Reston, VA

The Virginia Department of Transportation unveiled its initial concept designs for a future Town Center Parkway extension under the Dulles Toll Road during a virtual public information meeting on April 7.

Roughly a half-mile in length, the proposed underpass will connect the existing parkway at Sunset Hills Drive to the north with Sunrise Valley Drive to the south by dropping underneath the Dulles Toll Road, the Dulles International Airport Access Highway, and the new Metro Silver Line tracks.

According to Volkert Mid-Atlantic Director of Municipal and Highway Engineering Jeff Cutright, the consultant hired to conduct VDOT’s feasibility study, the extension was initially envisioned as a tunnel, but the study team realized after reviewing the project that an underpass would be “preferable.”

“A tunnel requires an expensive and complex ventilation and fire control system,” Cutright said. “Constructing this as an underpass opens the area, allowing in natural light, and is more economic and provides a more desirable solution.”

According to VDOT’s presentation, the underpass will consist of two travel lanes in each direction.

Between the Sunrise Valley intersection and Dulles Toll Road, the northbound and southbound lanes will be separated by a grass median. There will be a 10-foot-wide shared-use path for pedestrians and bicyclists on the southbound side and a five-foot-wide sidewalk on the northbound side, both of which will tie into off-street cycle tracks on Sunrise Valley Drive.

When the roadway passes under the Dulles Toll Road, the northbound and southbound lanes will be divided by a pier wall that has already been constructed by Metro to support the Silver Line tracks. A left turn lane would be added on the northbound side as the roadway approaches the intersection at Sunset Hills Road.

The shared-use path and sidewalk will continue for the length of the roadway, but they will be narrower under the Dulles Toll Road because of space constraints imposed by the Metro pier walls. Cutright says the height of the toll road bridge will allow a minimum clearance of at least 16 feet and six inches.

Other potential concerns include anticipated reductions in parking for the CoreSite data center and Reston Metro Center One office building on Sunrise Valley Drive. The project would also affect an existing Metro stormwater management facility at the Town Center Parkway and Sunset Hills intersection. Read More

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Reston community members will get their first chance to weigh in on the proposed Town Center Parkway underpass this week.

The Virginia Department of Transportation will hold a virtual public meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday (April 7) to discuss and solicit feedback on its ongoing study of the feasibility of extending the road half a mile from Sunset Hills Road to Sunrise Valley Drive.

The meeting will kick off a month-long public comment period scheduled to conclude on May 7.

The proposed underpass would bring Town Center Parkway under the Dulles Toll Road, Metro Silver Line, and the Dulles International Airport Access Highway. VDOT says the project is “aimed at reducing congestion on adjacent roadways and improving accessibility and connectivity to Reston Town Center for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.”

While VDOT officially began its feasibility study in May 2019, the Town Center Parkway extension has been in the works since at least November 2014, when the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved an allocation of $8.7 million toward the project.

The study carries a $1 million price tag that the county is covering with local funds from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, according to the most recent Fairfax County transportation status report.

“The [feasibility] study is expected to be complete this summer,” VDOT said. “It will not set construction dates for any improvements, but is developing proposed improvements that Fairfax County can pursue for funding.”

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation estimates that the overall project will cost $170 million, and it is not expected to be completed until 2032.

For anyone unable to attend, a recording of Wednesday’s presentation will be posted to VDOT’s public information meeting page.

Comments can be submitted by email to [email protected] or by mail to VDOT senior project manager Dan Reinhard at 4975 Alliance Dr., Fairfax, VA 22030. There is also an online comment survey for people to share their thoughts.

Photo via Google Maps

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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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A bill that would add additional criteria for future toll increases on the Dulles Greenway has cleared the Senate with a 32-5 vote. The proposal, which was sponsored by Sent. John Bell, heads to the House of Delegates for a vote.

If approved, the bill would require Toll Road Investors Partnership II, the operator of the toll road, to receive the approval of the Virginia Department of Transportation before toll increases go into effect.

The greenway covers 14 miles of road from Dulles Airport to Leesburg.

The company will have to provide a forward-looking analysis including information that that shows the proposed rate is reasonable in nature, unlikely to discourage the use of the roadway and provide the operator with ‘no more than a reasonable return.’

The bill also bars the State Corporation Commission from authorizing any toll increases if the above criteria are not met

In a statement, Bell, who represents Loudoun and Prince William counties, said the bill would ‘bring accountability to the greenway and “prevent unjust toll increases.”

He also noted that the bill has been “a long time in the making” and would not have been possible without the support of the Loudoun Delegation and the Loudoun Board of Supervisors.

In recent years, county officials have slammed the road’s operator for proposed toll increases.

Photo via Dulles Greenway website

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors met with the Fairfax County History Commission on Tuesday to discuss Confederate associated street and place names across the county. 

This project began after the June 23 and July 7 board meetings, where the commission set out to create an inventory of Confederate places and structures within the county following the Black Lives Matter movement and the death of George Floyd. 

After identifying more than 26,000 streets and places in a report, the board narrowed the focus list to 650 well-known Confederate Officers and locally-known Confederates. After researching those names, the Commission found 150 assets to have confirmed Confederate associated names, according to the presentation by Anne Stuntz, the chairwoman of the History Commission. 

Names identified in the Hunter Mill District include the Lee Manor Subdivision, Fort Lee Street, Mosby’s Landing Condominium Complex, and Wade Hampton Drive. 

The commission recommended that the Board of Supervisors create a public dialogue regarding the issue through public meetings and community gatherings, and follow those discussions with deliberation and definitive action on the Confederate names. The Commission also recommended that all project research is archived in the Virginia Room in the City of Fairfax Regional Library because of the extensive project research. 

Tom Biesiadney, director of Fairfax County’s Department of Transportation, discussed the process of petitioning the Commonwealth Transportation Board to change the name of Lee Highway and Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway. The commonwealth says there needs to be public input, as well as a request from the Board of Supervisors to change the name.

The Commission created a 2021 initiative in response to the Confederate listing, aiming to develop an inventory of research materials on African American communities in Fairfax County in collaboration with African American organizations including churches, social and community groups. 

The Commission is using a model identified by the city of Alexandria. Additionally, this summer, the City of Fairfax developed a framework process for identifying Confederate-associated names throughout this city and is partnering with George Mason University to provide community learning sessions on the issue, according to the presentation.

The board shared their appreciation for the extensive and intricate research by the History Commission. Additionally, Board members mostly agreed that the first priority should be the renaming of the highways, and from there, move forward with a community. process for renaming the secondary and neighborhood streets.

One concern came from Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk regarding the history of the district’s name. 

“I was hoping that there’d be something more definitive about Lee District, in terms of where its name originated, but it appears that we still have the same set of ambiguity,” said Lusk.   “We will have to have a community conversation about this name of this district.”

Additionally, Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity expressed concern in rushing into the name change process in the midst of the pandemic and emphasized the need for “robust community participation” before moving forward. 

Image via the Fairfax County History Commission

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The Town of Herndon  has applied for funding for a new project to reconfigure Sterling Road. 

According to a staff report from Dec. 1, the town would like the residential street to reflect its current plans for traffic access management and multimodal circulation. The project length will be about one mile, located between Elden Street and Rock Hill Road.

According to Jaleh Moslehi, a project engineer, this project may occur in the latter part of the decade, with the hope that public outreach and input will be scheduled for Summer 2021. 

The initial funding source will come from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority’s Local Revenue, according to the report. In addition, the town has proposed a funding application for up to $1,000,000 for fiscal year 2027. 

Staff and the town’s consultant are planning to present the concept design for the road in Spring 2021. The design will include ADA accessible sidewalks and proposed bike lanes for the entire length of the project, according to the report. Additionally, the traffic study will analyze the potential for better lane realignments at the intersections with Elden Street, Crestview Drive and Herndon Parkway. 

According to the report, the project’s objectives are to implement access management and multimodal measures, improve traffic signalization, add applicable turning lanes and provide for landscaping and safer ADA accessible sidewalks, all in an effort to increase safety while reducing congestion and enhancing circulation. 

Screenshot from Google Maps

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Several paving and restricting changes are planned for roads in the Hunter Mill District.

State and local officials are planned to add bike lanes and left-turn lanes on Beulah Road, as well as shared lane marks on the narrow parts of the road. On-street parking is expected to remain at the site.

Residents could also see bike lines on Glade Drive between Colts Neck Road and Glade Bank Way. On-street parking will remain on both sides of the road, but on-street parking west of Charterhouse Circle could be converted to bike lanes because it is underutilized.

Bike lanes are also planned on Pine Valley Drive between Old Courthouse Road and Higdon Drive. This project will require narrowing the road.

The existing left turn lane into the West Market Community neighborhood could be converted into a pedestrian refuge. Left turns into Market Street would be limited and alternative routes into the community through Crescent Park Drive will remain.

Paving projects are expected to begin in April and continue through November.  State and local transportation officials identify repaving and restriping projects annually in order to implement the county’s comprehensive plan.

The feedback period for comments closed on March 10.

Photo via FCDOT

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The Fairfax County Department of Transportation will hold a meeting later this month to discuss paving and restricting projects.

The meeting is set for Feb. 25 at 6:30 p.m. in the cafeteria of Terraset Elementary School (11411 Ridge Heights Road).

The meeting begins with a formal presentation at 6:45 p.m., after which the floor will open for questions, feedback, and comments.

Here’s more from FCDOT:

Overall, the paving and restriping program improves hundreds of roads in Fairfax County each year through maintenance and repaving. At the same time, the state and county agencies coordinate restriping efforts to address safety issues for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians through the creation of bike lanes, parking lanes, crosswalks and more.

Comments can also be submitted online for those unable to attend the meetings.

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Unwieldy grass along medians and roads maintained by VDOT could become more of an eyesore until mid-June.

A spokeswoman for VDOT told Reston Now that the department delayed awarding a mowing contract after a potential bidder asked for clarification on a section of the call for bids.

“When this happens, state regulations require at least 10 days before closing so the bid was extended,” said VDOT spokeswoman Jenni McCord.

Bids are expected to close on June 11, after which VDOT will make a decision on the contract.

In the meantime, McCord said VDOT is working to schedule crews to mow areas in Reston.

Historically, VDOT has contracted with RA to mow medians. Without a contract with VDOT, RA cannot mow areas maintained by VDOT.

It’s unclear if the association will get the contract this year.

Hank Lynch, RA’s CEO, said he shares members’ concerns about the lack of maintenance on the roadways.

Routine mowing of the medians not only provides better aesthetics, but it also makes traveling along roadways safer. We will continue to work with VDOT and are poised to perform the mowing quickly and to RA standards if and when the state legally permits us to do so,” Lynch wrote in a statement.

Others pointed to longterm maintenance issues with VDOT’s repaving of roads in Reston.

A resident of the Polo Fields neighborhood near the Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride said roads have not been paved and potholes have not been filled for years.

A community representative has been in touch with VDOT about the issue for at least two years.

The neighborhood hasn’t heard back about maintenance concerns.

Photos via K. Malaika Walton

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Despite a toll increase that went into effect in January, more drivers are using the Dulles Toll Road than the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority anticipated.

Between January and March, tolls brought in $46.4 million — 31 percent more compared to the same period last year. That gives the MWAA $11.2 million to work with in order to fund phase two of the Silver Line.

Even though the number of toll transactions dipped by 4.8 percent compared to the previous year, transactions were 1.3 percent higher than MWAA expected. So far this year, there have been 21.7 million transactions.

The cost of operations also increased this year. Year-to-date expenses were $1.3 million or 17 percent higher than the same period last year. MWAA attributed this increase to $1 million in operating expenses for expanded service and $300,000 in transaction fees.

Toll prices increased for the first time in four years from $2.50 to $3.25 and from $1 to $1.50 at ramps in order to cover phase two of the Silver Line past Reston Town Center to Dulles International Airport and Ashburn. Another increase is expected in 2023.

Photo via MWAA

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As construction gears up for widening Route 7 from Reston to Tysons, “Pardon Our Dust” meetings starting later this spring with information on the upcoming work phases and schedules.

The proposed Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) project will transform nearly seven miles of Route 7, between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive, which is just before the Dulles Toll Road interchange.

The project will widen Route 7 from four to six lanes, add shared-use paths and revamp intersections along the corridor.

The project aims to “increase capacity, improve safety and traffic flow and enhance mobility for cyclists and pedestrians, all in conformity with Fairfax County’s Comprehensive Plan,” according to VDOT.

Washington Gas has been busy with work along the corridor to replace a little under 7 miles of pipeline along Route 7 from Bishop Gates Way in Herndon to the intersection of Baron Cameron Avenue and Springvale Road.

The schedule for the project on VDOT’s website says:

  • late summer 2018-summer 2020: final design
  • early 2019-early 2021: right of way
  • spring 2019-summer 2023: utility relocation
  • spring 2019-summer 2024: construction

The project is slated to finish in July of 2024, VDOT says.

Specific dates and locations for the “Pardon Our Dust” meetings, which will periodically occur from this spring through summer 2023, have not been announced yet.

Map via Virginia Department of Transportation

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As you head out for your commute this morning, be wary of several road closures in Reston due to water in the roadway. A complete list, updated at 10:40 a.m. today, is below.

  • 10050 block of Browns Mill Road – Mud and water in the roadway
  • Hunter Mill Road at Hunter Station Road – Water in the roadway
  • Hunter Mill Road at Cedar Pond Drive – Water in the roadway

This story was updated to include the most recent road closures.

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A number of roads remain closed after Monday night’s thunderstorm swept through the area.

According to the Fairfax County Police Department, the following roads are impacted:

  • 9200 block Weant Drive – Tree down
  • Maria Avenue/River Bend Road – Tree and wires down
  • Minburn Street/Golden Arrow Street – Wire in the roadway
  • Robindale Drive/Mill Valley Court – Tree down
  • 680 River Bend Road – Trees and wires down

A flash flood watch remains in effect for Fairfax County from 3 p.m. today through Wednesday at 1 a.m.

A couple of rounds of thunderstorms are expected through push through northern Virginia and parts of northern Maryland in the evening.

Here’s more from the weather alert:

A  front will sag across the region this afternoon into this
evening. A couple rounds of thunderstorms are expected to
accompany the front and should move across the Mason-Dixon
region late afternoon. These thunderstorms should push farther
south and east into eastern West Virginia, northern Virginia
and portions of northern Maryland during the evening. Heavy
rainfall and lightning will be the main threats with the
potential of encountering damaging winds and hail in the
strongest thunderstorms. Rainfall amounts could average 1 to 3
inches later this afternoon and this evening. Flash flooding
is possible, especially in slow-moving thunderstorms.

This story will be updated.

Photo by Douglas Errett

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Expanded and upgraded sidewalks are planned on South Lakes Drive between Green Keepers Court and Twin Branches Road.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation will provide information about the proposal at Reston Association’s Design Review Board on Tuesday (May 15) at 7 p.m. in Reston Association’s Conference Center.

In total, roughly 3,600 feet of sidewalk will be installed in the area, along with a bus shelter on Green Watch Way. Upgrades to curb ramps and six bus stops with ADA-compliant loading pads are also planned.

The project is divided into three segments: from Greenkeepers Court to Pond View Court, from Salt Kettle Way to Ridge Heights Road and from South Lakes Drive at Twin Branches Road.

The Virginia Department of Transportation plans to rebuild the traffic signal at the intersection of South Lakes Drive and Twin Branches Road. Currently, a sidewalk does not extend to the intersection.

Land acquisition is expected to begin in the fall and be complete by fall 2019. Construction should begin around spring 2020, according to estimates from county officials.

Map/photo via FCDOT

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The right lane of Reston Parkway at the intersection of Sunrise Valley Drive will be closed for parts of the week.

Dulles Corridor Metrorail crews will complete drill testing related to the traffic signal.

Closures will remain in effect today (April 23) through Thursday (April 26) from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and on Friday (April 27) from 9:30 a.m. to noon.

Drivers should pay attention to all signage and traffic barriers, as large, slow vehicles may exit and enter the highway at various times throughout the week.

Map via Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project

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