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The current asphalt path on Old Courthouse Road west of Tysons (via Town of Vienna/Twitter)

Construction begins today (Monday) on a long-gestating project to upgrade the pedestrian facilities along Courthouse Road NE in Vienna.

The asphalt path that currently runs along the east side of the road will be closed for several months between Pine Valley Drive and Battery Park Street, as crews replace it with a concrete, ADA-compliant sidewalk, the Town of Vienna announced yesterday (Sunday).

“The new sidewalk will be able to safely accommodate pedestrians and people with disabilities who use a wheelchair or other assistive devices, and the overall project will enhance the neighborhood appearance,” Andrew Jinks, the town’s transportation engineer, said in a news release.

Jinks deems the existing trail “unsafe” for pedestrians. In addition to being narrow with an uneven, cracked surface, it runs next to an open drainage ditch that the project will enclose with a curb and gutters.

In the works since 2013, the full project extends to Gosnell Road beyond the town’s boundary. The remaining segment will be addressed by Fairfax County as part of an agreement with Vienna.

The $1.2 million project is being built by Sagres Construction, which was awarded a contract in March 2021.

It’s being funded by a combination of local and state funds, including a Safe Routes to Schools grant that the town got from the Virginia Department of Transportation in 2013 due to the site’s proximity to Westbriar Elementary School.

Vienna anticipates that construction on the new sidewalk will be complete in January 2023.

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A historic landmark in Fairfax County is getting presidential treatment, though it will require visitors and tourists to walk under scaffolding for a while.

The first U.S. president’s Mount Vernon plantation is undergoing a restoration on the eastern side of the mansion.

Exterior work to preserve the home began in late March and could finish this fall. Crews are closely replicating the look that George Washington wanted, where the exterior resembles sand blocks but is actually wood covered in sand and paint.

“It’s essentially the same process that Washington had because he wanted a house that looked like stone, but it’s all wood,” Mount Vernon President and CEO Doug Bradburn said. “The boards would be cut to look like stone blocks.”

Work on the west side, where the main entrance is located, occurred in 2019, and the other sides underwent restoration in 2021.

“This east side is the most complicated,” Bradburn said. “We’ll do the interior later in the year.”

Matt Briney, Mount Vernon’s vice president of media and communications, said the work is funded through ticket sales, retail sales, donations and memberships.

The destination typically draws over 1 million visitors per year, but the COVID-19 pandemic led the site to close for 99 days in early 2020.

Mount Vernon saw 384,000 visits that year, around 450,000 in 2021, and could reach 500,000 or 600,000 this year, Briney said.

The site always sees a three-year recovery from dips over a century’s worth of data, he said.

To help boost the tourism sector, public and private sector partnerships have launched a digital marketing pass for discounts to Mount Vernon and other destinations in southern Fairfax County.

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Morning Notes

Tysons Tales pop-up park outside The Boro (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Board Chair “Saddened” by Buffalo Mass Shooting — “I am both saddened and angered over the senseless loss of life that took place in Buffalo, NY. The racial hate that reportedly motivated this horrific attack is inexcusable. I am keeping the victims and their families in my prayers.” [Jeff McKay/Twitter]

Nearly Half of Metrorail Operators Lapse Recertification — “Metro management is taking immediate corrective action to remove from service 72 train operators who became out of compliance prior to May 2021. This will result in a temporary reduction in Green and Yellow line service from every 15 minutes to every 20 minutes due to an operator shortage…Service impacts are expected to continue until the end of May.” [WMATA]

Police Investigate Deaths Near Robinson Secondary School — “Detectives are on the scene in the 10400 blk of Stallworth Ct. in Fairfax after officers discovered two deceased persons following a welfare check. Preliminarily, this appears to be a domestic-related incident. There is no known threat to the public at this time.” [FCPD/Twitter]

FCPS Considers Co-Ed Sex Education Classes — “An advisory committee recently approved a plan to mix boys and girls in grades 4-8 during Family Life Education instruction; a practice that is done in some area school systems but not in others…Board members are expected to discuss mixing-genders in Family Life Education classes as early as June.” [ABC7]

Area Eagles Suffer from Lead Poisoning — “Toxins in the environment, and especially lead, [Jeff Cooper] suspected, were hurting bald eagles in Virginia more than ecologists realized…The findings went beyond Cooper’s fears: Nearly half of bald and golden eagles in the United States, and in the D.C. region, have chronic lead poisoning.” [The Washington Post]

Person Shot in Mount Vernon Near Richmond Highway — Fairfax County police officers responded to Buckman Road and Janna Lee Avenue on Thursday (May 12) after a person was shot in the upper body by someone “seen pointing a silver handgun from an older model black Toyota Highlander.” The victim’s injuries were not considered life threatening, and police don’t believe it was a random act. [FCPD]

Couple Recalls Meet at Clyde’s in Reston — As Clyde’s prepares to close on Saturday (May 21) after 31 years at Reston Town Center, resident Kristin Simons reflects on having her first date with her now-husband at the restaurant. Since then, Clyde’s has become a go-to destination for the family for everything from brunches to work-related celebrations, she says. [Fairfax County Times]

Princess Diana Exhibit Comes to Tysons — “The new experience, called Princess Diana: Accredited Access Exhibition, is said to be the world’s first-ever walk-through documentary by its creators…Tickets to the experience are now on sale…and the event’s first day open to the public will be on May 25 at Tysons Corner Center.” [WUSA9]

Tysons Pedestrian Bridge Falling into Place — “The perfect cure for a gloomy day? Check out the most recent progress pics of our new ped bridge over the Beltway in Tysons, opening this year!” [VDOT/Twitter]

It’s Monday — Rain in the afternoon and evening. High of 74 and low of 62. Sunrise at 5:57 am and sunset at 8:17 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Construction on Vienna’s new police station is expected to be complete in July (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

It will cost the Town of Vienna nearly $300,000 more to finish construction on its new police station at 215 Center Street South.

The Vienna Town Council agreed last week to authorize spending increases of $249,310 for contractor Hoar Construction and $48,817 for project manager Downey & Scott.

However, town officials emphasized that the overall project is still on track to come in $98,913 under the $17.3 million allocated to it from bond funding and cable fees.

“The police station has several different components to it,” Vienna Director of Finance Marion Serfass said at the May 2 meeting. “Some items are under the original budget, and some are over, but in total, the entire project is under budget by $98,000.”

One of the items that has gone over budget is Downey & Scott’s contract, which was originally approved in January 2019 with a $318,950 price tag.

Hired to manage the construction process, the firm previously requested and received an additional $67,680 in October, citing a longer-than-anticipated pre-construction phase and “unknown condition incidents” that emerged after work on the site began.

Bringing the firm’s bill up to $437,897, this new increase was needed to extend the contract by 90 days, according to a memo sent to the town on April 8.

“Due to supply chain disruptions, the roofing materials, fencing, and other materials have been delayed,” Downey & Scott said in the memo, reporting that Hoar’s estimated completion date for the project is July 19.

That will be “less than a month late despite historic issues with construction materials and the supply chain,” according to town staff.

The town council approved both funding requests without any public discussion, but members said they had talked about them in a closed conference session.

“I just want the public to know we discussed this in detail,” Councilmember Chuck Anderson said. “We asked a bunch of questions, so it’s not like we’re just automatically approving it.”

Construction on the Vienna Police Department’s new building began in January 2021. When completed, the station will be approximately 30,000 square feet in size with a firing range, additional interview rooms, more personnel and storage space, and a 1,500-square-foot multipurpose room that could be used by the community, among other amenities.

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One of the most heavily used trails in Fairfax County will undergo construction starting this summer to address recurring flooding issues.

The Fairfax County Park Authority is planning to upgrade a portion of the trail at Lake Accotink Park in Springfield. The $3 million project will add a 325-foot-long, elevated, concrete pedestrian crossing over the park’s dam outfall, along with approximately 300 feet of asphalt trail improvements.

“The contractor, Franco’s Liberty Bridge Inc, will be mobilizing on site with active construction activities beginning this summer,” the FCPA said in an announcement on Wednesday (May 4).

Parts of the Lake Accotink Loop Trail will be closed during construction. The FCPA says signs will be posted on the site and advises nearby residents to expect occasional construction traffic entering and exiting the park.

The Fairfax County Park Authority is planning improvements on the trail by the Lake Accotink dam in Springfield (via FCPA)

Despite the short-term inconveniences, the project will likely come as welcome news to visitors like Milo Nekvasil, who says he sometimes takes off his shoes and socks to walk through flooded areas on the trail during light rains. Heavy rains make it impassable for him.

Tree limbs, logs and other debris can clog along the path, causing backups where water would normally flow under the path.

Nekvasil’s experiences aren’t unique. Flooding is frequent and can be sudden, stranding trail users or leading them to wade through waters, according to the community group Friends of Lake Accotink Park.

“Excessive damage due to major storm events has required a total reconstruction of the trail twice in the last five years,” the Park Authority said. “This project will resolve these issues, enhancing safety and accessibility for park users.”

The project is scheduled to be completed in early 2023.

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Morning Notes

Cranes loom behind Wiehle-Reston East Metro station plaza (photo by Marjorie Copson)

Autopsies in Fairfax County Murders Still Pending — “Autopsies have been unable to determine how three victims of suspected ‘shopping cart killer’ Anthony Eugene Robinson died…Robinson is suspected of killing at least four people whose remains were found in Alexandria and Harrisonburg, Virginia, as well as the District.” [WTOP]

Spring Farm Day Canceled at Frying Pan — This year’s Spring Farm Day at Frying Pan Farm Park on Saturday (May 7) has been canceled due to rainy weather in the forecast. Anyone who registered in advance should receive an email with more information. [Fairfax County Park Authority/Twitter]

The Boro Restaurants Aim for July Openings — Despite a broker site plan that lists June 1 opening dates, the restaurants El Bebe, Circa, and Caliburger aren’t expected to be ready until mid-July, a spokesperson for the Tysons development recently told FFXnow. The Boro will, however, bring back its simultaneous chess tournament on May 21. [The Boro, Tysons Today]

Congress Members Urge Action on Ghaisar Case — “Seven members of Congress, including six from the D.C. area, are asking the Justice Department to revisit the case of Bijan Ghaisar, the Virginia motorist who was shot and killed by the U.S. Park Police in 2017.” [WTOP]

Herndon Police Find ATM Skimming Device — “Subjects will install a panel containing a pin-hole camera that records you entering your PIN number while another device reads your card number. Please be diligent when using ATM machines. Always use a hand to cover the pad when entering your PIN number; and if you notice a camera…please contact #HerndonPD immediately” [Herndon Police Department/Facebook]

Maximus Leaves Reston Station for Tysons — “The $4.5 billion federal contractor that specializes in the administration of government programs like Medicaid, Medicare, federal student loans and veterans services said Tuesday it formally made the move to Lerner Enterprises’ 1600 Tysons Blvd. The company said the new space is 90,000 square feet across five floors.” [Washington Business Journal]

Back Away From the Fawn, Police Say — “It is common for people to encounter white-tailed deer fawns motionless and without their mother, then mistakenly assume it is orphaned or abandoned. In almost all cases, fawns are only temporarily left by their mothers for protection and just need to be left alone.” [FCPD]

Great Falls ArtFest Returns This Weekend — “Great Falls Studios will hold its annual Spring ArtFest May 7 and 8 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at four locations in Great Falls. Venues will include The Grange and Old Schoolhouse at 9818 Georgetown Pike, plus three art studios in the Village Center.” [Sun Gazette]

Tennis Court Repairs Restart Next Month — Contractor ATC will resume resurfacing tennis and pickleball courts at Linway Terrace in McLean and Wakefield Park in Annandale in early June. Work at both sites began in the fall but was suspended due to unfavorable weather conditions. [FCPA]

It’s Thursday — Possible light rain overnight. High of 66 and low of 55. Sunrise at 6:07 am and sunset at 8:06 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Design of the Route 28 widening project is nearly complete (via FCDOT)

The design phase of the planned Route 28 widening is nearly complete.

The $87 million project will widen Route 28 — also known as Centreville Road — from four to six lanes between Bull Run bridge and the Upper Ridge/Old Centreville Road intersection.

It also includes widenings of intersecting streets next to Route 28, the installation of new signals at five currently signalized intersections, four noise barriers, and the construction of new drainage improvements, including storm water and storm management facilities.

Robin Geiger, a spokesperson for the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, said that the project is designed to allow for future expansion, if needed. So far, designs are 95% complete.

“The project has been designed to allow for future widening of Route 28 to eight lanes, as needed and as funding is available,” Geiger wrote in a statement to FFXnow.

FCDOT plans to hold an online meeting on May 11 from noon to 1:30 p.m. to provide an update about the status of the project, upcoming activities and the overall schedule and process.

The project is expected to be completed by the winter of 2023-2024, according to the county. Substantial completion on construction is anticipated in the fall of 2023.

The department has provided right-of-way plans for phase two of the project online. Staff from Shirley contracting company will also be on hand to answer questions.

The meeting can be accessed via Microsoft Teams or over the phone at 571-429-5982 with access code 901 419 848#.

So far, land rights — including right-of-way, temporary easements, and permanent easements — will be acquired from 48 properties. No buildings or structures will be demolished for the project.

Geiger anticipated that all land rights will be acquired by the end of the year or early 2023. Construction on the project began in September 2021.

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Fairfax County will restore an eroded stream at Royal Lake Park in Kings Park West (via Fairfax County)

Fairfax County Public Works and Environmental Services has started construction on a project to improve a watershed in Kings Park West near Burke by restoring eroded stream banks.

Part of a plan approved over a decade ago, the Shanes Creek restoration seeks to stabilize the channel and prevent future erosion and degradation along the stream. It will also reconnect the channel to its floodplain and restore native trees and herbaceous planting to promote natural reforestation and a healthy ecosystem, according to a project page.

“The project will restore more than 4,800 linear feet of natural channel and about 1,300 linear feet of outfall leading to it,” the project page says, noting that construction work began on April 13.

The project requires closures of the trail network leading from nearby residential neighborhoods into Royal Lake Park, which is just to the south of the creek.

“The existing parkland trails within the project boundaries will be closed for the duration of the project to ensure public and worker safety,” the Fairfax County Park Authority said. “Active construction is anticipated to be completed by winter 2023.”

According to DPWES, work on the stream will start at Roberts Road, and crews have begun to set up fencing, “trail closed” signs, and other equipment. Trail closures will depend on where construction is underway.

“We are attempting to keep as many open as we can while construction is occurring, so there is not a clear map of what is open now [versus what] will be later,” DPWES spokesperson Sharon North said by email. “…We are working to install the fence and signs as we can.  The limits of disturbance will be well marked before construction of the stream starts.”

The Board of Supervisors approved a watershed management plan for the Pohick Creek watershed in 2010. The plan called for stream restoration efforts to re-establish those waterways that would help minimize erosion, including planting vegetation to stabilize and protect stream banks.

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Morning Notes

At the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial in Lorton’s Occoquan Regional Park (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

SCOTUS Lets TJ Admissions Policy Stay During Appeal — With three justices dissenting, the Supreme Court denied the Coalition for TJ’s request to block the new admissions policy for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. The denial will let Fairfax County Public Schools use the policy to evaluate the incoming Class of 2026, as the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond considers the case. FCPS says the appeals court has approved its request for “an expedited schedule to resolve the legal issues involved in the admissions process.” [SCOTUSblog/Twitter, FCPS]

No Injuries in Turnpike Shopping Center Crash — The driver of a sedan that crashed into an empty storefront next to Kokee Tea in the Fairfax City shopping center on Saturday (April 23) survived unharmed, city officials said yesterday (Monday). Damages to the building at 9668 Main Street are estimated to be between $20,000 and $30,000. [City of Fairfax Fire Department, Patch]

Police Partner With DNA Lab to Solve Tysons Murder — “The young woman’s skeletal remains were discovered in 2001, near a drainage ditch behind an apartment complex in what’s now known as Tysons, Virginia — and Fairfax County police still have far more questions than answers…The crowdfunded effort with Othram Inc. and DNASolves would pay for cutting-edge testing…which isn’t currently available through the state labs.” [WTOP]

Pollen Plagues D.C. Area — “Pollen counts are way up again. Today’s tree count of 1,405.75 grains per cubic meter is the second-highest of the year so far. The highest value was recorded March 7, when the count topped 2,300. Intense pollen seasons are becoming worse and longer in a warming world.” [Capital Weather Gang]

Herndon Man Wins Lottery After Buying 30 Tickets — “A Virginia man collected a total prize of $147,500 when he bought 30 identical tickets for a single lottery drawing. Benjamin Shuler of Herndon told Virginia Lottery officials he bought 30 tickets for the March 28 Pick 4 night drawing, all bearing the numbers 0-8-1-6.” [UPI]

Tysons Pedestrian Bridge Moves in Place — The Virginia Department of Transportation has photos of a truss for the new pedestrian/bicycle bridge being built over I-495 at Tysons Corner Center. The bridge was put in place over this past weekend and is scheduled to open later this year, though it’s unclear when work on a second phase that will extend a shared-use path to Route 123 can begin. [VDOT/Twitter]

County Archaeologists Start Newsletter — “The Fairfax County Archaeology and Collections Branch (ACB) is launching an e-newsletter. The ACB identifies, documents, and interprets the material culture of Fairfax County to promote shared stewardship of cultural resources, nurture a deeper understanding of the past, and inspire future generations.” [Fairfax County Park Authority]

It’s Tuesday — Possible light rain in the afternoon and evening. High of 64 and low of 54. Sunrise at 6:18 am and sunset at 7:58 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

A spring dandelion (photo by Marjorie Copson)

Case Against Park Police Who Shot McLean Man Dropped — “Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares (R) on Friday dropped the state’s federal appeal in the manslaughter case against two U.S. Park Police officers, effectively ending any attempt at criminal prosecution of the officers who fatally shot unarmed motorist Bijan Ghaisar in a Fairfax County neighborhood in 2017.” [The Washington Post]

Hundreds Help Pack Ukrainian Refugee Donations — “Hundreds of volunteers gathered this weekend in Oakton to help pack approx. 1800 boxes with donations collected for displaced Ukrainians. Huge thanks to our community members for donating, these wonderful volunteers, and to Paxton Co. for generously shipping these items.” [Chairman Jeff McKay/Twitter]

Mount Vernon Fire Started by Hair Dryer — A house fire in the 3700 block of Nalls Road on Wednesday (April 20) was started accidentally by an electrical event involving a hair dryer in the basement bathroom, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department says. There were reported injuries or displacements, but the fire caused an estimated $37,500 in damages. [FCFRD]

Medical Reserve Corps Volunteers Critical to Covid Response — “Since February of 2020, over 1,400 MRC members volunteered more than 65,000 hours at vaccination clinics and testing events, and assisting with outreach, isolation and quarantine efforts, logistical support, and so much more.” [Fairfax County Health Department]

Merrifield Nonprofit Gets Boost from Football Fans — “Wolf Trap Animal Rescue keeps receiving donations from the public in honor of Dwayne Haskins, the former Washington quarterback who died in an accident on a Florida highway on April 9. Haskins…selected Wolf Trap Animal Rescue as his organization to represent for the NFL’s My Cause My Cleats campaign.” [Patch]

Turner Farm Observatory Seeks “Dark Sky” Designation — “To help reverse the trend of growing light pollution, the Great Falls observatory applied to become an Urban Night Sky Place with the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA)…If approved, the observatory would become the first IDA-designated place in the Washington region.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Construction Starts on Woodley Hills Park Playground — “The Fairfax County Park Authority will begin the installation of a new playground and removal of the existing playground the week of April 25, 2022. Construction access to the site will be from Old Mount Vernon Road. It is anticipated that the playground replacement will be completed by early June 2022.” [FCPA]

Reston Library Book Sale Starts Wednesday — The Friends of the Reston Regional Library will host its biggest book sale of the year, starting with a members-only night from 5-8 p.m. on Wednesday (April 27). The sale will be open to all starting at 10 a.m. Thursday through Sunday (April 28-May 2) and include 35,000 to 40,000 books. [Friends of the Reston Regional Library]

It’s Monday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 75 and low of 55. Sunrise at 6:19 am and sunset at 7:57 pm. [Weather.gov]

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