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Tuesday Morning Notes

Sharing common ground — Fairfax County officials have launched a new newsletter to keep the interfaith community informed of events and opportunities in the area. [Fairfax County Government]

Missing man found — Hassan Sultan, a 48-year-old missing endangered adult, was found today. He was last seen in the 2000 block of Maleady Drive in Herndon. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Problems with Alexandria’s Potomac Yard station — As the Silver Line makes its way into Virginia, there are some lessons to be learned about the need for well-designed entrances and information displays. [Washingtonian]

A hitchhiker on a Lake Anne boat (Photo by Beth Allgaier).

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Metro Officials: “Only Use Metro If You Have No Other Option”

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority officials are encouraging riders of the Orange, Blue and Silver Lines to use Metro “only if you have no other option.” A partial Blue Line shutdown and major delays on two other Lines are planned this weekend.

Beginning tomorrow (Saturday) until August 26, Orange and Silver Line trains will run every 20 minutes and Blue Line trains will run between Franconia-Springfield and Arlington Cemetery. No Blue Line services will be available in DC or Maryland.

WMATA urges commuters to brace for major delays and crowding. Metro’s rush hour promise will not be in effect for trips on the Orange, Blue or Silver Lines.

Crews are scheduled to rebuild track infrastructure, install new rail, new fasteners and repair concrete pads that support rails. Each track will be worked on one week at a time so that single-track service can be maintained, according to WMATA.

In a statement posted to their website, WMATA posted the following information about travel alternatives:

  • Commuters between Virginia and the district should use the yellow line.
  • Use the Yellow Line and transfer to and from the Orange or Silver Lines at L’Enfant Plaza.
  • Use the Red, Yellow or Green Line stations if they’re within walking distance of your destination.
  • Consider riding select trains on the VRE Manassas Line or VRE Fredericksburg line to Crystal City, L’Enfant Plaza or Union Station
  • Take the MARC Penn Line (via New Carrollton) or the MARC Camden Line (via Greenbelt) downtown.
  • Consider bus alternatives. See breakdown online.
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Reston Association to Hold Information Session on Bus and Metro Services

Need some extra help getting around? Reston Association is hosting an information session on how to ride the bus and Metro.

The event, set for August 16 from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., will offer attendees a hands-on learning experience. Participants will ride the Mobile Accessible Travel Training bus and get tips on reading bus schedules, route maps, calculating and paying fares, and other skills.

The bus will then stop at a Silver Line Metro Station, where participants will learn how to determine fares, buy Metrorail fare cards, load SmarTrip cards and read the rail system map.

The event is free. Attendees will meet on the training bus, which will be parked on the southwestern corner of the parking lot of the Reston Association (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive).

File photo

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Silver Line pleads guilty to falsifying concrete tests —  A contractor admitted to falsifying concrete quality tests for stations on the Silver Line extension to Dulles International Airport last week. The contractor, Andrew Nolan, 28, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and faces up to five years in prison. [The Washington Post]

LED lights the way — Fairfax County has entered into a new regional agreement with Dominion Energy that would convert existing streetlights into more energy-efficient LEDs. The company installs, owns and maintains most of the nearly 58,000 streetlights in the county. [Fairfax County Government]

Commuter alert: Lane and ramp closures — A number of lane and ramp closures are effect in Reston and surrounding areas, including Herndon Parkway, Sunrise Valley Drive and Sunset Hills Road through Aug. 11. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Photo by Mike James

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Metro Alert: Orange and Silver Line Delays Expected This Weekend

As major track improvements continue on Metro, riders of the Orange, Silver and Blue Lines should expect delays this weekend.

On Saturday (August 11) and Sunday (August 12), Farragut West, McPherson Square and Metro Center’s lower level will be closed. Orange and Silver Line trains will run every 12 to 15 minutes outside the shutdown area. All Orange and Silver Line trains will end at Foggy Bottom.

Blue Line trains will run between Franconia-Springfield and Arlington Cemetery only. All other stations will be open. Shuttle buses will replace trains between Foggy Bottom and Federal Triangle stations.

A “Unite the Right” rally and counterdemonstrations planned for Sunday afternoon near the White House could also make the commute more challenging. According to a statement, Metro will “be prepared to add trains as needed to address crowding if necessary.” Access to some stations due to overcrowding on the platform may be restricted by Metro Transit Police.

Photo by Mike Heffner

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Overnight Closure of Eastbound Dulles Access Highway Planned This Weekend

The eastbound Dulles Access Highway (DIAAH) will be closed between Centreville Road and Fairfax County Parkway from Friday (August 3) at 10 p.m. through Monday (August 6) at 5 a.m.

Traffic from the eastbound lanes will be diverted to the left lane of the eastbound Dulles Toll Road and will then be returned to the DIAAH once past the construction area. The closure is necessary to allow Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project crews to complete storm drain work in the area.

DIAAH drivers will not have to pass through any toll both on the toll road during the detours. Eastbound toll road traffic will be restricted to two lanes. All drivers are strongly encouraged to exercise caution and pay attention to all signs and barricades.

Map via Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project

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Friday Morning Notes

Silver Line concrete problem may not be criticalPreliminary tests on concrete panels show that major re-networking of the Silver Line extension to and beyond Dulles Airport might not be necessary. A whistleblower lawsuit raised concerns about improperly mixed concrete at Silver Line stations set to open in 2020. [WTOP]

Summerbration concert tonight — This week’s concert in Reston Station Plaza features the Jason Masi band. Parking is free from 6:30-9:30 p.m. [Reston Community Center]

Local company cracks cases — Parabon NanoLabs has helped solve five cold cases since early May with a new approach to genetic analysis. [NBC News]

Nearby: Local weekender — Need a roundup of what to do this weekend? From ice cream making to a concert with a mix of jazz and Indian classical music, there’s a lot to do this weekend. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo of Lake Thoreau’s public art display, submitted by Russ Evans

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Thursday Morning Notes

Silver Line delays — Dreaded Red Line maintenance that will shut down two stations until September begins this weekend. The Silver Line will run every 26 minutes this weekend between Wiehle and Ballston only. [DCist]

Nearby: JBG Smith and Amazon — The company, which has several projects in Reston, has benefited from the company’s status as a “perceived frontrunner for Amazon.com Inc’s second headquarters.” So, naturally, unfounded rumors that Jeff Bezos wants to acquire the developer are abound. [The Washington Business Journal]

‘Take a Break’ concert tonight — A mix of a capella, Motown, doo-wop and soul will come to Lake Anne Plaza today from 7-9 p.m. The concert by Part Harmony is free for all ages. [Reston Community Center]

Photo by Fatimah Waseem

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20-Minute Stoppages on Dulles Toll Road Planned Overnight

Beginning tomorrow (July 12) and on Friday night (July 13), triple lane closures on planned on the Dulles Toll Road after 10 p.m.

Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project crews will continue to install equipment under the pedestrians bridges at the Reston Town Center and Herndon Metrorail Stations that cross over the eastbound and Westbound lanes of the Dulles Toll Road.

Three lanes will be closed, resulting in 20-minute traffic halts after midnight each night.

Beginning Thursday at 10 p.m., three left lanes of the eastbound Dulles Toll Road will be closed to traffic between the Monroe/Van Buren Street and Reston Parkway overpasses. One right lane will be open to traffic and 20-minute stoppages will occur in the right lane of the eastbound lanes after midnight. Lanes will reopen on Friday at 5 p.m.

On Friday at 10 p.m., the three left lanes of the westbound Dulles Toll Road will be closed to traffic between the Wiehle Avenue and the Monroe Street/Van Buren Street overpasses. One right lane will be open to traffic and 20-minute stoppages are planned after midnight on the right westbound lane and on the ramp from Fairfax County Parkway to the westbound Dulles Toll Road lanes.

Normal operations will resume on Saturday (July 14) at 6 a.m. Utility work is expected to continue through July.

Maps via Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Company behind Silver Line concrete sued — “Virginia and the federal government sued a concrete manufacturer Monday, alleging that it lied and falsified documents in connection with panels it manufactured for the second phase of Metro’s Silver Line that were later found to be defective.” [The Washington Post]

A new community in Herndon — These single families houses planned for Summerhouse Landing in Herndon look traditional from the outside, but inside, a more modern layout is constructed. [The Washington Post]

Hot tub movie night tonight — Enjoy late night swim hours and join Reston Association for a free movie by the hot tub. Classic films from the 70s and 80s as well as modern titles will be featured. The event is open to people age 17 and up. [Reston Association]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Monday Morning Notes

Water, water everywhere — During a concert on Saturday in Reston Town Center, the fountains turned on and soaked the performing band, Rocknoceros. Thankfully, the equipment survived. [Rocknoceros]

Updating design guidelines — In this Reston Today video, get a glimpse of proposed changes to Reston’s design and maintenance guidelines for that next fixer-upper project. [Reston Association]

Nearby: Selling out — A 280-acre piece of land near the future Loudoun Gateway Silver Station was sold to a data center developer. The site was previously planned to be a 14 million square foot development. [Bisnow]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Decision on Reston Crescent Project Deferred to July 12

A decision on Brookfield Properties’ four million-square-foot redevelopment of the Reston Crescent site was deferred last week amid a disagreement regarding the developer’s contribution for the affordable housing fund. 

Brookfield has proposed roughly 4.2 million square feet of development across 36 acres, including up to 1,721 residential units, 1.9 million square feet of office space, a hotel and 380,000 square feet of retail. The property is divided into eight development blocks. Two existing office buildings on the site will remain untouched.

The first new building, which fronts Reston Parkway, includes a Wegmans with 380 apartment built on top of it. The project is located west of Reston Parkway, north of Sunrise Valley Drive, east of Edmund Halley Drive and south of the Dulles Toll Road.

At June 28 Fairfax County Planning Commission meeting, county staff indicated the developer needs to pitch in more toward the affordable housing fund. Brookfield plans to ensure 15 percent of all units are affordable at income tiers of up to 70, 90 and 100 percent of the Area Median Income — a lower income distribution than county requirements.

Even though the developer is offering units for individuals with lower incomes, county officials and the developer disagree on how much Brookfield should offer for the non-residential aspects of the property. The comprehensive plan indicates the developer should contribute $3 per non-residential square feet.

Because Brookfield is proposing a completely new redevelopment project, county officials contend the developer should contribute based on the total square footage of new development, roughly 1.6 million square feet. Brookfield, however, asserts they only have to contribute funds for 1.1 million square feet of development because other non-residential development was already approved under a previous plan.

In a report, staff said the latest proposal was entirely new and supersedes any previous approvals. “As a result, the proposed non-residential uses on affordable housing and such impact should be fully mitigated through the $3 per non-residential square feet contribution towards affordable housing,” according to the report.

An earlier clash over the developer’s commitment to providing an athletic field was resolved in recent discussions. According to the developer’s representative, Mark Looney of Cooley, Brookfield has an underdeveloped property under contract for a future full-size athletic field. Once the property is purchased, Cooley said the developer should dedicate it to the county’s park authority.

In remarks before the Planning Commission, John Carter, the commissioner for the Hunter Mill District, said the commission needed more time to discuss what could be a “precedent-making” decision. The commission will vote on the project on July 12.

Handout via Fairfax County Government

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Feedback Sought on Proposed Toll Increases at Dulles Toll Road in 2019

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority will hold a public hearing in Reston on July 17 to hear feedback on proposed rate increases along the Dulles Toll Road.

Under the proposal, commuters would pay fifty cents more at ramp plazas and seventy-five cents more at the mainline plaza beginning in 2019. According to the MWAA, rate increases are necessary to fund the Silver Line extension project and improvements on the Dulles Toll Road.

The public hearing is scheduled for July 17 from 5-8 p.m. at South Lakes High School (11400 South Lakes Drive). Two other hearings will be held at Spring Hill Elementary School in McLean and Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn.

Attendees are encouraged to comment on how the planned toll increase of $1.25 for a typical Dulles Toll Road trip should be allocated between ramp and mainline plazas. The MWAA is also seeking comments on whether toll plaza lanes that allow customers to pay with cash should be converted to “E-ZPass only” tolling.

Comments on other operational improvements, including whether or not credit cards should be accepted at toll plaza lanes, are also encouraged.

MWAA representatives will be on site to discuss the proposal. Translators will also be available at each public hearing. The public engagement period will run from July 2 through August 3. Comments can be submitted to [email protected].

The MWAA’s board is expected to vote on planned toll increase later this year.

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Board to Consider Dulles Toll Road Rate Increase for 2019

Commuters on the Dulles Toll Road could pay 75 cents more at the main toll plaza and 50 cents more at each ramp. The proposal will be presented to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s Board of Directors on Wednesday (June 20).

If approved by the board, tolls would increase from $3.50 to $4.75 for most one-way trips beginning in January. Rates would be higher for larger vehicles.

In 2019, tolls are expected to generate $198.7 million in revenue, nearly 30 percent more than the currently generated revenue. Despite projected increases in revenue, the number of toll transactions is expected to decrease by 6.4 percent next year due to declines in road usage during weekends and off-peak hours.

A nearly 1.5 percent increase is expected until 2023 when the next planned toll increase is scheduled to take effect.

Public hearings on the proposal are set for July 11 in McLean, July 17 in Reston and July 19 in Ashburn. During the meetings, attendees can discuss their thoughts with authority officials, as well as whether or not the board should switch to electronic-only tolling.

The board is expected to vote on the final proposal in October. Plans to increase tolls have been in the works since 2009. Revenue generated from toll transactions would cover debt tied to the Silver Line.

Photo by Fatimah Waseem

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Track Work to Cause Delays on the Silver, Orange and Blue Lines This Weekend

Build some extra time into your plans if you’re planning to take the Orange, Silver or Blue line this weekend.

Trains on all three lines will travel 24 miles apart. Silver Line trains will run only between Wiehle-Reston East and Ballston, Blue Line trains will single track between Foggy Bottom and Arlington Cemetery and Orange line trains will single track between Foggy Bottom and Arlington Cemetery.

The service changes are necessary in order to allow crews to install cables and communications equipment on the Blue and Orange lines, according to the Washington Metropolitan Area Authority.

Customers should use Orange and Blue lines to complete their trip. At Ballston, customers should transfer between Silver and Orange line trains on the same platform.

Photo by Mike Heffner

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