Reston, VA

As we look forward toward closing the book on 2020 and ring in 2021, there are a few noteworthy closures around the county to be aware of.

Services and government offices throughout Fairfax County have altered their schedules in observance of the New Year’s holiday.

The full list from around the county is as follows:

Fairfax County Government:

  • County government offices will be closed on Jan. 1.

Fairfax County Courts:

  • The Fairfax Circuit, General District, and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District courts will be closed all day on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.

Reston Association:

  • Reston Association offices, including the Central Services Facility and Nature House, will be closed Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 in observance of the New Year holiday.

Reston Community Centers:

  • RCC Hunters Woods is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 31, and from noon to 5 p.m. on Jan. 1.
  • RCC Lake Anne is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 31, and it is closed on Jan. 1.

 Public Schools:

  • Fairfax County Public Schools remain closed through Jan. 1 for Winter Break. All students will resume classes virtually on Tuesday, Jan. 5. Monday, Jan. 4, is an independent day.

County Libraries, Recreation Centers:

  • All Fairfax County library branches, community and regional, will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 31. They will all be closed on Jan. 1.
  • All Fairfax County RECenters, except George Washington RECenter (GWRC), will be open at their regular times and close at 4 p.m. on Dec. 31. GWRC will be closed on Dec. 31. All RECenters will be closed on Jan. 1.

Town of Herndon government and services:

  • Government offices will be closed on Jan. 1.
  • The Herndon Community Center will be open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 31, but it will be closed on Jan. 1.
  • The Town of Herndon will not provide trash collection on Jan. 1. Trash that is normally collected on Friday will be picked up Thursday, Dec. 31.

Public Transit:

  • Connector buses will operate on a Sunday service plan on Jan. 1. Check here for operating routes.
  • Fairfax CUE service will not be provided on Jan. 1.
  • WMATA Metrorail service will open at 5 a.m. and close at 11 p.m. through Dec. 31. Service will open at 8 a.m. and close at 11 p.m. while operating on a holiday schedule with Sunday service intervals on Jan. 1.
  • WMATA Metrobus will operate on a regular schedule on Dec. 31 and will go to a Sunday schedule for Jan. 1.
  • Metro’s customer information call center will be closed. Automated information is available by calling 202-637-7000 or online at wmata.com
  • WMATA’s regular fares and parking fees will be in effect on Dec. 31. Off-peak fares will be in effect all day, while parking will be free at all Metro-operated facilities on Jan. 1.

County Trash and Recycling:

  • There will be no change in the county’s trash and recycling collection on Jan. 1. To ensure all trash and recycling is collected, the county urges for all materials to be placed at the curb or street line by 6 a.m.
  • County Public Works and Environmental Services administrative offices will closed on Jan. 1 and reopen on Jan. 4.
  • The recycling and disposal centers at the I-66 Transfer Station and I-95 Landfill Complex will be closed at 2 p.m. on Dec. 31 and all day on Jan. 1.

Photo by Elisha Terada/Unsplash

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Metro will start collecting fares from bus riders again on Jan. 3 as part of its pandemic recovery plan, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority announced yesterday (Thursday).

The WMATA board of directors authorized a temporary suspension of Metrobus fare collections in March as part of a policy prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic that required riders to board buses through the rear doors in an effort to reduce contact between passengers and drivers.

With fare collections resuming, bus riders should return to entering the vehicles from the front, where the farebox and SmarTrip equipment are located.

WMATA says the change in policy is enabled by the more robust public health procedures that it has put in place now that there is a better understanding of how the novel coronavirus is transmitted.

“With everyone wearing masks, shields for operators on every bus, and enhanced daily cleanings, front-door boarding is safe, expands our capacity for more riders, and helps us resume some normalcy,” Metro General Manager and CEO Paul Wiedefeld said. “We also need to collect fares from every rider to keep essential Metro transit employees working and continue to provide essential service.”

Metrobus costs $2 per trip, which is payable in cash or with a SmarTrip card. Metro also offers a seven-day bus pass for $15 that provides unlimited access to Metrobus and other local bus services, including the Fairfax Connector.

The plan to resume collecting bus fare comes as Metro threatens to make significant service cuts after plummeting ridership during the pandemic contributed to a projected deficit of nearly $500 million for Fiscal Year 2022.

The dilemma facing Metro is shared by other major transit systems around the country, leading local elected leaders and transportation officials to call for the inclusion of public transit funding in a federal coronavirus relief package currently under negotiation in Congress.

Without outside support, WMATA could close 19 stations, drastically reduce rail and bus service hours and routes, and eliminate 2,400 additional jobs. The impact of those cuts is expected to land hardest on low-income residents and other populations that depend on transit.

Metro’s proposed FY 2022 budget will be up for public comment early next year.

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The timeline for completion of the second phase of the Silver Line continues to be the subject of uncertainty.

Phase II of the Silver Line has the potential to open in the fall of 2021, at the earliest. That is subject to change, however, as there are multiple issues that must be resolved first.

Laura Mason, head of capital delivery for Metro, discussed 28 issues with Phase II of the Silver Line project during Metro’s Safety and Operations Committee meeting on Dec. 10. She detailed the status of 14 quality issues previously brought forth, as well as 14 unresolved issues.

Of the 28 total issues discussed during the meeting, 10 are unresolved, eight are underway where a tentative agreement exists and resolution is in progress, and 10 are resolved. Metro will require the resolution of the issues by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) and its contractors before accepting the project.

When MWAA reaches a substantial completion date (SSCD) after resolving issues to an acceptable level by Metro, Metro will conduct 150 days of operational readiness testing and pre-revenue activities before the potential start of service. MWAA currently projects a SSCD of April 1, 2021.

“Based on an April substantial completion, that would yield a tentative forecast of a start of service in the fall of 2021,” Mason said.

“However, we maintain that Metro will not set a date until all identified issues have been resolved to meet our acceptance and we have a clear path to an acceptance of the project.”

She clarified that MWAA’s response to the unresolved issues will determine the path forward and the timing of the ultimate acceptance or rejection of the project.

The 14 new issues presented at the meeting consist of four categories: component failures, stations and systems, yard buildings and other open issues with resolutions already underway.

“Individually, each of these issues is not on critical path. However, taken together, they represent concerns to the acceptability of the project,” Mason said.

The issues with the yard buildings involve safe occupancy and correcting problems to ensure Metro’s ability to use the facilities to maintain its fleet of rail vehicles once the line goes into service.

The component failures brought forth detail a collection of components that require replacement even before the system has opened for operations. Mason cited concerns “about the durability of the project” when discussing the component failures.

For example, the contractor has replaced more than 1,500 insulators that were exhibiting cracks as of April 2020. Several thousand damaged track fasteners have also required replacement.

Mason said the damage to the direct fixation track fasteners is one of the biggest areas of concern. The fasteners, which are used to hold the rail in place at the appropriate height and angle, typically have a lifespan of 20 to 30 years. She did label the issue as underway after conversations with MWAA and its contractor.

Two other primary concerns she listed are the installation of the station platform pavers and deficiencies of cross bond spacing.

The station platform paver installation was initially identified as an issue after Phase I and brought to MWAA’s attention in late 2017. Issues with the installation consisted of systemic joint failures at pavers, water penetrating setting bed, and significant efflorescence deposits at the platform edges.

The installation problem is considered a maintenance issue, not a structural issue, for the platform.

The cross bonds spacing issue exists in 20 locations that Metro identified as deviating from design criteria and industry practice. It is regarded as a high-risk item, but a resolution to address the issue is already underway.

“There are and will continue to be other issues that come up, and we will try first to resolve them at the project level,” Mason said.

“We’ve also implemented bi-weekly executive coordination meetings for technical review between myself, my counterpart at the Airports Authority and executives from the contractor teams.”

The project has faced a number of issues that have delayed its completion. More than 11% of the concrete panels at five of the six new stations on the extension were discovered to have cracks that needed to be repaired.

Issues with concrete and leveling were also found in September 2019, while defective concrete rail ties delayed progress in March 2019.

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Metro is considering plans to eliminate weekend service as the system grapples with how to fill a nearly $500 million deficit.

The proposal, which the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority board will hear on Friday, would also call for trains to run every half hour, shutter 19 stations and slash bus service levels.

According to the proposal, Metro would offer an “affordable bare-bones service network to sustain essential travel and support the region’s recovery.” Under the proposal, ridership would be reduced to around 45 percent of pre-pandemic levels. The system would also close at 9 p.m.

“We’re facing. obviously, a historic budget crisis. It started in (fiscal year) 21 and will continue in (fiscal year) 22,” Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said.

But a federal coronavirus relief package that could include funding for public transit could change the otherwise grim outlook of the overall system.  According to the American Public Transit Association, public transit needs $32 billion just to survive.

Metro was awarded $800 million from the CARES Act in May — funding that runs out early next year.

Nineteen stations with low ridership would close during the pandemic. Reopening would be determined based on the financial health of Metro. Weekday rail services would end two hours early at 9 p.m.  Weekend service would be eliminated entirely and bus service would be slashed from 60 to 41 routes.

The proposal also calls on cutting 2,400 jobs in addition to workforce cuts already enacted this year.

The opening of additional Silver Line stations into Loudoun County will not be affected by the budget slashes, according to the presentation.

Metro’s fiscal year begins in July. Public hearings and outreach campaigns are planned until March.

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More than 11 percent of concrete panels at five of the six new stations on the Silver Line’s extension have cracks that need to b fixed, according to a new report by the Metro Office of Inspector General (OIG).

The report lays out nine conditional steps before the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority can assume ownership of the project and let trains run.

Metro plans to open the extension in July 2021. The OIG audit was initiated at the beginning of the year after a whistleblower complaint in 2016 brought to light Universal Concrete Products’ failure to perform quality control checks. The concrete supplier gave Capital Rail Constructors, the company building the project, deficient concrete panels.

The report found that the Herndon Metro Station has the highest percentage of cracks — 14 percent — while the Reston Town Center Metro Station has a little over 10 percent of cracked concrete panels.

“These panels must be repaired prior to acceptance by WMATA,” states the Metro OIG in its report.

A sealant to repair the concrete panels could be applied every five to seven years in order to proceed with the project.

But the OIG report says that WMATA should not accept this solution “or any other measures short of complete replacement.”

The OIG laid out nine conditions the WMATA board should consider before taking on the project.

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Tuesday Morning Notes

SmarTrip Available on iPhone, Apple Watch — “Riders can now add a SmarTrip card to iPhone and Apple Watch, and simply hold their device near the card reader to pay anywhere SmarTrip is accepted.” [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]

Report of Gunshots Investigated — The Fairfax County Police Department investigated a report of possible gunshots on August 24. Two men were not the 12000 block of Laurel Glade Court shortly after 10:30 p.m. when one of the men fired a gun several times. No damage or injuries were reported. [FCPD]

County Seeks Cotton Fabric for Masks The county is seeking 100 percent cotton fabric, which will be used to make masks for children in Fairfax County. Residents can drop off donations at Volunteer Fairfax on 10700 Page Avenue in Fairfax. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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After 11 years as the executive director for Public Art Reston, Anne Delaney is ending her time at the organization. 

Her last day is today, July 31, Delaney wrote in an email to Reston Now. Delaney first joined Public Art Reston in 2010, according to her LinkedIn.

Delaney will be starting a new job with WMATA’s Art in Transit program. The program’s goal is to incorporate visual and performing arts to enhance the Metrorail experience for passengers, according to the program’s website.

“I have enjoyed my years helping build the organization and collaborating with community organizations and developers to realize new public art projects and related programs,” she wrote.

Photo via Public Art Reston/Facebook

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After construction-related closures, commuters can expect several Silver Line stations to reopen ahead of schedule, according to a press release from the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority.

On August 16, WMATA plans to reopen the McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro, Spring Hill and Wiehle-Reston East stations along with the West Falls Church station.

“Assuming the platform work continues at its current pace, the remaining three west-of-Ballston stations (Vienna, Dunn Loring, and East Falls Church) are expected to reopen around Labor Day,” the press release added.

The timely completion of the projects can partially be contributed to the drop in ridership due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the press release said, adding that ridership is down 90% from this time last year.

“Metro has been working to efficiently use track access time during a period of historically low ridership,” the press release said. “Earlier this year, the transit agency combined Orange Line platform reconstruction and Silver Line signal integration into a multi-month summer shutdown of the nine rail stations west of Ballston.”

Free shuttle busses will replace trains until the stations reopen, the press release said. “However, Vienna and Dunn Loring customers will be able to connect to Metrorail at West Falls Church, rather than Ballston,” according to the release.

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Metro to Reopen 15 Stations — “Metro today announced that 15 rail stations that had been closed as part of the transit agency’s Covid-19 response will reopen on Sunday, June 28. In addition, beginning Monday, June 29, buses will be added to the system’s 14 busiest bus lines to provide more capacity and more frequent service as the region reopens.” [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]

Election Day is Today — Polls are open until 7 p.m on the ballot for the Republican primary for U.S. Senate and Democratic primary for the U.S. House, district 11. Residents are reminded to wear a face-covering while voting. [Fairfax County Government]

Reston Startup Raises $5 Million — “Reston, Virginia-based careMESH, curator of a healthcare communications platform, has closed on a $5 million seed funding round led by Assurance Capital and Pavey Family Investments. Dr. Peter S. Tippett, founder and CEO of careMESH, launched the company four years ago with a mission to improve healthcare communications with technology by streamlining patient information and maintaining data privacy.” [Technical.ly]

Supplies Needed for Child Care Programs — “The Office for Children (OFC) is seeking donations to support child care programs countywide in providing essential services to children and families. Donated supplies will support healthy hygiene practices and help child care centers and family child care programs maintain a clean and healthy environment.” [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Construction of the Silver Line extension into Loudoun County has cleared a major hurdle.

Crews with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority have begun the process of tying in the current Silver Line with the extension.

On Friday, crews began the tie-in process at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, which would connect phase two’s computerized control systems to the rest of the Metrorail system.

Capital Rail Constructors, its subcontractors, the MWAA, and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority are cooperating to complete the effort.

“The tie-in project is critical and complicated work that requires close cooperation and coordination among contractors and WMATA,” said Charles Stark, MWAA senior vice president and head of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.

The extension is expected to be fully operational in the spring. Currently, all five Silver Lien stations are closed during the summer shutdown.

Tie-in work will be completed by the end of July. After construction is completed, WMATA will assume ownership of phase two and conduct additional testing. A final date for completion of the overall project will be set at a later point.

“Months of preparation and coordination between Capital Rail Constructors, WMATA and the Airports Authority led to the initiation of the tie-in work, to ensure that software and other controls on both sections,” according to a statement from the Dulles Corridor Metro rail Project.

Once complete, the extension project will run along 11.5 miles of track from Wiehle Avenue to Ashburn.

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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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