Although the pandemic wreaked havoc on supply chains and labor demands, the state’s massive improvement project along the Route 7 Corridor remains on track.
The $313.9 million project will improve seven miles of Route 7 between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive is on schedule. Crews are working to widen the road from four to six lanes and add a shared-use path on both sides.
The project was not significantly impacted by staffing challenges and supply chain issues, a spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Transportation told Reston Now.
Kathleen Leonard, a spokesperson for VDOT, said that the design-to-build project team was able to take advantage of light traffic counts in 2012 to extend land closure hours and maintain progress throughout the pandemic.
But traffic patterns and a race-track environment are likely to remain for a little over two years.
Leonard says the project is 57 percent complete and on track for completion by July 31, 2024.
VDOT provided the following updates on the most recent work on the project:
Area 1 West: Reston Avenue to Baron Cameron Avenue:
- Completed drilling for noise barrier foundations west of Reston Parkway along eastbound Route 7.
- Storm sewer installation west of Baron Cameron Avenue continued.
Area 1 East: Baron Cameron Avenue to Carpers Farm Way:
- Continued post installation for the noise barrier wall along westbound Route 7 between Colvin Run Road (east) and Colvin Run Road (west).
- Storm sewer installation between Baron Cameron Avenue and Colvin Forest Drive continued.
- Continued earth-moving activities at the intersection of Route 7 and Baron Cameron Avenue.
- Continued construction of the retaining wall between eastbound Route 7 and the Colvin Run stream channel.
- Construction of foundations for the piers and western abutment of the eastbound Route 7 bridge over Difficult Run continued.
- Completed storm sewer installation for Stage 2 between Difficult Run and Serenity Woods Lane.
- Completed storm sewer installation for Stage 3A between Serenity Woods Lane and Middleton Ridge Road.
- Installed underdrain, curb, and placed base and intermediate asphalt for Stage 2 between Towlston Road and Lewinsville Road.
- Placed base and intermediate asphalt between Lyons Street and Towlston Road.
- Completed the jack and bore storm sewer pipe crossing underneath Route 7 between Middleton Ridge Road and Newcombs Farm Road.
- Earth-moving activities for Stage 3B commenced between Lewinsville Road and Jarrett Valley Drive.
- Began installing storm sewer for the service road between McLean Bible Church and Laurel Hill Road.
Image via VDOT
Planning for the Town Center Parkway underpass, which would extend the parkway under the Dulles Toll Road, is officially underway.
A $1 million feasibility study complete by consulting firm Volkert has found that the project, which key to relief congestion in the area and near the Reston Town Center Metro Station, is possible.
The project is expected to cost upwards of $166.8 million, the report estimates.
“The construction of this extension is possible but there are many important steps before this can become a reality,” the report states, adding that stormwater management and coordination with Metro officials, the owners of RTC West and RTC Next, and other design constraints could make the project more challenging.
The underpass would run underneath the Dulles International Airport Access Highway and tracks laid down by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Two bridges are proposed to support eastbound and westbound traffic over the Town Center Parkway.
Two signalized intersections would also be needed at the intersections of Sunrise Valley Drive and a future road. Construction would need to be conducted in three phases.
The project extends Town Center Parkway southward from the intersection with Sunset Hills Road to the intersection with Sunrise Valley Drive. Construction of the project would take roughly three years. The study does not set forth a specific construction timeline.
“Fairfax County is pursuing funding for the Town Center Parkway Underpass project. The schedule will not be set until funding is identified and the project is initiated,” Dan Reinhard, senior project manager with VDOT told Reston Now.
The project was first proposed in 2012 based on a Dulles Corridor Special Study Transportation Analysis and again in the 2018 version of the county’s comprehensive plan for Reston.
The report estimated that a minimum of 255 parking spaces would be impacted by the project — resulting in property damages amounting to roughly $3.4 million. Further evaluation is needed to determine how the project would impact businesses and parking spaces.
The complete report will available online.
Image via Google Maps
Construction on a $5.2 million bridge over Colvin Run is set to wrap up by the fall of next year.
The two-lane bridge on Hunter Mill Road over Colvin Run will replace a one-lane bridge that has been deemed structurally deficient by state and national standards.
The Virginia Department of Transportation began building in the bridge in August after launching a public engagement process in April 2018.
While VDOT is expected to fund most of the bridge through federal and state dollars, the department is asking the county to pitch in $408,000 to help construct a splitter island, median refuge, and rapid flashing beacons on bridge.
“The median refuge and RRFB will improve safety and accessibility of drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians where Hunter Mill Road and the Colvin Run Stream Valley Trail intersect just south of the bridge. The bridge is also being designed to allow a future trail crossing of Colvin Run,” according to a memo prepared by county staff.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will vote on an agreement to firm up the county’s contribution at a board meeting tomorrow.
The one-lane bridge had to be reinforced in an emergency move in February last year. The maximum load of the bridge was reduced to 10 tons and the lane width was reduced to 10 feet.
The bridge was built in 1974 and averages roughly 8,500 vehicles per day, according to VDOT.
A construction contract was awarded to Clearwater Construction, Inc. in April.
The county board is expected to vote on a formal project administration agreement with VDOT so that the state can continue project work.
Photo via handout/VDOT
Car Tax Payments Due Today — Today is the last day to pay the county’s personal property tax — also known as the car tax. Tax relief is available for some residents. [Fairfax County Government]
School Bond Referendum Moves Forward — The school bond referendum on county ballots calls for $360 million for school renovations, planning and design, and one site acquisition. [Reston Patch]
County Upgrades App — The county’s latest app now includes on-screen notifications. It also allows users to pay taxes, receive permits, arrange inspections and get access to the county’s calendar. [Fairfax County Government]
Transportation Career Fair This Week — The Virginia Department of Transportation’s Northern Virginia office is hosting a transportation workforce career fair on Oct. 7. The event is virtual. [VDOT]
The widening of Elden Street from four to six lanes — a roughly $40.6 million project — is expected to begin in late 2022.
The Virginia Department of Transportation plans to widen the street between Herndon and Fairfax County parkways. Along the street, bike lanes are planned from Monroe Street to Herndon Parkway, in addition to cycle tracks from Herndon Parkway to Fairfax County Parkway.
VDOT will also replace culverts over Sugarland Run with a new bridge to improve stream flow and reduce flooding. Overhead utilities along Elden Street will be buried between Monroe Street and Fairfax County Parkway.
Right-of-way acquisition kicked off in 2019 and is expected to wrap up by the end of the fall, according to Murphy.
Construction for the underground utility duct bank will begin in late 2022. But the actual widening, bicycle improvements, and construction of the bridge won’t kick off until early 2025, according to Mike Murphy, a spokesman for VDOT.
“The costs and schedules are estimates and subject to change as the design progresses and schedules are refined,” Murphy wrote in a statement to Reston Now.
Most of East Elden Street is a fore-lane undivided road. Few dedicated left-turn lanes result in major backups and traffic congestion. Changes are expected to improve access to businesses and the future Herndon Metrorail Station.
A host of other pedestrian and road improvements are planned in the Town of Herndon. In May, the town council awarded a contract to the Ashburn Construction Corp. for a new signal and sidewalks at the Elden -Monroe Street intersection.
The bridge will remain open during construction, but flaggers will be present to direct traffic, and lanes may be closed on Hunter Mill Road during the following times:
- Monday through Thursday: 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- Monday night through Thursday night: 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
- Friday: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Friday night: 10 p.m. to 9 a.m.
- Saturday night: 9 p.m. to 9 a.m.
- Sunday night: 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
VDOT says the trail that crosses Hunter Mill Road south of the bridge may also be closed intermittently during construction.
“Drivers, cyclists and pedestrians are reminded to use caution when traveling in active work zones,” VDOT said in its news release. “Be alert to new traffic patterns, limit distractions and follow detour route signage.”
Approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Dec. 1, the project is replacing the existing one-lane bridge with a two-lane bridge featuring a grass median or splitter island to separate the lanes.
It also entails improvements to the trail crossing, median landscaping, and abutments for a new trail bridge over Colvin Run that the county will build in the future.
The current bridge was built in 1974 and is limited to bearing 10 tons, even though an average of 8,500 vehicles use Hunter Mill Road in the project area every day, according to 2019 VDOT data.
The project carries an estimated cost of $5.2 million, including $1 million for engineering work and $4.2 million for the actual construction. The projected cost of construction has gone down, as VDOT estimated as recently as early July that it would cost $4.8 million.
The funding includes a $408,000 contribution from Fairfax County for pedestrian improvements south of the new bridge, including the construction of the splitter island and median refuge and the installation of rectangular rapid flashing beacons.
The rest of the funding comes from federal and state sources, primarily VDOT’s State of Good Repair program to help rehabilitate or replace bridges that are in poor condition.
Conducted by contractor Clearwater Construction Inc., construction is expected to be completed in the fall of 2022.
Emergency Alert Test Coming Today — Expect an alert message “accompanied by a unique tone and vibration” on your mobile phone around 2:20 p.m. today as part of a test of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. FEMA and the Federal Communications Commission regularly test the nationwide system to ensure the infrastructure works in case of an emergency. [Ready Fairfax/Twitter]
Herndon Reinstates Mask Requirement — “Effective Wednesday, August 11, all members of the public over age two are required to wear masks indoors in town facilities…Masks are required for all visitors to town facilities, regardless of vaccination status. Masks are also required for attendees at public meetings, including public hearings of the Herndon Town Council, boards and commissions.” [Town of Herndon]
COVID-19 Vaccines Could Be Fully Approved Soon — “The head of Virginia’s vaccination program said on Tuesday that next month, the Food and Drug Administration will likely fully approve the COVID-19 vaccines, and approve their use for children ages 5 to 11 as well…Currently, the COVID-19 vaccines distributed in the U.S. are authorized but not approved.” [WTOP]
New Traffic Signal Installed at Fox Mill Road — A temporary traffic signal is now active at the Fox Mill Road (Route 665) and Pinecrest Road intersection in Herndon to address safety concerns before construction begins on a long-term project in fall 2024. That project will include a permanent signal, new left-turn lanes on Fox Mill, crosswalks, sidewalks and curb ramp reconstructions, and an eight-foot-wide walkway and curb ramp at the southeast corner. [VDOT]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
Residents in the Lake Fairfax area may soon notice signs popping up along Hunter Mill Road, as construction crews prepare to replace the bridge over Colvin Run.
A precise date for when construction will kick off has not been determined yet, but the Virginia Department of Transportation confirmed to Reston Now that work on the project is scheduled to start later this summer, slightly behind previous expectations.
Signs are being installed now for “erosion control activities” that will begin later this month, VDOT spokesperson Kathleen Leonard says, adding that the project webpage will be the best place to check for future updates as construction progresses.
Approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in December, the Hunter Mill Road over Colvin Run bridge replacement project will introduce a new bridge with two lanes separated by a three-foot-wide grass median.
Built in 1974, the existing bridge has just one lane and can only accommodate a maximum of 10 tons at a time. An average of 8,500 vehicles utilize the bridge per day, according to VDOT.
Other changes will include improvements to the trail crossing south of the bridge and the addition of abutments designed to accommodate a future trail bridge over Colvin Run, though that bridge will be constructed by Fairfax County at a later date.
VDOT awarded a construction contract for the project to Clearwater Construction, Inc. in April.
Based in Mercer, Pennsylvania, Clearwater is also involved in the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project. According to the company’s website, it has specifically been tasked with constructing two bridges and supporting excavation needs as part of the project, which will add express lanes on I-66 from I-495 in Dunn Loring to Gainesville.
The Colvin Run bridge replacement project has an estimated cost of $5.8 million, including $4.8 million for construction.
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
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
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.
TGIF! Check out these pics of the newly rehabbed Rt 7 WB bridge over Sugarland Run in Herndon, including a new bridge deck and pier/abutment repairs. Way to go, project team! More info: https://t.co/5Qxli2EuXq pic.twitter.com/Xd890BbAJp
— VDOT Northern VA (@VaDOTNOVA) May 14, 2021
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.
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
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.”
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
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
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