Getting to and from Metro stations can be a harrowing experience for pedestrians and cyclists, and the Fairfax County Planning Commission and others want something to be done about it.

The planning commissioners have called on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to require Metro, the state and county transportation departments, and more to “work immediately” to make safety and accessibility improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists to transit stations.

“This is a call for action by the public to improve pedestrian/bicycle access to metro stations as envisioned in the comprehensive plan,” Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner John Carter said when introducing a motion during the commission’s meeting on May 19.

The measure calls for numerous changes, such as:

  • Providing wide sidewalks at intersections within walking distance of transit stations,
  • Making turns on roads tighter at intersections to slow traffic down,
  • Providing a “double ramp” for people with disabilities instead of single ramp that’s currently in use directing pedestrians to the middle of intersections,
  • Avoiding extra turning lanes at intersections with high volumes of pedestrians
  • Providing closely spaced street trees between curb and sidewalk areas to protect pedestrians.

The motion passed, with 10 members voting for it and at-large member Timothy Sargeant, abstaining. Sargeant did not respond to a message seeking comment on why he voted that way.

“Failure to act will cause pedestrian access to continue to be ‘significantly challenged’ and ridership on the metro station to be reduced,” Carter said.

He introduced the motion during the commission’s discussion on whether to approve changes to the office-residential complex Reston Gateway being constructed, but he noted that the issues seen at Reston’s Metro stations could apply to other locations as well.

Supervisor Walter Alcorn, whose Hunter Mill District includes the Reston Gateway project, agrees that the main crosswalk serving the upcoming Silver Line station at Reston Town Center is not pedestrian-friendly.

“The rail project used cookie-cutter designs,” he said, adding that a walkway over the road has been proposed but could be years away from coming to fruition.

When touring the area a couple weeks ago, Alcorn asked the Fairfax County Department of Transportation to identify short-term improvements to occur before the station opens, which isn’t expected to happen until early 2022.

“I want to make sure riders can readily get to the stations on day one and every day thereafter,” he said.

Pedestrian and bicyclist advocacy groups expressed support for the commission’s call for change. Read More

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Herndon is moving forward with another capital improvement project.

The Herndon Town Council voted 6-0 on Tuesday (May 25), with Vice Mayor Cesar del Aguila absent, to award a contract to the Ashburn Construction Corporation for the Elden Street and Monroe Street Intersection Improvement Project.

The intersection project is similar to other projects in the town’s Capital Improvement Program in that it will include brick crosswalks and sidewalks as well as ADA compliant curb ramps. The project will also bring a new traffic signal and storm drainage improvements.

Ashburn Construction Corporation beat out one other bidder to win the $1.1 million contract.

Half of the funding for the construction costs is available for reimbursement through revenue-sharing funds collected from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority. The NVTA funds come from the 30% local distribution revenue given to localities for transportation projects through House Bill 2313, which was passed in 2013.

According to the Town of Herndon’s Fiscal Year 2021-2026 CIP, this project will link the East Elden Project, the Downtown Streetscape Project, and the Elden-Monroe private development project, a reference to the now-completed Junction Square mixed-use development.

The East Elden Project is being designed and constructed by the Virginia Department of Transportation, which plans to widen Elden Street into a six-lane divided section between Herndon and Fairfax County parkways and a four-lane section from Herndon Parkway to Van Buren Street. The project will also include streetscape and median enhancements.

The Elden/Monroe project will provide a transition when the street narrows down to two travel lanes west of Van Buren Street and approaching Monroe Street, according to the CIP.

The Downtown Streetscape project entails widening and enhancing streetscapes with brick sidewalks, grated tree wells and other features. Construction on the project’s third phase is expected to begin this year for an anticipated completion in 2022.

Image via Town of Herndon

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Repairs and rehabilitation is now complete on the 74-year-old Sugarland Run Bridge in Herndon.

Construction began last September on the westbound Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) portion of the bridge, which resulted in several lane closures on weekends and overnights in October. The project was completed last month.

The work included bridge pier and abutment repairs, the building of a new concrete bridge deck, guardrail upgrades, and new curbs and gutters. The total cost of the project was $4.4 million, paid for by a combination of state and federal funds.

Work and repairs were needed to address continued deterioration on the bridge’s underside, broken steel reinforcement strands, and debris clogging the drain pipes. Overall, the condition of the bridge deck and beams prior to the work was considered “poor” and “structurally deficient,” according to the staff report.

This section of Route 7 averages about 59,000 vehicles a day in combined eastbound and westbound travel.

The bridge was widened in 1981 and, again, in 2000.

Initially, VDOT planned to further widen the bridge in this project and extend the acceleration lane from the Fairfax County on-ramp to Dranesville Road, but those elements were cut from the project.

Those additional components would have brought the total cost of the project to about $11 million and were “not completed due to funding constraints,” a Virginia Department of Transportation confirms to Reston Now.

In the end, the project actually was finished ahead of schedule and under budget compared to estimates from June 2019. It was originally scheduled to be completed in the fall 2021 and cost about $6 million.

An effort by Fairfax County and the Town of Herndon to restore Sugarland Run Stream, the body of water that runs under the bridge, is currently in the works.

Set to be completed in early 2022, the long-running project will stabilize eroding stream banks, re-plant vegetation, and install brush mattresses.

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The Virginia Department of Transportation unveiled its initial concept designs for a future Town Center Parkway extension under the Dulles Toll Road during a virtual public information meeting on April 7.

Roughly a half-mile in length, the proposed underpass will connect the existing parkway at Sunset Hills Drive to the north with Sunrise Valley Drive to the south by dropping underneath the Dulles Toll Road, the Dulles International Airport Access Highway, and the new Metro Silver Line tracks.

According to Volkert Mid-Atlantic Director of Municipal and Highway Engineering Jeff Cutright, the consultant hired to conduct VDOT’s feasibility study, the extension was initially envisioned as a tunnel, but the study team realized after reviewing the project that an underpass would be “preferable.”

“A tunnel requires an expensive and complex ventilation and fire control system,” Cutright said. “Constructing this as an underpass opens the area, allowing in natural light, and is more economic and provides a more desirable solution.”

According to VDOT’s presentation, the underpass will consist of two travel lanes in each direction.

Between the Sunrise Valley intersection and Dulles Toll Road, the northbound and southbound lanes will be separated by a grass median. There will be a 10-foot-wide shared-use path for pedestrians and bicyclists on the southbound side and a five-foot-wide sidewalk on the northbound side, both of which will tie into off-street cycle tracks on Sunrise Valley Drive.

When the roadway passes under the Dulles Toll Road, the northbound and southbound lanes will be divided by a pier wall that has already been constructed by Metro to support the Silver Line tracks. A left turn lane would be added on the northbound side as the roadway approaches the intersection at Sunset Hills Road.

The shared-use path and sidewalk will continue for the length of the roadway, but they will be narrower under the Dulles Toll Road because of space constraints imposed by the Metro pier walls. Cutright says the height of the toll road bridge will allow a minimum clearance of at least 16 feet and six inches.

Other potential concerns include anticipated reductions in parking for the CoreSite data center and Reston Metro Center One office building on Sunrise Valley Drive. The project would also affect an existing Metro stormwater management facility at the Town Center Parkway and Sunset Hills intersection. Read More

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Reston community members will get their first chance to weigh in on the proposed Town Center Parkway underpass this week.

The Virginia Department of Transportation will hold a virtual public meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday (April 7) to discuss and solicit feedback on its ongoing study of the feasibility of extending the road half a mile from Sunset Hills Road to Sunrise Valley Drive.

The meeting will kick off a month-long public comment period scheduled to conclude on May 7.

The proposed underpass would bring Town Center Parkway under the Dulles Toll Road, Metro Silver Line, and the Dulles International Airport Access Highway. VDOT says the project is “aimed at reducing congestion on adjacent roadways and improving accessibility and connectivity to Reston Town Center for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.”

While VDOT officially began its feasibility study in May 2019, the Town Center Parkway extension has been in the works since at least November 2014, when the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved an allocation of $8.7 million toward the project.

The study carries a $1 million price tag that the county is covering with local funds from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, according to the most recent Fairfax County transportation status report.

“The [feasibility] study is expected to be complete this summer,” VDOT said. “It will not set construction dates for any improvements, but is developing proposed improvements that Fairfax County can pursue for funding.”

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation estimates that the overall project will cost $170 million, and it is not expected to be completed until 2032.

For anyone unable to attend, a recording of Wednesday’s presentation will be posted to VDOT’s public information meeting page.

Comments can be submitted by email to [email protected] or by mail to VDOT senior project manager Dan Reinhard at 4975 Alliance Dr., Fairfax, VA 22030. There is also an online comment survey for people to share their thoughts.

Photo via Google Maps

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In late November, a bridge on Reston Parkway over the Dulles Toll Road was damaged due to a tractor-trailer crash.

Several months after planning, repairs have finally begun repairs this week.

The crash happened on Nov. 20 of last year.

A spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Transportation told Reston Now that the work took some time because repairs required design and steel procurement through advertisement.

‘The steel has been fabricated, delivered, and is currently being installed now,’ the spokesperson said.

Utilities underneath the bridge were first relocated to allow the bridge to be installed.

VDOT anticipates that the project will be completed by March 27.

The bridge is jointly-owned by VDOT and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

Image via VDOT

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Morning Notes

Local Company Uses Virtual Reality to Train Space Force Guardians — The U.S. Space Form is working with Reston-based company SAIC in order to use virtual reality to train space force guardians. The platform allows armed forces to respond to missile-warning scenarios and collaborate in cyberspace. [The Washington Post]

French Cafe and Bakery Opens in Herndon — Le Vingt Trois Cafe and Bakery recently opened at 311 Sunset Park Drive in Herndon. The owners hopes the business will be similar to French cafe that she encountered while growing up in Australia. [Reston Patch]

Paving and Re-striping Meeting Set for April 6 — State and county transportation officials are holding a virtual public meeting on April 6 p.m. to discuss the latest paving and re-striping project set for the Hunter Mill District this year. [Fairfax County Government]

Free Lyft Rides Available for St. Patrick’s Day — Residents can get a free Lyft ride home on St. Patrick’s day. Codes are valid from 4 p.m. today through 2 a.m. on Thursday. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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While residents wait for permanent improvements at a dangerous intersection in the Hunter Mill District a temporary traffic signal will be installed this summer.

A temporary traffic signal to the intersection of Fox Mill Road and Pinecrest Road will be operational by this summer, a Virginia Department of Transportation spokesperson confirmed to Reston Now. This traffic signal plus future permanent improvement plans will be discussed at a virtual public information meeting next week.

The planned changes include adding a permanent traffic signal and left-hand turn lanes.

In September, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the plan for the county’s transportation department to work with the VDOT on the implementation of the improvements.

The meeting takes place on March 15 but the public will have until March 25 to provide comments. The project’s aim is to relieve congestion and improve safety at the intersection, according to the release.

While temporary measures are being taken this summer, residents will still have nearly four years for all improvements to be completed. The intersection has long been a community concern, with hundreds signing petitions and signaling support in recent years for changes and improvements.

Construction is estimated to begin in the fall of 2024 and it is expected to take a year to complete – meaning fall 2025.

The improvements are estimated to cost $5.7 million and will be financed by the county.

From 2013 to 2019, 44 accidents occurred at the intersection with two being severe. 30 of the accidents caused property damage.

There are also congestion issues. The intersection averages about 15,500 vehicles a day, according to VDOT, with most being on Fox Mill Road. Long back-ups occur on Fox Mill Road during peak hours, notes a May 2020 presentation, due to vehicles waiting for a break in traffic to make a left turn.

The intersection is near a couple of pedestrian-friendly businesses, including a swim and tennis club and a church. It’s also relatively close to several schools.

Interim improvements have been made, though, including re-stripping and painting to provide turn lanes, installing a concrete island with a stop sign to create a yield, and removing foliage for better sightlines.

Beyond the proposed permanent fixes, the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan also addresses safety and congestion issues on Fox Mill Road.

The plan calls for the widening of Fox Mill Road to four lanes from Reston Parkway to Monroe Street, constructing a sidewalk adjacent to northbound Fox Mill Road, and installing a bike lane.

Image via Google Maps

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Nosie Barrier being installed along Route 7, between Reston Avenue and Utterback Store Road (Photo courtesy of VDOT)

(Update 3/3) A major project to widen nearly seven miles of Route 7 between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive remains on track for completion by July 31, 2024.

It is also expected to be completed within its $314 million budget, confirms Jennifer McCord, a  Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman.

The improvements include widening the heavily-trafficked road – also known as Leesburg Pike – from four to six lanes, adding shared-use paths for pedestrians and bikers, and making major design changes to intersections.

It’s all being done within the guidelines of the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan.

The project was first discussed nearly a decade ago, approved in 2017 with construction beginning two years ago, in the spring of 2019. It’s expected to take just over five years to complete.

Over the last two months, construction has continued at different sections of the road.

Between Reston Avenue and Utterback Store Road, a noise barrier is currently being added as well as the installation of a storm sewer between Reston Avenue and Baron Cameron Avenue.

From Baron Cameron Avenue to Colvin Run Road, existing asphalt was removed.

In the Difficult Run Area, work has continued on the new Colvin Run as well as excavation for the pedestrian tunnel that will run under Route 7.

Between Faulkner Drive to Jarrett Valley Drive, water main relocations and traffic shifts are taking place.

Landscaping work and third-party utility relocations are underway throughout the roadway.

This construction has also resulted in a number of traffic changes and lane closures that are constantly shifting.

In the upcoming months, crews will begin removing the Route 7 bridge over Difficult Run and will eventually complete a higher, longer bridge to replace it.

Colvin Run will also be diverted to a new stream channel. Small weirs (barriers) are being placed in the stream bed to encourage a meandering flow pattern and vegetation growth.

Construction will also continue on the pedestrian tunnel underneath Route 7 connecting the north and south sections of Colvin Run Mill Park.

Despite the ongoing work, public access to the Gerry Connolly Cross County Trail will be maintained.

While crews continue to work with COVID-19 safety protocols in effect, the decreased traffic volume in the earlier part of the pandemic has allowed VDOT to extend work hours in certain cases.

Photo courtesy of VDOT

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The Town of Herndon’s plans for major upgrades to an 0.5-mile stretch from Old Spring Street to Herndon Parkway along Van Buren Street have been delayed.

The project, which would add curb-and-gutter, widen travel lanes to 11 feet, and add bike lanes in each direction, was originally set to be complete by the winter of this year. Now, the timeline is being revised.

Utility relocation, which was originally set to be completed by the end of 2020, will likely take place by March, according to Richard Smith, the town’s engineer on the project. The town is currently working on creating a revising project schedule for all contractors, he said, noting that utility relocation contractors have been delayed for ‘various reasons.

‘This is all contingent on the private contractors completing the relocation and the subsequent authorization by VDOT to allow the town to bid the project for construction,’ Smith told Reston Now in a statement.

Once completed, the project will also relocate overhead utility poles, add crosswalks and signals at Alabama Drive, upgrade stormwater management facilities, and add five-foot-wide sidewalks.

During the construction phase of the project, the town expects the asphalt pedestrian trail along Van Buren Street to be closed to pedestrian and bicycle traffic from Spring Street Park to Aspen Drive.

Originally, the town estimated construction would begin in the fall of 2019 or early winter of 2020.

Photo via handout/Town of Herndon

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in its meeting Tuesday unanimously approved the construction of a new bridge on Hunter Mill Road  over Colvin Run.

Construction of the bridge is planned to begin in spring 2021, with a completion date set for the summer of 2022.

The bridge is projected to cost $5.5 million and will be primarily funded by Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) through the State of Good Repair program. The cost was initially estimated by VDOT at $3 million in February 2019, and was anticipated to cost $5.1 million in VDOT’s May 2020 update.

Fairfax County will contribute $408,000 for pedestrian improvements south of the new bridge. The county’s contributions will fund the construction of a splitter island, median refuge, and rectangular rapid flashing beacons.

The new bridge will have two 11-foot lanes and include a three-foot-wide grass median that will match the existing roadway. It is also been designed to allow a future trail crossing over Colvin Run south of the bridge and abutments for a new trail bridge over the creek.

Traffic operations will be maintained while the bridge is built. The current one-lane bridge was built in 1974 and was ruled to be deteriorating rapidly by VDOT after an inspection in February of this year. The bridge averages 8,500 vehicles crossing it daily, according to VDOT.

The bridge was repaired in 2012 and 2016 to maintain the integrity of the structure. Further improvements were made in February to temporarily strengthen it by adding wooden beams between the bridge’s I-beams.

The construction of the bridge falls in line with the Fairfax County Transportation Plan that the Board of Supervisors adopted in 2006.  Adoption of this project came after an initial public information meeting with VDOT in April 2018, virtual public involvement in May and June of this year, and finally a virtual design public hearing in September.

During the public hearing in September, VDOT received 28 combined written and oral comments: 22 in favor of the project as presented and six supporting the project with various modifications. There were no objections to the project during the public hearing.

Photo courtesy VDOT

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Planning to repair the bridge on Reston Parkway over the Dulles Toll Road is underway after a tractor-trailer crashed into the bridge earlier this month.

According to a spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Transportation, the tractor-trailer struck the bridge and damaged its girder and the connection to its superstructure.

Since the bridge is joined owned by VDOT and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, both entities are devising a plan for repairs.

So far, structural engineers have assessed the damage and are in the “final stages” of creating a repair plan, Ellen Kamilakis told Reston Now.

“Likely, VDOT bridge crews and their contractor will perform at least some of the repair,” she said.

The bridge strike happened on Nov. 20. Since then, the right northbound lane on the bridge has been closed to traffic indefinitely.

Photo via VDOT

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The Virginia Department of Transportation is planning bridge rehabilitation work over Sugarland Run this weekend, causing lane closures on westbound Route 7.

Only one lane on westbound Route 7 will be open from 10 p.m. today (Friday) to 3 a.m. Monday (Oct. 26), according to a statement from VDOT.

The following lanes of westbound Route 7 will be closed Friday night to Monday morning (October 23-26), if weather permits, and drivers are encouraged to take alternate routes:

  • Fairfax County Parkway (Route 286)
  • Dranesville Road (Route 228)

More from VDOT on what to expect on westbound Route 7 is below:

Bridge rehabilitation work over Sugarland Run

HERNDON – The two left lanes of westbound Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) Fairfax County Parkway (Route 286) and Dranesville Road (Route 228) will be closed (weather permitting) Friday night, Oct. 23 to Monday morning, Oct. 26 for work related to the Route 7 Westbound over Sugarland Run bridge rehabilitation project, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Traffic on westbound Route 7 will be reduced to one lane from 10 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Monday.

Drivers can expect delays and are advised to use alternate routes.

The $4.4 million Route 7 Westbound over Sugarland Run bridge rehabilitation project includes a new concrete bridge deck, bridge pier and abutment repairs, guardrail upgrades, and new curb and gutter in the area of the bridge. The project is financed with state and federal State of Good Repair funds used for bridges and is expected to be complete in spring 2021. Read more.

Photo via Virginia Department of Transportation

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A virtual public hearing to learn about and discuss a proposed replacement for the bridge on Hunter Mill Road (Route 674) over Colvin Run is set for Wednesday, Sept. 16.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) project team is set to begin its presentation at 7 p.m., and team members will be available to answer questions after the presentation of the proposal until 8:30 p.m.

The proposed plan for the bridge – which was built in 1974 – has construction beginning in spring 2021.

Under the plan, the new bridge will replace the one-way, 16-foot-wide lane with a two-way crossing with 11-foot lanes. Plans also include a three-foot-wide grass median.

Additional items within the project include an improved trail crossing south of the bridge and abutments for a new trail bridge over Colvin Run that the county will construct at a later date.

The proposed plan for construction will maintain the existing traffic operation while the new bridge is built. During the first phase of the plan, one lane of the new bridge will be built to the east of the existing bridge. The subsequent phases will shift traffic to the newly constructed bridge while the existing bridge is demolished before the second lane of the new bridge and the median are built.

An inspection of the bridge – which carries an estimated 8,500 vehicles a day – conducted by VDOT in February deemed its condition to be deteriorating rapidly. The condition rating for the substructure of the bridge is currently a three – the condition rating scale is based from zero to nine – which is considered to be in serious condition. The superstructure for the bridge shows significant corrosion of steel girder webs and flanges.

The bridge was strengthened on a temporary basis on Feb. 28 with additional wooden beams added between the bridge’s I-beams. While the load rating of the bridge was reduced from 19 tons to 10, the width of the bridge was also reduced from a 16-foot-wide lane to 10 feet.

Previous improvements to the bridge were made in 2012 and 2016 to maintain the integrity of the structure.

While initial costs were estimated at $3 million in February 2019, the proposed plan is anticipated to cost $5.1 million. The project will be financed with state funding through the State of Good Repair program that will cover $4.7 million of the project, while Fairfax County funding is estimated at $408,000, according to VDOT’s project update in May.

Interested persons may register for the virtual meeting at virginiadot.org/huntermillcolvinrun. Anyone wishing to participate offline, without registering, may call 877-309-2074 (use access code 635-767-879) to listen in.

Any comments following the meeting on Wednesday regarding VDOT’s plan for this project must be submitted by Sept. 28, 2020, on the project website, or by mail to Mr. Vicente Valeza, P.E., Virginia Department of Transportation, 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030, or by emailing [email protected] Emails should reference “Hunter Mill Road over Colvin Run Bridge Replacement” in the subject line.

Photos courtesy VDOT

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Construction to replace the one-lane Hunter Mill Road bridge over Colvin Run is expected to begin in early 2021.

At the latest Hunter Mill District Transportation Advisory Council meeting, Steven Welch, the Virginia Department of Transportation’s assistant director of transportation and land use, said designs continue to progress.

VDOT expects to finalize designs in the winter with the goal of beginning construction as soon as possible in early 2021. The new bridge will have two lanes separated by a median.

A virtual public hearing is set for Wednesday, Setp. 16 to discuss the project.

The $5.1 million bridge will also include a new trail crossing south of the bridge, landscaping, and infrastructure for a new trail bridge over Colvin Run that the county will construct sometime in the future. Project plans are available on VDOT’s website.

Photo via VDOT

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