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A Gulf gas station in Herndon listed its unleaded gas price as nearly $4.80 per gallon on June 1, 2022 (staff photo by David Taube)

Northern Virginia has continued with record-setting gas prices, reaching $4.61 per gallon as of Wednesday (June 1), per AAA.

That record held true even for gas prices across the country, with California leading the way at over $6 per gallon.

Not even Texas was immune, reaching its highest average price per gallon ever Wednesday at nearly $4.30.

While the nation’s average price saw some relief in March and April, a new peak comes amid Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine and a European Union ban on Russian oil exports, AAA notes. That price is $1.58 more than a year ago, the auto services company says.

With spring and summer weather heating up, airline prices spiking for domestic flights and mask restrictions loosened, FFXnow is asking readers what these fuel prices mean for traveling.

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Walmart in Tysons (via Google Maps)

A man is facing charges after he reportedly yelled and exposed himself to customers at a Walmart in Tysons, police say.

According to authorities, the 30-year-old man ran when Fairfax County Police Department officers responded to the department store in Tysons West around 3:15 p.m. on May 5. After his arrest, he allegedly offered authorities money to release him.

“Defendant offered multiple times to pay the officers if they did not arrest him,” authorities said in a court document. “This happened at the scene, in transport and at the Magistrate window.”

The man, who was listed as a hospital control room officer, is facing a misdemeanor charge of public drunkenness and a felony charge for bribery.

“While the officers continued to investigate, the victim of the exposure advised they did not wish to prosecute,” police said.

The defendant is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on June 28 in Fairfax County court.

Photo via Google Maps

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Police leave the Fairfax County Courthouse (file photo by David Taube)

Fairfax County’s Police Civilian Review Panel has implemented a screening process to better assess whether complaints have merit.

The panel, which reviews complaints of misconduct by the Fairfax County Police Department, uses the process to determine if a request should be reviewed by the entire panel, thereby expediting its other cases.

“I don’t mean to disparage anyone who brings complaints, but sometimes they are simply unfounded, and it is not necessary for the entire panel to devote our resources to viewing a complaint,” panel member Jimmy Bierman said during the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ May 17 public safety committee meeting.

The panel formally introduced the reform in September, creating a subcommittee of three members to determine whether allegations rise to the level of serious misconduct or abuse of authority, according to an annual report published Feb. 28.

A four-year review from the panel released in 2021 recommended that a “summary judgment”-like process be codified in its bylaws by the Board of Supervisors. The panel has been using subcommittees since 2019 to help handle growing number of complaints, the annual report said.

The process led to the dismissal of a complaint related to an alleged shoplifting at a since-closed Office Depot in Merrifield. The incident happened in May 2020 at 2901 Gallows Road, according to the panel.

According to Bierman, a female shoplifter hid in the Office Depot, tried to shoplift after it closed and later called 911 for help to get out when she couldn’t leave through the front door.

The subcommittee spared the panel from reviewing the complaint against police, who asked her to show a receipt, Bierman said.

However, the decision to dismiss the complaint wasn’t unanimous, as former panel member Hansel Aguilar argued that the full panel should have reviewed it. Aguilar is now the first executive director for Charlottesville’s police civilian oversight board.

The added subcommittee is just one of the changes that Fairfax County’s civilian review panel has made in recent months, including the addition of an executive director in February.

Overall, the panel received 28 complaints against the FCPD in 2021, including 14 initial complaints and 14 requests for a review of an investigation. Two initial complaints and 11 review requests were rejected, and reviews were ongoing for eight cases, as of Dec. 31.

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A sewer project could affect an area near the Vienna Metro station along I-66 (via Fairfax County)

A sewer infrastructure project in the Vienna Metro station area is in the works, anticipating future needs in northern Fairfax County.

The Accotink Gravity Sewer Improvements Project will upgrade existing facilities that are projected to be insufficient, county staff say.

“In order to prepare the sewer system for the future needs, we really need to go forward with this project,” said Department of Public Works and Environmental Services project manager Thomas Grala during a virtual meeting for the public about the project on Tuesday (May 24).

According to a presentation, the county’s current total sewer capacity is approximately 90 million gallons per day, but by 2045, the area will need to accommodate a projected 120 million gallons per day, a 33% increase.

The Accotink Gravity project’s design phase could begin this summer and finish in the spring of 2023. The design phase will finalize the exact route of the sewer. Construction could begin in the fall of 2023 and end two years later.

Additional public meetings, including those with smaller groups such as homeowners’ associations and businesses, are expected in the future.

The existing Accotink gravity sewer starts by James Madison High School, passes through Nottoway Park, continues to Nutley Street, goes underneath I-66, and passes south under routes 29 and 50.

“It’s been working fine and many people walk along these routes…as pathways,” said Andrew Casolini, a project manager with Whitman, Requardt & Associates, a firm headquartered in Baltimore that the county selected to partner with on the work.

He noted during the public meeting that the system was initially installed in 1963 and upgraded in 1978.

The new project is estimated to cost approximately $37 million and would be covered by existing user fees and availability charges.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors recently agreed to raise sewer fees by about $38 on average starting July 1, and those annual rates are slated to continue increasing.

Meanwhile, the board is also considering switching an existing “growth-pays-for growth” policy, where developers’ costs would be shared by residents and other property owners.

Grala said the project is one of a series of upcoming efforts, such as a $110 million project in Tysons to create a new 5.5-mile-long pipeline for future growth that could be completed by the summer of 2026.

Photo via Fairfax County

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Two Fairfax County Police Department cars are shown parked outside an apartment complex in McNair (staff photo by David Taube)

Vehicle pursuits have come to a near halt amid new rules to avoid overly aggressive policing that can endanger people and communities.

The Fairfax County Police Department recently reported that vehicle pursuits went from above 100 per year in 2019-2021 to one per month as of May 17.

Board of Supervisors Chair Jeff McKay said the data debunks the notion that aggressive policing leads to crime reduction. Police said none of those pursuits involved injuries.

During a public safety committee meeting for the Board of Supervisors on May 17, police also listed stats showing a decline in use of force complaints, from 19 in 2019 to 11 in 2020 and five in 2021. A presentation suggested no such complaints occurred this year at the time of the presentation.

The declines come as the department’s new police chief, Kevin Davis, started the position May 3, 2021, and the county works to address problems with policing. A University of Texas at San Antonio study showed that Fairfax County police used high levels of force at twice the rate against Black people than compared to white people.

But the public safety committee meeting providing no information about whether use of force incidents are still occurring disproportionately based on race. The use of force study spanned from 2016 through 2018.

A use of force committee, however, has helped address whether 59 recommendations from the study should be implemented, and the department has carried out 37 changes and has another 10 in the process of implementation, public safety committee chair and Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk said.

“This member of the Board of Supervisors is extraordinarily delighted and pleased by your success with regard to the recommendations,” he said. “The percentage that you’ve been able to achieve within the timeline that you’ve been given is impressive.”

Other department reforms have included providing every officer who is at the rank of second lieutenant or below with a Taser, a shift from last year when they would only carry one when the tools were available, Davis said.

The department also began a pilot project to use BolaWrap, a device about the size of a smartphone that deploys a cord around a person for restraint. Since the beginning in April, FCPD has used it three times as of May 17.

Further details on those incidents and future plans after the pilot weren’t immediately available.

“It’s the latest greatest iteration of how we can safely take people into custody,” Davis said. “It’s a restraint tool.”

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Traffic fills the Richmond Highway (via Fairfax County)

The public’s chance to comment on proposed tweaks to Fairfax County’s plan for bus rapid transit in the Route 1 corridor is almost over.

In a pair of April meetings, staff from the Fairfax County Department of Transportation recommended reducing the number of turn lanes currently along Route 1, also known as Richmond Highway, as well as some revisions to the project design, including reducing the design speed from 45 to 35 mph.

Branded The One, the planned BRT will travel to nine stations on Richmond Highway between the Huntington Metro station and Fort Belvoir. Prompted by community concerns, the proposed turn lane changes seek to improve the corridor, particularly for bicyclists and pedestrians.

In coordination with the Virginia Department of Transportation, county staff analyzed 30 proposals and recommended changes at 13 intersections:

  • Penn Daw Area — Entrance to Kings Crossing​
  • Penn Daw Area — Shields Avenue​
  • Furman Lane
  • Southgate Drive
  • Beacon Hill Road
  • Memorial Street​
  • Arlington Drive​
  • Fordson Road/Boswell Avenue​
  • Sherwood Hall Lane​
  • Ladson Lane​
  • North Buckman Road/Mount Vernon Highway​
  • Sacramento Drive/Cooper Road​
  • Jeff Todd Way/Mount Vernon Memorial Highway​

A 17-question survey seeking public input on whether to reduce turn lanes at those intersections will close at 5 p.m. today (Tuesday).

Federal money is projected to help the estimated $795 million project, according to the county. Construction could begin in 2026 and end in 2030.

Photo via Fairfax County

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A map shows areas across Virginia and the D.C. region under a tornado watch (via NWS Baltimore-Washington/Twitter)

(Updated at 12:55 p.m.) Tornado and storm warnings briefly usurped earlier weather alerts for Fairfax County as the National Weather Service noted potential dangers and hazards across the region.

“Damaging winds will cause some trees and large branches to fall. This could injure those outdoors, as well as damage homes and vehicles,” NWS said in a Severe Thunderstorm Warning alert. “Roadways may become blocked by downed trees. Localized power outages are possible. Unsecured light objects may become projectiles.”

An NWS Baltimore-Washington news feed noted just before noon that a Tornado Warning was in effect for parts of Reston and Great Falls until 12:15 p.m. today (Friday). A watch means tornadoes are possible, whereas warnings mean that they are spotted or indicated by radar.

Fairfax County and surrounding areas were also subject to a Severe Thunderstorm Warning until 12:30 p.m. today.

Previously, the National Weather Service issued a Tornado Watch around 6:20 a.m. today that’s in effect until 2 p.m. for Fairfax County and the D.C. region.

Tornadoes, damaging wind gusts and large hail are possible, the NWS said in the earlier alert.

The NWS Baltimore-Washington said on Twitter that scattered gusts could possibly reach 70 mph.

The NWS also issued a Flood Watch at 4:33 a.m. for the county and surrounding areas from 11 a.m. through 11 p.m. today. A NWS meteorologist warned that flash flooding is possible due to excessive rainfall.

“Multiple rounds of thunderstorms producing heavy rainfall may lead to scattered instances of flash flooding,” the NWS said.

Due to the storm risks, the county is under a Hazardous Weather Outlook, per the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management:

Multiple rounds of showers and thunderstorms are likely starting this morning and continuing through this evening. Localized rainfall totals of 1 to 3 inches are expected, though locations that experience multiple rounds of thunderstorms could exceed 3 inches.

If you’re driving, don’t pass through flooded roads. Turn around, don’t drown. Also, keep children away from creeks and streams that may rise rapidly.

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Kids play soccer on a synthetic turf (via Fairfax County Park Authority)

Fairfax County is exploring how private partnerships could bring more sports facilities to the area, but the five-year journey has now been slightly prolonged by an additional step.

The Board of Supervisors passed a measure on Tuesday (May 24) directing Fairfax County Park Authority and Neighborhood and Community Services staff to address racial and social equity issues when evaluating potential projects with input from Chief Equity Officer Karla Bruce and her team.

The additional review follows a consultant report released in August 2020 that identified possible Park Authority sites where private businesses could create sports facilities, such as a complex for 16 “rectangular fields” illustrated as soccer fields, another area for 10 baseball fields, an indoor track facility, a natatorium, and more.

The consultants’ report came through the Sports Tourism Task Force that the county created in 2017. One of the group’s several subcommittees involved Alpine-X representatives seeking to build the Fairfax Peak indoor winter slope facility at a landfill in Lorton.

On Tuesday, Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity, who chaired the task force, asked the board to direct the county executive to call for developers to submit public-private partnership proposals as identified in the report.

“Sports tourism facilities are rapidly developing around the East Coast and throughout Virginia,” he said during the meeting. “Vying to meet the demand of this incredibly recession-proof industry, we need to take advantage of our desirable location and extensive sports community by developing the identified sports tourism facilities.”

However, Chairman Jeff McKay modified that motion, clashing with Herrity on how to move forward. McKay said that some areas of the county largely lack these sports sites.

“We have teams, youth leagues throughout this county, that can’t find space today,” McKay said. “Before we…move forward with advancing larger complexes that might be out of reach for some of them, let’s make sure we understand where…inadequacies exist.”

McKay requested that the county create an equity impact assessment on the sports tourism report by the end of 2022.

The board approved consideration of that alternative 9-1, with Herrity dissenting. With Herrity’s original motion dislodged, the board approved the amended board matter 9-0 for a final vote in which Herrity abstained.

Photo via Fairfax County Park Authority

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Fairfax Connector buses in Reston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

A new program will make bus fares half off for certain Fairfax Connector riders, including individuals with disabilities, low-income residents and aging adults.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a three-year agreement on Tuesday (May 24) for the plan, which would offer the discount to people making as much as twice the federal poverty level.

Those eligible for the benefit include “eligible older adults, individuals with limited income or individuals with disabilities residing in Fairfax County, the City of Fairfax or the City of Falls Church,” county staff said in the board agenda.

When discussing the program in December, the county planned to provide the discount to those with incomes of 225% of the federal poverty level, which would benefit individuals making up to $30,577 and families of four making up to $62,437.

“It is expected that this reduced fare program will aid families recovering from the economic impacts of COVID-19 and help restore Fairfax Connector ridership,” county staff said for the board item.

It’s unclear exactly when the reduced fares will be available. The agreement had a start date listed as May 1, but the county said it’s working with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to get special SmarTrip cards.

The agreement said those SmarTrip cards would be produced no later than June 1, and the county’s Neighborhood and Community Services will help administer the program.

“We know that this is a necessary mode of transportation for many of our vulnerable community members,” Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said at the board meeting.

The $9.7 million assistance will rely on nearly $5.5 million from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation and supports the program through April 30, 2025.

The state funds come from DRPT’s Transit Ridership Incentive Program (TRIP), which awards grants for projects to improve connectivity and reduce barriers to transit.

According to the county, low-income households represent approximately 58% of Fairfax Connector riders.

The county will also expand a free bus pass program for students later this year, Palchik said. More details are expected at a board transportation committee meeting on June 14.

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Fairfax County police car (file photo)

An 83-year-old Annandale woman, Eileen Garnett, died yesterday morning (Wednesday) following a crash on Friday (May 20) where a driver crashed into four people in a parking lot, police said.

The crash in the 7200 block of Maple Place in Annandale involved four pedestrians who were discussing a community project, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.

After the driver collided with the group, the driver’s 2008 Nissan Sentra continued into a nearby metal fence and came to a rest, authorities said.

The four pedestrians as well as the driver and passenger of the car were taken to the hospital. The other pedestrians — two adult women and an adult man — were treated for non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

Police have not identified the driver or announced whether they have been charged.

“The driver dropped food and spilled a drink inside her Nissan,” police said. “As she attempted to recover the dropped items, she lost control of the vehicle crossing the center median.”

Garnett is the seventh pedestrian to die in a vehicle crash in the county so far this year.

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