Reston, VA

Herndon Man Arrested no Charge of Sexual Battery — Police arrested Javier Enrique on, 56, for misdemeanor sexual battery. According to the Herndon Police Department, Palma groped a woman who was walking on the Washington & Old Dominion Trail overpass in the 300 block of Herndon Parkway. Police are asking residents with information about other incidents to call 703-435-6846. [Herndon Police Department]

School Board Approves FY2021 Budget — “The Fairfax County School Board has approved the revised Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 21) budget.  The budget, revised due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reduced the previously recommended transfer increase from Fairfax County from $85.5 million to $7.3 million and includes a reduction of $4.8 million from the state. Along with other budget cuts, the total amount of the FY 21 budget was reduced by $67.0 million.”  [Fairfax County Public Schools]

New Crime Show Features Reston-based Company — “A Northern Virginia tech company that combines advanced DNA analysis with old fashioned genealogy to help police departments solve crimes is seeing its work go to the small screen. ‘The Genetic Detective’ debuts on Tuesday night on ABC. It stars CeCe Moore, a genealogist who works with Reston, Virginia-based Parabon NanoLabs to help police departments solve cold cases.” [WTOP]

Silver Line Service Officially Suspended — “Metro has suspended Silver Line service and closed nine stations in Northern Virginia from Memorial Day to fall, hoping to accelerate construction plans during the agency’s summer shutdown. WMATA already planned to close Vienna, Dunn Loring and East Falls Church stations this summer to reconstruct platforms.” [NBC4]

Photo by Beth Allgaier

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Silver Line Summer Shutdown Town Hall is Today — Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik and Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn will hold a town hall today (Thursday) from 6:30-7:30 p.m. via Webex. Representatives from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and the Fairfax County Department of Transportation will also attend the virtual meeting. [Webex]

Summer Camps Cancelled — The Fairfax County Park Authority has canceled all of its summer camps due to guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health officials. [FCPA]

Local Junior Collects Cards for Senior Living Home Residents — “South Lakes High junior Mary started a campaign in her community to collect letters and cards for residents in a senior living home. She posted her request on social media and collected the letters in a bin outside on her front porch. Since the residents aren’t permitted visitors, she thought they might appreciate the mail.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Next Reston Comprehensive Plan Task Force Meeting Announced — The task force will continue its second virtual meeting on Tuesday, May 26 from 7-9 p.m. Items on the agenda include the history of planning in Reston and elements of comprehensive planning. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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(Updated 5/20/2020) Before Orange and Silver line stations temporarily close this Saturday (May 23), Fairfax County officials for the Tysons and Vienna areas want to know more about the closures’ impact.

Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik and Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn plan to hold a virtual town hall on Thursday (May 21), according to staff from Palchik’s office.

The discussion will include representatives from WMATA and the county’s transportation department.

All Orange and Silver line stations west of the Ballston station will be closed through the fall for platform reconstruction at the four Orange Line stations and work to connect the Silver Line with the upcoming stations running from Reston to Ashburn.

The town hall is set to start at 6:30 p.m. People can register online.

Photo by Jay Westcott

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Friday Morning Notes

Weird Brothers Adapts to Coronavirus — The local veteran-owned coffee shop has adapted to takeout curbside pick up and is offering local deliveries in the Herndon and Reston area. The owner says he’s seen a 50 percent drop in sales. [Patch]

Reston IT Company Names New CFO — “Reston-based information technology company Contegix announced Thursday that it has named Mike Dunn as its new chief financial officer. Dunn was most recently the CFO of systems integrator and managed hosting provider NeoSystems LLC.” [Virginia Business]

More Postponements for County Dockets — Although the Fairfax County Courthouse remains open, the Circuit Court, General District Court and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court have changed their bond and arraignment schedule until further notice. [Fairfax County Government]

Verisign Inc. Donates $500,00 — The Reston-based company has donated the money to Northern Virginia’s COVID-19 response fund “as part of a broader effort to support those in the region.” [Community Foundation for Northern Virginia]

Metro Scales Back Service — “Metro will operate significantly reduced rail and bus service on Saturday, April 4 and Sunday, April 5, maintaining a core network of 27 “lifeline” bus routes and providing twice-hourly rail service on all lines for the region’s essential travel need.” [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Although Metro is currently cutting routes and closing stations due to COVID-19, planning continues for the extension of the Silver Line into Loudoun County.

Initially, officials estimated phase two of the project would open by the summer. After delaying the projected opening several times and by several months, Metro officials now say the first trains will not begin running until April 2021, according to budget documents.

The 11-mile extension, which includes six new stations, will provide service to Dulles International Airport and Loudoun County.

A vote on Metro’s $2.1 million operating budget for the overall system is set for Thursday. But changes could be enacted by June as the coronavirus outbreak unfolds in the region.

The proposal includes an increase in rush-hour rail fares, the restoration of some late-night service, and cuts to the number of bus routes.

Trains would run every 12 minutes instead of every eight minutes on all lines on weekdays between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Photo by Jay Westcott

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Blood Drives in Fire Station Parking Lots — “Several Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Volunteer Fire Departments are partnering with Inova Blood Donor Services to hold blood drives in their fire station parking lots. Due to current events, blood supplies in Fairfax County and the nation are at dangerously low levels and dropping.” [Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department]

County Buildings to Close to Public — All government facilities and buildings will be closed to the public beginning Friday, March 27 at 5 p.m. The county government remains open for business online and by phone and email. [Fairfax County Government]

Metro Closes More Stations — “Metro’s Pandemic Task Force today announced the strategic closing of 17 additional stations, effective Thursday, March 26, 2020, in an effort to conserve critical resources and protect the health and safety of Metro employees and the public. This follows drastic measures already taken to reduce travel on Metro to essential trips only, leading to a Metrorail ridership decline of 90 percent.” [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]

Economic Injury Loans for Small Businesses — Small businesses in the state can apply for low-interest Economic Injury Loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration. Businesses can get up to $2 million in working capital loans. [SBA]

Don’t Use Drug Take-Back Boxes  The boxes at the county’s police district stations will be closed until further notice to protect residents and first responders. [Fairfax County. Government]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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Friday Morning Notes

Fairfax Connector Offers Limited Service Today — As day two of a worker strike continues, several routes will only run on Sunday service and some routes will not run at all. [Fairfax County Government]

Metro Releases Concepts to Improve Service — Metro “released several preliminary concepts to improve reliability, meet future ridership demand, and better serve customers on the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines. The concepts, part of the two-year Blue/Orange/Silver Capacity and Reliability Study (BOS Study), include a range of infrastructure improvements and service alternatives to address both short- and long-term needs.” [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]

Wiehle-Reston East Station Closed This Weekend — “Crews are gearing up to try and finish construction of Phase Two of the Silver Line extension in time for a September opening, and it’s going to mean some continuous inconveniences for weekend Metro riders. Just like the past few weekends, the Wiehle-Reston East Station will close again order as crews work on the expansion project. The work (and the closures) will continue most weekends through February 2020, per Metro. Free shuttle buses will be available between the Spring Hill and Wiehle-Reston East stations.” [DCIST]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Real-time Metro Data Available on Apple Maps — “Metro riders can now get to where they need to go even easier thanks to Apple Maps adding support for real-time transit information in Washington DC this week. Customers using Apple Maps will now see detailed transit schedules, live departure and arrival times, the current location of a Metro train or bus, and system connections to help plan their journey.” [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]

Fairfax Connector Reston-Herndon Bus Service Survey Extended — Residents now have until Dec. 27 to provide input on service alternatives by completing the online survey organized by the Fairfax County Department of Transportation. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via Flickr/vantagehill

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The Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station will be closed this weekend due to ongoing track work.

Buses will be available to replace trains to and from the Spring Hill Metro Station.

On the rest of the Silver Line, trains will operate on regular weekend intervals between Spring Hill. And Largo Town Center.

More service changes are expected as the work is expected to continue for several weekends, according to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

Metro will also continue cable installation work on the Red Line. Single tracking is expected between Friendship Heights and Medical Center stations, with trains running every 16 minutes.

Changes are also expected on the Orange Line. The Blue, Yellow and Green lines will have regular service.

More information on weekend service changes is available online.

Photo by Fairfax Connector

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Lawmakers discussed bringing back late-night hours and Metro’s safety record with Metro officials at a congressional oversight hearing on the transit agency on Tuesday.

An ethics investigation into former Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority board chair Jack Evans was the focus of most of the hearing, which was led by Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations.

Connolly and other lawmakers urged Metro’s leadership to continue to combat what Connolly said was a “culture of mediocrity” concerning safety and efficiency in the system.

Additionally,  Metro assumes the authority of phase two of the Silver Line extension project, a number of safety-related issues must be resolved.

“We cannot allow shoddy construction work by cost-cutting contractors to saddle Metro and its ridership with long-term costly maintenance,” Connolly said.

So far, it’s unclear how next year’s opening of phase two of the Silver Line into Loudoun County will impact fares. Currently, Metro’s distance-based fares are capped at $6 at rush hour and at $3.85 at all other times.

Metro’s General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said WMATA is considering the possibility of fare increases as part of its budget development process. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) said she hopes Metro will maintain affordability for her constituents in Reston, Tysons and surrounding a real.

Metro is focusing on promoting the use of SmarTrip cards — a reloadable card used to pay Metrorail and local bus system fares — in order to boost ridership.

“Our biggest focus is getting people to use the SmarTrip cards and providing discounts for that,” Wiedefeld said. “That’s really the best way to use the system for us operationally and efficiency-wise,” he said.

At the meeting, officials also hinted at the possibility of bringing back late-night hours that Metro cut several years ago.

A recording of the meeting, which also touched on other issues like cybersecurity, Metro’s overall funding goals, is available online.

Photo via YouTube

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Silver Line test trains are now running into Loudoun County.

Trains are making their way into the county from the aerial guideway on the Dulles Airport property through the Loudoun Gateway Station to the Ashburn Station.

Testing is underway using eight rail cars that were supplied by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

Metro asked for a pause in testing in mid-September after expressing concerns about the safety of trains when they switch tracks. Recent investigations found that the issue is not linked to possible derailment for test trains.

Although Metro signed off on allowing train testing to continue, a number of concerns with phase two of the project remain, including concrete panel issues.

Photo by Chuck Samuelson/Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Brookfield Breaks Ground on $1.4 Billion Development — “Brookfield Properties celebrated the groundbreaking Monday for Halley Rise, a $1.4B project on the site of a 36-acre Reston office park.  The development’s first phase, scheduled to deliver in 2022, will feature 640 residential units, 450K SF of office and 200K SF of retail. The retail will be anchored by Wegmans, which is bringing its smaller urban grocery store concept to the project, and Pinstripes, a restaurant with a bowling alley and bocce court.” [Bisnow]

Metro Investigates Monday Train Collision — “The investigation into the cause of a low-speed train collision outside Farragut West is ongoing, including analysis of railcar data recorders, control center event logs, and signal system playback.  While Metro has not yet identified the root cause of the incident, investigators have found no evidence of a signal system failure and have ruled out “loss of shunt” as a cause.”  [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]

Annual Fiscal Year 2019 Report for Town of Herndon — Herndon Town Manager Bill Ashton presented findings and progress on different measures at a meeting in late September. The report highlights progress on major initiatives undertaken by the town in the last fiscal year. [Town of Herndon]

Early Bird Ticket Rates for Reston Home Tour Ending Soon — The $25 rate for the Reston Historic Trust & Museum’s annual Reston Home Tour is in effect until Friday (Oct. 11). The tour takes place on Saturday, Oct. 9. Regular price tickets are $30.  [Reston Historic Trust & Museum]

Photo by Dario Pipair/Flickr

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Metro board members flagged several concerns with the Silver Line extension that could delay its expected opening date in July 2020.

At a Thursday board meeting, the board heard a comprehensive report about critical issues on the stations including cracked concrete an unleveled track.

In some areas, track plates are curved, creating a gap between the plate and tie of track plates. The report also found irregular track cross-levels. The contractor attempted to install pads, create custom guard rail plates and install hardware for all turnouts — a fix that Metro rejected because it is “not a safe and effective longterm solution.”

The report also indicated that the ballast — the gravel around the tracks — was contaminated with materials that could cause drainage issues and pose a potential safety risk.

Metro also rejected the contractor’s application of a sealer to remedy cracked concrete at five at-grade stations. The fix was implemented after a federal investigation confirmed the contractor falsified test results at the concrete plant.

The body is seeking a safe and effective long term solution after tests showed that the sealer did not effectively penetrate cracked concrete in 20 percent of the 25 areas Metro’s Office of Inspector General tested.

According to WAMU, Maryland board representative Michael Goldman said the findings cast a “dark and foreboding cloud” over the expected opening date provided by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority must address concerns highlighted by the report in order for Metro to take over the project.

Photo by Fatimah Waseem

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It’s official: the Herndon Metro Station is nearly complete.

This week, a sign marking the station was installed by Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority officials.

Town of Herndon Mayor Lisa Merkel met with WMATA officials on Monday, August 5 as part of a Silver Line bus tour.

The station is expected to open in July next year.

The town is working with the county to determine new bus routes with the Fairfax Connector once Metro trains are up and running.

Photo via Town of Herndon/Facebook

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The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority has finally set a projected opening day for phase two of the Silver Line project.

WTOP reports that the authority hopes to open the six-station second phase from Wiehle-Reston East to Loudoun Gateway and Ashburn on July 16, 2020. Authority officials stressed the opening date was tentative and dependent on numerous factors.

Here’s more from WTOP:

“The current date to open the system to the public is July 16, 2020. That is our goal at this point, and we’re working very hard to meet it,” said Charles Stark, airports authority senior vice president for the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.

“It could be a few days earlier or a few days later. Nothing in the construction world is that exact, but you gotta have a goal, and that’s ours,” Stark said in an interview.

July 16, 2020, is a Thursday, so it is more likely that if construction sticks to the new schedule projections based on a statistical analysis and discussions with the contractors and Metro, the line would open the weekend before or after that.

Thus far, the opening of phase two has been delayed several times.

Metro will take roughly two months for final testing and employee training before it assumes ownership of the rail line from the authority.

The authority is currently in negotiations with contractors to determine the details of precise safety testing checklists for new stations, tracks and rail yards. The authority hopes to allow certain tests to be done simultaneously instead of sequentially in order to shave a significant amount of time off the schedule, according to the report.

Rail yard testing is expected to begin by the end of this year.

File photo

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