(Updated at 9:30 a.m. The previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Metro was seeking the county board’s approval for the Silver Line project).

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will consider approval of changes to Herndon and Reston bus service to meet the needs of the Silver Line extension project.

The new bus routes would be run by the Fairfax Connector and provide enhanced service connecting routes coming from and to the new Metro stations along the new Silver Line extension.

Other plans for new connections and routes from Chantilly and Centreville into the Dulles Corridor, a route from the Loudoun campus of the Northern Virginia Community College, and from Sterling to Herndon. These connections and routes are designed to increase transit access to areas reliant for travel and employment. 

Metro plans to open six new stops along the line this year. Those stops will run along the Dulles Airport Highway and its adjacent toll roads. The new stations for the line extension will be located at Reston Town Center, Herndon, Innovation, Loudoun Gateway, Ashburn, and will end at the Dulles International Airport.

Metro official opened phase one of its Silver Line in July 2014, stops along the line included McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro, Spring Hill, and Wiehle-Reston East. Most of these stations are served by Fairfax Connector buses.

According to Metro, while the physical stations themselves have been completed the stops themselves are still closed to the public due to ongoing construction and safety hazards. These include the installation and testing of high-voltage electrical systems.

In preparation for the line, Fairfax County has constructed two park and ride garages at the Herndon station and the Innovation Center. There will be a total combined 3,950 parking spaces in the garages for Metro commuters to use once the second phase officially opens.

Metro plans to open the Silver Line extension in the first quarter of 2022 pending. The board will consider approval of bus service changes at its meeting on February 22.

Photo by Chuck Samuelson/Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project

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Morning Notes

Trains Run, But No Date for Silver Line Opening — Trains for the extension of the Silver Line into Loudoun County have begun running as part of testing. But the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority still does not have an opening date yet for the long-delayed project. [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Steps for Superintendent Search Outlined — A timeline for the search process for the school system’s next superintendent has been outlined. GR Recruiting has hosted stakeholder meetings with staff this week. Community meetings will be held Jan. 10 through 12. A survey is expected to be emailed to the FCPS community sometime this week. [Reston Patch]

Fairfax High School Students Stage Walkout — Hundreds of students from Fairfax High School staged a walkout to support a student believed to be the victim of an Islamophobic incident. [WTOP]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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Morning Notes

Giant Employee Arrested in Connection with Embezzlement — A 54-year-old employee at Giant in North Point Village Center was arrested on Dec. 12 on embezzlement charges. Police said that an internal investigation found that the suspect was reportedly taking merchandise from the store without paying. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Trains Run on Silver Line Extension — Test trains have been running on the Silver Line extension in Fairfax and Loudoun County. Officials announced that the project has reached substantial completion last month. [Inside NOVA]

Plastic Bag Tax to Begin — Beginning Jan. 1, residents will have to pay a five-cent plastic bag tax for disposable plastic bags, including grocery stores, convenience stores, and drug stores in the county. [Fairfax County Government]

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Morning Notes

Metro Restores More Service — After the Oct. 12 derailment of a 7000-series train in Virginia, Metro is increasing service on the red and yellow lines. Blue, Orange, and Silver lines will continue to run every 30 minutes while the Green line runs every 20 minutes. [Reston Patch]

Tennis Courts Closed for Repairs — The tennis courts at Lake Newport will be closed today. The closure impacts courts three to six and not courts one and two. [Reston Association]

Herndon Company Raises $145 Million — HawkEye 360 raised $145 million in series d round funding. The last round was led by New York-based global private equity and venture capital firm Insight Partners and Seraphim Space Investment Trust. [PR Newswire]

Cloudpermit Chooses Reston — The Finnish software company has made Reston its North American headquarters. The business employs 10 people and already has a small office in Reston. It hopes to double that headcount by the end of the year. [Washington Business Journal]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

 

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First Silver Line train pulls in to Wiehle-Reston East/Credit: Mike Heffner, Vita Images

(Updated, 3:50 p.m.) Work to tie-in Silver Line Phase 2 to Phase 1 was completed this past weekend, a Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) spokesperson tells Reston Now.

“The tie-in was a success and the Automatic Train Control System has been connected,” says spokesperson Marcia McAllister.

The work nessicated a shutdown of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station.

One of the main goals was to finish the automatic train control system and it was completed, says McAllister. Additionally, signal infrastructure tests were done and those are still being reviewed.

There remains one or items that need to be finished, but those items can be completed without service outages, says McAllister.

However, MWAA is not committing to a date or specific timeframe for substantial completion and for when the $2.8 billion public transportation project could be handed over to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).

“We are now following procedures set forth in the contract so we can move forward with what needs to be done to keep this project moving forward,”​ wrote McAllister when asked about a specific timetable.

In September, WMATA scheduled a weekend shutdown of Wiehle-Reston East Metro station in order to allow MWAA and the contractor Capital Rail Contractors (CRC) to connect the first and second phase of the Silver Line as well as perform tests related to signal infrastructure.

This work was crucial to keeping the opening of Silver Line Phase 2 on track and originally was supposed to be finished in June, but that didn’t happen as expected and necessitated a second shutdown.

All of this comes at a particularly fraught time for Metro as service has been drastically reduced to at least mid-November due to ongoing investigations into 7000-series cars related to the Blue Line train derailment in Arlington earlier this month.

Constant delays and missed deadlines on the multi-billion dollar Silver Line Phase 2 project have constantly frustrated residents, business owners, and government officials alike.

Recently, MWAA has continued to insist that substantial completion is coming soon, despite disagreements with the contractor on the timeline.

“The Airports Authority, WMATA and lead contractor Capital Rail Constructors worked together to make this a success,” reiterated McAllister.

Reston Now has reached to CRC about how the tie-in work this past weekend may impact their own assessment of a timeline for substantial completion, but have to yet to hear back as of publication.

Early last month, WMATA officials noted that it could be done and handed over to them in November.

However, there now seems to be some hedging on this timeline. At the Fairfax County Transportation Committee meeting at the end of September, it was announced that MWAA was “holding, at the moment, to the fourth quarter of 2021.”

A clearly-frustrated Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn responded at the meeting that it better be done prior to the Christmas holiday.

“Our next meeting of the transportation committee is December 14,” he said. “We better have substantial completion by then.”

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Thursday Morning Notes

Service Outages Planned for Silver Line — This weekend and in early December, service outages are planned between Spring Hill and Wiehle-Reston East Metro Stations. Free buses will offer transportation between the stations during outages. [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]

Herndon Cruiser Rear-ended — A Town of Herndon police cruiser was rear-ended by an alleged drunk driver. The police department is reminding residents to move over when emergency vehicles are on the side of the road. No injuries were reported. [Herndon Police Department]

Reston Company to Provide IT Services to USDA — “The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded Reston-based Fortune 500 defense contractor Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) a position on the department’s potential five-year, $620 million Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC) multiple-award blanket purchase agreement (BPA), SAIC announced Wednesday.” [Virginia Business Monthly]

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A Reston man has been arrested in connection with an attempted rape on Tuesday aboard a Silver Line train that left the Wiehle-Reston East Station.

Kendrie Roberts-Monticue, 21, was taken into custody today (Thursday) at the home of a family member in Virginia.

Metro Transit Police believe Roberts-Monticue allegedly attempted to rape an adult woman who was with her child aboard the train between the McLean and East Falls Church locations. The incident happened around 11:30 a.m.

He is expected to face charges of attempted rape by force, threat of intimidation and attempted sodomy by force, threat or intimidation. Both charges are felonies.

Photo via Metro Transit Police

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Public Safety Input Set Set for Today — Fairfax County public safety officials will hold an input session today at 6:30 p.m. Residents and organizations will offer testimony on various public safety issues. [Fairfax County Government]

Urbanist Issues in Town of Herndon Elections — Silver Line development issues are at the forefront of what most candidates are talking about, including two candidates running for mayor and eight candidates running for all of the six seats on the council. [Greater Greater Washington]

Cool Green Bags of Food for the Need — “Sixty-one volunteers will be fanning out over Northern Virginia this Saturday with one simple mission — to pick up green bags packed with food donations to help people experiencing food insecurity.” [Reston Patch]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Given that the expansion of the Silver Line is expected to bring more people to already urbanized areas in Northern Virginia, community leaders are working toward solutions around the lack of affordable housing.

The Dulles Chamber of Commerce brought together representatives from Fairfax and Loudoun counties to talk about what this means for the future of affordable housing at a public meeting yesterday evening. Common themes of conversation included roadblocks to construction, current demand for units, land-use policies and even the type of people around town in need of subsidized housing.

The cost of living is not sustainable for lower-income people working in the area, according to Tom Fleetwood, the Director of Housing and Community Development for Fairfax County. Around Fairfax County, from 2010 to 2015, the average income only increased by 10% while the cost of housing increased by 17%.

Fairfax County will require at least 15,000 new affordable housing units in the next 15 years to support families earning 60% of the median income and below, according to Fleetwood.

Currently, there are 30,000 low-income renters in Fairfax County that are paying more than one-third of their income on housing. “This means that they’re what we call a cost-burden and that they have less money to contribute to our economy,” he said.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, four minimum wage jobs are needed in order to afford the average apartment in the county.

Once the extension project is complete, the housing disparity is only expected to grow.

In Tysons and Reston specifically, Fleetwood said that the biggest challenge is the limited availability of land for affordable housing projects. To combat this, updated inclusionary zoning policies have been a large help in rethinking how space is used, he said.

“Visionary zoning policies have produced a substantial number of below-market units that are serving working families in Tysons and in Reston,” Fleetwood said but didn’t volunteer a specific number.

Stephen Wilson, president of the SCG Development, offered previous examples at the meeting of how his company has worked around small parcels of open land, using creative designs in areas like Shady Grove to make the most of space.

“Land is a precious commodity everywhere, but particularly around high-density areas,” he said.

At Ovation at Arrowbrook in Herndon, SCG Development is branching out and working with community planners to incorporate affordable housing close to stations like Innovation Center.

Image courtesy Fairfax County

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Metro’s services are gearing up for a return to a new normal.

More buses, trains and expanded hours of service are planned to begin this Sunday (Aug. 16), restoring most service to pre-COVID-19 levels.

Metrorail plans to add 15 hours of more service per week. Opening times will also return to normal, with the system closing two hours later each night in anticipation of ridership increases after Labor Day.

The system is expected to restore roughly 75 percent of its pre-pandemic service beginning August 23. Buses would operate until midnight and weekday service would return with 174 routes.

The opening of six Fairfax County stations on the Silver Line — including Wiehle-Reston East — is also on track to open on Sunday.

Here’s more from Metro on the planned service changes:

Metrorail will open at 5 a.m. weekdays, 7 a.m. on Saturdays and 8 a.m. on Sundays and close daily at 11 p.m.

Weekdays Red Line trains will operate every 5 minutes during peak periods and 12 minutes off-peak; all others lines every 8 minutes during peak periods and 15 minutes off-peak.

On weekends Red Line trains will operate every 12 minutes; all other lines every 15 minutes.

Six stations west of Ballston re-open – McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro, Spring Hill, Wiehle-Reston East and West Falls Church.

Arlington Cemetery Station remains closed as Arlington National Cemetery is currently closed to the general public. 

Face masks or covering are required to travel on Metro, including at stations, trains, buses and MetroAccess vehicles.

Metro also warns that social distancing may be impossible due to projected ridership increases. Customers can consider traveling during off-peak hours.

Photo via Fairfax Connector

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After a variety of issues and delays, Silver Line’s Phase Two is now aiming for completion in spring 2021.

Updates on the second phase of the Silver Line were briefly mentioned due to time constraints during the Transportation Committee yesterday. Phase Two will connect six new stations to the Wiehle-Reston East, bringing Metro riders out to Ashburn.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said that he briefly talked to Paul Wiedefeld, the general manager and CEO of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, last week.

“He assured me that — at least as of early last week — the Phase Two opening is still on track for next spring,” Alcorn said. “I’m sure there are probably a dozen ways that that can change, but for now, at least it is moving forward, according to that schedule.”

Phase Two is 98% complete overall, according to the presentation for Martha Elena Coello with the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.

The project has faced several delays, from train control software issues to flawed rail ties. The presentation addressed the ongoing issues the project has faced, including:

  • concrete panel deficiencies
  • concrete ties/cross level deficiencies
  • fouled ballast
  • automatic train control
  • insulated joints replacement

Work is expected to finish on the new rail, systems, stations and yard later this year or early 2021.

Recently, “substantial work” wrapped up on the garage at the Innovation Center Metro station, according to the presentation. The garage, which costs roughly $52 million, is 98% complete and awaiting its official occupancy permit, according to the presentation.

Bus loop work is expected to be done at the Herndon station garage this month.

The presentation also provided an update on the bus service plan for Phase Two. Currently, Fairfax County is seeking public input on the plan.

More from Fairfax Connector:

Welcome to the Reston-Herndon Area Bus Service Review final round of public input!… Fairfax Connector is considering a variety of options to improve bus service to, from, and around the new stations in Fairfax County.

Our previous round of outreach proposed three bus transit service alternatives, each with their own set of unique characteristics. We ranked the alternatives based on coverage, average travel times between key origin-destination pairs, and ridership potential (see right). We also listened to what Connector riders and nonriders had to say through several public meetings and an online survey. Based on feedback received, the preferred alternative presented today is cost-neutral, and includes the best elements of the three originally proposed scenarios and existing service.

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(Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation has selected its preferred bus service plan for the Fairfax Connector in Reston and Herndon.

County planners say the plan “aims to improve on-time performance and streamline service to meet the needs of the community and commuters.”

Here’s more from FCDOT on what’s being considered:

Some of the key improvements to the bus service in the area include new and more direct connections and routes; new connections to Chantilly, Centreville and the Dulles Corridor; service to Northern Virginia Community College (Loudoun Campus); and routes travelling from Sterling to Herndon. The plan, which also uses elements from all three of the proposed alternatives, shortens travel time, increases access for transit dependent populations, and maintains bus stop coverage at most locations.

The implementation of the proposed service changes will coincide with the start of the new Metrorail Silver Line service and will provide connections to the Reston Town Center StationHerndon StationInnovation Center StationDulles Airport StationLoudoun Gateway Station and Ashburn Station.

The plan will include three new routes: Chantilly to the Dulles Corridor, Northern Virginia Community College’s Loudoun campus, and Sterling too Herndon. Planners say the proposal shortens travel time and creates more direct connections.

The average travel time could be reduced from 57.3 minutes to 49.4 minutes. The updated plan would also improve service to more households, especially those that are low-income.

More information about the proposal is available online.

The county is seeking feedback via an online survey and via email at [email protected]. Residents can also call the county at 703-877-5600, extension 711, or mail comments to 4050 Legato Road, Suite 400.

The county is also hosting a virtual public meeting on the plan with Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn and Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust on Wednesday, July 8 from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Monday Morning Notes

Reston Association Resumes Youth Swimming Lessons — The association is resting swimming lessons for children between the ages of three and 12. Registration is $80 for RA members and $95 for all others. [Reston Association]

Measuring the Impact of the Silver Line — The Silver Line has caused some riders to change their routes and others to leave Metrorail entirely. Not every Silver Line rider is a new Metrorail customer. Once it opened, some Orange Line riders who frequented the Vienna, Dunn Loring, and West Falls Church stations switched to using the Silver Line for convenience.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Town of Herndon Resumes Inspections — After offering a brief grace period, town officials are resuming the enforcement of motor vehicle safety inspections. The state’s executive order does not apply to local municipalities within the state. [Herndon Police Department]

Around Town: Fairfax County Teachers Revolt — “A day after one of the nation’s largest school systems announced its proposal for fall learning, teachers within Fairfax County Public Schools rose in revolt and refused to teach in-person, as the plan demands, until officials revise their strategy.” [Washington Post]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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Herndon Man Arrested no Charge of Sexual Battery — Police arrested Javier Enrique on, 56, for misdemeanor sexual battery. According to the Herndon Police Department, Palma groped a woman who was walking on the Washington & Old Dominion Trail overpass in the 300 block of Herndon Parkway. Police are asking residents with information about other incidents to call 703-435-6846. [Herndon Police Department]

School Board Approves FY2021 Budget — “The Fairfax County School Board has approved the revised Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 21) budget.  The budget, revised due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reduced the previously recommended transfer increase from Fairfax County from $85.5 million to $7.3 million and includes a reduction of $4.8 million from the state. Along with other budget cuts, the total amount of the FY 21 budget was reduced by $67.0 million.”  [Fairfax County Public Schools]

New Crime Show Features Reston-based Company — “A Northern Virginia tech company that combines advanced DNA analysis with old fashioned genealogy to help police departments solve crimes is seeing its work go to the small screen. ‘The Genetic Detective’ debuts on Tuesday night on ABC. It stars CeCe Moore, a genealogist who works with Reston, Virginia-based Parabon NanoLabs to help police departments solve cold cases.” [WTOP]

Silver Line Service Officially Suspended — “Metro has suspended Silver Line service and closed nine stations in Northern Virginia from Memorial Day to fall, hoping to accelerate construction plans during the agency’s summer shutdown. WMATA already planned to close Vienna, Dunn Loring and East Falls Church stations this summer to reconstruct platforms.” [NBC4]

Photo by Beth Allgaier

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Silver Line Summer Shutdown Town Hall is Today — Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik and Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn will hold a town hall today (Thursday) from 6:30-7:30 p.m. via Webex. Representatives from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and the Fairfax County Department of Transportation will also attend the virtual meeting. [Webex]

Summer Camps Cancelled — The Fairfax County Park Authority has canceled all of its summer camps due to guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health officials. [FCPA]

Local Junior Collects Cards for Senior Living Home Residents — “South Lakes High junior Mary started a campaign in her community to collect letters and cards for residents in a senior living home. She posted her request on social media and collected the letters in a bin outside on her front porch. Since the residents aren’t permitted visitors, she thought they might appreciate the mail.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Next Reston Comprehensive Plan Task Force Meeting Announced — The task force will continue its second virtual meeting on Tuesday, May 26 from 7-9 p.m. Items on the agenda include the history of planning in Reston and elements of comprehensive planning. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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