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Cleanup Underway After Trash Truck Fire on Dulles Toll Road

A stinky situation on the Dulles Toll Road has resulted in a lane closure and a significant cleanup effort.

A garbage truck’s load of trash caught fire this afternoon, shortly after 4 p.m., prompting the truck driver to dump the burning refuse on the side of the westbound Dulles Toll Road near Wiehle Avenue.

The fire was extinguished and the effort to remove the charred garbage is now underway. According to WTOP, the ramp from Wiehle Avenue to the westbound lanes of the toll road are currently blocked.

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Development Plan Seeks to Build 2,100 Residential Units in Isaac Newtown Square

A redevelopment plan before the county could transform Isaac Newton Square, the aging office park at Sunset Hills Road and Wiehle Avenue, into a residential neighborhood with around 2,100 residential units.

Peter Lawrence Cos. and MRP Realty submitted plans in late August to redevelop two-thirds of the office park with 2.8 million feet of development, nearly 90 percent of which would be residential. The development would be spread across roughly 32 acres that Peter Lawrence Cos. controls.

“We spent a lot of time developing the project vision, and we’re proud of it,” said Andrew Painter, the development team’s legal representative. The plan is in line with the county’s comprehensive plan, which has long envisioned the office park’s future as entirely residential. The project is north of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station.

Painter told Reston Now that the development team intentionally designed the project to serve as a transition between the higher density areas close to the Metro Station and established residential communities towards the north and east of the property. The site is bounded by Hidden Creek Country Club, a gas station and a fire station, which will be rebuilt.

Building heights will generally taper down as one moves from south to north, and our planned “Nature’s Edge” area rings the proposed neighborhood, which provides a landscaped buffer and path along our northern and western edges adjacent to Hidden Creek,” Painter said.

Residential units will be a mix of apartments, condominiums, flats and townhouses, which 14 percent of the total number of units being set aside as affordable units.

The proposed neighborhood will contain up to 10 development blocks with a mix of residential, retail and office uses. The heights of buildings and the intensity of the development will taper off near the existing woodlands near the southern edge of the property.

The developer plans to preserve the property’s row of mature Willow Oak trees, by creating a new “Willow Oak Park.” The 1.45-acre park will serve as the “heart of the neighborhood’s public realm,” according to the proposal.

A full-size athletic field open for active recreation activities will also be included in the plan. Roughly 25 parking spaces will be reserved for field visitors during designated times. A neighborhood green, just under half an acre, will sit next to the athletic field.

A 0.75-acre east-west pedestrian walkway, called the “community mews,” will serve as a mid-block crossing connecting Wiehle Avenue and parcels to the west. Unlike the athletic field and community green, this “mews” will be reserved for residents only. The plan also calls for “The Commons,” the neighborhood’s commercial center.

The developer will create a connection to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. Infrastructure on the property will also support cycling.

Although an overwhelming majority of the development is residential, 260,000 square feet of office uses will be present nearest to the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station. Roughly 68,884 square feet of retail uses are also proposed.

The plan hasn’t been accepted for review by the county yet, according to Brian Worthy, a spokesperson for the county.

Photos via Google Maps and Andrew Painter

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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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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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Looking Back at Reston’s Fire Station as County Prepares for Replacement Facility

Check out these “Throwback Thursday” photos of the early days of Station 25, Reston, posted on Twitter today by Fairfax County Fire and Rescue.

Soon, the station as it has been known by longtime Reston residents will change forever.

The station, at 1820 Wiehle Ave., was built in 1972 and last renovated in 1986. It was one of five fire stations approved for replacement and/or renovation under the county’s 2015 Public Safety Bond Referendum. The new fire station on Wiehle Avenue, according to the county’s Capital Improvement Plan, will cost about $13 million. It is needed due to “outdated infrastructure and critical operational space deficiencies.”

The work on the new station is estimated to take place from spring 2019 through late 2020.

While the permanent station is being replaced, a temporary fire station will stand at 1800 Cameron Glen Drive. The Fairfax County Planning Commission unanimously gave its OK to the plan for the temporary fire station earlier this month, and the County Board of Supervisors did the same at their meeting this week.

You can see more historical photos of the Wiehle Avenue station at the FairfaxFirefighters.org website.

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Wiehle Avenue Re-Paving Project to Start Next Week

Drivers who use the northern end of Wiehle Avenue will want to set aside another couple of minutes starting the day after Memorial Day.

Virginia Department of Transportation signage on the road indicates scheduled milling and re-paving will begin Tuesday morning. It is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays after that.

The good news for drivers? The work shouldn’t take long. Only a small amount of the road will be re-paved: about 500 feet on the east side of the intersection with Fairfax County Parkway and about 700 feet between Reston Parkway and Reston Avenue.

Bigger re-paving projects are planned for Reston later this season, including on Colts Neck Road, North Shore Drive, Twin Branches Road, Glade Drive and North Village Road.

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Friday Morning Notes

Giving Back to Emergency Responders — Firefighters from Station 25 presented a certificate to a Reston woman who adopted a fire hydrant in her neighborhood. The woman was involved in a serious motorcycle crash in 1994 and credits emergency crews including fire units with saving her life, and she has loved and supported them ever since. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]

Guinea Pigs on Twitter Thanks to Local Students — At Ideaventions Academy, a specialized STEM school in Reston, students have built a computer and are using censors to get classroom pets to tweet out randomized messages. You can follow along @PepperNCaramel. [WUSA]

County Map Shows Youth Crash Locations — A map released Thursday by Fairfax County plots the locations of all 1,840 vehicle crashes involving youth drivers (ages 15-20) in 2016. In Reston, locations including Sunrise Valley Drive, the intersection of Wiehle Avenue and Sunset Hills Road, and the intersection of Reston Parkway and Route 7 had the most incidents. [Fairfax County]

Another Capital BikeShare Station Opens — An 11-dock Capital BikeShare location has opened on Town Center Parkway near Sunset Hills Road, at the RTC West complex. [Capital BikeShare/Twitter]

Map courtesy Fairfax County

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Wiehle Avenue Indeed Trouble Spot for Drivers, Police Analysis Shows

Crash on Wiehle/Credit: FCPDAfter a car crash with injuries on Wiehle Avenue earlier this week, many Reston Now readers chimed in that “something needs to be done” about the stretch of Wiehle from Baron Cameron Avenue to Sunset Hills Road.

The road is on a hill in that section and features a slight blind curve. Monday’s crash occurred at Wiehle and Inlet Court. That intersection was the site of nine crashes in 2015, according to Fairfax County Police. It was the second crash at the intersection in 2016.

A pedestrian was hit and killed by a driver at Wiehle and Chestnut Grove last October, one of three car-vs.-pedestrian incidents in 2015, records show. The woman killed in that crash was crossing Wiehle at dawn outside of a crosswalk.

FCPD points to several intersections as trouble spots on Wiehle. Since the start of 2015, there have been 20 collisions at Wiehle and North Shore Drive. The busy intersection at Baron Cameron has had 17 crashes in that time frame.

There have been 12 crashes at the intersection at Sunset Hills since the start of 2015, FCPD records show. That area continues to be a trouble spot, with the W&OD Trail also crossing Wiehle there. Access to the Silver Line station at Wiehle-Reston East and egress from Fairfax County Fire Rescue Station 25 also complicate things at that intersection.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation plans a pedestrian bridge to take the W&OD over Wiehle. The $10 million bridge likely won’t be built until 2021, however.

Meanwhile, while it seems Wiehle is an increasingly dangerous road, FCPD spokesman Officer Don Gotthardt points out that incidents are actually down in 2016.

There were 53 collisions on Wiehle in 2015. With a little over three months left to go in 2016, there have been 25 recorded by police. Gotthardt said the reasons for the decline were unknown.

Overall, there have been 78 collisions recorded since the start of 2015, though, which does it make Wiehle a trouble spot. What do you think should be done to make it safer? Tell us in the comments below.

Also, check out the document from Fairfax County Police mapping and categorizing what has happened on Wiehle in the last 20 months.

Collisions on Wiehle Avenue by Karen Goldberg Goff on Scribd

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Here’s Why Wiehle Overpass Won’t Open Until 2021

Wiehle Avenue at W & OD TrailA planned pedestrian bridge that will move the W&OD Trail over — rather than across — Wiehle Avenue at Sunset Hills Road will take extra time to build because a half dozen electrical poles must be relocated, Fairfax County transportation officials said.

The overpass will cost $10 million (money for it was allocated by the county several years ago) and will be completed by 2021, says Scott Ruffner, Fairfax County Department of Transportation Project Manager.

Moving the utility poles will be an 18-month process, he said.

“These are high-voltage poles that need extra time,” he said.

The overpass is badly needed at the increasingly busy intersection of two of Reston’s main roads. In addition to the North-South and East-West main streets, there is a Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Station and a cluster of fast food restaurants.

The intersection is also just north of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station, which has parking for more than 3,000 cars.

The overpass will make it safer for the pedestrians and cyclists on the trail. They currently cross Wiehle in a crosswalk.

Ruffner said 24,0000 vehicles pass through the intersection daily and FCDOT has “many safety concerns.”

There were seven reported crashes there from July 2011 to June 2015, some vehicle vs. vehicle, others vehicle vs. trail user.

FCDOT officials say they see a variety of behaviors at the intersection. Some drivers are cautious and slow down for pedestrians. But others are confused, oblivious and careless, said Ruffner.

“You never know what you are going to get,” he said. “We need to improve safety, alleviate sudden stops and provide a good East-West route for the trail users.”

FCDOT is looking at two configurations for the trail leading to the overpass — a 3-percent grade or a 5-percent grade. The 3-percent footprint (easier for cyclists) is much longer and will take the project and its associated utility movement all the way from Isaac Newton Square to Michael Faraday Drive.

The plan includes access down to Wiehle in case users want to leave the trail. The street-level crosswalk will be closed when the bridge is completed. The sidewalk on Wiehle will also be widened, officials said.

FCDOT is seeking public feedback about the bridge’s potential design elements. See more information and find out how to give your feedback on Fairfax County’s website.

Here is a tentative project schedule:

  • Document Completion, Winter 2016
  • Public Hearing Design Approval, Spring 2016
  • Land Acquisition Completion, Spring 2018
  • Final Design Approval, Winter 2018
  • Utility Relocation Completion, Summer 2019
  • Construction Completion, Winter 2021

Photo: Current crosswalk of W&OD Trail at Wiehle Avenue

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Get a Look at Planned Wiehle Avenue Pedestrian Bridge Tonight

Renderings of foot bridge/Courtesy FCDOT

The Wiehle Avenue and Sunset Hills Road intersection is being targeted for pedestrian improvements by the Fairfax County Department of Transportation. The public is invited to hear more at a public hearing Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Reston Community Center Hunters Woods.

That location, never a smooth one for motorists and pedestrians, has become more crowded — and sometimes dangerous — since the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station opened just south of it in 2014.

It’s the confluence of two major roads, increasing development, a Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Station, a popular fast food area, and the W&OD pedestrian and bike trail.

The county is planning a new pedestrian bridge to improve vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian access near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station as noted in Reston Metrorail Access Group’s (RMAG) plan.

Says the county:

The bridge will be located on the W&OD Trail and extend over Wiehle Avenue replacing the existing at-grade crossing. The new bridge will accommodate both the gravel path and asphalt W&OD Trail at this location.

Minor roadway, sidewalk and median modifications will be made to Wiehle Avenue at this location to accommodate the bridge.

Several utility relocations will be required for the project site along with the installation of drainage and stormwater management features.

The bridge is expected to cost $10 million, said project manager Scott Riffner.

The project is part of the Third Four-Year Transportation Program that was approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 2012.

FCDOT is seeking public feedback about the bridge’s potential design elements. Find out how to give your feedback.

Here is a tentative project schedule:

  • Public Hearing, Winter 2016
  • Document Completion, Winter 2016
  • Public Hearing Design Approval, Spring 2016
  • Land Acquisition Completion, Spring 2018
  • Final Design Approval, Winter 2018
  • Utility Relocation Completion, Summer 2019
  • Construction Completion, Winter 2021

See graphics below to get an idea of what the footbridge may look like.

Bridge Renderings by Karen Goldberg Goff

Renderings of foot bridge/Courtesy FCDOT

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Plans for W&OD Bridge Over Wiehle Taking Shape

Rendering of W&OD Bridge/Credit: FCDOT

Plans for a pedestrian bridge that takes the W&OD Trail over Wiehle Avenue are taking shape.

The bridge will help ease chaos at that intersection, which is where Sunset Hills Road and Wiehle Avenue meet and where emergency vehicles continually enter and exit a Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Station.

It is also just North of the Wiehle-Reston Metro and its accompanying foot and car traffic. The trail itself is a popular walking, running and biking path.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation now has a timeline. The agency is holding a public meeting March 17, 6:30 p.m. at Reston Community Center Hunters Woods.

The bridge is expected to cost $10 million, said project manager Scott Riffner. The bridge will replace the street crossing and will accommodate both the gravel path and asphalt W&OD Trail. The FCDOT also plans minor roadway, sidewalk and median modifications will be made to Wiehle Avenue to accommodate the bridge and the necessary drainage and stormwater management features.

The project is part of the Third Four-Year Transportation Program that was approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 2012.

Here is a tentative project schedule:

  • Public Hearing, Winter 2016
  • Document Completion, Winter 2016
  • Public Hearing Design Approval, Spring 2016
  • Land Acquisition Completion, Spring 2018
  • Final Design Approval, Winter 2018
  • Utility Relocation Completion, Summer 2019
  • Construction Completion, Winter 2021

Rendering of W&OD Bridge over Wiehle Avenue/Credit: FCDOT

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Car vs. Crossing Light

Street light down/Tall Oaks

Be careful if you are traveling Wiehle Avenue towards Baron Cameron this afternoon.

The streetlight/crossing light at the intersection of Wiehle Avenue and North Shore Drive is still down after being knocked over when a car plowed into it last week.

That could continue to have an effect on rush hour on one of Reston’s busiest streets.

If you drive by and notice the light is back upright, let us know so we can tell your fellow motorists.

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