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Wednesday Morning Notes

Give transit a try — Fairfax County officials are encouraging residents to go car-free for a day and try an alternative to drive-alone commuting. If you take a pledge to take transit during the week, you could win a year of free transit service from a participating Virginia transit operator. [Fairfax County Government]

A special text from the president for Oct. 3 — A national alert test originally set for Thursday has been postponed to Oct. 3 due to the ongoing response to Hurricane Florence. It’s the first-ever national test of the country’s Wireless Emergency Alerts system. [Fairfax County Government]

Housing affordability meeting postponed — Tomorrow’s meeting on ways to boost housing affordability in the area has been postponed. A new date has not been scheduled yet. The meeting concerns phase two of the Communitywide Strategic Plan. [Fairfax County Government]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Behind the video — In this follow-up story, the man who recorded a video of a former Reston Association employee yelling racial slurs tells his side of the story. [WJLA]

Heat advisory continues today — The National Weather Service has issued an advisory from noon to 8 p.m. today. Residents are encouraged to limit outdoor activity, wear loose-fitting clothing and hydrate as much as possible. [National Weather Service]

It’s not too late — Slots in select Frying Pan Farm Park camps are still open. The park offers camps for children between the ages of 3 and 14. [Frying Pan Farm Park]

Nearby: funding for transportation — Fairfax County projects will get more than 40 percent of the more than $1 billion allocated for regional transportation projects. Several proposals for Reston projects didn’t make the cut. [Fairfax County Times]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Fairfax County Seeks $132 Million for Soapstone Connector

Nearly $132 million is being sought to fund the Soapstone Connector, a long awaited, half-mile-long extension between Sunrise Valley Drive and Sunset Hills Road.

The funding request for the $169.2 million project comes roughly five years after the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a hybrid design for the project, which will provide an additional overpass over the Dulles Toll Road and ease traffic on south Reston roads.

Major development in the Wiehle-Reston East area, including Comstock’s Reston Station mixed use project, is expected to generate additional traffic on area roadways.

Local and state officials have long identified the need for the project, which aims to alleviate bottlenecks along Wiehle Avenue at Sunset Hills Road and Sunrise Valley Drive and improve connectivity for pedestrians and bicyclists to the Wiehle-East Metrorail Station.

According to preliminary plans, the new road will include a three-lane cross section with one travel lane in each direction and a two-way, left-turn-only lane. Other features include five-foot wide bicycle lanes on each side, a five-foot wide sidewalk on the west side and a 10-foot wide path on the east side.

Construction is not anticipated until after 2023. Additional design, engineering and environmental work is expected to continue through 2022.  In 2014, the county’s board placed the project on its list of high priority projects for 2015 to 2020.

A funding gap of $25 million remains to complete the project. Requests to the Commonwealth Transportation Board have been made. Construction is expected to cost $45 million.

The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority will review the request, which is one of 60 candidate transportation projects in the area. NVATA is seeking public comment on the project on May 10 at 3040 Williams Drive, Suite 100 in Fairfax. Online comments can be submitted through Sunday, May 20.

File photo

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Hackathon in Reston to Explore Solutions for Gridlock in Fairfax

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.

 

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Fairfax County Seeks Public Comment on Soapstone Drive Extension Tonight

Plans to extend Soapstone Drive could move forward as Fairfax County officials seek public comment tonight on the project, which would create an additional crossing on the Dulles Toll Road for cars, pedestrians and cyclists.

At Dogwood Elementary School (12300 Glade Drive) from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., the floor will be open for the public to comment on a environmental assessment completed as part of a multi-step process since the Board of Supervisors approved the project in 2014. The study examines the potential effects of the project for properties listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historical Places, the country’s official list of historic sites worthy of preservation.

The new roadway will provide a half-mile extension between Sunrise Valley Drive and Sunset Hills Road and a new crossing over the Dulles Corridor. County officials have said the project is necessary to tackle congestion on Wiehle Avenue, limited access for buses to Wiehle-Reston East Station and the lack of connectivity for pedestrians and bicyclists in the area.

Completed in August, the assessment reviews impacts of the project on surrounding land. For example, the assessment finds the project rests within 200 feet of on two sites with hazardous materials and would result in increased noise for two areas near the project.

Overall, the assessment concludes the project will not “contribute substantially to cumulative impacts, particularly in light of the efforts to minimize adverse impacts of the project and other mitigation measures to be implemented.”

Following the public hearing, the county will revise the assessment as needed and submit it to the Federal Highway Administration, the body which will make a decision about the feasibility of the project.

In 2014, the county’s supervisors included $2.5 million for the preliminary design of this project as part of its Six Year Transportation Project Priorities. At that time, they also put the project — estimated to cost $91.75 million — on the county’s list of high-priority projects for 2015-20.

More information on the project is available on the county’s website. Written or oral comments may be submitted at the hearing or in writing within 10 days after the hearing to [email protected]. Include “Soapstone Connector” in the subject line.

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Fairfax County Officials Seek Input on Prioritizing Unfunded Transportation Projects

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:

  • Installation of roundabout at the intersection of Sunset Hills and Hunter Mill Road ($73.1 million)
  • The extension and addition of the grid of streets in the Reston Transit Station area ($500,000)
  • Construction of turn lanes and installation of a traffic signal in the area of Fox Mill Road and Pinecrest Road. ($1.7 million)
  • Extension of southbound left turn lane on Reston Parkway at Temporary Road ($280,000)
  • Addition of left turn lane and traffic signal on Lawyers Road at Twin Branches Road ($1.7 million)
  • Construction of a bike and pedestrian trail on Baron Cameron Drive from Cameron Heath Drive to Gatesmeadow Way. ($1.5 million)
  • Addition of walkway on Center Harbor Road from Heritage Oak Way to North Village ($1.4 million)
  • Addition of bike lanes or trail on Lawyers Road from existing bike lanes to Twin Branches Road ($5 million)
  • Addition of bike lanes or trail on Lawyers Road from Twin Branches Road to Hunter Mill Road ($7.5 million)
  • Expansion of Reston Capital Bikeshare ($500,000)
  • Construction of sidewalk on Ridge Heights Road from Lakewinds Drive to South Lakes Drive ($600,000)
  • Construction of walkway on the south side of South Lakes Drive from Pine Cone Court to Tanbark Drive. ($1.5 million)
  • Installation of bike lanes on South Lakes Drive from Reston Parkway to Sunrise Valley Drive ($5 million)
  • Addition of walkway on the east side of South Lakes Drive from Thoreau Place to Sunrise Valley Drive ($550,000)
  • Addition of shared use pathway or bike lanes on Wiehle Avenue from Baron Cameron Avenue to Reston Station Boulevard ($12 million)

Other projects of local interest include:

  • Construct sidewalk on north side of Fox Mill Road (Herndon) from Monroe Street to Greg Roy Lane ($600,000)
  • Roadway widening from West Ox Road to Fairfax County Parkway (To be determined)
  • Addition of pedestrian refuge islands on Beulah Road from the entrance of Wolf Trap Elementary School to Talisman Drive (To be determined)

Countywide projects include:

  • Improvements on two existing bus routes in the Herndon and Centreville Road areas ($1.3 million)
  • Addition of five new recommended bus routes that provide north-south and east-west connections ($55.6 million)
  • Expansion of the Tysons Capital Bikeshare ($500,000)
  • Completion of identified bike roadway spots. ($1.1 million)

All project costs are based on estimates.

For more information, call 703-877-5600 or email [email protected].

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Wednesday Morning Notes

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]

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Get Ready to Pay More for the Metro, as Board Expected to Approve Rate Hikes

METRO Wiehle-Reston EastThe Metro board is set to vote Thursday to approve an FY2018 budget that includes 10-cent fare increases on rush-hour rides and 25-cent hikes at other times. Regular and express bus fares will also go up by 25 cents, while the rate for the bus to Dulles Airport will jump from $7 to $9.75.

The increases in fares are expected to raise $21 million for Metro as the transportation system works to shore up a projected $125 million shortfall in its budget.

Ridership on Metro plummeted from 2015 to 2016, with stations in Virginia seeing a decrease in users of more than 12 percent when comparing the fourth quarters of each year. Wiehle-Reston East’s decrease was 13.4 percent, the greatest drop among Virginia stations on the Silver Line, which had a 9 percent decrease overall.

Service frequency during rush hour outside of DC will also be decreased as part of the plan. For the Silver Line, trains will run every eight minutes instead of the current six-minute interval. The original proposal had called for off-peak frequency to be decreased as well, from 12 minutes to 15; however, that has been dropped from the final plan.

Virginia representatives on the Metro board discussed the proposed changes, as well as increased local contributions to the budget, during a January public forum in Reston.

The new rates are expected to go into effect around July 1.

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Alternative Transportation in the Spotlight This Week

METRO Wiehle-Reston EastThis week (Sept. 19-23) is Try Transit Week in Virginia, and Fairfax County is hoping citizens get involved and get commuting by methods other than four wheels.

The county is even offering prizes for the most enthusiastic public transportation users. The county is holding a social media contest. If you take transit and post about it this week, you could win a $50 SmarTrip card or other prizes.

Here is what to do:

If you live or work in Fairfax County, celebrate Try Transit Week with us by liking Fairfax County Transportation on Facebook ( @fairfaxconnector) or by following them on Twitter @ffxconnector.

When you do that and mention them in a post, you will be automatically entered into the contest. Prizes include daily winners of  a $50 SmarTrip card and a Grand Prize winner who will receive two (2) $50 SmarTrip cards.

Visit this Fairfax County page for more details on what to post and how to tag.

Try Transit Week includes Car Free Day on Thursday.

Car Free Day is a free international event celebrated every September 22 in which people 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. Car Free Day is open to all people in the Washington metropolitan area.

If you are going Car Free,  fill out the pledge form, then go car free or go car-lite on Thursday. Once you pledge, you’re automatically entered for a chance to win prizes, such one-year membershiop to Crunch Fitness, an annual Capital Bikeshare membership, and more.

Additionally, there is a Live More block party at Reston Town Center Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Reps will be on hand for you to “discover how to live more by making a better commuting choice.” There will also be refreshments, exhibits and family friendly activities.

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Op-Ed: Don’t Tax Reston Residents for Transportation Improvements

Reston Transit Areas/Fairfax CountyThis is an op-ed by Reston resident Terry Maynard. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

On Monday, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) and Reston Network Analysis Group (RNAG) once again offered several proposals that would create a transportation tax service district (TSD) for the Reston Metro transit station areas (TSAs) along the Dulles Corridor that would add to the tax bills of Restonians living there.

At the meeting, FCDOT detailed three TSD tax rate options: $0.017/$100 assessed valuation, $0.20/$100 assessed valuation, and $0.27/$100 assessed valuation to be paid for 40 years largely based on mindless comparisons with Tysons.

Ostensibly, these funds would close a $350 million “gap” in funding new and improved streets and intersections throughout the TSAs to accommodate the traffic added there by new high-density development.

What FCDOT and RNAG failed to do, indeed, they did not even discuss, was why TSA residents should pay any extra tax for roadway improvements to accommodate added commercial for profit high-density development.

As calculated by Reston 20/20 earlier this year, developers may reasonably expect to have net operating profits exceeding $50 billion over the next 40 years from their development around Reston’s TSAs –more than one billion dollars per year over the timeframe for the proposed TSD. On the other hand, residents of the TSAs will not see an added penny in income because of the improvements.

Worse yet, FCDOT has stated outright that it intends to make traffic congestion worse in the TSAs. Instead of a peak hour intersection traffic Level of Service (LOS) “D”, they’re aiming at LOS “E”. LOS “E” means the intersection is operating “at or near capacity,” typically with 55-80 second delays, with traffic occasionally queueing back through the previous signaled intersection. And that’s a decision that affects all Restonians and others who need to travel to or through the corridor.

To further stick a finger in Dulles Corridor and other Restonians’ eyes, the FCDOT has told RNAG and the community that its plan calls for no additions to bus service to offset the planned worse traffic conditions over the next 40 years, just the re-routing of existing bus routes. That’s despite the fact that County development plans call for roughly a doubling of the number of jobs and residents along the Dulles Corridor over the 40-year period.

The bottom line is that the County and RNAG are proposing to force Reston residents of the TSAs to pay extra taxes for worse traffic and bus service. Only Fairfax County would offer that proposal as reasonable.

Ultimately, however, the County’s TSD proposal is really no more than a scam to get another foot in Restonians’ doors (or, more accurately, a hand in Restonians’ wallets) for a new County property tax revenue stream. The so-called $350 million funding “gap” is a ruse generated by FCDOT to justify the creation of the TSD that FCDOT created by manipulating the forecast funding contributions of developers and the County. The imaginary $9 million annual funding “gap” could easily be covered by small additional developer and/or County funding contributions.

To begin with, there is no reason that the developers should not pay all the costs of these new roadways and improved intersections that will enable them to earn over $50 billion in the next four decades.   The so-called $350 million funding “gap” total is less than one percent of the likely profits developers will garner over the next four decades. Developers could dig just a little deeper to come up with that sum and their stakeholders probably wouldn’t even notice, despite the yelping of the executives.

Moreover, an additional small County investment of $9 million per year in Reston to facilitate successful new high-density development would generate additional billions in County property tax revenues over the years. But then why should the County invest even an additional one one-thousandth of one percent (0.001%) of its current $8 billion in annual revenues in Reston when it can persuade Restonians to fork over more money to a new County tax revenue stream?

In fact, it is highly unlikely that the County Board will carry out its funding plan as it has been laid out to the RNAG now in more than ten different scenarios. To start with, FCDOT Chief Tom Biesiadny would not rule out extension of the TSD at this week’s meeting beyond the 40-year plan. Moreover, the Tysons task force endorsed a TSD ostensibly for the same “gap” filling purposes several years ago, and its tax rate increased the second year it was in force from $.04/$100 assessed valuation to $.05/$100 valuation.  A Tysons TSD tax rate increase to $.06/$100 assessed valuation is already baked into the County budget for next year.

In short, there is absolutely no reason for Restonians to believe that whatever TSD tax rate FCDOT, RNAG, and the County Board choose will not increase, that all the funds will be used for Reston transportation improvements, nor that the tax will end after four decades.

The Reston transit station area TSD is merely a placeholder based on deceptive analysis for generating more County property tax revenues from Reston homeowners in addition to the Reston Community Center Special Tax District No. 5.

Reston needs your help in stopping this continuing County scheme. FCDOT has said that it wants feedback on its funding proposal, so please let Tom Biesiadny ([email protected]) and Project Manager Kristin Calkins ([email protected]) know what you think of yet another additional County property tax on Restonians.

When you do, please be sure to copy Supervisor Hudgins ([email protected]) and RNAG Chair Andy Sigle ([email protected]) on your message.  We will be unable to stop this deceptive and unnecessary new property tax without the involvement of Restonians both in and beyond the Dulles Corridor.

Terry Maynard

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Get an Update on Street Grid, Potential Transportation Tax Tonight

Reston Transit Areas/Fairfax County

The Reston community can get an update on the planned urban-style street grid — and the potential of a special tax to help pay for it — at a community meeting Wednesday.

Join Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) for another in a series of discussions on the Reston Network Analysis from 7 to 9 p.m. at South Lakes High School.

Residents will be able to learn more about the analysis, which is evaluating the concept of urban-style grids of streets in the areas surrounding the Reston Metrorail Stations, also known as the Reston Transit Station Areas. County staff will give a presentation on the status of the Network Analysis and potential recommendations for the transportation network. Staff will also answer questions.

The Reston Network Analysis Advisory Group has most recently discussed Tier 2 mitigation (see presentation below). The group is looking at ways to reduce congestion and waiting times at traffic lights. The presentation points out some of the worst trouble spots in the Reston area. The goal is adding traffic lights and turning lanes, but patience is needed as the plan covers mitigation over the next several decades.

At a February meeting, Fairfax County officials said Reston is going to need more than $2.6 billion in transportation improvements to keep up with development and population growth in the next 40 years.

Officials said Reston roadway improvements (overpasses, widening, extensions, and interchanges) will cost $1.28 billion. Intersection projects will cost $65 million and the enhanced grid network will cost $1.28 billion, the report said.

In February, the word “special transportation tax” was also mentioned. The RNAG Advisory Group said money to pay for those infrastructure improvements may come from a wide array of sources. Among them: a transportation tax, but also developer proffers, taxes, bonds, federal transportation grants and state funding, as well as a potential county meals tax.

Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said a special tax district is just one of the “tools we are exploring in transportation improvements. We have done it with rail; we are doing it in Tysons.”

Tysons has had a special tax since 2013 to pay for transportation improvements there.

In addition to the meeting, the county has website to help gather comments from the community. If you are unable to attend meetings, you can still submit your comments on the project website.

Photo: Reston Transit Areas/Fairfax County
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Survey Says: No Transportation Tax in Reston

Transportation tax district questionsDo you want to pay more taxes for transportation improvements? An informal Reston Association survey shows that most Restonians don’t.

Reston Association recently surveyed members (through a printed questionnaire at its annual meeting and a link sent electronically) asking how residents felt about Fairfax County’s proposal to create a service tax district to fund transportation improvements here.

The county says about $2.6 billion in improvements will be needed in Reston as it grows over the next several decades. Much of that will be paid for in developer proffers, but there still are hundreds of millions needed for roads, lights, ramps and bridges.

RA says nearly 700 individuals completed survey.

Residents were asked if they would be willing to pay an additional tax based on the value of their property that would only be used to fund transportation improvements in Reston. Eighty-six percent of respondents (597) answered “no.” Among the 94 (14 percent) that answered “yes,” most said they would be willing to pay extra taxes but only at the lowest rate (0.020 per $100 of value).

The survey was purely an opinion test, though. RA has no authority to impose the tax. RA will share the results of the survey with the county’s Transit Station Areas Network Analysis & Funding Advisory Group.

RA also received comments from some members. Here is what they had to say:

It’s unfortunate that these long-known expenses were ignored and not funded during the time the silver line was planned and debated, but it’s now beyond reasonable to ask that everyone now pay yet more for something that we should not otherwise pay for. Indeed, most roads in Reston are owned and maintained by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

I don’t think we should have to pay for roads everywhere else in Virginia and also pay for our own. This homeowner in Reston would rather not be taxed for things developers should provide.

I am unalterably opposed to any special tax district associated with transportation improvements. The increased density only provides benefits to the developers and their RA advocates and doesn’t benefit the rest of us. Any cost should be borne by those who benefit.

As a resident of Reston since the early 1970s I strongly oppose creating a special tax district in Reston to help finance transportation improvements. The traffic congestion reflects the commercial development that the Fairfax Board of Supervisors has approved. I believe the developers and Fairfax County should finance the transport infrastructure needed to handle the explosive growth in Reston. A large share of the people using Reston roads and bridges don’t live in Reston but commute in to work or use the Metro.

Please do not support this tax. I live in Reston and really cannot afford another tax expense.

I am a 45 year resident of Reston and I am completely opposed to creating a new tax district to pay for transportation. There is no financial benefit to Reston residents in new development. All the benefit goes to the developers and they should pay the cost of any infrastructure needed. I have lived in Reston since 1970 and between condo fees, RA fees, county, taxes, PP taxes, state taxes, I am rapidly being priced out of living in Reston. Not exactly the Reston ideal envisioned by Robert Simon! PLEASE represent the people of Reston and hold out against this new picking of our thin pockets.

Our household does not support a residential tax increase to pay for road improvements due to metro and associated development. We believe the developers should shoulder this burden.

I do support some form of tax district to pay for the transportation improvements needed to provide access to the Metrorail stations and improve traffic through and within Reston. This is what was done in Tysons.

I would be willing to pay if not just for improvements around Metro stations.

I would be willing to pay only if it’s county-wide. Restonians shouldn’t have to foot the bill when all of Fairfax County benefits and uses Reston, especially since the Metro.

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RA Gauging Opinion on Special Tax District for Transportation

Transportation tax district questionsReston Association is seeking member opinion on the implementation of a special service tax district to help pay for transportation improvements.

Fairfax County is currently in the process of examining what the Reston area needs as it moves forward as a transit-oriented community. At a meeting in February, county officials said Reston is going to need more than $2.6 billion in transportation improvements to keep up with development and population growth in the next 40 years.

High on the priority list are an urban-style street grid around transit stations and additional spots to cross the Dulles Toll Road, according to the advisory group.

At that meeting, the possibility of a special tax district was first discussed. Tysons has a special tax district in place since 2013. Businesses and residents of Tysons are taxed in order to help raise about $810 million of the estimated $3.1 billion necessary for longterm changes.

The Tysons Special Tax  for FY2016 is $0.05 per $100 of assessed real estate value.

A special tax district can be put in place by the Board of Supervisors and does not require landowner approval. Reston Association is polling members purely for feedback; it does not have authority to institute a tax or special assessment for transportation.

In Reston, homeowners already are members of the county’s Small Tax District 5, which funds the Reston Community Center. That’s in addition to Reston Association assessments, Fairfax County and Virginia taxes for all RA members, as well as cluster dues or condo fees for many.

Fairfax County’s Reston Network Analysis & Funding Plan Advisory Group asked RA CEO Cate Fulkerson what she thought of a special tax district. She told RA members at Tuesday’s annual meeting she wanted to get community opinion before she answered the question.

RA is hoping to get member thoughts so Fulkerson can report back to the advisory group in late April.

“I would like to go back and give them a sense of reaction,” said Fulkerson.

At Tuesday’s RA annual meeting, informal paper queries were distributed asking these questions:

Would you be willing to pay an additional tax based on the value of your property that would only be used to fund transportation improvements in Reston? (Yes; No)

If yes, what rate would be acceptable to you? (Rates below are per $100 of appraised property value) ($0.020; 0.025; 0.030; 0.035)

As an example, an owner with a value of $600,000 paying $0.020 per $100 of the home value would pay $120 annually for transportation improvements.

Fulkerson said the question will also be sent electronically to RA members.

See the advisory group’s breakdown of what Reston needs in the December 2015 presentation attached to this previous Reston Now article.

Photo: Informal questionnaire at RA annual meeting. 

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Study: Reston Street Improvements May Cost Millions More Than Estimated

Traffic LightAdvocacy group Reston 2020 has taken a hard look at future funding for Reston transportation improvements and found the costs will be tens of millions of dollars more than expected.

A study group, the Reston Network Analysis Group, is currently examining how to implement an urban street grid in the areas around Reston’s transit centers. Grid-style streets will help traffic and pedestrian flow as Reston’s undergoes expected development in the next decades.

In a paper titled “Reston’s Coming Urban Area Transportation Network: An Early Look at the Cost of Streets and Transit in and around Reston’s Station Areas,” Reston 2020 Co-Chair Terry Maynard has found that the network may cost double the $2.6 billion officials estimate.

From the paper:

The overall cost for Reston’s urban transportation improvements will be nearly twice what has been presented to the RNAG over the next 40 years using conservative assumptions of future development and inflation. Developer stakeholders have millions of dollars to gain annually by shifting more of that large financial burden to the “public” rather than placing it upon themselves.

It is imperative that the RNAG, especially the community representatives, ensure that our community is protected from unwarranted and excessive ‘taxation’ for transportation improvements that will average $125 million per year and add several hundred dollars each year to residents’ property tax bills.

The road projects will be built with a combination of public funds, developer proffers and perhaps a special tax on transit-area businesses and residents.

“Reston households could see a property tax increase averaging about $340/year over the next 40 years depending on the scope of the ill-defined “public” contribution and the funding option selected,” says Maynard. “Overall, Reston residents are likely to contribute a half-billion dollars in taxes to the for-profit efforts of Reston’s station area developers if any of funding Options #3-#6 are selected, and in a worst case scenario, they may pay more than more than $1 billion dollars in taxes to finance needed urban transportation improvements.”

See the entire Reston 2020 analysis below.

Reston Urban Road & Transit Improvement Forecast

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Will Reston See Special Tax to Pay for Transportation Improvements?

Traffic on Reston Parkway/Credit: Reston 2020County officials say Reston is going to need more than $2.6 billion in transportation improvements to keep up with development and population growth in the next 40 years.

How to pay for them? For the first time, the word “Reston Special Tax District” has been mentioned.

County transportation and planning officials have not itemized what the improvements will be, but said in a recent presentation that Reston roadway improvements (overpasses, widening, extensions, and interchanges) will cost $1.28 billion. Intersection projects will cost $65 million and the enhanced grid network will cost $1.28 billion, the report said.

According to the presentation (see below) by the Fairfax County Transportation Department to Fairfax County’s Reston Network Analysis & Funding Plan Advisory Group, money to pay for those infrastructure improvements may come from a wide array of sources. Among them: developer proffers, taxes, bonds, federal transportation grants and state funding, as well as a potential county meals tax.

But the concept of a special tax district for Reston’s roads is a new one.

Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins says a special tax district is just one of the “tools we are exploring in transportation improvements. We have done it with rail; we are doing it in Tysons.”

Tysons has a special tax district in place since 2013. Businesses and residents of Tysons are taxed in order to help raise about $810 million of the estimated $3.1 billion necessary for longterm changes. The Tysons Special Tax  for FY2016 is $0.05 per $100 of assessed real estate value.

In the county’s presentation, it shows an example of a Reston Service District in which businesses and residents would be taxed $0.01 per $100 of assessed property value.

A special tax district can be put in place by the Board of Supervisors and does not require landowner approval.

An additional tax might not sit well with Reston residents who already pay Fairfax County taxes, Reston Association annual assessments, taxes for Special Tax District 5 (which funds the Reston Community Center), and, in many cases, private cluster dues.

“I always caution people: To live in Reston, you have to pay for a lot of things,” said Hudgins. “What we need to determine is do we want to isolate ourselves or does the public infrastructure need to be paid for by the public?”

The county said it will get advisory group feedback on potential revenue sources, including others that should be evaluated, in the coming months. It will also develop a proposed funding plan to include cost allocations between public and private sector, hold outreach meetings with the public and revise the plan based on feedback received.

The plan would then go to the Board of Supervisors for final approval.

Reston Transportation Funding

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