Reston, VA

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation will host a series of virtual discussions next month for community members to share their thoughts on walking, bicycling, and other modes of travel that don’t involve getting inside a car.

The community conversations are intended to give county staff insight into people’s travel habits and areas where the county could improve bicycle and pedestrian access or facilities as part of FCDOT’s efforts to develop a new ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan.

“Community input is critical to the success of this planning effort,” FCDOT spokesperson Anna Nissinen said in a statement. “We want to hear all perspectives, from families biking and walking within the community to individuals who use scooters and bike share as part of their commute. This is the only way to create a comprehensive and functional plan that truly supports the needs of the community.”

12 online meetings have been scheduled, starting with an evening conversation for Mason District residents on April 8. The Hunter Mill District meeting will take place on Monday, April 19 at 7 p.m.

There will also be a meeting in Spanish on April 15 at 7 p.m. and two “Lunch and Learn” sessions at noon on April 13 and 23.

A recording of the event and the presentation will be available on the ActiveFairfax webpage for anyone unable to attend a meeting. There is also an online survey for community members to share their perspective on barriers to non-motorized travel, potential trail and bicycle network improvements, and other topics.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors directed FCDOT to review its plan for active transportation — defined by the county as “self-propelled, human-powered travel” such as walking, cycling, or using a scooter or wheelchair — in January 2020.

Launched last summer, the project is divided into two phases. First, FCDOT is developing a vision statement laying out the county’s goals, evaluating existing conditions, and creating a plan for a systematic safety program. Then, the department will come up with recommendations, including potential comprehensive plan updates and project and policy prioritization.

Local officials have been looking at ways to enhance Fairfax County’s bikeability and walkability, particularly in urbanizing areas like Tysons and Reston, to improve safety and reflect people’s evolving travel habits.

The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board’s most recent Regional Travel Survey found that the number of bicycle trips in the D.C. area has doubled over the past decade, though the amount of daily walking trips has remained steady.

“The plan will establish a vision and a roadmap for implementation of safe, convenient, and enjoyable streets, sidewalks, bike facilities, and trails in Fairfax County for people of all ages and abilities,” Nissinen said. “The plan will support livable street design through the development of a transportation network that connects people to where they live, work, play, learn and take transit.”

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Passengers on several Fairfax Connector service will have to use a different bus stop.

The bus stop at the intersection of Colts Brook Drive and Sunrise Drive has been permanently removed due to sidewalk construction, according to a statement released online.

The county’s department of transportation is constructing a missing segment of walkway along Sunrise Valley Drive westbound between Colts Brook Drive and Hitchcock Drive, according to Anna Nissinen, a county spokeswoman told Reston Now.

A six-foot-wide asphalt walkway is planned in the area. The project would also upgrade existing curb ramps so that they are ADA compliant.

The bus stop at Colts Brook Drive was removed to encourage pedestrians to cross Sunrise Valley Drive at the nearest signal location at Monroe Street using the marked crosswalks, she said. The walkway is intended to provide another way for pedestrians to access the Herndon Metro Station.

Passengers are encouraged to use another stop with the identification number of 3540 at the intersection of Sunrise Valley Drive and Milburn Lane instead.

The bus stop will no longer be served by routes 924, 926, 927, 929, 937, 950, 952.

The project will likely be completed next month.

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While residents wait for permanent improvements at a dangerous intersection in the Hunter Mill District a temporary traffic signal will be installed this summer.

A temporary traffic signal to the intersection of Fox Mill Road and Pinecrest Road will be operational by this summer, a Virginia Department of Transportation spokesperson confirmed to Reston Now. This traffic signal plus future permanent improvement plans will be discussed at a virtual public information meeting next week.

The planned changes include adding a permanent traffic signal and left-hand turn lanes.

In September, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the plan for the county’s transportation department to work with the VDOT on the implementation of the improvements.

The meeting takes place on March 15 but the public will have until March 25 to provide comments. The project’s aim is to relieve congestion and improve safety at the intersection, according to the release.

While temporary measures are being taken this summer, residents will still have nearly four years for all improvements to be completed. The intersection has long been a community concern, with hundreds signing petitions and signaling support in recent years for changes and improvements.

Construction is estimated to begin in the fall of 2024 and it is expected to take a year to complete – meaning fall 2025.

The improvements are estimated to cost $5.7 million and will be financed by the county.

From 2013 to 2019, 44 accidents occurred at the intersection with two being severe. 30 of the accidents caused property damage.

There are also congestion issues. The intersection averages about 15,500 vehicles a day, according to VDOT, with most being on Fox Mill Road. Long back-ups occur on Fox Mill Road during peak hours, notes a May 2020 presentation, due to vehicles waiting for a break in traffic to make a left turn.

The intersection is near a couple of pedestrian-friendly businesses, including a swim and tennis club and a church. It’s also relatively close to several schools.

Interim improvements have been made, though, including re-stripping and painting to provide turn lanes, installing a concrete island with a stop sign to create a yield, and removing foliage for better sightlines.

Beyond the proposed permanent fixes, the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan also addresses safety and congestion issues on Fox Mill Road.

The plan calls for the widening of Fox Mill Road to four lanes from Reston Parkway to Monroe Street, constructing a sidewalk adjacent to northbound Fox Mill Road, and installing a bike lane.

Image via Google Maps

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Updated at 11:45 — The fatality and crash numbers in this article from the DMV reflect statistics for Northern Virginia, not just Fairfax County as previously stated. The Fairfax County Police Department says that the county’s fatality and crash rates are much lower.

With 38 pedestrian fatalities, 2019 was the deadliest year in the last decade to walk in Northern Virginia, according to Virginia DMV data.

The number of deaths dropped to 29 in 2020, but the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and county transportation officials are still working on strategies to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety with a countywide initiative.

“Unfortunately our incidents of pedestrian fatalities and crashes continue to be at unacceptable levels,” FCDOT bicycle and pedestrian program manager Chris Wells said during a transportation committee meeting yesterday (Tuesday). “Due to a number of factors, those numbers are trending up — not just in Fairfax, but in Virginia and across the United States.”

Bicycling is safer, but crash rates are still high: 216 crashes in 2019, and 157 in 2020.

Wells added that certain portions of Fairfax County’s population are disproportionately affected by pedestrian crashes, a trend that has been documented nationwide.

The county hopes to reverse these statistics. Wells told supervisors that FCDOT and VDOT have recently improved walking and cycling conditions by programming head starts into signals for pedestrians, re-striping four-lane roads as two-lane roads, and installing rapid-flashing beacons for crosswalks without lights.

VDOT awarded FCDOT $1.2 million last year to install nine more flashing beacons, bringing the county’s total to 17, Wells said.

VDOT also has a pedestrian safety action plan for improving safety along particularly dangerous corridors. In Fairfax County, the highest-priority roads are Columbia Pike, Little River Turnpike, Richmond Highway, Lee Highway, Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway, Braddock Road, and Ox Road.

Officials said that work on roads in Fairfax County is a lengthy process compared to other jurisdictions, because VDOT owns the roads.

“They’ve really stepped up this year to help us to advance pedestrian safety in a way that we have not seen in years past,” FCDOT Director Tom Biesiadny said.

Looking ahead, supervisors suggested introducing better lighting and longer crossing times at mid-block crosswalks. They are also still interested in reducing speeds in the county.

FCDOT officials said a multiagency group, including transportation officials and attorneys, is working through the logistics of speed cameras. Meanwhile, VDOT is preparing to examine where speed limits can be lowered.

Chart and map via Virginia DMV data dashboards

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A Wiehle Ave. Pedestrian Crossing study group has identified three possible options to install safer pedestrian crossing spaces across Wiehle Ave. 

For months, a study group has been assessing Wiehle Ave. for future pedestrian crossing installments. Recently, the group discussed three different bridge options to go across the road. They discussed two bridge options at the intersection at Dulles Toll Road, and one bridge option further midblock at Dulles Toll Road. 

The urgency around creating a safe crossing zone comes after the recent rezoning at the Campus Commons development that could bring another 2,000 people to Reston, according to Larry Butler, the Chief Operating Officer at the Reston Association. 

Butler discussed the project in a recent Reston Today video.

Additionally, the Wiehle-Reston Metrorail Station is on the other side of the road, and a lack of a safe crossing zone could create hazards for new Reston residents.

“They need a way to get over to the Metro Station safely,” said Butler. 

The study group has hired a consultant to help assist the group in assessing the various options. 

The next public group meeting is Sept. 17 from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m., and Butler encouraged community members to join. Butler also predicted that the Board of Supervisors would make a decision regarding the pedestrian crossing sometime in 2020. 

Photo via the Reston Association/Youtube

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Work on a new walkway for Innovation Center Metro Station to Dulles Green Boulevard has been completed.

Roughly 270 linear feet of sidewalk were installed at the site, including a handrail and a two-curb ramp.

The project connects with the existing sidewalk from the new Metro station. A community review process was jumpstarted in 2017 by the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.

Work on ensuring other Silver Line Metro Station continues to support pedestrian walkability is also underway.

Recently, Fairfax County completed the construction of a 10-foot wide concrete walkway along Dolley Madison Boulevard in Tysons. The project added 2,400 feet of liner walkway and allows for a safer connection between downtown McLean and area Metro stations.

Photo via FCDOT

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A potentially dangerous area along the Washington & Old Dominion Trail now has improved safety.

NOVA Parks installed flashing beacons at the intersection of Hunter Mill Road and the W&OD Trail over the summer.

“When activated by trail users attempting to cross Hunter Mill Road, the push-button flashing beacons provide an additional visual indicator to oncoming drivers to slow down and watch for pedestrians and cyclists crossing the road,” said Brian Nolan, director of planning and development for NOVA Parks.

The project was completed earlier this month for roughly $80,000, Nolan told Reston Now.

Flashing beacons are a common, low-cost fix to improve safety. The Federal Highway Administration has issued interim approval to use the devices. State and local agencies must receive permission prior to installing flashing beacons.

Photo via W&OD Trail/Facebook

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A study group will scout the area this week to find the best option for constructing a future pedestrian crossing at Wiehle Avenue near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station.

The walkthrough is part of a proffer for Campus Commons, an approved project by TF Cornerstone that would redevelop an aging office park at 1900 and 1902 Campus Common Drive into a 1.3 million-square-foot development. The meeting is set for Feb. 27 at 5 p.m. at the site.

Community opposition to the project — including the successful surge of a grassroots organization Rescue Sunrise Valley — resulted in a number of changes to the application, which was approved last year. 

One of the most contentious issues was a proposed crosswalk at ramps to enter and exit the Dulles Toll Road at Wiehle Avenue. The developer’s original pitch — a crosswalk at the current stoplight in the area to get to the other side of Wiehle Avenue across two traffic islands in the multi-lane roadway — was rejected by the county due to serious safety concerns.

TF Cornerstones agreed to find a better solution for walkability. A proffer part in the approved application requires the developer to convene a workgroup with community representation through the office of Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn.

The workgroup is tasked with finding the best type of pedestrian bridge for the area. Options on the table include but are not limited to an above-grade bridge or a below-grade underpass or tunnel.

A final recommendation for the pedestrian crossing will be presented to the board by October. The developer will either build the crossing or give the county $1.5 million to complete the work.

Concerns on the lack of pedestrian connectivity to and from the Reston Town Center Metro Station and Wiehle-Reston East were also flagged by the board last year.

The developer plans to build three buildings with 655 apartments, more than 520,000 square feet of office space, and a little over 28,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. A 24-story tower and two small towers are proposed.

For more information about the meeting, email Jose Delcid at [email protected].

Photo via Fairfax County Government, Google Maps

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors recently approved changes to improve road safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.

At the board’s Tuesday meeting, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn and Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk jointly unveiled a proposal to initiate a review of the county’s Department of Transportation’s ActiveFairfax planning process.

ActiveFairfax is a transportation plan that includes a Bicycle Master Plan and Countywide Trails Plan Update for the county.

“Sixteen pedestrian fatalities in our county in 2019 is too many,” Alcorn said. “Most of our built environment is still designed for moving vehicles, which creates obvious conflicts and we need to evolve toward safer walking and cycling.”

More from the board matter:

The commitment of Fairfax County to address this is clear, including more than $300 million in funding approved for stand-alone bike and pedestrian infrastructure projects over the past decade.

Most of these projects have been implemented, while some are still in progress. It should be noted that the $300 million in funding doesn’t include bike and pedestrian projects that are being implemented as part of larger roadway projects, or in VDOT’s repaving schedule…

Due to the General Assembly reallocating funding for Metro’s State of Good Repair Initiative, the Board deferred a number of bike and pedestrian projects last year. And we all have examples of more bike and pedestrian projects to be done, if more funding were available.

Fortunately, the General Assembly is looking at options for increasing transportation funding, but currently they don’t go far enough.

Alcorn and Lusk want the county’s departments and the Virginia Department of Transportation to coordinate their efforts and also want FCDOT to review the following:

  • working timeline for the ActiveFairfax Plan
  • external communications strategy for the planning process
  • evaluation of the current approach for funding pedestrian improvements
  • examination of how tech can improve pedestrian and bicycle safety ahead of ActiveFairfax
  • whether the county can achieve measurable safety goals like Vision Zero

Lusk called recent pedestrian-involved fatalities and injuries along county roads a “public safety crisis.”

The Board of Supervisors will continue the discussion about the ActiveFairfax Plan at the transportation and public safety committee meetings, according to a press release.

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is seeking $8.6 million for several transportation improvements in south Reston.

At a board meeting today (Tuesday), county officials voted in favor of seeking funds from the National Virginia Transportation Commission three projects in Reston.

The county is seeking to offer a new Fairfax Connector transit service from the Reston South Park-and-Ride Lot to Crystal City, Pentagon City and the Pentagon in Arlington.

If approved by the commission, residents could also see bicycle and pedestrian improvements at the park-and-ride and surrounding neighborhoods. ADA-friendly infrastructure is also planned.

A fenced-off recycling drop-off area at the intersection of Reston Parkway and Lawyers Road would be transformed into a pedestrian entrance with a Capital Bikeshare station. The existing walkway between the back of the lot and Lawyers Road would also be realignment to meet ADA standards.

Additionally, new intersection improvements — including a traffic signal and pedestrian crossings — are planned for at the intersection of Fox Mill Road and Pinecrest Road.

The county is also seeking a second entrance to the McLean Metro Station — a project that county officials ranked as a higher priority funding request than the projects in Reston.

File photo

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A major project to improve sidewalks and bus stops along South Lakes Drive is set to be completed by the summer.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation is planning to complete missing sections of the sidewalk on the north side of South Lakes Drive and improve existing sidewalk between Greenskeeper Court and Twin Branches Road.

The project, which was first developed by the Reston Metrorail Access Group in 2009, will also include making six bus stops ADA- friendly.

Both projects are both in the construction phase and will be finished by early summer, according to Robin Geiger, a spokesperson for FCDOT.

Geiger said that the sidewalk on the Southside is 45 percent complete and the trail project on the Northside has just begun.

“The intent is to complete the majority of the work on the Southside prior to moving construction activities to the northside,” Geiger said.

File photo

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In an attempt to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety, Fairfax County and the Virginia Department of Transportation plan to install new flashing crosswalk signs in Herndon and Reston.

Five new Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons will be installed at various crosswalks throughout Hunter Mill District, according to a press release.

“When applied in the right context, rectangular rapid flashing beacons are an excellent tool to draw attention to people crossing the street and encourage drivers to yield,” Chris Wells, a Fairfax County spokesperson, said.

The beacons will be funded by VDOT and the Federal Highway Authority’s Highway Safety Improvement Program, through a roughly $1,263,000 grant to improve safety, the press release added.

Though the project focuses on the Hunter Mill District, is also encompasses the Mount Vernon, Sully and Providence districts within Fairfax County.

Photo courtesy Fairfax County/VDOT

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A local homeowners association has installed yard signs to encourage drivers to slow down following aSouth Lakes High School teenager was killed in a hit-and-run last year.

Marvin Daniel Cruz Serrano, 16, was struck by a vehicle while returning home from work at Reston’s Cafesano. Local police have not disclosed any leads on the case.

Serrano was crossing South Lakes Drive toward Castle Rock Square near the Bristol House Condos when he was hit by a car.

According to a report by NBC 4, which first reported the installation of the signs, the local homeowners association installed signs in late November to encourage residents to slow down.

Residents are also considering implementing a fine if two or more neighbors spot someone driving at a speed of more than 10 mph.

Photo via GoFundMe

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Town of Herndon officials are looking for ways to improve pedestrian safety and mobility.

At a Tuesday meeting, Herndon Town Council members reviewed the Herndon Pedestrian Plan, a strategic document that identifies deficiencies in the town’s pedestrian infrastructure and creates a framework to improve pedestrian safety.

The plan highlights the following challenges to create a walkable community:

  • Poor connectivity between neighborhoods
  • Vehicle-oriented site design and separated land uses
  • Existing streetscape with low attention to pedestrian comfort
  • A lack of crosswalks across blocks
  • Existing pedestrian paths with accessibility issues

Roughly 12 percent of right-of-way areas in Herndon do not have sidewalks, largely due to the result of piecemeal development and physical obstructions, according to the plan.

Herndon has largely been fully developed so the best opportunity for any significant changes to its street pattern can only occur through coordinated redevelopment,” the plan states.

Like in other jurisdictions, almost all pedestrian injuries happen at crosswalks. In the Town of Herndon, nine in every ten accidents involved a pedestrian within vehicle travel ways.

The plan hones in on several areas in the town that need improvements, including installing missing sidewalks and ensuring existing sidewalks are ADA-compliant on both sides of Locust Street.

Bryce Perry, the town’s Deputy Director of Community Development, said the plan is intended to serve as a guiding document for developers, staff and other interested stakeholders as they contemplate pedestrian improvements.

Some council members expressed the need for town staff to incorporate additional projects. For example, while the plan includes suggested improvements to Nash Street’s sidewalks, it does not directly address the intersection of Nash and Spring streets.

Perry noted that specific requests for improvements can also be discussed as part of the capital improvements budget.

A draft of the plan is available online.

Photo via Town of Herndon

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After recent community criticism and pushback from some residents, the developer of a proposed mixed-use development near the Wiehe-Reston East Metro Station is going back to the drawing board to revisit some aspects of the plan.

TFC Cornerstone, which is seeking to redevelop 12 acres of land into two residential towers and a new office building (1900-1902 Campus Commons), submitted amendments to its plans to the Fairfax County Planning Commission on Thursday (Oct. 3). The plan preserves two office buildings currently on the site. 

The updated plans — which follow revisions made in late September — reduce the square footage of an office building by 86,550 square feet. The building, which is located at the edge of the property and near a neighborhood with single-family homes, drew criticism from neighboring residents for its scale, especially in contrast with the adjacent neighborhood.

Scaling back the building would result in a net reduction of 487 weekday vehicle trips, according to the developer.

TFC Cornerstones will shift most of the removed density to the residential building, increasing the total number of units from 630 to 656 units. The developer also reduced the design of the office building along Sunrise Valley drive to seven stories, two fewer stories compared to the previously amended plan. The portion of the building furthest away from the road will have 10 stories.

The developer also committed to creating a minimum 50-foot setback between the buildings along Sunrise Valley Drive, making space for a new 14,410 square foot linear park.

If approved, the amended plan would also extend the time period for a study group to examine the best way to get pedestrians across Wiehle Avenue and its intersection with the Dulles Toll Road.

The developer’s proposal — an on-grade crosswalk — has raised concerns for its lack of safety in an already busy intersection, according to residents who testified at a late September meeting.

TFC Cornerstone will work with a study group for up to two years to consider the best way to approach the pedestrian crossing.

Other amendments included:

  • Addition of bicycle striping across Wiehle Avenue at the intersection wit Sunrise Valley Drive and across Campus Commons Drive
  • A new proffer to provide bicycle. Stairway ramps on straits through the Sunrise Valley Drive pocket park and the corner park
  • Limited hours for activities in the amphitheater
  • A commitment to include 15 percent tree canopy, despite utility conflicts or other engineering considerations

The project heads to the Fairfax County Planning Commission for a vote on Oct. 10 and is docketed for Fairfax County Board of Supervisor later this month.

Photos via TFC Cornerstone

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