees get to take part in a treasure hunt. [RA]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
Reduced Metro Service Today — Expect reduced Metro service today as the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority investigates the recent Blue Line derailment. Metro is holding all of its 7000-series railcars — nearly 60 percent of its rail fleet — out of service. A safety investigation found defects in one of the railcars involved in last Tuesday’s derailment. [WMATA]
Elden Street Business Robbed — Police are looking for a suspect who robbed a business on the 500 block of Elden Street yesterday morning. The man was seen leaving in a red four-door Honda or Toyota. [Herndon Police Department]
Lane and Ramp Closures in Effect on Dulles Toll Road — A number of lane, shoulder and road closures are in effect this week along the Dulles Toll Road, Dulles Greenway and Autopilot Drive. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]
Photo by Marjorie Copson
Herndon Prepares for Metro — Town officials reflect on how they’re preparing for Metro’s arrival. The town has 38 acres of developable land north of the new Metro station. [Washington Business Journal]
Aslin Beer Co. to Expand — The brewery, which has locations in Alexandria and Herndon, is opening a 7,000-square-foot taproom in The Terminal, a large redevelopment of Pittsburg. [Washington Business Journal]
QR Codes Now Available to Verify Vaccine Status — The state’s health department has announced that QR codes are now available to verify an individual’s vaccination status. Virginia is now the fifth state in the country to adopt the QR code method. [Fairfax County Government]