70°Mostly Cloudy

by Dave Emke — March 24, 2017 at 9:00 am 46 Comments

Morning Notes - Winter

Report: Golf Course Could Sell for $25-$35M — Real-estate news website GlobeSt.com reported earlier this week that it hears anyone who buys Reston National Golf Course for that price and gets approval for development might be looking at a $200 million windfall. [GlobeSt.com]

Mobile DMV Service Coming to Reston — DMV 2 Go, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles’ mobile service, will soon visit Reston. DMV 2 Go is a handicapped-accessible full-service office that provides all DMV transactions. The mobile DMV will be at the North County Government Center (1801 Cameron Glen Drive) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 3-6. [Virginia DMV]

Independent Panel to Study Metro’s Woes — Former U.S. transportation secretary Ray LaHood will take charge of a panel to examine Metro’s governance and long-term financial needs. Meanwhile, Metro’s general manager says the system needs major work to fix its “unsustainable cost model.” [Washington Post]

South Lakes Lacrosse Team Kicks Off 2017 — The Seahawks’ boys lacrosse team won its conference and advanced to the state tournament last year. They started the 2017 season with a 16-3 win over Fairfax last week, and though they dropped their second contest to Stone Ridge, they still have big dreams. [South Lakes Athletics]

by Dave Emke — March 10, 2017 at 9:00 am 3 Comments

Morning Notes - Lake Thoreau

Have Coffee with a Cop — The Herndon Police Department is inviting community members out to Virginia Kitchen (450 Elden St.) on Monday morning for coffee and conversation. [Herndon Police Department/Facebook]

Metro Rate Hikes Get Approval — As expected, the Metro Finance Committee voted Thursday to increase rates and reduce rush-hour service. The Board will make the final vote March 23 on what would be Metro’s first rate hike in three years. [WTOP]

County Seeking Input on New Website — As Fairfax County has plans to update its website, it is inviting feedback from the community in the process. The county has devised four example pages of possible new designs, as well as surveys to find out what is most important to users. [Fairfax County]

Local Artist’s Work Displayed at NYC Gallery — The art of Herndon-based Lisa Tureson is being exhibited at New York’s Touchstone Gallery through April 2. “Scribbles” was inspired by street art in Denmark. [Reston Connection]

by Dave Emke — March 7, 2017 at 2:45 pm 9 Comments

METRO Wiehle-Reston EastThe Metro board is set to vote Thursday to approve an FY2018 budget that includes 10-cent fare increases on rush-hour rides and 25-cent hikes at other times. Regular and express bus fares will also go up by 25 cents, while the rate for the bus to Dulles Airport will jump from $7 to $9.75.

The increases in fares are expected to raise $21 million for Metro as the transportation system works to shore up a projected $125 million shortfall in its budget.

Ridership on Metro plummeted from 2015 to 2016, with stations in Virginia seeing a decrease in users of more than 12 percent when comparing the fourth quarters of each year. Wiehle-Reston East’s decrease was 13.4 percent, the greatest drop among Virginia stations on the Silver Line, which had a 9 percent decrease overall.

Service frequency during rush hour outside of DC will also be decreased as part of the plan. For the Silver Line, trains will run every eight minutes instead of the current six-minute interval. The original proposal had called for off-peak frequency to be decreased as well, from 12 minutes to 15; however, that has been dropped from the final plan.

Virginia representatives on the Metro board discussed the proposed changes, as well as increased local contributions to the budget, during a January public forum in Reston.

The new rates are expected to go into effect around July 1.

by Dave Emke — March 6, 2017 at 9:00 am 7 Comments

Morning Notes - Lake Anne trail sign

Police: Bodies Found in County Park Linked to Gang Activity — Two sets of human remains were located Friday in a park near Falls Church. These are just the latest apparent victims of gang activity in Fairfax County, Police Chief Edwin Roessler said. [WTOP]

Registration for SLHS Summer Sports Camps Underway — Signups are now available for youths looking to participate in summer camps for basketball, field hockey, football, lacrosse and volleyball. [South Lakes High School]

Another Round of Metro SafeTrack Work in State — Work on the Blue and Yellow lines in Northern Virginia began over the weekend and will last into April. This is expected to be the final round of the work. County supervisors Sharon Bulova and Cathy Hudgins are urging patience from commuters. [Washington Post]

Feds: Herndon Man Previously Jailed for Bank Robberies Strikes Again — Bruce Wayne Higgins Jr. served four years in prison after robbing banks in D.C. and Arlington in 2009. Now law enforcement says he committed heists at five more banks in December in Baltimore, Ocean City and Atlantic City. [NJ.com]

by Dave Emke — March 1, 2017 at 9:00 am 2 Comments

Morning Notes

Strong Storms Possible Later Today — Temperatures in the 70s are again predicted for this afternoon. However, showers and thunderstorms are possible into the evening, with damaging winds and large hail also possible. [Capital Weather Gang]

More Craft Beer on the Way? — New zoning regulations approved Tuesday by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors may open the door for more small breweries in Reston. There are currently seven licensed craft breweries in the county. [Fairfax County]

Rider: Metro Worst System He’s Used — David Ballard, of Reston, compares his experience on the Metro to public transportation systems in Denver, Salt Lake City, Portland, Dallas and Mexico City. He says the DC system not only is “by far” worse than the others, it’s more expensive. [Washington Post]

Metro Ridership Down Dramatically — At the Wiehle-Reston East station, ridership was down 13.4 percent in the last quarter of 2016. Ridership on the Silver Line as a whole was down 9 percent. [WTOP]

by Dave Emke — February 17, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Morning Notes - Winter

Member Assessment is Due March 1 — In case you’ve forgotten, there is only a week and a half left to pay member assessments. Reston Association’s Member Services office will be open additional hours (Saturday, Feb. 25, from 9 a.m.-noon; and Wednesday, March 1, from 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m.) if you need to take advantage of them. Fees can also be paid online. [Reston Association]

South Lakes High Track & Field Stars Advance to States — Olivia Beckner, Sean Casey, Ronak Cuthill, Mary Gregory, Sophie Halkett, Devyn Jones, Alex Loukili, Timiebi Ogobri, Aly Rayle, Peter Sepulveda, Jack Watkins and Dont’a Whitley will all represent the Seahawks at the state Indoor Track and Field Championships next weekend in Hampton. [Reston Patch]

Metro Call Center Hours Reduced Starting Next Month — Citing a five-year decline in call volume, Metro’s Customer Information Call Center will cut its hours of availability beginning March 1. Metro says fewer customers are using the call center as they rely more on sources of information including mobile apps and social media. [WMATA]

Washington’s Day Holiday Will Alter Public Transportation — Both Metro and Fairfax Connector schedules will be different Monday because of the federal holiday. [WMATA/Fairfax Connector]

by Dave Emke — February 10, 2017 at 2:45 pm 7 Comments

The Fairfax County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing Feb. 23 as the approval process for the Reston Town Center Metro station continues.

The special exemption application for the south entrance pavilion of the station calls for modifying a zoning ordinance that requires 15 percent open space to require only 5 percent. According to the site plan:

“The applicants state that the boundary for the SE area is highly constrained in order to avoid adverse impact to future development of adjacent properties and to ensure that the development of the proposed mass transit facilities remain in harmony with the adjacent development. The site design and layout is consistent with the design of the other entrance pavilion areas along the Silver Line.”

The new station’s entrance pavilion is slated to look nearly identical to the pavilion at the Wiehle-Reston East station.

The Metro station was approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors last year. It is part of Metro’s Silver Line Phase 2, with a projected opening date in 2020.

If recommended, the Board of Supervisors will hear the special exemption application on March 14.

Graphics via project site plan

by Dave Emke — January 26, 2017 at 2:45 pm 11 Comments

Wiehle-Reston East Metro/Northern Virginia Transportation Commission

Metro board members continue to probe the public for feedback as they address how to close their budget gap.

In a public forum Wednesday night in Reston, the Virginia members of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority board discussed their $3.1 billion proposed FY2018 budget.

Board members estimate $17 billion will be needed over next decade “just to maintain a state of good repair,” but also acknowledge that the impact of delays associated with the SafeTrack program are significant.

DC CFO estimates Metro delays led to:

— lost productivity between $153 million and $235 million annually in the region

— ridership declines that reduce Metrorail’s fare box recovery

Proposed investments, totaling $1.25 billion, outlined by board members to help make Metro more safe and reliable include new 7000 Series railcars; replacement buses and paratransit vehicles; rehabilitation and maintenance of existing railcar and bus fleets; rehabilitation and replacement of track and structures, rail power, radio/wireless and bus garages; and reinvestment in station escalators, elevators, lighting and platforms.

Proposed capital funding from Fairfax County for the FY2018 Metro budget is $101 million, up $66 million from FY2017. Increased contributions in FY2018 include funds to repay short-term debt projected to be used in FY2017.

WMATA FY2018 Budget Jurisdictional Contributions (proposed)

Proposed operational funding from Fairfax County in FY2018 is $138.6 million, a 17 percent increase from the current fiscal year.

WMATA FY2018 Budget Jurisdictional Operational Contributions (proposed)

The proposed budget also features fare hikes including:

  • 10 cents on rush-hour rail fares, 25 cents on non-rush-hour fares
  • 25 cents on regular and express Metrobus fares
  • $2.75 on Dulles Airport Metrobus fares

Service frequency would also be adjusted in the following ways:

  • 8-minute frequency on Silver Line during weekday rush hour (up from 6)
  • 15-minute frequency on all lines all other times (up from 12)

Metro has planned an open house Monday from 4:30-6:30 p.m. to receive feedback on the budget. In addition, feedback can be provided via an online survey.

Photo via Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, charts via Metro FY2018 budget proposal

by Jennifer van der Kleut — December 22, 2016 at 2:00 pm 0

Christmas is nearly here. In Fairfax County, many government and Reston Association buildings will shut down for the holiday, with some of them closing today.

At Reston Now, we’re taking a break, too. We won’t publish Monday in observance of Christmas Day, but we’ll return with more local news Tuesday.

According to locals officials, here’s what’s closed in Reston around the Christmas holiday:

(more…)

by Jennifer van der Kleut — December 21, 2016 at 1:45 pm 0

Metro offering free New Year's Eve rides thanks for Miller Lite/Photo: MillerCoors

Reston residents may be able to get once again take a free Metro ride on New Year’s Eve.

The transit agency is in the final stages of another partnership with MillerCoors to provide free rides between midnight and 3 a.m. on all six Metro lines this year, as it did for last year’s holiday. The agenda item was up for approval during the Dec. 15 meeting of Metro’s Board of Directors.

According to a staff report, MillerCoors paid WMATA more than $160,000 last year to subsidize all Metrorail and Metrobus rides on New Year’s Eve between midnight and 3 a.m., as part of he company’s Free Rides promotion. The amount was based on expected ridership.

This year, if approved, MillerCoors will pay just over $81,000, as ridership on New Year’s Eve was only about half of what was expected last year. However, the amount is guaranteed regardless of actual ridership, the report states.

MillerCoors has offered its Free Rides program in more than 20 major cities across the U.S. for more than a decade.

“Our partnership with Metro is part of MillerCoors’ overall commitment to help prevent drunk driving by bringing alcohol responsibility programs to more markets,” a MillerCoors spokesperson said during the inaugural promotion in 2015.

In addition to Metro, local New Year’s Eve party-goers can also call for a free taxi ride of up to $30 thanks to the local nonprofit, the Washington Regional Alcohol Program.

Photo courtesy of MillerCoors Free Rides

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by RestonNow.com — May 6, 2016 at 12:45 pm 2 Comments

Weekend Metro track work outside of Reagan National Airport station (file photo)This morning Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld outlined the agency’s plan for working through Metrorail’s deferred maintenance backlog.

The “safety surge,” dubbed SafeTrack, “accomplishes in one year, work that otherwise would take about three years to complete.” It comes at a time when major Metro track problems and electrical fires seem to be increasingly commonplace.

The plan involves fifteen long-duration track outages between June 4 and May 8, 2017, to allow for extensive track work.

The goal: to achieve “safety and state of good repair of basic track structure.”

So what can Reston riders expect? First, there will be a moratorium on early system openings and closings — the system will close at midnight, seven day a week.

There are no outages planned for the new Silver Line track that opened in 2014. However, work on older portions of the Orange and Silver line will cause delays.

The following track outages will affect Reston Metro riders, according to WMATA.

Metro SafeTrack logo

Aug. 20-Sept. 6
Eastern Market to Minnesota Ave/Benning Road 
Impact: Entire line segment shut down
Service Reductions: Three lines affected. Orange and Silver lines running every 10 minutes, Blue Line running every 12 minutes.

Nov. 2-12
West Falls Church to East Falls Church
Impact: Continuous single tracking
Service Reduction: Trains on Orange and Silver lines each running every 16 minutes, but with additional trains from East Falls Church to New Carrollton

Metro SafeTrack impacts for March 6-14, 2016Nov. 12-Dec. 5
East Falls Church to Ballston
Impact: Continuous single tracking
Service Reduction: Trains on Silver Line running every 18 minutes, Orange Line trains from Vienna to Ballston running every 18 minutes

March 6-14 
West Falls Church to East Falls Church
Impact: Continuous single tracking
Service Reduction: Trains on Orange and Silver lines each running every 16 minutes, but with additional trains from East Falls Church to New Carrollton

In order to maximize productivity, all of the track outages will be continuous and will affect rush hour service. For the line segment shut downs, buses will replace trains around the station closures.

The safety surge will not only affect Metro riders, it’s expected to affect those who drive as well, in the form of additional traffic.

Here’s what Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) had to say about the plan.

After the jump, the full press release from Metro.

(more…)

by Karen Goff — March 15, 2016 at 4:50 pm 2 Comments

Packed Metro platform in DC March 14/Credit: Johab Silva via TwitterAfter a fire on the tracks near McPherson Square snarled Metro service on Monday, Metrorail officials say the entire system will shut down for more than 24 hours beginning tonight.

Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld said at a Tuesday afternoon news conference that 600 third-rail power cables must undergo a safety inspection.

“While the investigation is ongoing, as a preliminary matter, the conditions appear disturbingly similar to those in the L’Enfant incident of a year ago, and our focus is squarely on mitigating any risk of a fire elsewhere on the system,” Wiedefeld said about the 2015 fire in a Metro tunnel that killed one woman and injured dozens.

Metro says the inspections of approximately 600 “jumper cables” will occur along all tunnel segments on the Metro system. The GM could not rule out additional closures if issues are found on the cables.

“While the risk to the public is very low, I cannot rule out a potential life safety issue here, and that is why we must take this action immediately,” Wiedefeld said. “When I say safety is our highest priority, I mean it. That sometimes means making tough, unpopular decisions, and this is one of those times. I fully recognize the hardship this will cause.”

The Metrorail system will close at its normal time tonight (midnight) and remain closed until 5 a.m. Thursday. All six Metrorail lines and all 91 stations will be closed on Wednesday.

Metrobus and MetroAccess service will continue to operate on a regular schedule. Alternate service options throughout the region will be extremely limited, and severe crowding is expected on buses. The public is advised to make alternate travel arrangements as early as possible.

The federal government will be open on Wednesday, with the option for unscheduled leave or telework.

The Silver Line Express Bus won’t operate to or from Wiehle-Reston East to Dulles International Airport Wednesday. Service will resume at 6 a.m. Thursday, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said.

Photo: Packed Metro platform in DC March 14/Credit: Johab Silva via Twitter

by Karen Goff — July 21, 2014 at 12:35 pm 0

All systems are go for Saturday’s opening of Phase 1 of the Silver Line, Metro officials said in Monday’s weekly press conference call.

There are still a few punch list items remaining — among them, application of heat tape on rails as a cold-weather precaution and Certificates of Occupancy for three stations.

Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said the heat tape, along with outstanding drainage issues, is the responsibility of contractors for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which constructed Phase 1. Those items can be done after service begins, he said. He also said he expects the Certificates of Occupancy for the McLean, Tysons Corner and Spring Hill stations to arrive this week.

“From a systems perspective, everything is running as designed and we see no issues,” Stessel said. “The last step is a couple of regulatory documents. I see no reason they will not be in hand in short order.”

Construction of the Silver Line suffered many delays as it neared the end of the five-year building period. As recently as June 9, Metro was expressing frustration at the slow pace of the work. Prior to that, MWAA and Metro reached an agreement in April that allowed MWAA to complete remaining items after the project was handed over to Metro — and avoid paying potential fines for every day the project was delayed.

Now it is just a matter of employees and trains getting used to adding thousands of riders to the rail system every day.

The Silver Line began simulated service on Sunday, with trains running every 12 minutes and without any issues, said Stessel. The trains are running on schedule but without passengers. Passenger service begins at noon on Saturday.

On Monday morning, trains ran every six minutes on a regular weekday rush hour schedule, also with no problems.

“This week is about familiarizing employyes with operation of trains on the new segment,” said Stessel. “Station managers were at their posts this morning. They opened the stations, even though they are not open for passengers. Crews will also be out prepping stations for opening day —  powerwashing, painting and putting finishing touches on facilities.”

Some Blue Line riders are affected by additional wait times due to the addition of Silver Line cars, but Stessel said increased wait times affect only 10 percent of Metro riders.

“Silver Line changes mean more service and a lesser wait for 37 percent of Metro riders,” he said. “Thirty-three percent (mostly riders on the Red Line and Green Line) will see no change.”

Plans for Saturday include a ribbon cutting and remarks from local dignitaries at 10 a.m. Passengers will be able to board the first trains at noon. Comstock will also have a public reception on the Reston Station plaza from 11:45 a.m. to 2 p.m.

More Silver Line opening news:

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