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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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