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Morning Notes

Sunrise Senior Living is under construction at 1515 Chain Bridge Road in McLean (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

County Officials React to Oakton Crash — Multiple Fairfax County elected officials expressed devastation at news that two Oakton High School students have died after a vehicle crash in Oakton yesterday (Tuesday). Crisis support services are available for students, according to school board members. [Twitter]

Fire Reported at Prosperity Flats Apartments — “Fire sprinklers extinguished a fire Tuesday night at a high-rise apartment building in Dunn Loring, according to a 6:58 p.m. post on the Fairfax Fire & Rescue Department’s official Twitter account. Fire units were called earlier to the apartment building in the 2700 block of Dorr Avenue after eighth floor residents reported seeing smoke.” [Patch]

Fairfax County Marks Pride Month — “Today, the Board of Supervisors proclaimed June 2022 as LGBTQ+ Pride Month. We urge all county residents, employees and elected officials to celebrate our LGBTQ+ community, and to stand up, speak out and show support for those who face prejudice and discrimination.” [Fairfax County Government/Twitter]

Police Set Up Car Parts Theft Task Force — “The Fairfax County Police Department has created a Catalytic Converter Task Force to investigate the theft of the converters and any organized regional rings behind the increase in thefts…From January to April this year, 333 catalytic converters were stolen in Fairfax County, compared with just 27 similar thefts over the same period in 2021.” [Patch]

Major Broadband Investment Announced in Springfield — Virginia will receive $219.8 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to expand broadband access, Sen. Mark Warner announced yesterday at Northern Virginia Community College’s Springfield campus. The American Rescue Plan Act funds will be allocated to local governments through grants and could improve access in an estimated 76,873 locations. [Mark Warner]

New FCPS Budget Supports Virtual Mental Health Services — “As part of the $3.3 billion budget, school board officials allocated $500,000 for telehealth mental health services for students. The Virginia county is still in the early stages of identifying a vendor for the services, but county officials said program possibilities include access to physical and behavioral health providers and mobile services that would allow students to use their devices for symptom management or tracking.” [WTOP]

Fairfax City Moves Back Fourth of July Celebration — The City of Fairfax will hold its Independence Day Evening Show on July 5 at Fairfax High School due to a shortage of licensed pyrotechnicians. The city says its fireworks vendor has canceled more than two dozen contracts, an issue that has also affected the Town of Vienna. [Fairfax City]

New Urgent Care Clinic Opens in Lorton — Anderson Orthopaedic Clinic has opened a new weekend urgent care clinic in its Lorton office (10716 Richmond Highway, Suite 101) to help patients with acute bone and joint injuries. The clinic, which has also has offices in Fairfax, Arlington, and at Mount Vernon Hospital, accepts both walk-in patients and appointments. [M2 Orthopedics]

It’s Wednesday — Rain in the evening and overnight. High of 82 and low of 69. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:34 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Wolf Trap Road off of Gallows ends at a bicycle route (via Google Maps)

A pair of streets linking Vienna and Dunn Loring could be altered to make room for bicycle lanes as part of an annual paving and restriping program.

The Fairfax County and Virginia transportation departments have proposed narrowing the travel and parking lanes on Cottage Street and Wolf Trap Road so bicycle lanes can be added “where possible.”

The focus of the Cottage Street project would be 1.1-mile stretch between Gallows Road and Cedar Lane. On Wolf Trap, the bicycle lanes could be added from Gallows to where the road dead-ends and turns into a bicycle path through Heritage Resource Park.

“Existing legal on-street parking will be maintained,” the Fairfax County Department of Transportation says of both proposed projects.

FCDOT and the Virginia Department of Transportation are also planning to upgrade crosswalks at five intersections in Providence District, four in the Dunn Loring area and one in Oakton:

The county and state collaborate on repaving and restriping efforts annually as part of VDOT’s regular street maintenance duties. This year’s work will begin sometime in April and continue until November.

Here’s more from FCDOT on what to expect:

Residents can expect work vehicles in their neighborhood during the project. Motorists are asked to be alert to temporary traffic patterns. Cars, basketball hoops or garbage cans may need to be temporarily relocated while work is under way. Work hours are usually limited to outside of rush hours. Crews typically work on neighborhood streets weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. On other roads such as interstates and some primaries, work may occur overnight.

A virtual public meeting on the proposed Providence District projects will be held at 7 p.m. next Monday (April 18).

VDOT has a statewide paving map with information on specific roads that will be updated weekly throughout the season.

Photo via Google Maps

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The Dunn Loring Administrative Center is expected to be converted back to its original purpose as an elementary school (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Fairfax County Public Schools is moving forward with plans to convert the Dunn Loring Administration Center into an elementary school, despite questions from some school board and community members about the project’s urgency.

The Fairfax County School Board voted 10-0 with two abstentions on March 10 to let staff re-negotiate an existing architecture and engineering contract with the firm Samaha Associates, initiating a planning process that typically takes about two years, according to FCPS Executive Director for Facilities and Transportation Services Jessica Gillis.

The vote also authorized staff to use $2 million from a 2019 schools bond that had been designated for an Oakton-area elementary school until the community objected to the use of Blake Lane Park as a site.

Led by Providence District Representative Karl Frisch, the school board agreed in January 2021 to reallocate the $36.8 million for that project to repurpose the Dunn Loring Center, which currently hosts special education services and programs for parents.

While Dunn Loring Elementary School will serve a different area than the Blake Lane site would have, FCPS staff say it will provide needed capacity relief as the system braces for an expected influx of students from new development in Tysons and Merrifield.

“This is the long game for us, to ensure that we have enough space within this region as we anticipate enrollment growth in this particular Tysons area,” FCPS Chief Operating Officer Marty Smith said.

Though the school board supported the repurposing again on Feb. 10 by including it in a new capital improvement program, some members expressed reservations at last week’s meeting after receiving a letter from the McLean Citizens Association that questioned its prioritization over other projects in areas that face more immediate crowding challenges.

Citing enrollment forecasts in the new CIP, the MCA Board of Directors noted that the five elementary schools in the Marshall High School pyramid, where the Dunn Loring school will be located, are all currently between 72 and 99% capacity, and their student populations are projected to decline over the next five years. Read More

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It took approximately half an hour for the police motorcade escorting the body of Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss to travel the 20-mile stretch of I-66 from Gainesville to the I-495 interchange in Merrifield.

Along the way, the procession encountered dozens of Fairfax County police officers, firefighters, and residents who gathered on and under overpasses yesterday (Friday) afternoon to honor Knauss, one of 13 American servicemembers killed in the Aug. 26 bombing at Kabul’s airport during the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.

A Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient, the 23-year-old Knauss grew up in Corryton, Tennessee, a village about 20 miles northeast of Knoxville, and joined the Army right out of high school. He was on his second deployment to Afghanistan after previously serving there for nine months, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Killing at least 170 Afghan civilians, the attack on Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport occurred in the midst of a frenzied effort to evacuate thousands of people seeking to leave the country ahead of the U.S. military’s Aug. 30 departure deadline as the Taliban took control.

The Fairfax County Police Department announced Thursday morning that a funeral procession for Knauss would pass through the county after 3 p.m., advising community members to go to an overpass along the route from I-66 East to I-495 South if they wanted to pay their respects.

Accompanied by several police cruisers and motorcycles, the hearse entered from Prince William County around 3:20 p.m. and traveled east through Fairfax before turning south in the Merrifield area. Upon reaching Springfield, the procession took I-395 North on its way to Arlington National Cemetery.

The motorcade was expected to be overseen by a pair of helicopters, but they were apparently shelved as a late afternoon downpour significantly reduced visibility.

About a dozen people from different backgrounds assembled along the Gallows Road overpass by the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station, undeterred by the rain that drenched the area around 3:45 p.m., just as the motorcade passed.

For Oakton resident Dennis Greza, the decision to watch the procession came from a personal place, spurred by seeing his brother serve in the Air Force. He said he wanted to pay respect to Knauss for making the “ultimate sacrifice.”

The service members killed in the Kabul airport bombing included 11 Marines and one member of the Navy, along with Knauss as the only Army casualty.

Elsewhere along I-66, Fairfax County police officers stood at attention, and American flags hoisted by fire engines greeted the funeral procession.

In a news release sent out at 4:16 p.m., Virginia Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner announced that they will cosponsor a bipartisan bill to award all 13 servicemembers a posthumous Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the legislature.

“We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the 13 servicemembers who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the last days of the war in Afghanistan,” Warner and Kaine said in a joint statement. “We must never forget their bravery. Honoring them with the Congressional Gold Medal is one way to remember their heroic service to our nation.”

Jay Westcott contributed to this report.

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