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Report: Metro Garage in Herndon is ‘Sinking’

A report, first published by The Washington Post, finds that the Innovation Center Metro Station garage is “sinking.”

All work on the county-financed garage, which has eight stories, has been halted as an engineering firm attempts to determine why four cylindrical supporting structures sunk by as much as four inches.

The garage is one of five installed along the extension of the Silver Line, which runs from Dulles International Airport into Loudoun County.

The Post reports the problem was discovered when the garage was about 65 percent complete in July.

Manhattan Construction has a $33 million contract with the county to build the garage. Officials are confident that the garage will not collapse. The Innovation Center Station, which is near one of the sites up for consideration by Amazon for its second headquarters, is served by the 2,100-space garage.

An electronic monitoring system will be installed to monitor any movement of the foundation.

Photo via handout/Fairfax County Government

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Monday Morning Notes

Lane and ramp closures this week — Phase two of the Silver Line project ushers in several lane, shoulder and road closures this week along the Dulles Toll Road, the Dulles International Airport Access Highway, Herndon Parkway, Sunset Hills Road and Sunrise Valley Drive. The complete list of closures is available online. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Not denser than Manhattan — Canaan Merchant responds to an opinion piece published on Reston Now that asserts Reston is going to be denser than Manhattan. [Greater Greater Washington]

Bechtel brings it — The engineering giant moved its global headquarters from San Francisco to Sunset Hills Road in Reston this year. The company has become one of Washington’s biggest privately held players. [The Washington Business Journal]

Suspicious package cleared by Metro transit police — A package found on Friday at Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station was cleared by police. [Metro Transit Police]

Corn night moon gathering tonight — View this month’s full moon, which, according to American Indian folklore, is named the Corn Moon. It indicates the time of the year to harvest crops. View the moon through the park’s telescope and enjoy a corn-inspired treat over the fire. Registration is $8. [Fairfax County Government]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Private Contractors Likely to Operate Silver Line’s Second Phase

Private contractors are likely to operate and maintain the six new stations that are part of the Silver Line extension project that runs from Wiehle-Reston East into Loudoun County

In an announcement on Tuesday, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said it has issued a request for proposals in order to seek private contractors who can operate and maintain the new stations, trains, and facilities.

WMATA said the move was necessary in order to control operating and maintenance costs, including future pension costs, which it says have “grown to unsustainable levels.”

“We are leaving no stone unturned as we look for opportunities to maintain transit service for the region and protect jobs, all while living within our means in light of what our funding jurisdictions can afford,” said Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul J. Wiedefeld. 

Bids are due on Jan. 15 and a contract will be awarded in the spring.

Officials said the move will not result in job losses for Metro’s current workforce. They also noted that transit agencies in Hong Kong, London, Melbourne, and Beijing have had success in contracting some or all rail services through public-private partnerships, resulting in “improved on-time performance, reliability, operating efficiencies and cost savings.’

The Silver Line extension project is tentatively scheduled to open in 2020.

Photo by Fatimah Waseem

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Preliminary Planning for Silver Line Underpass to Begin This Year

Local and state officials plan to explore options to build a Silver Line underpass from Town Center Parkway and Sunset Hills Road to Sunrise Valley Drive.

The project, which is expected to cost around $169 million, is in its early planning phases.

Pending the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ approval on Tuesday (May 15), the county’s transportation department and the Virginia Department of Transportation will propose three options for the four-lane underpass.

Preliminary engineering and designing will begin in fiscal year 2020. No timeline for construction has been set.

County officials said the project is a “high priority” to improve circulation in Reston, support traffic from additional development and improve connectivity in the overall road network.

In 2014, the county board approved a plan that recommended constructing the underpass west of Edmund Halley Drive and committed $8.7 million to advance the effort. Three years later, the board incorporated the project in Reston’s funding plan for transportation improvements.

The underpass is planned beneath a future Metrorail line. Metrorail tracks will span the future road roadway extension. 

The board will vote on the agreement between state and county officials to begin exploring options on Tuesday. The scope of the study includes:

  • A review of previous studies
  • Aerial mapping
  • Three planning and profile studies
  • A preliminary project cost estimate
  • Information on environmental impacts

Image via Google Maps

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Aluminum Musicians and Colorful Ribbons: Future Metro Station’s Public Art

Metro’s Art in Transit Program is recommending the vision of a Colorado-based artist to become the motif of the future Reston Town Center Metro station.

Last week, the program unveiled the proposal of Joshua Wiener as its pick for the public art installation at the station’s walkways over the Dulles Toll Road. Wiener’s designs, which are shown on his personal website, consist of powder-coated aluminum sculptures of a bassist, a horn player and a drummer, as well as flowing red and teal ribbon designs down the corridors.

Wiener’s proposal was chosen over two other finalists. The program received 45 total submissions for the project. The Art Review Panel included the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, the Arts Council of Fairfax County, Public Art Reston and other Virginia-based visual art professionals.

According to the Art in Transit Program, the public art initiative benefits Metro as a whole by:

  • Creating attractive transit facilities
  • Building livable communities by creating public spaces that reflect the artistic, cultural and historic environment
  • Creating economic opportunities for artists, engineers, fabricators and other professionals

WMATA’s Customer Service Operations and Security Committee approved the proposal at its Thursday meeting. The full WMATA board will vote on it this summer. Upon board approval, WMATA will enter into contract with Wiener to develop, fabricate and install the artwork.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is overseeing construction of Phase II of the Silver Line, is funding the public art effort. The project’s funding is capped at $250,000.

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County Approves Bond Sale to Pay for Metro Garages

Rendering of garage at Innovation Center/Credit: Fairfax CountyFairfax County may sell more than $100 million in revenue bonds to pay for garages along Phase II of Metrorail’s Silver Line.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved the $115 million bond sale.

The garages are planned for the Herndon and Innovation Center stations. The county would own the garages. The bonds would be repaid using parking fees from the two garages, not tax dollars, the supervisors said.

The move had been planned, but County Supervisor Sharon Bulova previously said the bond sale would not happen until Fairfax closes on its portion ($403 million) of the $1.9 million in federal transportation loans for the project, which it did earlier this year.

From the county:

In 2011, the county agreed to use its best efforts to seek funding for parking garages at the Herndon and Innovation Center Metrorail stations, which are part of rail line’s second leg. While the county plans to build these two garages, Fairfax will not sell revenue bonds until after it closes on its $403 million TIFIA loan with the U.S. Department of Transportation. The federal government approved the TIFIA loan earlier this year.

“I am pleased that Fairfax County will own and operate these garages and collect revenue from parking,” said Chairman Bulova. “This financing structure reduces the overall cost of Phase II of the Silver Line by using parking fees, instead of general fund tax dollars.”

The total estimated cost for constructing Herndon is $58 million, and the estimated cost for Innovation Center comes to $57 million.

Under the approved plan of finance, the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority would issue revenue bonds. The proceeds of these bonds will then be loaned to the County, which will repay the revenue bonds from parking fees that are expected to generate about $10 million a year.

Under an agreement with Metro, Fairfax will set and keep the fees charged at the three county-owned Silver Line garages: Wiehle-Reston East, Herdon and Innovation. Those parking fees will also be used to operate and maintain the county-owned garages.

In addition, under a program established in the late 80s as a way to help finance Metro parking garages, Metro will transfer to the county a portion of the parking revenue Metro collects at its five garages in Fairfax, plus the East Falls Church and Van Dorn station garages.

Wiehle-Reston East is the only one of the Silver Line’s Phase I station that has a parking garage. That garage, which has 2,300 county-owned spaces and and additional 1,000 owned by Comstock, was built as a public-private partnership with Comstock. Parking costs $4.85 a day.

The Innovation Center garage will have 2,100 spaces and a secure bike room, similar to the one at Wiehle-Reston East. Herndon currently has 1,950 spaces at its kiss-and-ride lot. When finished, there will be a total of 3,500 parking spots at Herndon Station.

Phase II is in early construction stages and it expected to open in 2018.

Photo: Rendering of Innovation Center garage/Credit: Fairfax County

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