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The proposed Rock Hill Road Bridge will connect Fairfax and Loudoun counties over the Dulles Toll Road (via Fairfax County)

(Updated at 10:40 a.m. on 8/8/2022) Planning for a new bridge connection between Fairfax and Loudoun counties over the Dulles Toll Road has officially begun.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously authorized a project agreement with the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority on Tuesday (Aug. 2) for the $196 million project. The vote was conducted with no discussion.

Located at the intersection of Rock Hill Road and Davis Drive, the bridge would connect Sunrise Valley Drive over the toll road to Innovation Avenue in Loudoun County. 

A new four-lane road with bicycle lanes and a sidewalk on both sides is anticipated in an effort to provide direct connections with the Innovation Center Metro Station area.

“The project will provide additional capacity across the Dulles Corridor, reduce congestion and delay on Route 28 and Centreville Road, and improve accessibility and mobility to and within the area surrounding the Innovation Center Metrorail Station,” county staff said in a memo. 

Currently, the Virginia Department of Transportation is competing a feasibility study, which is expected to wrap up in early fall.

The study will include information on the conceptual design for the preferred design, cross section features, the bridge’s type, size, and exact location, as well as cost estimates and timeline. 

It’s too early to know when the project will officially begin construction, but that is likely years down the line.

Over the next few years, staff will identify ways to fund the project through various pools of money. For now, the project is partially funded with NVTA’s regional funds.

Tuesday’s vote simply secures a project agreement between the NVTA and the county by allocating $20.6 million for the project.

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The Reston Town Center Metro station, waiting to open (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The long-delayed extension of the Silver Line into Loudoun County will cost $250 million more than first anticipated — a cost that will largely be shouldered by Dulles Toll Road users.

At a meeting yesterday (Wednesday), the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority board approved the cost overrun — including $188 million through tolls on the Dulles Toll Road.

The increase was driven by an increase in the complexity of the project, costs for materials, supply chain issues, and COVID-19-related issues, according to Andrew Rountree, MWAA’s chief financial officer.

Rountree also pointed to the project’s complexity at all levels, new environmental regulations related to stormwater management, and changes in the overall scope.

The cost overrun pushes the budget from $2.79 billion to a little over $3 billion.

Still, Rountree says the increase will not affect tolls directly, which are already expected to go up this year, because MWAA was able to restructure a loan to “flatten out” debt service from 2033 to about 2044.

Fairfax County will pay $40 million, Loudoun County will offer $12 million, and MWAA will recover $10 million.

Drew Hascall, vice president of MWAA’s Office of Engineering, said many of the cost increases are expected given that the project is four years behind schedule.

“We’ve gotten to the point where we’ve resolved all those unresolved requests or changes and we’re closing it out,” Hascall said, adding that contract closeout is expected once the additional funding is obtained.

Metro — which assumed control over the rail extension in late June — still hasn’t set an opening date for the 11.4-mile extension of the Silver Line into Loudoun County, but a fall opening is anticipated.

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Morning Notes

A busy bee in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

A Few Sidelined Metro Trains Return Today — “Metro has previously said riders will first see the trains on the Green and Yellow lines. The transit agency says once they’ve established a ‘steady rhythm of inspections and consistently delivered eight trains for daily service,’ they will increase service on the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines to every 15 minutes” [DCist]

D.C. Woman Believed to Be New Victim of Alleged Serial Killer — “A spokesperson with the Metropolitan Police Department told WTOP that ‘shopping cart killer‘ suspect Anthony Eugene Robinson is a person of interest in the death of Sonya Champ…found by police around 11:30 a.m. Sept. 7, 2021.” [Patch]

Dulles Toll Road May Phase Out Coins — “MWAA officials say the shift to an all-electronic system will reduce emissions from vehicles idling at the toll plaza. The shift to all-electronic tolling, expected to take place in January, comes as MWAA is considering the first toll increase for Dulles Toll Road users since 2019.” [The Washington Post]

School Board Vote on Student Phone Use Tonight — “Under a proposed revision to the ‘Student Rights and Responsibilities’ handbook, cellphone use for most students would be prohibited during all classes as well as visits to the bathrooms and locker rooms…A  vote on the handbook for next year is scheduled for Thursday night.” [WTOP]

West Springfield Baseball Player Goes Viral — Eric Fila, a catcher for West Springfield High School, shook hands with the home plate umpire after his team lost to Herndon High School in the 10th inning of a June 7 game in the Virginia state tournament quarterfinals. Video of the gesture was posted on Twitter and went viral, even airing during a Phillies-Brewers broadcast. [The Washington Post]

Virtual Mental Health Services Available for Students — “Through August 5, the FCPS Office of Intervention and Prevention Services will offer virtual mental wellness consultations. Parents and students can schedule a 45-minute consultation with a school psychologist or school social worker by phone or videoconference.” [FCPS]

McLean Community Center Reschedules Fourth of July — The center’s annual Independence Day celebration will now take place at Langley High School from 6:30-10:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 2. Vienna and Fairfax City have also moved events off of July 4 due to staffing shortages at the company that conducts their fireworks shows. [MCC/Twitter]

Inside Tysons Corner Center’s Princess Diana Exhibit — “Princess Diana: Accredited Access Exhibit takes a look at Diana’s life as a royal, seen through the eyes of [royal photographer Anwar] Hussein. His work — including never-before-seen photographs of the princess — is presented next to photos taken by his sons Samir and Zak, who both work as royal photographers today.” [Washington City Paper]

It’s Thursday — Possible light rain in the morning and overnight. High of 86 and low of 71. Sunrise at 5:44 am and sunset at 8:38 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Fairfax County could ask a developer to pay $1.65 million to find a safer crossing at Wiehle Avenue in Reston (via Fairfax County)

The developer of a major mixed-use project near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station could have to pay $1.65 million to help fund a safer alternative to a pedestrian crossing at the intersection of Wiehle Avenue at the eastbound Dulles Toll Road ramps.

At a board meeting yesterday (Tuesday), Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn introduced a board matter that would require developer TF Cornerstone, the developer of Campus Commons, to pay the proffered funds to build an alternative crossing for the area.

The board deferred a vote on the matter to the board’s next meeting later this month so staff could determine whether there might be legal concerns posed by the county dabbling in the implementation of proffers for developers.

“This is very unusual,” Alcorn said. “Frankly, this is the implementation of a proffer approved before I was supervisor. It’s probably not a process I would want to do again.”

The move came after Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross expressed concerns about the county’s involvement with proffers.

“I just want to make sure that we’re within our lane here with this request,” Gross said.

Alcorn says an at-grade crossing of Wiehle Avenue should only be explored if the improvement “can be achieved through enhanced multimodal design that demonstrates acceptable operational conditions and incorporates pedestrian safety measures” that are in line with his office, the Virginia Department of Transportation, and the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.

The move comes nearly three years after the board approved TF Cornerstones’ plans for Campus Commons — a project that would transform an aging office park at 1900 and 1902 Campus Common Drive into a 1.3 million-square-foot development.

Resounding community concerns about safety at the proposed at-grade crossing prompted the formation of a study group that evaluated three proposed options for the site.

But virtually all members voted against the three options proposed by TF Cornerstones. Instead, 71% supported a crossing with an underpass — which comes with a hefty price tag — and 59% supported an enhanced at-grade pedestrian crosswalk with more multimodal improvements. The conclusion came after 15 meetings between December 2019 and August 2021.

With none of the options in the approved Campus Commons plan finding support, Alcorn’s board matter suggests that the developer instead give the county money to build an alternative that would be refined after study on the Wiehle Avenue corridor and in coordination with future designs and crossings at Wiehle.

The developer plans to build three buildings with 655 apartments, more than 520,000 square feet of office space, and a little over 28,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. A 24-story tower and two small towers are proposed.

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Route 28 by the Frying Pan Road interchange (via Google Maps)

Trips on the Dulles Toll Road could get costlier next year.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority‘s Board of Directors is considering a plan to raise tolls by an average of nearly 25% on the main toll plaza and other ramps. Overall, a trip would cost $1.25 more than this year.

Rates could rise by 75 cents at the toll plaza and 50 cents on off ramps as part of an effort to partially fund the still-incomplete extension of the Silver Line, along with the operation, maintenance and improvement of the toll road.

Rate hikes could also become more periodic, with the same increase proposed every five years beginning next year. The only except is when a flat 75 cent increase is planned at all toll plazas in 2033. That means toll users could pay up to $7.75 at the main toll plaza and $4.75 at the ramp tolls by 2048.

Users currently pay $3.25 for the mainline toll plaza and $1.50 for ramp tolls.

If approved, the increase would be the first rate jump since 2019.

Public hearings are planned on July 18 and 21 before a final vote on the plan on Nov. 16. Rates would go into effect in 2023.

MWAA is also considering a plan to eliminate coin-drop baskets and bill customers without an EZ-Pass. Those users would be billed based on license plate identification, with additional fees tacked on to cover administrative costs.

Photo via Google Maps

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