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Updated at 3:55 p.m. — Fairfax Connector service will stay suspended at least through this weekend (Feb. 24-25) as drivers and mechanics continue their strike, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation has announced.

FCDOT says it “expects negotiations to continue in good faith with the goal of completing a new contract very soon.”

Earlier: Stagnant wages. Eleven-hour work days with barely enough break time for a meal. Just seven days of sick leave, even after a pandemic that research suggests sickened and killed transit workers nationwide at an elevated rate.

Those are some of the challenges Fairfax Connector workers report facing under Transdev, the private company that Fairfax County hired in 2019 to operate its public bus system. In a bid for improved working conditions, more than 600 bus drivers and mechanics are now on their second day of a strike called yesterday (Thursday) by Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689.

“You have to make a choice. When is enough, enough? When do you stand up and fight back? It was time to stand up and fight back,” Sharon Forsyth said while picketing outside the West Ox Road Bus Facility where she works as a Fairfax Connector driver. “What the outcome would be, who knows? But at least my voice was heard…Treat us right. Fair contract, fair wages, sick leave. Give us something more than a slice of pizza and a handshake after 35 years of service.”

A relative newcomer who joined the Connector just over a year ago, Forsyth has worked in transportation for 37 years — including a previous stint with Transdev. The starting salary for drivers is nearly the same as it was 20 years ago, which is “unacceptable,” she says.

“You can’t afford the housing in this region. You can barely afford food in this region,” said Forsyth, who commutes from Prince William County. “So, that is the purpose of this. Nobody wants to be here, but we’re all here, you know? If you don’t take care of the people that run your business, you’ll soon be what? Out of business.”

Forsyth was one of about 128 people who showed up yesterday to march, chant and display signs at the West Ox facility (4970 Alliance Drive), which employs about 163 Connector workers, according to ATU Local 689 organizer Troy Barnes. Workers began convening around 2 a.m., rotating in three shifts.

Across all three Connector garages, including ones in Herndon (268 Spring Street) and Lorton (8101 Cinder Bed Road), about 97% of the workers represented by the union were expected to join a picket line, Barnes told FFXnow.

Authorized by members on Dec. 29, the strike call came after Local 689 and Transdev spent 12 bargaining sessions between October and last Friday, Feb. 16 trying to hammer out a new labor contract that will determine pay, benefits and working conditions, according to the union. Before the strike, workers were operating under a four-year contract that was negotiated after a four-day strike in December 2019 and expired on Nov. 30, 2023.

Fairfax Connector service will remain suspended until the strike is resolved, leaving around 26,000 daily bus riders in limbo, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation has said.

As reported yesterday, Transdev called the union’s work stoppage disappointing in a statement that detailed some of its contract proposals, including a 19.5% wage increase over three years, coverage for 90% of health care expenses and 50% of dental and vision expenses, and yearly performance bonuses of up to $5,300.

However, Barnes says the contractor’s offers for sick leave, retirement benefits and guaranteed work hours remain inadequate. Read More

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FCPS Central Office in Merrifield (staff photo by James Jarvis)

Fairfax County Public Schools is seeking a solution to its ballooning student meal debt, which soared over the past year.

On Tuesday (Feb. 20), Fairfax County School Board members directed Superintendent Michelle Reid to get them more information on what options are available to prevent FCPS students from accumulating more debt due to their inability to pay for meals.

“So, in my view, we need to do some work to…put policies or procedures in place that, A) prevent the ballooning of this debt going forward, and B) expand access to lunches for kids, so we can feed more children and deter the potential practice — that may or may not be occurring — of holding children liable for the debt,” At-large member Kyle McDaniel said during the work session.

As of 2022, over one-third of FCPS students (34%) qualify for free and reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program, but FCPS Chief Financial Officer Leigh Burden said parents might not have realized that they needed to reapply after the end of a universal free school lunch program introduced during the pandemic.

The federal relief funds that paid for that program, which enabled all students to eat for free, ran out on July 1, 2022. FCPS reported an increase in students eating school food while the program was in effect.

Although schools are supposed to send out newsletters to parents with information about meal debt and free or reduced lunches, Burden recognized that families may be unaware of their accumulating balance.

She also emphasized that in some cases, families barely exceed the eligibility threshold for free lunches, making it difficult for them to clear their debt.

“So, we think those two things combined have contributed to the student debt rising so dramatically over the last two or three years,” she told the board during the work session.

About one-fourth of FCPS schools qualify for the Community Eligibility Provision program, which provides free lunch and breakfast to all students attending low-income area schools.

But elsewhere, students only qualify for free meals if their family earns less than 130% of the poverty level. Those with incomes between 130% and 185% of the poverty level qualify for reduced-price meals.

For grades K-12, breakfast costs $1.75. Lunch is $3.25 for elementary schools, and $3.50 for middle and high school students.

Burden notes that meal debt has been steadily rising since she was hired six years ago. However, in the last few years, the debt has “skyrocketed” across the entire school system, she said.

“During the years that all meals were free, we were serving 160,000 meals a day, whereas now, we’re back to about 110,000 [meals],” Burden said. “I mean, think about that: 50,000 students more were eating each day who now aren’t.” Read More

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Morning Notes

A turkey vulture in flight in the West Ox Road area (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Cell Phone Service Restored After Outage — Phone service has been restored after a nationwide service outage reported yesterday (Thursday) morning “that affected several major service carriers and impacted phone calls,” including to 911. “Residents may need to reboot their cell phone (possibly multiple times) to establish a connection.” [Ready Fairfax/Facebook]

Springfield Man Pleads Guilty in Connection to Capitol Breach — “A Fairfax County, Virginia, man pleaded guilty Wednesday to two felonies connected to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Joseph Brody, 24, of Springfield, pleaded guilty to assaulting law enforcement and civil disorder.” [WTOP]

Man Arrested After Firing Gun in Annandale Home — “A man was safely taken into custody [Wednesday] evening after recklessly discharging a firearm from inside his home in Annandale.” Police responded to the 7800 block of Butterfield Lane around 10 p.m. “for the report of gunshots being fired into a neighboring, occupied townhouse.  There were no reported injuries.” [FCPD]

Longtime County Economic Development Leader Dies — Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) President and CEO Victor Hoskins announced yesterday that the authority’s senior vice president, Catherine Riley, died on Feb. 7. Serving in leadership roles at the FCEDA for the past 35 years, Riley helped Fairfax County “become a global hub where businesses and people thrive,” he said. [FCEDA]

Woodlawn Wendy’s Reopens After Facelift — “The Wendy’s restaurant located at Woodlawn Shopping Center reopened for business Feb. 21 following a four-month long renovation…To celebrate the store’s reopening, Wendy’s will hold a ‘grand opening’ event Saturday, March 16” with a ribbon-cutting and a year of free sandwiches, salads or breakfast biscuits for the first 200 dine-in guests. [On the MoVe]

Bill Designating State Cat Is No More — “Legislation proposed by Del. Paul Krizek (D-Alexandria) to designate the domestic shorthair as the ‘official cat of Virginia’ did not make it out alive when the House Committee on Rules wrapped up its work before the legislature’s crossover.” A bill “to designate the honeybee as Virginia’s official state pollinator,” however, sailed through both chambers, which set it to Gov. Glenn Youngkin. [Gazette Leader]

Springfield Lunar New Year Celebration Arrives — “Springfield Town Center, in partnership with the Asian American Chamber of Commerce, will host a Lunar New Year Celebration in Grand Court with traditional music, and cultural performances and activities to ring in the year of the Dragon.” The festivities will be held tomorrow (Saturday) from noon to 3 p.m. [Springfield Town Center]

Rock Band Kansas to Mark 50th Anniversary in Tysons — “His were the hands that played iconic classic rock hits like ‘Carry on Wayward Son’ and ‘Dust in the Wind.’ WTOP caught up with founding Kansas guitarist Richard Williams to preview the band’s 50th anniversary tour ‘Another Fork in the Road’ next week at Capital One Hall in Tysons, Virginia, on Saturday, March 2.” [WTOP]

It’s Friday — Showers are likely mainly before 1pm, followed by mostly cloudy skies and a high near 58. The southwest wind of 7 to 10 mph will shift to the northwest, with a 50% chance of precipitation. Friday night will be partly cloudy with a low around 37. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Part of the “Sun Boat” sculpture at Lake Anne Plaza in Reston (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

IRS to Roll Out Free Tax Filing Website — “The IRS’s new Direct File website, a free site for filing a tax return, will open to the public in the coming days, the IRS announced Wednesday. But anyone who hopes to be among the first to use it will have to get lucky and check the website during limited and unannounced windows at the outset.” [Washington Post]

Tysons-Based Hilton Named in Hotel Price-Fixing Lawsuit — “A lawsuit alleging a group of hotel operators artificially increased the price of luxury hotel rooms with the help of a shared database has named industry titans Hilton Worldwide Holdings and Hyatt Hotels Corp. among a list of defendants.” [Bisnow]

Piglets Born at Frying Pan Farm — While still in mourning for its longtime draft horse Charlie, Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon recently welcomed some new animals. “Baby Pigs! Looks like the Groundhog was right because it feels like spring here at Frying Pan Farm Park. The barn has new #piglets! Bring the family for a stroll around the farm and say hi to the cuties!” [Fairfax County Park Authority/Twitter]

Virginia Governor Joins Anti-Abortion Rally — “Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears, both Republicans, joined thousands of Virginia activists Wednesday for an annual anti-abortion demonstration, where attendees denounced Democratic lawmakers who have blocked proposed restrictions since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.” [Associated Press/WTOP]

Longtime McLean Resident Turns 104 — “Friends, family, Kenyan drummers, neighborhood Fairfax County firefighters and staff at Lewinsville Adult Day Health Care in McLean gathered there recently to wish Serah Wankijiku Mbugua a very special happy 104th birthday. Born in rural Kenya on Jan. 1, 1920, Mbugua — whom everyone at Lewinsville calls ‘Mama Serah’ — has been a Lewinsville participant for 10 years.” [Neighborhood and Community Services]

Reston Hospital Announces New CEO — “Nathan Vooys, who served for the last three years as the chief executive officer of StoneSprings Hospital Center in Dulles, was named the new CEO at Reston Hospital Center. He will begin serving in that role on March 4.” [Patch]

McLean Polo Players Compete for National Trophy — Two athletes from McLean were among 10 players from Capital Water Polo, a team based at The St. James in Springfield, “selected by the USA Water Polo Olympic Development Program (ODP) to play…at the national-championship tournament in Chicago in mid-March. This is the highest number of players Capital Water Polo has ever sent to nationals.” [Gazette Leader]

Flying Squirrel Spotted Near Fairfax City — “A flying squirrel was recorded early Wednesday morning by the Ring camera, as it visited the home of a Patch reporter who lives just north of Fairfax City…This was the first time in 2024 that the family’s Ring camera captured an image of a flying squirrel, which is a nocturnal animal. The squirrel was spotted twice in previous years, including a short stop on the family’s windowsill.” [Patch]

It’s Thursday — Expect a mostly cloudy day with a high near 54, accompanied by a south wind blowing at 6-11 mph and gusts reaching up to 18 mph. Rain is likely at night, mostly after 1 am, as temperatures drop to a low around 47. The chance of precipitation is 60%, with potential for less than a tenth of an inch of new rainfall. [Weather.gov]

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Fairfax Connector bus on Spring Hill Road (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 11:35 a.m.) Fairfax Connector workers have launched a strike after months of negotiations for a new labor contract with Transdev, the company that operates Fairfax County’s bus service.

Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689, which represents about 638 bus operators and mechanics for Fairfax Connector, announced the strike just after midnight today (Thursday). Workers began hitting picket lines at garages in Herndon, Lorton and on West Ox Road in the Fairfax area at 2 a.m.

Due to the walk-off, Fairfax Connector has suspended service on 93 of its routes, starting at 9 a.m. The bus system serves approximately 26,000 passengers daily, according to its website.

“We encourage our users to please use alternative methods of travel. We apologize for any inconvenience,” the transit agency said.

The bus system can’t resume operations until the drivers and mechanics return to work, a Fairfax County Department of Transportation spokesperson confirmed.

Members gave the union the authority to call a strike on Dec. 29, nearly a month after their existing contract with Transdev expired on Nov. 30.

In a news release, the union said there remains “a vast divide” between its demands and Transdev’s, and a strike became “unavoidable” after 12 bargaining sessions due to “Transdev’s unfair labor practices and regressive bargaining.” It also criticizes Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay for an alleged “refusal to weigh in.”

“The Union remains committed to bargaining in good faith to reach a tentative agreement on a new contract and intends to continue to meet with Transdev even while on strike,” Local 689 said in a statement. “Several key priorities in a new contract for Local 689 include true retirement security, more sick days, competitive wages for bus operators and mechanics with regional transit companies, and balanced labor-management rights.”

Transdev said in a statement that it’s “disappointed” the union initiated a strike despite what it describes as a “generous offer” that included $126,000 in annual pay and benefits for a majority of drivers and $128,000 annually in pay and benefits for 78% of mechanics represented by ATU.

“This unexpected action has had a severe impact on the community, particularly those who depend on the Fairfax Connector for their daily transportation needs,” the contractor said. “Transdev put forth a comprehensive proposal that includes significant wage increases, healthcare benefits, retirement savings, bonuses, guaranteed minimum hours, and additional perks tailored to employees of all experience levels.”

In a statement to FFXnow, McKay said it would’ve been “inappropriate” for him to interfere with the contract negotiations, since Fairfax County isn’t a directly involved party.

I have been in communication with the County Executive and his team throughout this process and was aware of the impasse. I was not, however, aware that a strike would occur which has left the almost 26,000 daily users of the Connector without the service they rely on. I fully support the ability of Connector drivers and mechanics to be treated, and compensated, fairly. The service they provide to our residents is high quality. I also support the ATU Local 689’s right to advocate on behalf of their members. My hope is that the union and Transdev can reach agreement on a contract that is in line with similar transit services in our neighboring jurisdictions and that respects the exemplary work of drivers and mechanics. Additionally, while transit service is essential, the cost is ultimately borne by our residents and must also be considered in these negotiations. Connector service needs to be sustainable not just now but in the future.

Connector workers last negotiated a contract in 2019. Then represented by ATU Local 1764, they went on strike for four days that December before signing an agreement to resume work on Dec. 8. A new, four-year contract was ratified on Feb. 29, 2020, averting a potential second strike.

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Fairfax County Government Center (staff photo by James Jarvis)

As anticipated, Fairfax County is looking at a tight budget for the coming year that will once again lean primarily on residential property owners to offset a declining commercial tax base.

County Executive Bryan Hill has proposed a 4-cent increase in the real estate tax rate, even as he presented an advertised fiscal year 2025 budget to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors yesterday (Tuesday) that largely limits spending to obligations like public schools and employee compensation.

If adopted, this would be the county’s first real estate tax rate increase in six years, Hill said in a message to the board. Last year, Hill proposed a flat tax rate that the board ultimately reduced by 1.5 cents to $1.095 per $100 of assessed value, though property owners still saw their bills go up by $412, on average, due to rising home values.

The proposed tax rate of $1.135 per $100 for FY 2025, which starts on July 1, would raise the average tax bill by just over $524 and generate $129.28 million in revenue, according to the county.

“We are seeing some residential growth, but our commercial values have declined, resulting in an overall real estate growth of just over 2.7%,” Hill said. “Paired with significant expenditure pressures — particularly for employee pay and benefits, transportation requirements, and continued inflationary impacts — balancing this proposed budget has required difficult decisions.”

Home values up, commercial values down

Real estate tax revenue provides about 66% of the county’s general funds, which supports most county operations, from public safety agencies to libraries and parks. For FY 2025, more than three-quarters of that revenue (76.7%) will come from residential owners, who are facing an average assessment increase of 2.86% for 2024.

Though the number of home sales in the county last year declined, prices have continued to climb “due to low inventory,” Hill said. The average value of the county’s over 357,000 taxable residential properties for 2024 is $744,526, up from $723,825 in 2023.

By contrast, non-residential property values have dropped for the first time in three years by 1.24%, a dip mostly driven by a struggling office market. About 21.6 million square feet, or 17.2%, of the county’s 119.5 million square feet of office space is vacant — an uptick from last year’s rate of 16.7%, which was already a 10-year high.

With another 1 million square feet of office space under construction, mostly in Metro’s Silver Line corridor, the pressure to revitalize or replace under-utilized office buildings will likely only intensify going forward.

“That space is going to be snapped up quickly, which is going to create situations around our county that will be then vacant,” Hill said when asked by Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk about possible remedies. “We have to figure out ways to fill those spaces, whether it is converting or doing something different on that plot of land. We have done a pretty good job in certain areas of revitalizing…but we need to do more.”

Schools and compensation dominate spending

With some growth projected from other sources, including an 8.8% increase in personal property taxes and a proposed 10-cent-per-pack increase in taxes on cigarettes, the county anticipates getting $363.22 million more in revenue than it did this budget year.

However, Hill says he proposed spending only on “adjustments which I feel are essential to maintain the quality workforce and dependable services upon which our residents rely.” Read More

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Morning Notes

A mural in Fairfax Circle depicts the Old Town Square splash pad (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

TSA Gives First-Ever Tour of Springfield Warehouse — “In a non-descript building right off I-95 in Springfield, Virginia, there are thousands of artifacts from the Transportation Security Administration. Old X-ray machines, explosive detectors, TSA call kiosks, counterterrorism pamphlets and guides are all stored, in a warehouse containing the wall-to-wall physical history of the agency.” [NBC4]

Tysons Developer’s Real Estate Plans Unclear — “Lerner Enterprises hasn’t announced any acquisitions, sales, renovations or new office leases since 2022. The 72-year-old firm also hasn’t provided updates on the millions of square feet of planned development it has in its pipeline, including the fate of two demolished shopping malls where communities have been waiting years to see activity.” [Bisnow]

Reston Resident Details CIA Career in New Book — “Over the course of her 27-year CIA career, Jonna Mendez, pulled off dazzling capers…Now 78 and living in Reston, Mendez’s career as a master of disguise is revealed with jarring transparency in her new memoir, In True Face: A Woman’s Life in the CIA, Unmasked, available March 5.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Navy Veteran Celebrates 100th B-Day at Local Hooters — “For the 10th year in a row, U.S. Navy veteran Glenn Ward celebrated his birthday at the Hooters in Fairfax City. But this year was a little different, because on Friday, the Arlington resident turned 100. Friends and family members from California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Nevada showed up…for a party that included balloons, cake and chicken wings.” [Patch]

Bailey’s Crossroads Office Set for Demolition Has History — “A soon-to-be-demolished office building in Bailey’s Crossroads once housed a company that played an important played a role in the Cold War. The two-story cinderblock building at 5623 Leesburg Pike…is being torn down to facilitate a second drive-through lane and an expanded parking lot for the McDonald’s next door.” [Annandale Today]

New Amenities Coming to Woodlawn Ballpark — “Following several years of grassroots fundraising and advocating with Fairfax County, the Woodlawn Little League will soon witness the groundbreaking of a comfort station and concessions building at McNaughton Fields Park.” The 784-square-foot facility will feature “a concession stand, restrooms and storage.” [On the MoVe]

Tysons-Based Capital One to Buy Credit-Card Rival — “Capital One’s $35.3 billion deal to buy Discover is a long way from being completed. But consumer advocates and some lawmakers are already raising questions about how the proposed merger could affect credit-card users — many of whom are already under pressure from high interest rates and record debts.” [NBC News]

Tysons Show Featured in Netflix Comedy Special — “That’s how Taylor Tomlinson opens her new Netflix standup special ‘Have It All,’ which premiered this past week on Feb. 13 and currently ranks in the Top 10 TV Shows on Netflix. It was filmed at Capital One Hall…on Nov. 18, 2023, just weeks after announcing her new late-night talk show ‘After Midnight.'” [WTOP]

It’s Wednesday — Expect sunny skies and a high of 49 degrees, accompanied by a light, variable wind that will increase to around 6 mph from the southeast in the morning. The night will remain mostly clear with temperatures dropping to about 32 degrees, and a gentle southeast breeze blowing at 3 to 5 mph. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

The Trillium Tysons is taking shape in the next phase of The Boro (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Another Pedestrian Killed in Richmond Highway Crash — “A man is dead after a hit-and-run crash Sunday night in Fairfax County, Virginia. Police said it happened just before 10:45 p.m. on Richmond Highway at Buckman Road in Woodlawn…Police told WTOP that witnesses described the striking vehicle as a white Lexus. Officers found the car and the man about two miles away from the scene and arrested him for felony hit-and-run.” [WTOP]

No Metro Funding in Senate’s Budget Proposal — “Democrats who control Virginia’s General Assembly set out battle lines with Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) on Sunday over the state budget and teed up their own conflict between the Senate, which did not include budget plans for the Metro transit system or a sports arena in Alexandria for the Capitals and Wizards, and the House of Delegates, which did.” [Washington Post]

Two Injured in Sunday House Fire — “#FCFRD is on scene of a house fire in the 6600 blk of Chestnut Ave in West Falls Church. The fire is under control. One civilian being transported with life-threatening injuries. One firefighter is being evaluated for a minor injury.” [FCFRD/Twitter]

Reston Man Dies From Bacterial Disease — “The statewide outbreak of meningococcal disease has claimed the life of a Reston man, his family says…In Virginia, that strain of meningococcal disease has been detected in 32 people in Virginia since June 2022. An outbreak was declared in September. Six people have died across the state.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Nearby: Firefighter Killed in Sterling House Explosion — “Authorities have identified the firefighter killed in Friday night’s ‘catastrophic’ house explosion in Sterling as 45-year-old Trevor Brown…Eleven other firefighters and two civilians were injured in the explosion, which one fire official called ‘total devastation.'” [Inside NoVA]

Scholarships Offered to People in Subsidized Housing — “People who live in affordable housing supported by the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCRHA) will have the opportunity to apply for academic scholarships beginning March 1, 2024. Up to ten applicants will receive a $5,000 scholarship for postsecondary education including technical training.” [FCRHA]

Business Leaders Suggest Ways to Boost Development — “Executives representing five Northern Virginia construction and development companies offered suggestions to Fairfax County leaders on how to improve the development process. The suggestions came during a panel discussion about Reston and Herndon’s residential, office and retail markets that took place Thursday morning in Reston Station.” [Patch]

Reston Art Exhibit Explores Impact of A.I. — “Reston Art Gallery and Studios presents AI & Us, an exclusive pop-up art exhibit of works created by numerous artists exploring the impact of Artificial Intelligence on our society. The concept for this special exhibit is the brainchild of Leah Zhang, a junior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSS).” [Tysons Today]

It’s Tuesday — Expect mostly sunny conditions with temperatures reaching a high around 48 degrees, accompanied by a gentle east wind of 3 to 7 mph. As evening comes, the sky will turn partly cloudy, and the temperature will drop to around 28 degrees, with the east wind slightly decreasing to 3 to 6 mph. [Weather.gov]

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A U.S. Postal Service truck in Vienna during the Jan. 19, 2024 snowstorm (photo by Amy Woolsey)

(Updated at 5 p.m.) The northern section of the George Washington Memorial Parkway will close tonight (Friday) in anticipation of some snowfall, the National Park Service says.

The closure will start at 7 p.m. and extend from the Capital Beltway (I-495) in McLean to Spout Run in Arlington.

“This closure is necessary to ensure the proper treatment of the roadway and to restore the parkway to safe travel conditions,” the park service said in its announcement of the closure this morning. “Crews will work diligently to treat the road for safe passage of drivers. Drivers should anticipate delays in reopening the northern section of the parkway as crews are required to use smaller equipment than usual to accommodate the lane widths and configurations.”

Drivers are advised to plan to use an alternate route.

As rehabilitation work continues on the northern GW Parkway, the NPS instituted a policy this winter of closing the road whenever 2 or more inches of snow are forecast.

The National Weather Service issued a Winter Weather Advisory this morning for the D.C. area, including Fairfax County that will be in effect from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. tomorrow (Saturday). Two to four inches of snow are expected, though some areas could potentially see as many as six inches, according to the advisory.

The impending storm has already prompted the Town of Vienna to cancel classes that were scheduled for tomorrow at the Vienna Community Center and Bowman House.

“The Community Center is expected to open at 10:30 a.m. for rentals and public use,” the town said in a tweet.

Fairfax County Public Schools has nixed all activities set to take place on school grounds before noon tomorrow, including extracurricular activities, athletic team practices and non-FCPS community and recreational programs.

Here’s the full advisory from the NWS:

…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY NOW IN EFFECT FROM 11 PM THIS EVENING TO 7 AM EST SATURDAY…

* WHAT…Snow expected. Total snow accumulations of 2 to 4 inches, with isolated totals up to 6 inches possible under heavier snow bands.

* WHERE…Portions of central Maryland, The District of Columbia, and northern Virginia.

* WHEN…From 11 PM this evening to 7 AM EST Saturday.

* IMPACTS…Plan on slippery road conditions.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS…Snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour are possible for a few hours under the heaviest snow bands. Visibility may be reduced to less than one half mile at times.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

Slow down and use caution while traveling.

When venturing outside, watch your first few steps taken on steps, sidewalks, and driveways, which could be icy and slippery, increasing your risk of a fall and injury.

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Traffic on Route 50 (Arlington Blvd) facing Seven Corners (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Fairfax County is continuing talks on a proposal that could allow some residents to better access their homes in areas with certain traffic restrictions.

Cut-through mitigation restrictions prohibit turns into neighborhoods from major transit corridors during rush hour. While the restrictions aim to prevent local roads from getting jammed by drivers trying to evade traffic, it can make it challenging for residents to legally access their homes on those streets.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation is proposing a residential cut-through permit zone that would exempt residents in affected neighborhoods from the restrictions by providing permits for their vehicle. Signs that restrict turns would be changed to say “resident permit required.”

After first proposing the permit program in early 2023, FCDOT presented an update to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors at a transportation committee meeting on Tuesday (Feb. 15).

Currently, the county is considering introducing the program in three areas with existing cut-through restrictions.

  • Carolyn Drive and Nicholson Street in Lake Barcroft
  • Oxford Street and Downing Street in Annandale
  • Thomas Avenue in Great Falls

“There are approximately 350 addresses that are impacted, and that could initially seek impairments if this program were implemented,” county transportation planner Henri Stein McCartney said.

Another seven communities are in the process of implementing cut-through restrictions.

“If all seven projects were implemented, we would expect to have approximately 1,300 addresses county-wide that could participate in the program,” McCartney said.

Fairfax County currently has seven communities requesting cut-through traffic restrictions (via FCDOT)

In January, the Board of Supervisors directed FCDOT to work with the Department of Tax Administration on revenue collection options for the program.

“In those conversations, tax administration recommended that we speak with the vendor that they currently have under contract for the county’s parking enforcement software,” McCartney said. “We are very early in our conversations with this vendor.”

FCDOT will return to the committee in June with additional information on using the vendor, she added.

The department is proposing a $25 permit fee for residents participating in the program. If the permits are implemented for all of the areas that have or are currently considering cut-through traffic restrictions, the county could collect an estimated $33,000 to $99,000 in gross revenue.

Chairman Jeff McKay questioned how the program would be enforced, saying it could put law enforcement in “awkward positions.”

“I don’t think we want our police checking every car that comes down the street during a certain period of time to verify residency,” he said. “I mean, to me…there’s a whole lot of problems with that.”

In its presentation, FCDOT noted that some neighboring jurisdictions, including Fairfax City, Vienna and Alexandria, have turn restrictions but don’t require permits for residents to legally access local roads. The only jurisdiction that does offer residents permits to get around turn restrictions is Falls Church City.

“Why did they decide to not offer permits and then how do they do enforcement? Because to me, that’s a really critical question here,” McKay said.

An officer with the Fairfax County Police Department conceded “it would probably be difficult to enforce,” adding that he couldn’t speak to what other localities are doing.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn asked county staff to look into automated enforcement as an option.

McCartney said she was unaware of any other jurisdictions currently using automated enforcement, but the vendor they’re working with offers it.

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