The last train out of the Vienna Metro station for the next month will depart at 12:20 a.m. tomorrow (Saturday)
After that, the Vienna, Dunn Loring, West Falls Church and East Falls Church stations will all shut down, as the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority begins to replace a 40-year-old steel rail extending to Ballston.
All four stations will be closed through June 25. At that point, the Falls Church stations will reopen, but the Vienna and Dunn Loring stations will stay closed through July 16.
“Replacing some of the oldest tracks in our system is critical to safety and reliability, and crews will work 24/7 to complete this project as quickly as possible so we can get back to normal service,” Metro Chief of Infrastructure Andy Off said in a news release earlier this week. “We make every effort to minimize impacts to our customers, and we thank them for their patience while we continue to build a safe and modern Metro to serve the entire region.”
In addition to the rail replacement, the maintenance project will include upgrades of fiber-optic cables at the stations “to modernize communications and allow for more efficient maintenance in the future,” WMATA says.
Though the shutdown will primarily affect Orange Line travelers, the East Falls Church station in Arlington will also be closed to Silver Line trains, so anyone looking to transfer or travel between the McLean and Ballston stations will need to take one of the free shuttles provided by Metro.
The shuttle schedule during the shutdown’s current phase to June 25 is below:
Orange Line Shuttle: Local service between Vienna, Dunn Loring, West Falls Church, East Falls Church, and Ballston-MU stations during normal Metrorail operating hours.
- Every 5 minutes during rush hours. (6-9 a.m., 3-7 p.m.)
- Every 10 minutes all other times, including weekends.
Silver Line Shuttle: Local service between McLean, East Falls Church, and Ballston-MU stations during normal Metrorail operating hours.
- Every 5 minutes during rush hours. (6- 9 a.m., 3-7 p.m.)
- Every 10 minutes all other times, including weekends.
Orange Line Express: Express service between Vienna and Rosslyn stations.
- Service every 5 minutes during rush hours. (6-9 a.m., 3-7 p.m.)
- Service every 10 minutes during non-rush hours. (9 a.m.-3 p.m., 7-9 p.m.)
Silver Line Limited: Limited-stop service between Washington Dulles International Airport, McLean, and Rosslyn.
- Service every 5 minutes during rush hours. (6-9 a.m., 3-7 p.m.)
- Service every 10 minutes during non-rush hours. (9 a.m.-3 p.m., 7-9 p.m.)
The Silver Line Limited shuttle will be the fastest option for riders going to or from Dulles Airport, which accounts for about one-third of all trips on Metro’s Silver Line extension, according to WMATA.
(Updated at 10:25 a.m. on 5/24/2023) Construction has begun on a new warehouse for the Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB) in the Newington area.
The organization, which supports nonprofits and provides meals to residents throughout the D.C. region, broke ground on the 43,000-square-foot distribution facility at 6833 Hill Park Drive, Lorton, on May 15.
Expected to more than double CAFB’s capacity in Northern Virginia, the new warehouse replaces a smaller building on the same site that the food bank says “no longer had the size or efficiencies required to address the area’s rising need.”
“Building an expanded facility in Northern Virginia couldn’t come at a more important time: in the wake of the pandemic and sustained rates of inflation, there are still so many in our community who are struggling to make ends meet and to access enough nutritious food,” CAFB President and CEO Radha Muthiah said. “This building is an investment in the future of thousands of Northern Virginians, both today and in the years to come.”
About 24% of Fairfax County residents reported experiencing food insecurity in 2021, putting it on the lower end of a spectrum that ranged from 21% in Arlington County to 48% in Prince George’s County, according to CAFB’s 2022 Hunger Report.
Expected to be released this September, the next hunger report could tell an even more sobering story after a year of inflation and diminishing public assistance. As of February, food prices were 10% higher than that time last year, CAFB said in its annual report, and the end of emergency SNAP benefits placed new pressure on local food banks.
(Correction: This article previously said the next hunger report is expected this summer. While last year’s report came out in June, CAFB says this year’s will likely be published in September, coinciding with Hunger Action Month.)
Capital Area Food Bank distributed nearly three times as many meals in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic as in the preceding year, Fairfax County leaders said last year. In February 2022, the county’s Board of Supervisors approved a $5 million contribution from its federal Covid relief funds to support to the food bank’s warehouse expansion.
CAFB projects that the project will cost a total of $35 million, which it hopes to cover with both public and private funding. So far, seven localities and Virginia have invested over $9 million, and Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and Rep. Gerry Connolly, have requested federal Community Project Funding.
“The new 43,000 square-foot facility will be nearly 3.5 times larger than the existing building, allowing the food bank to store and distribute more produce, provide more space for its partner nonprofits to pick up food, and offer volunteering opportunities at its Virginia warehouse for the first time,” CAFB said in a press release.
In addition to hosting a new volunteer center, the warehouse will be larger and more flexible with updated equipment compared to the previous building, which was built in 1982.
The old warehouse’s cooler and storage space had become inadequate, and maintenance was “cost-prohibitive,” CAFB said.
The new building is expected to be completed by late summer 2024.
CAFB isn’t the only local food assistance nonprofit to seek a capacity boost recently. Food for Others opened an addition to its Merrifield warehouse in February that allows clients to shop for groceries.
CAFB distributes more than 50 million meals across the D.C. region annually, according to its website. The organization’s main distribution facility is in northeast D.C.
Fairfax Connector is shaking up its service along the I-66 corridor in anticipation of two major parking facilities finishing construction later this year.
The Fairfax County Department of Transportation has proposed adding or revising almost 30 routes in Tysons, Vienna, Springfield, Chantilly and Centreville, as it seeks to incorporate the upcoming Springfield and Monument Drive garages into its bus system.
According to FCDOT, the changes will improve travel throughout the D.C. region, with the Monument Commuter Parking Garage and Transit Center in particular supporting new connections between the eastern and western sides of the county.
“By creating a transfer point at the new Monument Park-and-Ride facility, riders will have the opportunity to transfer between local routes, access regional routes, and connect to the Vienna Metrorail Station, Franconia Metrorail Station, Tysons, or…D.C.,” FCDOT said in a news release.
Shaped by two previous rounds of public engagement, the proposed service plan will be presented today (Monday) at a 7 p.m. community meeting in the Franconia Government Center (6121 Franconia Road). Virtual meetings are also scheduled for 7 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday) and Thursday (May 25).
The public can also provide input through an online survey until June 5.
The $43 million Monument facility will boast 820 parking spaces, eight bus bays, a pick-up and drop-off area, and bicycle racks and storage. Located at the Government Center Parkway intersection next to Fairfax Corner, it broke ground in November 2021 as part of the I-66 widening.
FCDOT has proposed adding the facility as a stop on Route 660, a cross-county connector from the Stone Road Park & Ride in Centreville to the Tysons Metro station that launched in February.
Other notable changes involving the Monument facility include:
- Route 605: Reston Town Center Metro station to Fair Oaks Mall
- Route 622: Fairfax Towne Center circulator with more local links and new weekend service
- Route 625: New route to Random Hills Road and Pender Drive
- Route 651: New seven-day service to the Westfields, Chantilly, and Fair Ridge areas
- Route 663: Stringfellow Road Park and Ride to the Vienna Metro station
- Route 670: New peak express service between Chantilly and the Franconia-Springfield
- Route 671: New peak service from Chantilly to the Dunn Loring Metro station
The first segment of the Virginia Department of Transportation’s planned shared-use trail along I-66 has been completed.
State and Fairfax County officials will celebrate the milestone today (Wednesday) with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11 a.m., followed by an inaugural bicycle ride or walk on the finished section, which starts east of the Vienna Metro station and extends to Cedar Lane near Merrifield.
The segment includes a tunnel under Nutley Street, one of several below-grade crossings planned for the 11-mile, mostly 10-foot-wide trail being built from Gallows Road in Dunn Loring to Route 29 in Centreville.
More portions are expected to be finished later this month, including a crossing at an I-66 entry ramp at the Nutley Street interchange and a segment from Blake Lane to Route 123 in Oakton.
“The 66 Parallel Trail and new bike and pedestrian access across the I-66 bridges supports VDOT’s commitment to providing multimodal travel options to ‘move more people — not just vehicles,'” VDOT said in a statement to FFXnow.
VDOT’s private partner I-66 Express Mobility Partners (I-66 EMP) and construction contractor FAM Construction built the 66 Parallel Trail — a name chosen by a Fairfax County survey — as part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project, which added 22 miles to the I-66 Express Lanes.
Including sidewalks being added on bridge crossings over I-66, the project will deliver 18 miles of new pedestrian and bicycle facilities, according to VDOT.
The trail’s inclusion in the highway widening project came after a campaign by local pedestrian and bicycling advocates, including the nonprofit Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling (FABB).
“The new 66 Trail will significantly improve east-west connectivity for people walking and biking in the corridor that does not exist today,” said former FABB President Sonya Breehey, who’s now the Northern Virginia advocacy manager for the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “The trail opens up the opportunity to walk, bike, roll to the Metro, schools, parks, restaurants, retail, and other places throughout the corridor.”
The design process for the trail was contentious, as cycling advocates pushed to keep it outside the I-66 soundwalls. However, adjacent homeowners objected to giving up part of their backyards, fearing a loss of privacy and green space.
The final design placed approximately three miles directly next to the highway, while about eight miles will be behind a noise barrier or have no noise barrier.
Breehey calls the trail’s placement inside the soundwalls an “unfortunate compromise,” but VDOT mitigated some concerns by elevating some portions above the highway and putting others behind a 50-inch concrete barrier. Read More
(Updated at 12:15 a.m. on 4/27/2023) Preliminary construction activities will kick into gear this weekend on a long-gestating project to move part of an electric transmission line underground in the Spring Hill area of Tysons.
Starting this Friday (April 28) evening, Dominion Energy will close the Vesper Trail from Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) to Vesper Street so its crews can install a manhole needed for the project, spokesperson Peggy Fox said. The trail closure will last until Tuesday (May 2).
“This closure is necessary to keep community members safe while we install a manhole,” Fox told FFXnow.
Replacing an existing above-ground line, the new 230-kilovolt transmission line will span approximately half a mile from Dominion’s Tyco Road substation to the vicinity of a planned Spring Hill substation just southwest of Leesburg Pike and Spring Hill Road.
An underground line will be safer and less visually obtrusive, while helping Tysons meet the demand for electricity as the area continues to develop, Dominion has said. Removal of the existing overhead line will also “facilitate” construction on The View, a mixed-use development planned next to the Spring Hill Metro station, according to documents filed with the State Corporation Commission.
The project was endorsed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in March 2020 and approved by the SCC on June 24, 2021.
Dominion notified residents in the area on April 14 that construction on the power line would begin this month, noting that the county has waived noise restrictions for the project until Oct. 31 since some work will occur at night.
“To limit traffic impacts on major roadways, particularly Leesburg Pike, construction will be performed at night,” the utility company said. “This allows our crews to obtain necessary lane closures to complete the work safely and efficiently.”
Split into five phases, the project includes the installation of two manholes, which will occur throughout the day and night so they can be completed “as expeditiously as possible.”
“There will be more impacts to the trail in fall 2023 when we begin installing the underground line in this area, and outreach will take place prior,” Fox said by email. “No impacts to electric service are anticipated as a result of this work.”
Including the addition of a transition pole at the end of the new line and removal of the old overhead line, the project is expected to finish in late 2024. At that point, Dominion says it will begin construction on the Spring Hill substation, which will occupy a 1-acre site near Raglan Road Park.
The new substation will support customers south of Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) and outside of I-495, according to Dominion.
Maintenance work on the Circle Woods stormwater pond in Oakton will have to wait until this summer — or until the hawks nesting in a nearby tree take their leave.
The Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services (DPWES) shared on Monday (April 3) that its contractor had encountered an “active hawks nest” in a tree that has been slated for removal.
The birds and their nest are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treat Act and a nationwide permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to the county.
“The construction team and our Fairfax County Park Authority partners made the decision to pause active work to limit disruption that could impact the nesting birds and ensure we maintain compliance with the permit and federal law,” DPWES said in an update on the project page.
DPWES spokesperson Sharon North confirmed that only one nest has been found, but it’s unclear how many birds are using it. At least two hawks have been photographed in the area.
Work will resume after the nesting period, which is expected to last through early June, or once the project team determines that the nest is no longer being used.
Construction on the pond was scheduled to begin on March 3, according to Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik. Some initial setup and tree-clearing activities had gotten underway when workers found the hawk nest.
@ffxpublicworks completed survey, permitting, design, & support services for the Circle Woods Pond Improvement Project to perform necessary maintenance on an existing stormwater detention facility & make improvements within the pond floor and at the outfall. pic.twitter.com/eyjNWzUdv4
— Dalia Palchik (@SupvPalchik) February 21, 2023
DPWES says it initiated the project after maintenance workers detected “dam and control structure deficiencies” with the detention pond, which is located near East Blake Lane Park.
In addition to making “necessary repairs” to the dam and replacing the control structure, the project will involve the removal of sediment and an “extensive” tree root structure that has begun to encroach on the dam embankment, according to the county.
With a total budget of $685,000, the project was expected to be finished in November, suggesting that if construction work doesn’t resume until June, it will now continue into 2023.
Once construction restarts, the East Blake Lane Trail will be closed between Vaden Dr. and Route 29 will be closed throughout the project.
Work has begun on a new urban, three-quarter-acre park in downtown Annandale that’s expected to be completed later this year.
The long-planned Annandale Civic Space project is converting an underused parking lot at the former Annandale Elementary School into a “unique hybrid park.”
The site at 7200 Columbia Pike will include a civic plaza with seating, an educational garden, a playground, a lawn, and an open space that can be used as a flexible “pop-up” space for performances, community activities, and special events.
There will also be fully ADA-accessible paths that connect the park to Daniels Avenue and Columbia Pike.
“The project will transform an underutilized portion of the open space at the former Annandale Elementary School into a versatile, Americans with Disabilities Act accessible civic space for the Annandale community,” the Fairfax County Park Authority said in a press release last month. “The revitalized open space will serve as a community hub and will contribute toward the long-term vision for the Annandale Community Business Center (CBC). “
Site preparation work began last week, FCPA spokesperson Ben Boxer told FFXnow, with the removal of invasive plants and several existing, “unhealthy” trees along Daniels Avenue to accommodate grading considerations. The plants will be replaced by native trees and plantings.
Most of the construction and work will occur throughout the late spring and into the summer. That will include paving, landscaping, and utility work.
The park is expected to be completed in the fall and open late this year, per Boxer.
The project is estimated to cost about $700,000 with funding coming from a mix of sources, including grants and county funds. Construction is being overseen by the park authority.
The nonprofit Annandale Christian Community for Action (ACCA) Child Development Center located inside the old school building will remain open. The paved open space will be used as a parking lot during weekdays for the center.
The park plan was first introduced to the public five years ago, in June 2018, when a test concept at the nearby Annandale Volunteer Fire Department showed how parking lots can be transformed into public spaces. In July 2022, design plans were locked in for the county-owned site.
A number of current features are being replaced, including an old, deteriorating basketball court that’s being turned into the 1,800-square-foot lawn space.
The park will fill an important gap in the Mason District, since it’s coming to an “underserved area with very little space available to facilitate outdoor community gatherings, programs and activities,” Boxer said.
The residential building coming to 6707 Old Dominion Drive will be modest — at least compared to the high-rises going up in Tysons to the south — but it has already altered the future of downtown McLean.
Contractor Trinity Group Construction anticipates beginning work next week on the nine-story, 44-unit project, which will replace the parking lot behind a three-story office building whose current tenants include Chipotle and Fresh Baguette.
“It’s great to finally be here,” property owner Winthrop Investment Group head Hans Schmidt said after a ceremonial groundbreaking yesterday (Wednesday). “…Folks conceptualized this project back in 2016, and here we are in March of 2023, and we’re finally moving dirt. We’re really excited about it. We think it’s going to be a great project.”
The 94,000-square-foot building will stack five stories of condominiums — including five units of workforce housing — on top of a parking garage with four above-ground levels and one-and-a-half underground levels, according to a Trinity spokeperson.
Per a development plan approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 2018, amenities will include a 3,850-square-foot roof terrace for residents and a combined 6,100 square feet of public open space from a corner park and a plaza park.
The garage will serve the new residents as well as tenants and visitors at the adjacent office building, which will remain in place, Schmidt confirmed.
Both the developer and local officials admit that shepherding this particular project into being was difficult, from a fraught battle to amend the county’s comprehensive plan to more recent supply chain issues and related cost increases.
“We’ve been working for the past eight months with [Winthrop], finally got it to where it was affordable,” Trinity CEO Mil Wallen said.
One of the biggest challenges was the need to establish a temporary parking plan for office tenants during construction, according to Schmidt, who said the development “would’ve been dead” if no parking sites were found.
Fortunately for Winthrop, three local churches — St. John’s Episcopal Church (6715 Georgetown Pike), St. Luke Serbian Orthodox Church (6801 Georgetown Pike) and St. John the Beloved Roman Catholic Church (6420 Linway Terrace) — have agreed to let commuters use their parking lots, providing a total of 140 spaces.
During construction, which is expected to take about 18 months, drivers will have access to valet service as well as a shuttle that will travel to and from the off-site parking areas. Some on-site spots will also remain available.
Wallen says the shuttle and valet service will “start as soon as necessary,” which may not be the instant construction begins next week.
“We’ll have fencing up that will guide traffic all over the place,” he said. “It’ll be a little congested, but I think it’ll be okay.”
Potential parking and traffic issues were part of why the project initially struggled to win over some community members, who argued it was incompatible with the surrounding, mostly lower-lying buildings.
That debate helped inform the county’s roughly four-year-long overhaul of its plan for downtown McLean.
“I think we learned some good lessons along the way, and hopefully, the next project that comes forward will move much smoother,” said Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, who represents McLean.
The residential building “will be a fantastic example” of what a revitalized downtown could look like, Foust says, telling FFXnow that the planned parking garage “is the way to go” compared to the “ugly” surface lots currently prevalent for commercial properties.
“This project will contribute to helping us achieve our vision for downtown McLean, which is more vibrancy, more pedestrian, ground-level activity, more people actually living in downtown McLean,” Foust said. “On top of that, it’s going to be a beautiful addition to the visual of downtown McLean.”
A traffic improvement plan along Spring Street may come with some challenges for local businesses owners at Herndon’s Sunset Business Park.
Some business owners say the improvement plan institutes changes that will limit the accessibility and visibility of the office park. Currently under construction, the $11.5 million project is expected to boost service levels along Spring Street and Herndon Parkway at their intersection and approaches.
Specifically, closing the median on Spring Street cuts off the park to customers as well as truck deliveries from the westbound direction. The limited ability to complete a westbound U-turn from Spring Street at Herndon Parkway also makes it challenging for customers to enter the park, some business owners say.
Paul Olsen, co-owner of local coffee shop and roastery Weird Brothers Co., said the project will continue to disrupt traffic flow over the next several years.
“This change to the primary entrance and traffic disruption will negatively impact these businesses dramatically, Olsen wrote in a statement. “This comes in the wake of our local businesses recovering from the negative impacts of the pandemic, operating under historically high inflation, and the current economic recession. Local small business is the backbone of any community, and it is especially true in the Town of Herndon.”
Anne Curtis, a spokesperson for the Town of Herndon, said the town will keep business owners and the public advised, as officials explore ways to improve access via the Herndon Parkway entrance.
“The project will improve congestion and increase safety, and to achieve these benefits there are necessary changes to the access to Sunset Business Park,” Curtis said.
Curtis also noted that a U-turn on Spring Street is allowed except during the evening from from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., “contrary to erroneous reports.”
Olsen’s letter to the council, which was drafted with other business owners and discussed at a town council work session earlier this month, calls on the town to complete a comprehensive and holistic analysis to explore changes to the plan to help small businesses in the parks:
The plan diverts all west bound traffic south on Herndon Parkway to the North Driveway, which is complicated with a small traffic circle and little visibility. This intersection is currently insufficient for current traffic volumes entering and exiting the business park on Herndon Parkway and will be exasperated by the increased traffic diverted from Spring Street. It is not intended to be the primary traffic ingress or egress for fifty businesses and Herndon’s small business core concentration. The majority of customer traffic to the Sunset Business Park comes from the east. Additionally, the business park does not have direct visibility or ownership of real estate on Herndon Parkway which complicates matters regarding the options for signage.
The town and the Virginia Department of Transportation first fielded similar concerns from area businesses in 2018.
At the time, officials noted that allowing vehicles to conduct U-turns at westbound Spring Street at Herndon Parkway would cause “significant conflict” with the northbound right-turn overlap. Backups would then possibly occur on Herndon Parkway.
Fairfax County officials gathered yesterday (Thursday) to celebrate the groundbreaking of a new bicycle and pedestrian bridge for the Washington & Old Dominion Trail over Wiehle Avenue in Reston.
The $6.7 million project replaces an at-grade crossing and widens Wiehle Avenue from Sunset Hills to the Reston Fire Station and Pupatella Pizza entrances, according to the county. It will also accommodate future 5-foot-wide bicycle lanes.
The project, which is managed by Allan Myers VA, will wrap up by late spring to early summer of 2024, according to the county.
It’s intended to improve transportation safety in the area by eliminating conflicts between vehicles and trail users and minimizing rear-end crashes.
Since June 2018, 11 crashes at or near the existing crossing were reported, according to state data.
“The W&OD Trail is a heavily traveled regional pedestrian and bicycle trail in Northern Virginia. We estimate the number of daily trail users at the W&OD trail crossing at Wiehle Avenue is as high as 3000,” the county said.
The project was funded by federal and state grants.
As construction continues, the asphalt trail will remain open except from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
A 6-foot-tall safety fence will be installed on the asphalt trail to separate the trail from the construction area. Meanwhile, the gravel trail will be closed on the west side from 11480 Sunset Hills Road to the east from Michael Faraday Court.
The groundbreaking for the Wiehle Ave bridge was held this morning! The estimated completion date for the project is late spring/early summer of 2024. pic.twitter.com/5kBSMFcxW9
— The W&OD Trail (@WODTrail) March 9, 2023
Great morning for groundbreaking to kick off construction on W&OD Trail Bridge over Wiehle Ave. Bridge will greatly improve pedestrian/bike safety & access to Wiehle-Reston East Metro – joining communities! @KenPlum1 @ireneshintweets @JenniferBoysko @VAbikecommuter #HunterMill pic.twitter.com/dj7PUtHLrp
— Supervisor Walter Alcorn (@WalterAlcornFFX) March 9, 2023