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by Fatimah Waseem March 8, 2018 at 2:45 pm 23 Comments

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved plans to realign Sunset Hills Road this week, pencilling in planning language caught in gridlock the proposal hopes to prevent.

Although the project remains far from groundbreaking, the board’s vote approves the realignment of Sunset Hills Road to Crowell Road — a move board supervisors said preserves the character of the surrounding residential area while calming current and future traffic. A roundabout will act as the intersection control and Hunter Mill Road will be converted to four continuous lanes from the realigned area to the Dulles Toll Road’s westbound ramps. 

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said the plan balances the community’s interests while calming traffic in a “critical” area long-slated for improvements. Still, Hudgins hinted much more remains to be done to calm traffic in surrounding areas. 

“I would love to say we’re finished,” she said.

The issue boasts a long and beleaguered history. Proposals have been in county’s books since 1975, when an alignment similar to the current plan was approved.

County staff pitched the plan after a two-year public engagement period yielded seven options, including a no-build alternative. Staff narrowed options to three possibilities, two of which were struck down because they fell in the path of a Metrorail power station or would have required purchasing land from Reston Presbyterian Church. 

“We wanted to come up with a solution that helped preserve the character north and the roundabout really does that,” said Kristin Calkins, who works with the county’s transportation department.

The addition of the roundabout increases the total price tag of the project by around $3 million. No comprehensive cost analysis has been conducted to date.

Some residents expressed satisfaction with the plan after the county’s Planning Commission added language to push the realignment east of the Edlin School, restrict the alignment past north of Crowell Road, and maximize the distance between the new Sunset Hills Road and the adjacent Hunting Crest Community when the road is designed.

Lauding community engagement by Hudgins and Planning Commissioner John Carter, Raj Jain, president of the Hunting Crest Homeowners’ Association, said the changes addresses the community’s concerns about traffic noise and safety. He suggested completing a noise impact and mitigation study during the design phase of the project.

But others like Benise Ungar, vice president of the Hunting Creek Homeowners’ Association, said amendments to allay community concerns carried no legal weight.

Citing her appreciation for the county’s “good faith efforts,” Ungar said the roundabout “will be massive and not compatible with the surrounding area.” She also said residents and property owners impacted by the plan have publicly stated they will not sell their land to make way for the project.

Staff conceded the plan was an imperfect solution. The approved plan adds language into the county’s comprehensive plan. The roundabout is not a prescriptive solution — only  the “preferred solution.”

Information on the following phases, including designing, was not immediately available.

by Fatimah Waseem March 7, 2018 at 12:00 pm 62 Comments

Prepare for a sea of orange cones. With spring quickly approaching, Virginia Department of Transportation officials are gearing up for re-stripping, road redesigns, and new bike lanes on multiple Reston roads this year.

Roadwork will take place from April through November. The Virginia Department of Transportation is holding a public meeting on plans on Monday, March 19 at 7 p.m. in Terraset Elementary School‘s cafeteria.

In response to residents’ concerns about safety along the South Lakes Drive corridor, the county plans to redesign a strip between Reston Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive by converting an outside travel lane to a buffered bike lane — a move the county hopes will address concerns about limited sight distance for vehicles turning onto Sunrise Valley Drive and pedestrian traffic.

Bike lanes on South Lakes Drive between Reston Parkway and Sanibel Drive would be extended. The county will keep one travel lane in each direction due to the limited projected impacts of future development on traffic in that area.

Other plans include adding or expanding bike lines on Bennington Woods Drive, Bowman Towne Drive, Explorer Street, Lawyers Road, Pinecrest Road and others. South Lakes Drive, Bluemont Drive and Fountain Drive are slated for redesigning.

A complete breakdown of plans in the Hunter Mill District is below:

  • Bennington Woods Drive: Addition of bike lanes.
  • Bowman Towne Drive: Addition of northbound bike lane, southbound shared line markings and striped parking lanes on both sides.
  • Bracknell Road: Addition of buffered bike lanes between Stevenage Road and commercial driveways.
  • Explorer Street: Addition of bike lanes. On-street parking on both sides of the street will remain.
  • Fountain Drive: Road redesign to “increase traffic safety.” There will be one travel lane in each direction, with one dedicated left turn lane and buffered bike lanes.
  • Stevenage Road: Addition of buffered bike lanes between Bennington Woods Road and the northern Home Depot driveway and Reston Parkway. Existing parking restrictions will not be changed. Timed parking will remain.
  • Temporary Road: Addition of bike lanes.
  • Walnut Branch Road: Addition of eastbound buffered bike lanes and westbound shared lane markings.
  • Lawyers Road: Extension of existing bike lanes west to Reston Parkway and upgrades to existing shoulders between Twin Branches Road to Hunter Mill Road to buffered bike lanes.
  • Pinecrest Road: Addition of buffered lanes between South Lakes Drive and Glade Drive. On-street parking will remain.
  • Ridge Heights Road: Addition of bike lanes. On-street parking will remain. “Extra wide” parking lanes will be provided for school bus parking.
  • Soapstone Drive: Addition of buffers to existing bike lanes.

In addition to attending the meeting, residents can submit online feedback. A complete list of impacted is online.

Photo via Fairfax County Government

by Fatimah Waseem February 16, 2018 at 10:15 am 22 Comments

Relief could be on the way soon for drivers who frequent Hunter Mill Road near the Dulles Toll Road.

Last night, the Fairfax County Planning Commission approved long awaited plans to tackle traffic backups by realigning Sunset Hills Road to Crowell Road.

The plan also includes adding a roundabout as an intersection control. Hunter Mill Road would become a four-lane road between the intersection of Crowell Road and Sunset Hills Road to the Dulles Toll Road’s westbound ramps.

John Carter, the Hunter Mill District’s planning commissioner, compared the new plan to George Washington Parkway. Conceding the comparison was imperfect, he said the changes feature sweeping curves, major setbacks of 400 feet from houses to the road and a commitment to preserve a pond and a forested resource protection area.

The plan passed by the commission includes several amendments to address concerns raised by the Hunter Mill Defense League and the Hunting Crest Homeowners Association. Changes include:

  • Beginning realignment to the east of the Edlin School and extending no farther than Crowell Road
  • Maximizing the distance between the realigned road and the Hunting Crest community
  • The inclusion of a roundabout as a preferred alternative
  • Modifying transportation maps to include a cul-de-sac on Hunter Mill Road

The county’s Board of Supervisors will hear public comment on the plan on March 6 at around 4 p.m.

Since 2014, the county held several community meetings to lay out traffic management alternatives. The latest plan is a mix of several options, but departs from previously discussed plans, which the county indicated no longer work.

Carter said the county’s studies clearly indicate the current plan is the “better method to calm traffic in this area.”

Photo via handout

by Fatimah Waseem January 24, 2018 at 10:00 am 20 Comments

After years of discussion, Fairfax County officials are finalizing long awaited plans to tackle traffic backups on Hunter Mill Road near the Dulles Toll Road.

The Fairfax County Dept. of Transportation plans to realign Sunset Hills Road to Crowell Road, with a roundabout as the intersection control, according to a proposal filed last month. The Fairfax County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the plans today at 7:30 p.m.

Hunter Mill Road would be widened to four lanes between the intersection of Crowell Road and Sunset Hills Road to the Dulles Toll Road’s westbound ramps. The four-lane section would use existing right-of-way and pavement along Hunter Mill Road.

The plan departs from six alternatives discussed during six community charrettes since 2014. County officials found that no alternative would adequately reduce congestion during peak hours, according to the proposal.

Originally, the county hoped to shift the Sunset Hills Road intersection by moving it opposite the westbound off-ramp for the Dulles Toll Road and relocate the on-ramp to begin at Sunset Hills Road west of Hunter Mill Road. But a Metrorail track power substation is now being built at that site.

A second option would have relocated Sunset Hills Road by bringing the intersection of Sunset Hills Road and Hunter Mill Road as close as possible to Reston Presbyterian Church. That option would not provide enough space between the intersections. A third option with roundabout in the area  would have required the church to relocate.

The proposed solution would address traffic congestion and the roundabout feature meets the community’s desire to “calm” traffic to the north of Crowell Road, according to the plan.

The road realignment was prompted in response to increased traffic congestion driven by new development.

Currently, morning and afternoon traffic along Sunset Hills Road near the westbound Dulles Toll Road causes daily traffic congestion at the intersection of Sunset Hills Road and Hunter Mill Road.

A hearing before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is set for March 6 at 4 p.m.

Photo via Fairfax County Department of Transportation

by Fatimah Waseem November 10, 2017 at 2:45 pm 6 Comments

Entrepreneurs, technology companies and students are invited to tackle one of the county’s most pressing challenges on November: historically gridlocked transportation.

The county and the Virginia Department of Transportation are partnering to present the Transportation and Mobility Hackathon on Nov. 16 and 17 at the Refraction in Reston. Registration ends on Monday at 5 p.m. Space is limited and the event begins at 10:30.

Participants will have the opportunity to pitch projects for future collaborations with public and private partners. Cash prizes for ideas range between $1,500 and $3,000. The hackathon is designed to open doors for creative, new technologies that will relieve congestion, boost safety and improve mobility especially for seniors and individuals with disabilities.

In a statement, the county indicated the event is intended to “spur the development of innovative new technologies and grow and diversify our economy.”

The event is sponsored by the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, George Mason University, 1776, Virginia Tech and Refraction.

Email Eta Davis for more information.


by Dave Emke October 18, 2017 at 11:30 am 45 Comments

Users of the Dulles Toll Road can expect to pay more in 2019, according to a 2018 draft budget presented to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board today.

No increase from the $3.50 toll ($2.50 at the plaza and $1 at the ramp) is planned in 2018; however, it is expected to jump to $4.75 the following year. Numbers presented by the Board’s Finance Committee show that is only the beginning of the hikes.

In 2023, the toll is projected to go up to $6. Additional jumps of $1.25 or more are projected every five years for the following two decades, resulting in an $11.25 toll in 2043.

The toll last increased in 2014, when it went up from $2.75 to the current rate. It steadily increased each year from 2010 to 2014. Prior to that, the toll was $1.25 (75 cents at the plaza and 50 cents at the ramp).

Tolls are used in part by MWAA to help fund the expansion of Metro’s Silver Line. Nearly half the cost of the construction, about $2.8 billion, is being paid by Toll Road fees.

by Fatimah Waseem October 4, 2017 at 10:15 am 10 Comments

Fairfax County Department of Transportation officials are seeking public input on nearly 300 transportation projects that are vying for roughly $100 million in funding.

Local residents can provide feedback on proposed projects at a public meeting on Thursday, Oct. 12 from 7-9 p.m. at the North County Governmental Center (1801 Cameron Glen Drive). The meeting will include a formal presentation about unfunded projects and a question-and-answer session.

Residents can also take an online survey by Nov. 9 to indicate preferred projects, or mail a printed copy of the survey to the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (4050 Legato Road, Suite 400, Fairfax, VA 22033).

Feedback will allow the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and the Fairfax County Department of Transportation to prioritize unfunded transportation projects in line for funding through fiscal year 2023, according to the county’s website.

Unfunded projects in Reston include those listed below:


by Dave Emke September 21, 2017 at 2:45 pm 7 Comments

This week has been Try Transit Week in Virginia, and officials across the DC Metro area are hoping residents will take it one-step farther Friday.

Car-Free Day, according to its website, is an annual event when commuters are “encouraged to get around without driving alone in cars and instead ride a train, bus, bicycle, carpool, vanpool, subway or walk. For those that have the ability to work from home, telework also counts.”

All residents who are participating can fill out a pledge form and receive a buy-one-get-one promotional offer from Chipotle. They will be entered in a drawing to win other prizes for participation as well.

Participants from Fairfax County are eligible for specific prizes courtesy of the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, including SmarTrip cards.

“With the benefits of potential commuting cost savings, increased physical exercise, fewer cars on the road and a cleaner environment, everyone is invited to try a new way to get to work,” reads an announcement from FCDOT. “By reducing the number of single-occupant vehicles on the road — or getting more people in fewer vehicles — commuters can enjoy less traffic while improving air quality and saving money on fuel, maintenance and parking expenses.”

by Dave Emke August 11, 2017 at 4:00 pm 11 Comments

Following paving on North Shore Drive, the appearance of stop lines at the intersection with Temporary Road had residents believing a three-way stop was coming soon.

It turns out, however, that is not the case.

Jennifer McCord, media relations specialist for the Virginia Department of Transportation, tells Reston Now the lines were painted on the road “erroneously” and will soon be removed.

“There is no stop sign going in with the repaving,” McCord said. “[The lines] are scheduled to be removed next week.”

More than once this year on Reston Now, readers have commented about their desire to see something done about what they feel is a dangerous intersection.

by Dave Emke August 4, 2017 at 12:25 pm 2 Comments

Elden Street will be closed between Monroe and Center for the next several hours, likely through evening rush hour. We will update as information becomes available. 8/4/17 12:04

Posted by Herndon Police Department on Friday, August 4, 2017

For the second time this week, one of Herndon’s main thoroughfares is being affected by a natural gas leak.

Elden Street will be closed between Center Street and Monroe Street through the evening rush hour, according to the Herndon Police Department. The natural gas leak was first reported on HPD’s Twitter account just after 11 a.m.

On Wednesday night, a natural gas leak on Herndon Parkway between Van Buren Street and Palmer Drive required repair. The work at that site continued through Thursday.

by Dave Emke August 3, 2017 at 9:00 am 3 Comments

Gas Line Break on Herndon Parkway — Emergency gas line repair work between Van Buren Street and Palmer Drive will keep one westbound lane closed throughout the day. [Herndon Police Department]

Still No Stop-Arm Cameras on School Buses — County supervisors have directed staff to work with Fairfax County Public Schools leadership to determine the status of the camera-installation program, and obtain a detailed timeline regarding when the equipment would be installed. Video-monitoring cameras capture images of vehicles being illegally driven past school buses that have their flashing red lights and stop-arms activated. [Inside NoVa]

Herndon Working With Comstock on Downtown Development — A comprehensive agreement on the downtown development is the town’s top priority, its new town manager says, and they hope to get it done this year. [Herndon Patch]

County Police Demonstrate ‘Pit’ Maneuver — The maneuver involves an officer using the police car’s front fender to touch the rear bumper of a suspect’s car, causing the other car to turn before coming to a complete stop. [WJLA]

by Dave Emke July 12, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Need for More Athletic Fields Broken Down — In Reston Association’s latest “Reston Today” video dispatch, land-use attorney John McBride talks about the requirement for athletic fields in Reston’s Transit Station Areas. The video shows five potential sites where they could be considered. [Reston Association/YouTube]

Transportation Authority Info Session — The public is encouraged to attend an informational meeting tonight with the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, to learn about its Draft TransAction Plan and provide comments. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the North County Governmental Center (1801 Cameron Glen Drive). [Northern Virginia Transportation Authority]

Another Potomac River Bridge? — The idea to ease traffic in the region has been debated since the 1950s, and the North Capital Region Transportation Planning Board will consider listing the bridge project at its July 19 meeting. [WTOP]

Cancellation of FBI Replacement Decried — Fairfax County was one of three finalists for a new FBI headquarters before plans were scrapped. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Fairfax County Supervisor Jeff McKay, among others, say the decision to abort the project was driven by President Trump’s conflicts of interest. [Washington Post]

by Kalina Newman June 30, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Weather Report for Holiday Weekend  This Saturday, expect a high near 90 degrees, but a chance of afternoon thunderstorms might impact projected fireworks shows in the area. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday will also have highs in the low 90s, but there’s a chance of rain on the Fourth. [The Weather Channel]

Heavy Congestion Projected on Holiday Weekend  According to the Virginia Department of Transportation’s interactive traffic trends map, expect major traffic jams along Interstate 95 on Sunday as people travel for the holiday. [VDOT]

Residents Reminded to Be Safe With Fireworks  Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them, never have any portion of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse, never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not fully functioned, and never point or throw fireworks at another person. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]

New Laws Take Effect Tomorrow — Take a look at some of the new legislation that will go into effect July 1, including changes to rules about absentee voting, concealed carry permits and more. [Fairfax County]

Toll Road Ramp Work Starts After Holiday  Make sure to reevaluate the morning commute starting next next Friday. The ramp from the eastbound Dulles Toll Road to the Fairfax County Parkway will be diverted through the Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride parking lot, starting next Thursday night and lasting “through 2017.” [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Local Artist Wins Tröegs Contest — Marni Manning’s “Renaissance of Beer” painting was the big winner in the Pennsylvania craft beer company’s recent art contest. [Tröegs]

Herndon Man Admits to Bank Robberies — Bruce Wayne Higgins robbed four banks in Maryland and New Jersey last December. [WTOP]

by Dave Emke June 16, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Colts Neck Tennis Courts Closed — Drainage work and resurfacing at the courts will have them closed for about a month. [Reston Association/Twitter]

More Work on Toll Road This Weekend — Overnight work is planned tonight through Monday between Fairfax County Parkway and Reston Parkway, as crews continue construction of the Reston Town Center Metrorail station in the median of the Dulles Access Highway. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Free Smoothie for National Flip Flop Day — Tropical Smoothie Café (11684 Plaza America Drive) is giving a free Sunshine Smoothie to anyone who comes in wearing flip flops between 2 and 7 p.m. today. Blaire from “The Jack Diamond Morning Show” will be there as well. [Mix 107.3/Twitter]

Teen Star Talks About Growing Up in RestonJacob Sartorius says he faced a lot of bullying in school. The 14-year-old is becoming a sensation, though, with 14 million followers on the app Musical.ly, 7 million followers on Instagram and more than 2 million subscribers to his YouTube channel. [Asbury Park Press]

by Dave Emke June 15, 2017 at 8:45 am 8 Comments

(This article was updated at 9:15 a.m. after additional information was received from Fairfax Water; and at 2 p.m. after repairs were completed.)

Fountain Drive was closed this morning between Baron Cameron Avenue and Bowman Towne Drive because of an overnight water main break.

Susan Miller, public affairs officer for Fairfax Water, says the break took place in the area of 1763 Fountain Drive. That’s near The Spectrum shopping center.

“It was a broken valve that caused the break there,” Miller said.

Miller said businesses in the building that includes HSBC bank, Verizon, Doubletake Salon and The Red Door Salon & Spa are without water as utility crews are working on the situation.

“We hope it doesn’t take all day, we’re booked.” said Chai Bui from Doubletake Salon, which sits in front of where the repairs are taking place. The staff at The Red Door Salon & Spa said they had already rescheduled most of their appointments.

Fairfax Water’s website reported repairs were completed by early Thursday afternoon.

Fountain Drive is expected to be closed for the rest of the day, Miller said.

Photos by Brooke Giles, who also contributed to reporting; map via Google


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