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by Dave Emke — May 15, 2017 at 2:45 pm 5 Comments

Metro’s Art in Transit Program is recommending the vision of a Colorado-based artist to become the motif of the future Reston Town Center Metro station.

Last week, the program unveiled the proposal of Joshua Wiener as its pick for the public art installation at the station’s walkways over the Dulles Toll Road. Wiener’s designs, which are shown on his personal website, consist of powder-coated aluminum sculptures of a bassist, a horn player and a drummer, as well as flowing red and teal ribbon designs down the corridors.

Wiener’s proposal was chosen over two other finalists. The program received 45 total submissions for the project. The Art Review Panel included the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, the Arts Council of Fairfax County, Public Art Reston and other Virginia-based visual art professionals.

According to the Art in Transit Program, the public art initiative benefits Metro as a whole by:

  • Creating attractive transit facilities
  • Building livable communities by creating public spaces that reflect the artistic, cultural and historic environment
  • Creating economic opportunities for artists, engineers, fabricators and other professionals

WMATA’s Customer Service Operations and Security Committee approved the proposal at its Thursday meeting. The full WMATA board will vote on it this summer. Upon board approval, WMATA will enter into contract with Wiener to develop, fabricate and install the artwork.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is overseeing construction of Phase II of the Silver Line, is funding the public art effort. The project’s funding is capped at $250,000.

by Dave Emke — May 12, 2017 at 9:00 am 6 Comments

(Updated at 12:10 p.m. after Reston Association’s annual Community Yard Sale was postponed.)

Another SafeTrack Surge Starts Next Week — Metro’s latest round of work will have five stations on the east end of the Orange Line closed, which will also affect Silver Line traffic. Tuesday through June 15, trains will operate between Wiehle-Reston East and Stadium-Armory only every 12 minutes. This means more than 50 percent fewer trains during morning peak hours. Fairfax County is suggesting alternatives for commuters, including car pooling and buses. [WMATA]

League of American Cyclists Honors County — Fairfax County has been recognized with Bronze-level status as a Bicycle Friendly Community. It is one of 416 communities nationwide that have been honored. [Fairfax County]

Community Yard Sale Postponed to Sunday — With rain in the forecast, Reston Association’s annual Community Yard Sale has been postponed from Saturday. It will now be held from 8:30 a.m. to noon Sunday at 1900 Campus Commons Drive, at the corner of Sunrise Valley Drive and Wiehle Avenue. Those planning to attend are still encouraged to call 703-435-6577 after 4:30 a.m. Sunday to check the event’s status. [Reston Association]

County Embracing Driverless Future — Fairfax County is the testing ground for self-driving cars and connected infrastructure in Virginia. Officials recently brought in autonomous-vehicle experts, policymakers, manufacturers and entrepreneurs to share their research. [Fairfax County]

Reston Couple Share Love Story — Roger and Anita Lowen are approaching 50 years of marriage. It all started, they remember, with a prank call. [Washington Post]

by Dave Emke — April 26, 2017 at 4:00 pm 3 Comments

If you are planning to attend the People’s Climate Movement on Saturday in DC, traveling there by Metro may prove more difficult than expected.

Planned track work on the transit system this weekend will have the line between Foggy Bottom and Federal Triangle closed down, with work being done to replace ceiling tiles at Farragut West, McPherson Square and the lower level of Metro Center. Silver Line trains from Wiehle-Reston East will only be traveling as far as Ballston, leaving every 20 minutes.

Anyone traveling to downtown DC from Reston will need to transfer to an Orange Line train at Ballston, a Blue Line train at Rosslyn and then a Yellow Line train at the Pentagon. Stephen Cerny of Reston, a former member of Metro’s Riders’ Advisory Council who plans to attend the Climate Movement, is concerned that will cause major issues for those traveling in for the event from the area.

“Given that the march will draw hundreds of thousands, Metro is facing a public relations disaster given the disruptions it will cause and a loss of all the goodwill it earned for its excellent service during the Jan. 21 Women’s March,” Cerny said. “It’s very likely that the platforms will be severely overcrowded and will likely lead to service disruptions.”

Richard Jordan, a spokesperson for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, said it is not anticipated that there will be any problems Saturday associated with the Climate Movement.

“Yes, just as there was track work during the Science March last weekend,” Jordan said when asked if Metro was aware of the maintenance work’s timing in relation to Saturday’s event. “We believe that planned service will be more than adequate to accommodate ridership demand.”

About 15,000 people attended the March for Science on April 22 at the National Mall. Cerny and other activists are hoping for a much larger turnout for the Climate Movement protest Saturday. Attendance for the Women’s March on Washington in January was estimated at over 400,000.

Helene Shore, co-founder of locally based environmental group 350 Fairfax, will be traveling to Saturday’s event on a bus along with other Reston-area activists. She said there has been “some talk” about concerns related to Metro service, but she remains confident there will be a large turnout from Fairfax County and beyond.

“They are expecting lots of people coming,” Shore said. “Buses are coming from all over the country.”

Silver Line trains from Reston will only travel as far as Ballston beginning at 10 p.m. Friday, through the close of service Sunday.

by Dave Emke — March 30, 2017 at 2:45 pm 17 Comments

There may be a sense of frustration and concern regarding ongoing construction of Metro’s Silver Line, area elected officials said Thursday, but its great potential must be remembered.

Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and state delegates Ken Plum (D-Fairfax) and Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax/Loudoun) talked about Metro and the surrounding future development during a legislative panel discussion sponsored by the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce and hosted by Dominion Virginia Power in Herndon. Plum, the former state chair of the Dulles Corridor Rail Association, said it is important to put the status of Metro’s Silver Line in perspective.

“We really ought to stop for a moment and celebrate where we are,” Plum said. “For 25 years of my life I worked on that project, and it was announced to be dead half a dozen times, at least. … Now, by 2020, we’re going to have it all the way out into Loudoun County. And we have an incredible opportunity with that.”

A large amount of development has happened or is in the works in the area of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station, the current western terminus of the Silver Line. Other projects are also springing up near the line’s future stations in Fairfax and Loudoun counties.

The Metro Washington Airport Authority’s Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, which is overseeing construction, announced recently that Phase 2 work to extend Metro through Reston into Dulles Airport and onward to Ashburn is more than 56 percent complete. However, deficiencies in Metro’s budget and decreasing ridership have raised a number of questions in recent months about the future viability of the transit system.

Boysko, whose district includes Herndon, praised the state’s creation of the Metrorail Safety Commission to examine how Metro is being organized and managed. She said as Phase 2 of the project continues, it is imperative that safety issues as well as financial and operational performance are properly monitored and addressed.

“People say this is the least functional transit system in the country,” she said. “We have such a great opportunity as we are expanding into Phase 2, [but] it has to be a success. We have really focused our economic development around Phase 2 being successful.”

Hudgins, who is also a member of Metro’s Board of Directors, said this is a conversation she “live[s] every day.” She said Metro is unique in many ways, most notably in its partnership between multiple jurisdictions as well as in its infrastructure itself.

“I think people need to understand, it is a different kind of railroad,” she said. “That system is one of the most difficult systems [to maintain] of all those in the country.”

Plum said Metro needs to be revitalized, and in order for that to happen, it needs to continue to receive the support of the surrounding community.

“Please, don’t wash your hands of Metro,” Plum said. “It’s vital to the economic development of our region and I think we all recognize [that].”

The legislative recap event sponsored by the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce is a chance for local businesspeople to keep abreast of important issues in the community, said Mark Ingrao, GRCC president and CEO.

“We’re a catalyst for business growth and entrepreneurship in this area of Fairfax County,” he said. “We think that we have the type of programming our members are looking for to connect them with other businesses [and] to educate them on legislative things like this.”

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:

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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.

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