Morning Notes

A tree looms behind a wooden fence in Reston’s Hickory Cluster (via vantagehill/Flickr)

Emergency Alert Test Coming Today — Expect an alert message “accompanied by a unique tone and vibration” on your mobile phone around 2:20 p.m. today as part of a test of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. FEMA and the Federal Communications Commission regularly test the nationwide system to ensure the infrastructure works in case of an emergency. [Ready Fairfax/Twitter]

Herndon Reinstates Mask Requirement — “Effective Wednesday, August 11, all members of the public over age two are required to wear masks indoors in town facilities…Masks are required for all visitors to town facilities, regardless of vaccination status. Masks are also required for attendees at public meetings, including public hearings of the Herndon Town Council, boards and commissions.” [Town of Herndon]

COVID-19 Vaccines Could Be Fully Approved Soon — “The head of Virginia’s vaccination program said on Tuesday that next month, the Food and Drug Administration will likely fully approve the COVID-19 vaccines, and approve their use for children ages 5 to 11 as well…Currently, the COVID-19 vaccines distributed in the U.S. are authorized but not approved.” [WTOP]

New Traffic Signal Installed at Fox Mill Road — A temporary traffic signal is now active at the Fox Mill Road (Route 665) and Pinecrest Road intersection in Herndon to address safety concerns before construction begins on a long-term project in fall 2024. That project will include a permanent signal, new left-turn lanes on Fox Mill, crosswalks, sidewalks and curb ramp reconstructions, and an eight-foot-wide walkway and curb ramp at the southeast corner. [VDOT]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Driving by Reston on the Dulles Toll Road (via vantagehill/Flickr)

Virginia is reconsidering the future of funding for transportation infrastructure, as the rise of electric and more fuel-efficient vehicles has cut into the gas tax revenue that helps pay for those projects.

One option the Commonwealth has started pursuing is a “mileage-based user fee” that drivers would pay depending on how much or little they travel. Drivers could opt into the voluntary system in lieu of paying a mandatory highway user fee that first took effect on July 1, 2020.

State Sen. Janet Howell (D-32nd District) says the highway use fee — which applies to cars that average at least 25 miles per gallon and is calculated based on the fuels tax at the time of a vehicle’s registration and the average number of miles it travels in the state — is a precursor to Virginia’s planned mileage-based user fee program.

“For most of the past decade, Virginia, like the rest of the country, has been wrestling with the challenge of identifying the best approach to generating sufficient revenues to support transportation investments,” she said in a statement. “As cars have become more fuel efficient and electric vehicle adoption increases, it is increasingly difficult to strike the right balance of raising adequate revenues from traditional sources and adhering to a usage-based philosophy of highway financing.”

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles is currently fielding requests from private contractors to operate the program, which it anticipates rolling out in July 2022. Led by the DMV, a workgroup tasked with developing the program is slated to deliver an interim report to the Commonwealth this December.

The working group is identifying all requirements to Virginia’s mileage-based user fee program with “a priority on consumer privacy protection and equity,” DMV spokesperson Jessica Cowardin said in a statement.

Seeking new ways to fund road repairs and transit projects, Virginia established the mileage-based fee program in April 2020 when the General Assembly adopted a major transportation bill that also established the highway use fee and raised gas taxes for the first time in more than three decades.

The bill also lowered vehicle registration fees by $10 and repealed an annual $64 fee for electric and alternative fuel vehicles.

The changes, which include tying the gas tax rate to the Consumer Price Index to keep up with inflation starting next year, will help Virginia diversify its funding sources to offset stagnant or declining gas tax revenue, state legislators say.

The consultant KPMG previously estimated that Virginia would lose nearly 33% of its gas tax revenues by 2030 due to fuel efficiency, or approximately $260 million.

“Neither the [Highway Use Fee] nor the EV Registration fee are intended to suppress the sales of fuel efficient or electric vehicles, but simply recapture the average annual revenue from the foregone gas taxes,” Howell said.

The idea of taxing drivers based on how much they travel instead of the fuel they use has been gaining traction throughout the U.S. over the past decade.

Despite inflation, the federal gas tax rate has been locked in at 18.4 cents per gallon since it went up from 14.1 cents in 1993, meaning there’s less money to fund highway improvements.

“Many cars are not using gas at all, such as electric, so that system of highway finance has been coming apart for a long time,” said Jonathan Gifford, director of George Mason University’s Center for Transportation Public-Private Partnership Policy in Arlington.

If Virginia wants to encourage a transition to clean energy and electric vehicles, which “is absolutely essential to addressing climate change, we will need to look to other options” to pay for transportation projects, Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance President Jason Stanford says. Read More

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Map of Lee Highway and Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway running through Fairfax County (Photo via Fairfax County)

(Updated at 9:20 a.m. on 7/15/2021) Fairfax County is convening a “Confederate Names Task Force” specifically charged with making a recommendation about renaming the county’s portions of Lee Highway and Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway.

The Board of Supervisors approved the appointment of the 30-member task force on Tuesday (July 13).

The task force’s mission is to review the names of Lee Highway (Route 29) and Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway (Route 50) to determine if the roads should be renamed and, if so, what the names should be. A county-appointed facilitator will also work with the task force.

The roadways currently bear the monikers of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.

This is a direct result of the work done by the county’s history commission to identify and inventory every place in the county named after a Confederate. The 539-page report noted that there were about 157 streets, parks, monuments, subdivisions, and public places in the county bearing names with ties to the Confederacy.

The most prominent were Lee Highway, about 14 miles of which runs through the county around Merrifield, Fairfax, and Centreville, and Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway. About 8.5 miles of that roadway runs through the county, including Chantilly and near Fair Oaks Mall.

“In Fairfax County, our diversity is our greatest strength and it’s important that we honor and celebrate that diversity,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said in the press release. “We cannot ignore what the Lee and Lee Jackson Memorial Highway names represent in our community and especially to our African American neighbors. The Confederate Names Task Force, which includes a diverse group, will examine and make recommendations on how both roadways can better reflect our values as we chart a positive path together for the future.”

The task force will meet monthly, starting later this month or early August, according to the agenda for the board meeting. The meetings will be open to the public, and the task force will seek input from the public prior to making a decision.

The group is expected to provide a recommendation to the county board by “the end of calendar year 2021.”

The task force is chaired by Sully District Planning Commissioner Evelyn Spain, who will be joined by 29 other members, including historians, civic organization leaders, homeowners’ association members, residents, professors, and faith leaders.

Spain says reevaluating the use of Confederate street and place names is necessary if Fairfax County wants to be inclusive and respectful of its increasingly diverse population.

“Naming highways after Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson celebrates men who fought a war against the United States to perpetuate slavery,” Spain said in a statement. “One Fairfax requires us to look at these issues through an equity lens to understand how these names have negatively impacted our community and people of color as well as how Confederate names adversely impacts them today…I’m honored to be a part of the Confederate Names Task Force as we work toward building a more inclusive and equitable Fairfax County.”

If the task force recommends changing the names of the roads, the county will have to undergo a somewhat complicated process to actually make it happen — much like it was when Arlington renamed its portion of Route 29 and Alexandria renamed Route 1, which had been named after Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

If changes are recommended, the task force would need to provide two to five alternate names for each road. Then, the county board and task force will hold at least one public hearing to allow for comment about the potential change.

After the public hearings, the board will then vote on whether to take the task force’s recommendation. A timeline laid out back in May projected that could happen in early 2022.

If the board votes to change the highway names, it would then submit a resolution to the Commonwealth Transportation Board requesting the changes while also committing to paying for the signage.

If that’s approved by the Commonwealth, the board has to pass a budget item for the cost of the signs, and an interdepartmental working group would set up a timeline for the actual switching out of signs and, finally, officially changing the roads’ names.

The working group will also coordinate with other jurisdictions on their name changes.

via Fairfax County

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The Spring Street and Herndon Parkway intersection slated for VDOT upgrades (via Google Maps)

Traveling in Herndon north of the Dulles Toll Road, whether by car, bicycle, or as a pedestrian, could get easier after a $19 million project is completed in 2023.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is currently working on plans to widen Spring Street from four to six lanes between Herndon Parkway and Fairfax County Parkway (Route 286). The project will add more turn lanes on and around East Spring Street, create a cycle track on Herndon Parkway, and improve the area’s sidewalk infrastructure.

The changes seek to address traffic volume that’s projected to increase to an average of over 47,000 vehicles each day on East Spring Street in 2042, up from 38,000 vehicles on that stretch of road and 18,000 vehicles on Herndon Parkway today, according to VDOT’s project page.

Construction is slated to begin this winter with completion anticipated in fall 2023.

According to the Town of Herndon, the roadway widening involves:

  • Expanding and reconstructing Spring Street from four to six lanes between Route 286 and Herndon Parkway
  • Adding turn lanes on approaches to the Herndon Parkway and Spring Street intersection, including dedicated northbound right turn lanes on Herndon Parkway and a second left turn lane on southbound Herndon Parkway
  • Adding a turn lane on the southbound Fairfax County Parkway off-ramp at Spring Street that’s solely for left turns

The cycle track will consist of an eight-foot-wide bicycle path separated from vehicular traffic as well as a six-foot-wide sidewalk that would replace the existing walkway on the east side of Herndon Parkway.

The two-way cycle track will run from the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, past the Spring Street intersection, and farther south to Hyatt House.

The dedicated bicycle path will support the Fairbrook Park redevelopment and other development projects expected to come with the eventual opening of the Herndon Metro station. It will ultimately extend to the Herndon Parkway and Van Buren Street intersection, where it will connect with a trail and bicycle lanes on Van Buren Street, according to the town.

The project will also introduce five-foot-wide, ADA-compliant sidewalks along Spring Street, according to a VDOT document.

While VDOT will be responsible for the project’s design and construction, maintenance of the completed bicycle path will be overseen by the Town of Herndon under a proposed license agreement with the state transportation department and the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NOVA Parks), which owns the W&OD Trail.

If approved, the agreement would run through the end of 2060 but could be extended. VDOT would be required to give NOVA Parks $5,000 to cover potential expenses related to construction on the W&OD Trail, though the money will be returned within six months after the work is completed.

Once construction is finished, the licensing agreement would be transferred to the town.

The Herndon Town Council discussed the agreement during a work session yesterday (July 7) and is slated to address the item again at its next regular meeting on Tuesday (July 13).

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Wind Advisory in Effect — The National Weather Service has issued a Wind Advisory for the D.C. area, including Fairfax County, starting at noon today (Friday). In effect until 2 a.m. Saturday, the alert says to expect northwest winds of 20 to 30 miles per hour with gusts up to 55 miles per hour. Gusts could blow around unsecured objects and bring down tree limbs, potentially leading to power outages. [NWS]

More Witnesses Come Forward in Sexual Battery Case — Additional victims and witnesses have contacted Herndon police about massage therapist Zachary Nelson Guzman-Orellana, 39, of Leesburg, who was arrested on April 21 on a charge of aggravated sexual battery. Police encourage any other victims or people with further information to call 703-435-6846. [Herndon Police Department/Twitter]

Rush Hour Toll Increase on Dulles Greenway Barred — Virginia’s State Corporation Commission approved a 25-cent increase for non-peak hour tolls on the Dulles Greenway but ruled that peak tolls can’t be raised now due to uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic. State legislators recently passed a law requiring the Virginia Department of Transportation to approve future toll increases on the privately operated road. [WTOP]

About 160,000 Virginians Miss Second Vaccine Dose — Virginia Department of Health data indicates that nearly 10% of Virginians who received a first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines didn’t return for their second one in the recommended time frame. Scheduling challenges and anxieties about side effects that tend to be heavier with the second dose could be factors. [Virginia Mercury]

Reston Engineering Firm to Go Public — “Reston engineering firm Bowman Consulting Group Ltd. is planning to go public, and recently priced its shares for an initial public offering that could raise up to $49.5 million.” [Washington Business Journal]

Conservatory Ballet Founder Dies — “It is with great sadness that the Conservatory Ballet of Reston announces that Founder and former Director Julia Cziller Redick passed away on April 18, 2021. Mrs. Redick founded The Conservatory Ballet in Reston in 1972 and remained as Director of the school for close to 50 years.” [Conservatory Ballet Foundation/IssueWire]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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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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