Cyclists Gear Up for Bike to Work Day on Friday

It’s time to gear up for Bike to Work Day on Friday (May 17).

More than 100 pitstops are planned from 6:30-9:30 a.m. through the D.C. Metro area, including one in Reston and one in Herndon.

The Reston pit stop will be held at the Reston Station Plaza at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station (1862 Wiehle Avenue). A second pit stop is planned in Herndon near the entrance of the Washington & Old Dominion Trail at the corner of Lynn and Elden streets.

The first 20,000 who register and attend will receive a free T-shirt. Registration, which is free, is open online.

If biking alone isn’t your cup of tea, you can join a convoy led by experienced bicycle commuters. Convoys will travel along popular employment centers in the region. You can also try to track down a ride buddy by using the Washington Area Bike Forum.

Thousands of bicyclists are expected to commute via pedal power during the annual event, which is sponsored by Commuter Connections and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association.

The event takes place rain or shine.

For more information, visit the Bike To Work Day website, or for questions about the Reston pit stop, call or email Ashleigh from the Reston Association at [email protected] or 703-435-6577.

File photo

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Golf Course Plaza Redevelopment Plan Resurfaces After Deferral

Plans to redevelop Golf Course Plaza, a three-acre parcel on the west edge of Isaac Newtown Square, are back on the books after they were put on hold in 2017.

The latest proposal, which was submitted to the county on April 3, scales back the number of residential units from 413 to 300. The property (11480 Sunset Hills Road) is currently home to a two-story office building built in 1971, surface parking, and resource protection areas on the northeastern edge.

A “modern and sustainable” multifamily building with up to 300 residential units would take up most of the site, according to the development proposal. The building will face Hidden Creek Country Club and open space will act as a buffer between the building and the Washington & Old Dominion Trail.  A commercial component — which was not discussed in detail in the application — will connect the trail and a public plaza to the building. Part of the trail crosses the property’s access drive. The developer said it is working with the Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority to address the issue.

A three-level parking garage is also planned and could “assist with the possible future connection” to Hidden Creek Country Club, according to the plan. To date, the owners of Hidden Creek Country Club have not officially filed a redevelopment proposal, although preliminary plans have been discussed in the community.

Just under 0.8 acres of the parcel is planned as public park space. Part of the property is reserved for a future public street — often referred to as the “road to nowhere” — to connect American Dream Way to the west with Wiehle Avenue to the east.

Ben Wales, the applicant’s legal representative, said the proposed development helps the area transition from office and light industrial uses to a “pedestrian-friendly, mixed-used, urban development pattern built around rail transit as envisioned by the comprehensive plan.”

Previous plans submitted in 2016 were deferred by the applicant in September 2017.

Photos via Fairfax County Government/handout

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Reston Then and Now: The Old Farmhouse at Hunter Mill Crossroads

Normally, Reston Then and Now covers places that only exist as forests and fields in the earliest aerial photography in Fairfax County’s Historic Imagery Viewer. But this week, the intersection of Hunter Mill and Hunter Station roads has a history that predates that aerial photography.

During the Civil War, the intersection was a major crossroads for Union and Confederate troops moving through the area. According to a historical marker at the site, Confederate Brig. Gen. Wade Hampton’s cavalry brigade passed through the site in 1862 en route to Antietam in Maryland. Several Union and Confederate generals are recorded to have passed the site throughout the war.

The intersection was a critical junction of the railroad, a north-south road, water resources from Difficult Run and farmlands to provide food for troops. Several skirmishes took place in the nearby area, including the killing of Rev. John Read from Falls Church. Read was an abolitionist and supplied information on Confederate activities to the Union. He was kidnapped in a raid and executed in the forest just southeast of the crossroads by Confederate guerillas lead by Col. John S. Mosby.

The area around Hunter Mill road was its own town at one time, called Hunter’s Village, which sprung up around the route of the Washington and Old Dominion rail line. The locality contained a post office, a general store, a train station and a military hospital. The station itself was a bare-bones facility — a flag stop where passengers could step out to flag down a train.

The farmhouse at the site may have been built in 1935, and by 1937 it shows up in the first aerial photography of Fairfax.

Until recently, a little house at the intersection of Hunter Mill and Hunter Station roads stood mostly isolated — all that was left of the old Hunter’s Village — with some other properties dotting the surrounding area. Passenger service on the line ended in 1951. Freight service ended in 1968 and the railroad was abandoned.

By then, new subdivisions and a new power station started to encroach onto the site. The farmhouse was squeezed between growth spreading out from Reston to the west and Tysons to the East.

The farmhouse on the site was demolished late last year to make way for a new residential development. The site remains a popular stop on the bike and pedestrian Washington and Old Dominion Trail.

For more Reston Then and Now stories, check out our recent coverage of:

Photo via Google Maps

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Feeling Outdoorsy? Consider Starting the New Year Off With a Hike

Hit the trails on Jan. 1 if you want to enter a photo contest.

The Fairfax County Park Authority’s “First Hike Fairfax” returns this year with expanded hike options — including any FCPA trail — and photo contest prizes for hikes on New Year’s Day.

The FCPA teamed up with America’s state parks and Virginia State Parks for the First Day Hike Programs.

Locals can visit any FCPA trail on Jan. 1 and snap pictures for the photo contest. Nearby trails include the trails at Lake Fairfax and the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. More trails can be found at Trail Buddy.

Then, enter one photo in First Hike Photo Contest by Jan. 2. Park Authority staff will select a “Judges’ Choice,” and the general public will vote on a “People’s Choice” winner. Both winners will receive a free four-month RECenter pass valued at up to $300.

All photographers will receive two free RECenter guest passes.

“First Hike Fairfax” also kicks off the Park Authority’s “Healthy Strides 12 Steps for a Healthier 2019,” which offers monthly tips with healthy living ideas.

File photo

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Summer Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety Campaign by Local Police Targets Problem Intersections

Pedestrian and bicyclist safety is on the radar of local police at the Reston District Station, particularly as the area becomes more urbanized.

In response to an increase in accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians during the summer, local police officers launched a public safety campaign. Although the campaign was focused on educating the public instead of enforcing violations, local police offered tips about safety, including obeying traffic signals and using traffic laws, to more than 1,000 residents.

The public safety campaign ran from June 4 through the end of the summer following the death of a 71-year-old pedestrian who was hit by a car in May. Police officers met with hundreds of residents to promote pedestrian safety and distribute literature in order to reduce accidents.

Accidents between pedestrians and cars have become more frequent, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.

FCPD’s first priority was areas where pedestrian and car accidents have happened in the past. Other areas that were targeted have heavy traffic and pedestrian crosswalks, Sgt. Aaron Pfeiff told Reston Now.

“The public was very appreciative of the officer’s efforts and it was noticed that more pedestrians and bicyclist were obeying traffic signals and using crosswalks,” Pfeiff said.

Pfeiff identified the following intersections where officers focused their efforts:

  • Georgetown Pike/Walker Rd
  • Bluemont Way/Library St
  • Reston Pkwy/New Dominion Dr
  • Sunset Hills Rd/Michael Faraday Dr
  • Sunset Hills Rd/Isaac Newton Dr
  • Sunset Hills Rd/Whiele Ave
  • Parcher Ave/Centreville Rd
  • Coppermine Rd/Thomas Jefferson Dr
  • Hunter Mill Rd/Hunter Station
  • Sunrise Valley Dr/Cross School Rd

Photo via FCPD

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Planning Commission Approves RTC West Expansion

The expansion of RTC West, JBG Smith’s mixed-use project less than quarter-mile walk from the future Reston Town Center Metro Station, is getting closer to final approval. The Fairfax County Planning Commission unanimously approved the project, which adds up to 576 multifamily units, 700,000 square feet of office space and 1.4 million square feet of new development to the existing office park, on Thursday night.

The developer plans to embark on a multiphase expansion for the area, which is bounded by the Washington & Old Dominion Trail to the North and Reston Town Center Parkway to the east, over the next several years. The site is currently home to three six-story office buildings, two parking garages, and retail tenants like Cooper’s Hawk Winery, Nando’s Peri-Peri and honeygrow.

A timeline for the project is pending approval.

If approved and built, the project will add another mixed-use component near the future RTC Metro Station. RTC West is next to the recently approved Reston Gateway project. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will vote on the project on September 25.  The site design incorporates the future Town Center Parkway underpass that would connect Sunset Hills Road to Sunrise Valley Drive through a tunnel under the Dulles Toll and Access Road, according to the application.

Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner Frank Carter said the county worked with the developer to address several issues, including the distribution of workforce dwelling units. The project will provide affordable units at 80, 100 and 120 percent of the Area Median Income. Parking will not be assigned to each residential unit. In order to simplify the process, Carter said affordable units will receive parking at 70 percent the price of parking for market-rate units. The entire project is expected to provide around 2,900 parking spaces for residents and employees. 

Carter said that if parking works like the parking in RTC, the arrangement should be sufficient. The site plan accommodates 57 on-street parking spaces, encouraging people to use other ways of getting around other than cars.

The plan, which includes 3.4 acres of open space, is as follows:

  • Buildings 1, 2, and 3: Existing six-story office building with retail on the ground floor will remain. 
  • Building 4: A one-story freestanding restaurant, Cooper’s Hawk Winery, will remain.
  • Building 5: A new eight-story office with 160,000 square feet, including 10,000 square feet of retail.
  • Building 6: A new 22-story office building with 396,000 square feet, including 16,000 square feet of retail.
  • Building 7: A 20-story residential building with 293 multi-family units.
  • Building 8: A new 22-story residential building with 283 multi-family units. This building wraps the north facade of a second parking garage.
  • Building 9: A new seven-story office building located on top of a current parking structure.
  • Building 10: A one-story freestanding restaurant located on the common green.

A new right-only entrance from southbound Town Center Parkway at the north of the property line will be added to the development. The site itself will contain existing internal streets with on-street parking. Other planned improvements include a new westbound, shared right-turn lane and a five-woot on-road bicycle lane on Sunset Hills Road. A five-foot wide bicycle lane will also be provided on Town Center Parkway.

Photos via Fairfax County Government

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Crime Roundup: Bicyclist Crashes into Car

A bicyclist crashed into a car while crossing the intersection of the Washington and Old Dominion Trail and Sunrise Valley Drive on Saturday.

According to the Fairfax County Police Department, the bicyclist did not stop before crossing the intersection and hit the side of a car around 5:55 p.m. The bicyclist did not suffer life-threatening injuries.

In a separate incident, a robbery happened today on the 2200 block of Hunters Woods Plaza at around 5:20 a.m. Despite a helicopter-assisted search early this morning, the suspects were not caught. An investigation is ongoing.

FCPD also reported the following incidents in recent days:

LARCENIES:

2200 block of Castle Rock Square, cash from vehicle

2400 block of Centreville Road, bag from location

2500 block of Centreville Road, beer from business

600 block of Deerfield Pond Court, property from residence

1800 block of Fountain Drive, cash from locker

11700 block of Great Owl Circle, property from vehicle

11800 block of Great Owl Circle, laptop from vehicle

12200 block of Laurel Glade Court, backpack from location

1800 block of Fountain Drive, merchandise from business

11900 block of Market Street, merchandise from business

11600 block of Old Brookville Court, laptop from vehicle

11600 block of Plaza America Drive, cell phone from location

11800 block of Spectrum Circle, merchandise from business

11600 block of Springhouse Place, property from vehicle

11800 block of Sunrise Valley Drive, wallet from business

12100 block of Sunset Hills Road, merchandise from business

1600 block of Waterhaven Drive, laptop from vehicle

11400 block of Waterhaven Court, property from vehicle

11400 block of Waterhaven Court, property from vehicle

STOLEN VEHICLES:

1500 block of Deer Point Way, 2015 Infiniti G35

As we reported late last week, the body of Xuanfang Zhou, 81, a missing man, was found at Runnymede Park on Friday. Police said there is no indication of criminal activity.

File photo

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Silver Line pleads guilty to falsifying concrete tests —  A contractor admitted to falsifying concrete quality tests for stations on the Silver Line extension to Dulles International Airport last week. The contractor, Andrew Nolan, 28, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and faces up to five years in prison. [The Washington Post]

LED lights the way — Fairfax County has entered into a new regional agreement with Dominion Energy that would convert existing streetlights into more energy-efficient LEDs. The company installs, owns and maintains most of the nearly 58,000 streetlights in the county. [Fairfax County Government]

Commuter alert: Lane and ramp closures — A number of lane and ramp closures are effect in Reston and surrounding areas, including Herndon Parkway, Sunrise Valley Drive and Sunset Hills Road through Aug. 11. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Photo by Mike James

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New Bike Lane Location Offers Beer, Coffee and Bikes

After ten years of business in Reston Town Center, The Bike Lane has officially moved to 11150 Sunset Hills Road — roughly 50 feet away from the Washington & Old Dominion Trail.

With the new relocation, the bike shop has also added two new elements to its business: a nano-brewery and coffee bar.

“Our new location takes us into the heart of cycling traffic along the W&OD trail while giving cyclists the boost of a fresh cup of coffee and the relaxing atmosphere of a pub. Todd has been a home brewer for years and I love coffee,” said Anne Mader, co-owner of The Bike Lane. Mader also grew up in Reston.

Amongst various road and mountain bikes, beer will be brewed on site. The Bike Lane has partnered with Swings Coffee, a local D.C. roaster, to serve coffee drinks and snacks. The Bike Lane will also host food trucks on weekends.

“Cyclists love coffee and beer. This is a no-brainer. We are thrilled to combine top-quality cycling service and products along with tasty beverages and treats all in a warm and welcoming environment,” says Mader.

The Bike Lane has another location in Springfield. The Reston Town Center location – which first opened in 2008 – last year.

Photo by Anne Mader

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Bridge on W&OD Trail Over Wiehle Avenue Approved

An aerial bridge on the Washington & Old Dominion Trail over Wiehle Avenue could be constructed by October 2022.

Earlier this week, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved final design plans for the project, which is expected to cost $11.4 million, according to the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.

The bridge includes retaining walls and directional access to Wiehle Avenue for trail users. Wiehle Avenue would be widened from Sunset Hills Road to the Reston Fire Station property in order to make way for future on-road bike lanes.

Plans have long been identified by the Reston Metrorail Access Group’s plan to improve vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian access near the new Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail Station.

Robin Geiger, a spokeswoman for FCOD, said design plans are currently 90 percent complete. The project timeline expects utility design and relocation to take a little over a year-and-a-half, land acquisition to take a year, construction authorization and permitting to take eight months and construction to take one year.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said the project faces the challenge of ensuring the bridge maintains synergy in the midst of urban properties that are coming together down the street.

The developer of the Isaac Newtown properties, which are being redeveloped, said they were concerned the project’s scale interferes with the development. County officials said they would work with the developer to mitigate any concerns.

However, according to FCDOT, the height of the bridge is necessary because the design of the bridge uses existing infrastructure in order to cut cost costs. The height is also vital to meet grade requirements and requirements stipulated by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Rendering via FCDOT

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Pedestrian Bridge Project at Wiehle Avenue and W&OD Trail Moves Forward

A grade-separated crossing and bridge at the Washington & Old Dominion Trail at Wiehle Avenue could be coming closer to reality.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will consider a motion tomorrow (July 10) to allow the county officials to move forward with land acquisition and final design plans.

The project, which is expected to cost $10 million, aims to address safety concern at the intersection. Changes include a new bridge, retaining walls and directional access to Wiehle Avenue for trail users.

Wiehle Avenue would be widened from Sunset Hills Road to the properties near the Reston Fire Station. The pavement would be widened for on-road bike lanes in the future.

Improvements were contemplated in Reston’s Metrorail Access Group’s plan to improve access near the new Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail Station. The new fire station planned in the area would be built before the pedestrian bridge.

An exact timeline for the project has not been set.

Photo via Fairfax County Government

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The Bike Lane Closes Reston Town Center Location; Eyes June Relocation

The Bike Lane‘s Reston Town Center location officially closed on Monday (May 28). The shop plans to reopen in a new location on 11510 Sunset Hills Road in mid-June.

The new shop will be located on the Washington & Old Dominion trail, roughly two blocks from the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station. Parking will be free.

During the move, a mobile shop will be available to service bikes, including repair and maintenance. An appointment can be scheduled online.

Muse Paintbara wine-and-paint restaurant, is expected to lease the space at 11943 Democracy Drive in RTC.

Photo via The Bike Lane

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Funding for New Flashing Beacons on W&OD Trail Sought

New flashing beacons could be installed at the crosswalk of the intersection of the Washington & Old Dominion Trail and Hunter Mill Road soon.

The Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority is seeking a grant to install new actuated beacons at one of the most congested segments of the trail. The current beacons do not provide consistent yielding from motorists.

County officials have indicated the intersection is particularly dangerous due to traffic congestion, limited gaps in traffic and poor sight distance. The beacons would be wirelessly interconnected and solar powered.

At a meeting last week, Reston Association’s Board of Directors expressed support for the grant, which is powered by the Doppelt Family Trail Development Fund.

File photo.

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Man Found Unconscious on W&OD Trail Identified

A man in serious condition at Reston Hospital was identified this morning after Fairfax County Police issued an announcement asking for the public’s help to identify the patient Saturday afternoon.

Family members have been contacted, according to a statement by the police department.

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue found the unconscious man on Saturday at 12:42 p.m. on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail. He had no identification. He was taken to Reston Hospital Center.

Police issued the following description on Saturday:

The man, a white man in his 30s, weighing around 180 to 200 pounds, was wearing a gray sweatshirt, black running pants, a black skull cap, and white and blue Asics running shoes. He had an iPod and a smartwatch with him.

 

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Herndon Council Strikes Deal with Comstock for Downtown Development Project

The redevelopment of Herndon’s historic center moved forward Tuesday as local lawmakers passed an agreement that would transform nearly 4.7 acres of town-owned land into a mixed use development.

The seven-member Herndon Town Council unanimously approved a comprehensive agreement with Comstock Partners that lays out responsibilities of both parties. Comstock plans to bring 281 residential apartments, 17,600 square feet of retail space, an arts plaza and walkways, an 18,000-square-foot arts center and a 761-space parking garage to the center.

The public-private redevelopment deal states the town will pitch in $3.6 million to help with the redevelopment effort, including $500,000 for environmental remediation, $500,000 for transitional public parking, $250,000 for the relocation of the arts center, $100,000 for culvert repairs and up to $100,000 for any off-site easements. The town will also contribute land purchased for $5.8 million

In return, the developer will provide 339 public parking spaces in the garage, the arts center, an arts work and recreation proffer and $505,000 in proffer funds for town recreational services. The total value of the contributions is roughly $12 million, according to the town.

Construction, which is set to begin in early 2019, is expected to be complete by early 2021. With the green light from the council, the developer must begin designing the project. Once the design is complete, Comstock will submit a site plan to the town for approval and seek design approval from the town’s Heritage Preservation Committee — a process that could take one year.

The site on which the development would take place is north of Elden Street, east of Center Street, west of Station Street and south of the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. The space in question includes municipal parking lots and the home of ArtSpace, as well as the former Stohlman Subaru building on Elden Street.

As the development moves forward, the town plans to work with Comstock on a transitional parking plan. ArtSpace will be relocated off-site during construction of the project. The future of the Herndon Festival is unclear as the festival’s committee will evaluate options for relocation. During construction, parking will either continue to be located on-site or be transitioned to other locations in downtown Herndon. The town will work with Comstock on the transitional parking plan.

In a release, Mayor Lisa Merkel applauded the council’s decision as a major step forward in the redevelopment effort.

“After decades of discussion, vision and planning, the town is thrilled to be moving forward on a project that will revitalize our downtown and solidify Herndon’s position as a 21st century town where history and heritage are integrated into a thoroughly contemporary setting. We are grateful to the citizens, business owners and others with a stake in Herndon’s future who have dedicated so much time and energy to get us to this point, and we look forward to working with Comstock in bringing the town’s vision to reality.”

County officials project the purchase of the property will bring in roughly $300,000 per year from taxes and fees for licenses. The site is currently exempt from property taxes.

For more information about the plans, visit the town’s website.

Image courtesy of Anne Curtis

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