Reston, VA

Fairfax County officials are seeking $66.4 million in state funds for the Soapstone Connector.

The project, which would create a new one-mile roadway between Sunrise Valley Drive and Sunset Hills Road, recently received $15 million from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.

A bridge would be built over the Dulles Corridor, providing an additional crossing that is critical to reducing congested areas along Wiehle Avenue

At a July 28 meeting, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to seek the funds through the Commonwealth Transportation Board’s FY2022-FY2027 Smart Scale Program.

The program considers projects for funding based on factors like congestion mitigation, economic development, safety, land use and environmental safety. In Northern Virginia, the factor of congestion mitigation has the most weight.

The county worked with the Virginia Department of Transportation to flag nine other projects for consideration, including the widening of Route 7 for bus rapid transit and the widening of Fairfax County Parkway from Route 123 to Nomes Court.

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A pedestrian was struck by a car at the intersection of Wiehle Avenue and Sunset Hills Road yesterday (Wednesday).

The individual walked away with minor injuries, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.

The pedestrian had the right of way, FCPD Sergeant Tara Gerhard told Reston Now.

But the incident prompted FCPD to encourage motorists and pedestrians to use roadways safely. The busy intersection where the incident occurred is known for pedestrian-related accidents.

FCPD urged pedestrians to maintain eye contact while crossing the road, use the crosswalk, and follow all signs associated with the crosswalk. Motorists should also ensure they are avoiding distractions while on the road.

“Responsibility has to be shared with motorists,” said Lieutenant John Lieb.

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Monday Morning Notes

South Lakes High School to Begin Distributing Laptops — Distribution of laptops provided by the school system begins this Wednesday (August 7). Students must be present to receive the laptop, which is part of a recent initiative by the school system to give laptops to students across the county. [South Lakes High School]

Police Search for Missing Great Falls Man — Local police are looking for William “Billy Brener, an 83-year-old Great Falls Man who went missing over the weekend. Brener is roughly 150 pounds and has gray hair and brown eyes. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Silver Line Construction Prompts Closures — Access to several lanes and ramps will be limited this week due to ongoing construction, including Sunrise Valley Drive, Sunset Hills Road, and Herndon Parkway. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Photo by Caroline Causey/Flickr

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Local fire and rescue crews were on the scene of a gas leak in Reston earlier this week.

A gas leak occurred on the 12100 block of Sunset Hills Road around a little before 10 p.m. this past Tuesday (July 9).

Hazmat crews opted to flare a tank — a technique that burns gas in the tank to reduce volume or lower internal pressure.

A spokesperson for the Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department told Reston Now that only the pressure relief valve was damaged.

“No buildings were evacuated as everything was under control,” the spokesperson said.

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Monday Morning Notes

Lane Closures on Sunset Hills Road — Closures are scheduled for eastbound Sunset Hills Road near the future Reston Town Center Metro station from today (Monday) through Wednesday. Crews are completing stormwater management work. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Metro Adds More Service Options — The price of four passes — the seven-day unlimited, the seven-day short trip, the seven-day regional bus and the one-day unlimited pass — will be lowered. A new option for a three-day unlimited pass will also be available. The service and affordable pass product changes begin today (Monday). [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]

Lake Anne Paddle Set for Friday — Registration for the event is $7 for Reston Association members and $9 for all others. Attendees will get a chance to canoe or kayak on Lake Anne with a naturalist. [Reston Association]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Monday Morning Notes

Lane Closures Planned on Eastbound Sunset Hills Road — The road near the Wiehle-Reston East Station will be closed several days this week to allow Silver Line Phase II crews to complete stormwater management work. Closures are in effect today (Monday) and Thursday (June 13) from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and on Friday (June 14) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

The Post’s Sietsema Reviews Bombay Velvet in Reston — Tom Sietsema writes that the upscale Indian restaurant in RTC West has “fine aspirations with an uneven start.” [The Washington Post]

Reston-based SAIC Has “Stout Revenue Growth” — “Amid the torch-passing between outgoing CEO Tony Moraco and CEO-elect Nazzic Keene on Thursday’s first quarter earnings call, Science Applications International Corp. (NYSE: SAIC) delivered stout revenue growth fostered by its acquisition of Engility Holdings Inc. The Reston-based technology contractor reported $1.6 billion in revenue for the quarter, a 37% increase from the prior year, fueled largely by growth attributed to the Engility buy, which closed in January.” [Washington Business Journal]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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State and local transportation officials have been working for more than a year on clearing the Soapstone Connector through the environmental approval phase — one of the latest hurdles for the roughly $170 million project.

The connector — which extends Soapstone Drive from Sunrise Valley Drive over the Dulles Toll Road to Sunset Hills Road — provides a new north-south alternative to tackle increasing traffic congestion on Wiehle Avenue. By the time the project breaks ground, hundreds of additional residential units are expected to come on the market in Reston.

County transportation officials are working with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to determine the next steps for the project after the state determined a group of buildings on Association Drive the project could cut through are considered historic. The Fairfax County Department of Transportation must conduct an alternatives analysis to find possible ways to reduce the impact on the buildings.

Discussions have been ongoing for more than year. The county’s Architectural Review Board first determined the collection of buildings could be historically significant in early 2018. Since then, county staff have been trying to chart the best path forward to minimize the impact on the buildings  — which are considered historic as a collection, but not on an individual basis.

More hurdles are expected as the project goes through design and planning. Construction isn’t expected to begin until the mid to late 2020s.

“Anytime you’re building a new major project in a built environment, it’s more challenging than if we’re working out in a cornfield,” Tom Biesiadny, FCDOT’s director, told Reston Now. “None of them are insurmountable.”

Although funding for the project has not been secured yet, Biesiadny says the county has enough dollars to finish project design, which will move forward once the county receives necessary environmental approvals. The county plans to then tackle right-of-way and land acquisition between 2022 and 2024. Utility relocation is also complicated by the fact that area businesses rely on fiber optic cables along Sunrise Valley Drive and Sunset Hills Road.

“At the moment, money is not holding anything up,” Biesiadny said. “It’s several years out before we need the construction dollars.”

So far, the project has $24 million secured from federal, regional and local funds. A $45.4 million grand application for Smart Scale funding has been submitted. The county plans to continue to aggressively apply for grant funding.

The connector has been on the county’s planning books for years. A hybrid design for the project received county approval in 2014.

Map via Fairfax County Government

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Common Ground Childcare recently opened its second Reston location earlier this week.

The new location by the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station is the first expansion by Common Ground Childcare, which debuted in Reston in 1972, according to its website. It is geared toward kids ranging from infants up to the age of 2.

A ribbon-cutting on March 30 celebrated the opening of the new spot at 11480 Sunset Hills Road.

The original location at 1700 Wainwright Drive offers before-school, after-school and drop-in care for young kids.

Photo via Facebook

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Ballet instruction will soon arrive near Plaza America.

Building permits indicate that a new tenant layout for Principal Ballet is coming to 11495 Sunset Hills Road.

The ballet school has signed a lease for a 3,630-square-foot space on the first floor, according to Renaud Consulting, a commercial real estate company.

Currently located in the Hunters Woods Village Center, Principal Ballet provides year-long classes with offerings for preschool, elementary and middle school students; teens; and adults.

Image via Google Maps

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Fairfax County police recently arrested a Herndon man and charged him with seven larcenies in connection with a stash of guns and drug paraphernalia.

Two weeks ago, an officer smelled marijuana coming from a car, which had been sitting in the 12100 block of Sunset Hills Road for awhile, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.

After speaking with the driver, Brandon Hernandez, 19, of Herndon, officers searched the car and discovered more than a pound of marijuana along with a handgun, ammunition, THC cartridges and cash, police say.

Police arrested Hernandez and the two passengers in the car — Kevin Fernandez, 20, of Herndon and Guillermo Alfaro, 20, of Reston.

FCPD then teamed up with the Herndon Police Department to obtain a search warrant for Hernandez’s home. Police say they ended up seizing seven loaded weapons, which have been linked to several burglaries and armed robberies in the area, and more than 450 THC vape pens.

Hernandez is currently being held without bond, and more charges are pending as detectives continue to investigate, according to police.

Images via FCPD/Facebook

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Construction work on the second phase of the Metrorail Silver Line project brings lane and ramp closures from Sunday (Jan. 13) until Saturday (Jan. 19).

Most of the closures avoid prime rush hour times.

In a post about the closures, the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project reminds drivers to use caution; remain attentive to all signage, barricades and speed limits; and obey all police and flagger instructions. Work is subject to weather changes.

Eastbound on the Dulles Toll Road has alternating right and left lane closures from just west of the Route 28 overpass to the Reston Pkwy overpass on the following days:

  • Monday to Friday: 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Saturday: 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Eastbound also has a left lane closure 500 feet west of the Reston Pkwy overpass to 300 feet before the Wiehle Avenue overpass. This will occur from Wednesday until Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Alternating right and left lane closures are also westbound on the Dulles Toll Road between the Route 28 and Reston Parkway overpass. These will be in effect:

  • Monday to Friday: 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Saturday: 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Also heading westbound is a triple left lane closure from Reston Pkwy to the west end of Herndon Station from 10 p.m. to 5 .m. from Tuesday until Thursday.

Two left lane closures are also scheduled. One will stretch from 300 feet west of the Wiehle Avenue overpass to 400 feet of the Reston Pkwy overpass from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. from Tuesday until Friday.

The second one will be from 200 feet west of the Hunter Mill Road Bridge to the W&OD Trail from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. from Monday until Thursday.

Eastbound on Sunset Hills Road will have alternating right and left lane closures from 400 feet west of Town Center Pkwy to Bechtel Building Entrance. The civil work will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. from Monday until Thursday and from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Friday.

Eastbound on Herndon Parkway from 1,000 feet east of Van Buren Street to 800 feet west of Exchange Place will have a right lane closed from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. from Monday until Thursday and from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Friday.

Several different spots westbound on Sunrise Valley Drive will have closed right lanes from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. from Monday until Thursday and from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Friday, including:

  • from Dulles Technology Drive to Dulles Station Blvd
  • from Thunder Chase Drive to Millburn Lane
  • from Reston Pkwy to 200 feet west of Edmund Halley Drive

Edmund Halley Drive will have a right shoulder closed from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. from Monday until Thursday and from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Friday.

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Construction work on the second phase of the Metrorail Silver Line project brings lane and ramp closures from Sunday (Jan. 6) until Saturday (Jan. 12).

Most of the closures avoid prime rush hour times.

In a post about the closures, the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project reminds drivers to use caution; remain attentive to all signage, barricades and speed limits; and obey all police and flagger instructions. Work is subject to weather changes.

Eastbound on the Dulles Toll Road has alternating right and left lane closures from just west of the Route 28 overpass to the Reston Parkway overpass on the following days:

  • Monday to Friday: 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Saturday: 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Drivers can also expect triple lane closures eastbound on the Dulles Toll Road from the west end of the Herndon Station to the east end of the Reston Station. This will take place from 10 p.m. on Wednesday until 5 a.m. on Thursday.

Alternating right and left lane closures are westbound on the Dulles Toll Road between the Route 28 and Reston Parkway overpass. These will be in effect:

  • Monday to Friday: 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Saturday: 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Eastbound on Sunset Hills Road will have alternating right and left lane closures from 400 feet west of Town Center Pkwy to Bechtel Building Entrance. The civil work will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. from Monday to Thursday and from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Friday.

Eastbound on Herndon Parkway from 1,000 feet east of Van Buren Street to 800 feet west of Exchange Place will have a right lane closed from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. from Monday to Thursday and from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Friday.

Several different spots westbound on Sunrise Valley Drive will have closed right lanes from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Monday to Thursday and from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Friday, including:

  • from Dulles Technology Drive to Dulles Station Blvd
  • from Thunder Chase Drive to Millburn Lane
  • from Reston Pkwy to 200 feet west of Edmund Halley Drive

Edmund Halley Drive will have a right shoulder closed from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. from Monday to Thursday and from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Friday.

File photo

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Construction work on the second phase of the Metrorail Silver Line project brings lane and ramp closures from Monday (Dec. 31) until Saturday (Jan. 5).

Most of the closures avoid prime rush hour times.

In a post about the closures, the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project reminds drivers to use caution; remain attentive to all signage, barricades and speed limits; and obey all police and flagger instructions. Work is subject to weather changes.

Eastbound on the Dulles Toll Road has alternating right and left lane closures from just west of the Route 28 overpass to the Reston Parkway overpass on the following days:

  • Wednesday to Friday: 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Saturday: 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Alternating right and left lane closures are also westbound on the Dulles Toll Road between the Route 28 and Reston Parkway overpass. These will be in effect:

  • Wednesday to Friday: 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Saturday: 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Also heading westbound is a triple left lane closure from the Van Buren Street overpass to the Route 28 overpass from 10 p.m. on Friday to 5 a.m. on Saturday.

Eastbound on Sunset Hills Road will have alternating right and left lane closures from 400 feet west of Town Center Pkwy to Bechtel Building Entrance. The civil work will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Thursday and from 9: 30 a.m. to noon on Friday.

Eastbound on Herndon Parkway from 1,000 feet east of Van Buren Street to 800 feet west of Exchange Place will have a right lane closed from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Thursday and from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Friday.

Several different spots westbound on Sunrise Valley Drive will have closed right lanes from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Thursday and from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Friday, including:

  • from Dulles Technology Drive to Dulles Station Blvd
  • from Thunder Chase Drive to Millburn Lane
  • from Reston Pkwy to 200 feet west of Edmund Halley Drive

Edmund Halley Drive will have a right shoulder closed from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Thursday and from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Friday.

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For locals who plan to hit the roads around the holidays, expect delays with lane and ramp closures as construction continues on the second phase of the Metrorail Silver Line project.

The closures start on Sunday (Dec. 23) and are scheduled to last until Saturday (Dec. 29), according to a post from the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.

Drivers heading eastbound on the Dulles Toll Road can expect alternating right and left lane closures of varying lengths from just west of the Route 28 overpass to the Reston Parkway overpass. This will take place from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. from Wednesday to Friday.

Meanwhile, westbound on the Dulles Toll Road will have alternating right and left lane closures of varying lengths between the Reston Parkway overpass and Route 28. This will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. from Wednesday to Friday.

Eastbound on Sunset Hills Road will have alternating right and left lane closures from 400 feet west of Town Center Parkway to Bechtel Building Entrance from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Eastbound on Herndon Parkway will have a right lane closed from 1,000 feet east of Van Buren Street to 800 feet west of Exchange Place.

The times for this are:

  • Thursday: 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Friday: 9:30 a.m. to noon

Several spots westbound on Sunrise Valley Drive will have closed right lanes from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Thursday and from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Friday, including:

  • from Dulles Technology Drive to Dulles Station Blvd
  • from Thunder Chase Drive to Millburn Lane
  • from Reston Parkway to 200 feet west of Edmund Halley Drive

Edmund Halley Drive will have a right shoulder closed from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Thursday and from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Friday.

File photo

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County officials seek to proceed with construction of the Soapstone Connector, a major road extension between Sunrise Valley Drive and Sunset Hills Road, amid concerns the path of the half-mile extension would disturb potentially historically significant buildings on Association Drive.

On Sept. 25, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted to support the county’s proposed route for $169 million project because buildings on Association Drive are not likely eligible a historical designation on the national register. The board’s approval responds formally to a Virginia Department of Historic Resources letter that urged the county work with the Fairfax County Architectural Review Board (ARB)  to determine if the buildings on Association are historically significant.

Earlier this year, the ARB raised concerns that the 1916 Association Drive and ten office buildings on Association Drive could be eligible for National Register of Historic Places as a historic district. The county’s environmental assessment of the property did not concur with the ARB’s analysis.

Construction of the connector, which will create a new crossing over the Dulles Corridor, is not anticipated to begin until after 2023.

Tom Biesiadny, director of the county’s transportation department, said the county was ready to pitch its proposed route in January when concerns about the historical significance of the buildings arose. After direction from state officials, the department consulted with boards, agencies, property owners and developers to determine how to proceed. Two historic studies commissioned by architectural historians offered conflicting opinions on the historical significance of the buildings, which served educational associations.

If the state’s historic resources department determines the proposed route of the Soapstone Connector impacts historic resources on the site, county officials will need to mull additional alternates to avoid disturbing any historic resources. But county officials hinted the overall discussion on the impact of possibly historically significant buildings was largely moot because the entire office park is slated for potential redevelopment as a mixed-use project. Reston’s comprehensive plan was amended in 2014 to allow high-density development in the area and property owners have long expressed eagerness to proceed with redevelopment.

“I think you’re looking at an uphill climb to preserve this area as a district,” said Frank Selden, director of the Fairfax County’s Department of Planning and Zoning.

Biesiadny also said the future road connection would run through the building on 1904 Association Drive, which is not likely of historical significance. The building that is likely historically significant is 1916 Association Drive and lies on the opposite side of where the connector would run through.

The board indicated overall support of the project, which it formally approved several years ago. Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said the connector was desperately needed to manage traffic generated by additional redevelopment and development.

“This would be an additional north-south crossing of which we have two that are already congested and [are] desperately in need of an alternative,” Hudgins said. She also suggested the county and the developer could acknowledge the historical significance of the buildings through other means.

An attempt to defer the vote to the board’s next meeting failed.

“This is not something that hasn’t been vetted and worked through,” said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Sharon Bulova.

Although the state transportation department is procuring a consultant to design the Soapstone Connector, design work cannot begin unless state officials are aware of the final road alignment.

Photo via handout/Fairfax County Government

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