Neighbors are frustrated by a lack of safety improvements in recent years in Oakton’s Blake Lane corridor, where a driver struck three pedestrians, killing two, earlier this month.
At a virtual community meeting last night (June 23), many people who live on and close to Blake Lane expressed anger at state and county officials for what they describe as inaction despite extensive advocacy efforts. One resident said they’ve been asking for improvements since one particularly bad crash 20 years ago.
“There’s a lot of anger and frustration in our community right now,” said one neighbor. “…There’s anger that we’ve been warning VDOT for years how dangerous this road is, and we’ve gotten a lot of signs but don’t feel like we’ve made much progress other than that. If we don’t address this, more people are going to die. I’m sure of it.”
Hosted by Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik, the meeting saw police, transportation, and schools representatives discuss potential solutions to help make Blake Lane safer near several schools, including Oakton High and Mosaic Elementary.
Vehicle speed, lack of safe pedestrian crossing areas, and educating young drivers are the big concerns that local agencies and residents hope to address.
The 18-year-old driver involved in the fatal June 7 crash was charged with involuntary manslaughter Tuesday (June 21). Police revealed that he was driving 81 miles per hour in a 35-mile-an-hour zone.
There have been 114 crashes on Blake Lane since 2017, according to data presented by the Fairfax County Police Department. Six of them involved pedestrians, and two crashes involved bicyclists. While 31 resulted in injuries, the June 7 crash is the only one that has been fatal.
Just over a quarter — 31 crashes — involved a “young driver,” between the ages of 15 and 20 years old.
Where Blake Lane intersects with Five Oaks Road, where the June 7 crash occurred, there have been 12 total crashes since 2017, including two involving pedestrians and four involving a young driver.
The county and state officials proposed potential measures but cautioned that many permanent changes are subject to reviews, audits and studies. Read More
Fairfax County is considering the addition of photo speed cameras in school crossing and highway work zones.
The Fairfax County Police Department has been working on the initiative, and a plan will be finalized before it is presented to the Board of Supervisors in a report, Deputy County Executive for Safety and Security Tom Arnold previously told FFXnow.
Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik hopes to get Oakton High School into a pilot for the speed cameras, she told FFXnow. Two Oakton High students recently died after a driver struck them and another student walking on the sidewalk of Blake Lane, a corridor where the community has had growing safety concerns.
Police say the 18-year-old driver of the car was speeding on Blake Lane before crashing into an SUV and then striking the three students.
Nearby cities and counties have added the safety devices in the last few years since a state law passed in 2020 enabling jurisdictions to install speed cameras in school and construction zones. Arlington County passed its own law allowing the devices in January, and the City of Fairfax added cameras around schools last year.
The state law dictates that local governments can impose a civil penalty if a vehicle is traveling 10 mph or more above the posted speed limit. The penalty can’t exceed $100, state law outlines.
County and state officials will hold a community meeting tonight (Thursday) on possible safety improvements in the Blake Lane corridor. The meeting will take place on Zoom with Palchik livestreaming it on her Facebook page.
The county and state have discussed improvements in the past, such as the recent implementation of an additional $200 fine for speed limit violations on Blake Lane between Jermantown Road and Sutton Road.
How do you feel about adding speed cameras in school and construction zones in the county?
County Police and Fire Training Exercise Today — “#FCFRD is conducting a joint training exercise with Fairfax County Police Department at Fairfax County Government Government Center on Wednesday, June 22, between 9 a.m. -3 p.m. There will be a large fire and police presence in the area during this time. #FCPD Helicopter Fairfax 1 will land/take off during the exercise.” [FCFRD/Facebook]
Rep. Beyer Wins Democratic Primary — Rep. Don Beyer’s bid for reelection remains alive after he won the Democratic nomination for the 8th Congressional District yesterday (Tuesday). Per the Office of Elections, Fairfax County’s turnout reached an estimated 2.5%, as of 3:30 p.m., not including early and absentee voters. [WTOP, Twitter]
Health Aide Under Investigation for Stealing Student Meds — Fairfax County police are investigating a health aide who allegedly took student medications and replaced them with allergy medicine while employed at Greenbriar East Elementary School. The Fairfax County Health Department worker has been placed on administrative leave and could be terminated. [FOX5]
New FCPS Cell Phone Policy Approved — “The policy taking effect in the 2022-2023 school year says students in kindergarten through eighth grade must silence cell phones and put them away for the entire school day. Students in grades nine to 12 must only silence and put away cell phones during classes.” [Patch]
Reduced Charges Possible for Former Freedom Hill ES Workers — “A former teacher and teacher’s aide in Fairfax County, Virginia, accused of abusing non-verbal disabled children entered plea agreements on [June 13] that would result in reduced charges and no jail time.” [NBC4]
Alexandria Man Charged in Springfield Shooting — A 24-year-old Alexandria man got into an argument with the acquaintance in the 2600 block of Redcoat Drive on Sunday (June 19) night around 11 p.m. inside an apartment before police say he shot the person in the upper body and fled. Fairfax County police told FFXnow the victim was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Officers located the suspect, who they identified of Antwan Pratt, and arrested him nearby, charging him with aggravated malicious wounding and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
Kingstowne House Fire Started by Rags — Two people were displaced on Friday (June 17) by a house fire in the 7800 block of Kincardine Court that caused approximately $90,000 in damages. Investigators determined the blaze started in a first-floor laundry/utility room due to “the improper disposal of rags used for staining wood.” [FCFRD]
Retired Police Dog Dies — “We’re saddened to announce the passing of retired K9 Comak on Saturday. Comak served the Fairfax County community as a patrol dog from 2010 until he retired in 2019. Upon completion of his service, Comak was a beloved member of his handler’s family.” [FCPD/Facebook]
Shared-Use Path Proposed in Centreville — “The Virginia Department of Transportation will hold a virtual design public hearing Monday, June 27 on plans to build a shared-use path along Compton Road (Route 658) to improve bicyclist and pedestrian safety, accessibility and connectivity to the Cub Run Trail system…The project also includes widening the Compton Road bridge over Cub Run to accommodate the new shared-use path.” [VDOT]
McLean HS Runner Wins State Title — “By finishing first in the girls 1,600-meter race in 4:54.92, McLean High School distance runner Thais Rolly was the lone local winner from schools in the Sun Gazette’s coverage area at the recent Virginia High School League’s Class 6 girls and boys outdoor state championship meets.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]
It’s Wednesday — Rain in the evening and overnight. High of 85 and low of 70. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]
Man Fatally Shot in Hybla Valley — “Officers were called at 8:12 p.m. to the 8000 block of Seaton Street for a man who had been shot while sitting inside a vehicle. Officers found Darren Davis, 19, of Alexandria, inside a white Dodge Challenger suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Davis was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.” [FCPD]
Bomb Threats Made Against Schools — “Police are investigating multiple bomb threats against Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) over a span of six days.On Saturday, June 11, the Fairfax County Police department was notified by an FCPS IT employee that they had found multiple email threats sent to schools throughout Fairfax County. According to FCPD, even some faculty members were named in the email threats.” [WUSA9]
Unit Dedicated to Encouraging Fathers — “Using curriculum from the National Fatherhood Initiative and with help form Engagement Specialist Mercedes Alonso and Parent Support Specialist Michael Schut, Herron works with the unit to redirect fathers towards a healthy and engaged relationship with their children.” [Fairfax County Times]
Leaders Pledge to Curb Carbon Emissions — “Leaders from around the D.C. area voted Wednesday to adopt aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals for the transportation sector, pledging to cut carbon emissions by 50% by 2030. Reaching that goal would require building more housing in walkable, transit-friendly areas, disincentivizing driving in favor of walking, biking and public transportation, and the rapid adoption of electric vehicles.” [DCist]
School Board Bans Guns in Non-Instructional Facilities — “Last night, the Fairfax County School Board unanimously approved a new policy affirming that all FCPS school zones are gun-free and deeming as gun-free any non-school zone building or property that the School Board owns or leases, which includes facilities like the Gatehouse Administration Center.” [Fairfax County School Board member Karl Frisch]
It’s Monday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 75 and low of 57. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]
FFXnow Observes Juneteenth Today— FFXnow will not be publishing today except for breaking news.
Fairfax County is expanding its student Metrobus pass program to four new schools in the fall, letting more students ride the bus for free.
Starting in September, students at Annandale High School, Falls Church High School, Marshall High School, and Davis Center will be able to get a pass that allows them to ride Fairfax Connector, the City of Fairfax CUE, and the Metrobus for free.
The bus pass can only be used on certain routes in Northern Virginia and in between the hours of 5 a.m. and 10 p.m.
The county launched a program in 2015 letting all Fairfax County Public School students ride Fairfax Connector at no cost. A year later, the City of Fairfax CUE was added to that program. In 2018, a pilot program was approved allowing students at Justice High School to also ride certain Metrobus routes for free.
The program is intended to give students more independence as they go to and from school, participate in after-school activities, and work jobs.
The Metrobus pilot is now ramping up with a memorandum of understanding going before the Board of Supervisors later this month. The county is also working to hire a new coordinator to oversee the program and order new cards to distribute to students.
A launch event will be held at Marshall High School in September.
Since the program began more than seven years ago, students have taken over 2 million trips on local buses, according to data presented by staff at the board’s transportation committee meeting on Tuesday (June 14).
Since April of this year, students have made up nearly 8% of all Fairfax Connector ridership.
“Students are proving to be some of our most loyal customer base,” Kala Quintana, Fairfax Connector’s head of marketing, said.
For the Metrobus pilot program, the county noted that about half of Justice students had and were actively using the specially-designed Smartrip card.
The county hopes that, by the end of the 2022-2023 school year, 8,500 students from 30 high schools, 23 middle schools, and nine centers for students with different needs and abilities will be using the bus pass.
When the program launches at the four new schools later this year, a form will be available on the FCPS website that students’ parents can sign and turn into the school so their kid can get a bus pass.
While members were okay with the process for the foreseeable future, Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said he would eventually like to see students’ identification, bus pass, library card, and other services all consolidated on one card.
The board also discussed doing more outreach to students who don’t attend FCPS, like those who are homeschooled and attend private institutions.
“The fact that we had this Covid break and kids weren’t even going to school and we have these kinds of ridership numbers…and demand is a proven testament to the vision we had for this at the very beginning,” McKay said. “It’s a program that all of our kids in FCPS, middle and high schoolers, can take advantage of.”
County Seeks Feedback on Covid Response — While the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over, Fairfax County is starting to evaluate how it handled the crisis. The county government is conducting two surveys — one for the community and one for businesses — to gather feedback on people’s experiences. The surveys are available online and at county libraries until July 5. [Fairfax County Government]
Fairfax City Community to Weigh in on Street Renamings — “Fairfax City Council is hosting a public hearing at its regular meeting Tuesday night to solicit feedback on a proposal to rename 14 streets in the city whose current names are associated with the confederacy, slavery or the ‘Lost Cause.'” [Patch]
Trash Pile Fire Extinguished in Lorton — “Units are on scene of a large outside trash pile fire in the 9800 block of Furnace Road, Lorton. The fire is contained but crews are working to fully extinguish it.” [FCFRD/Twitter]
Learn the History of Juneteenth — Author and University of Maryland history professor Dr. Richard Bell will discuss the history and significance of Juneteenth, the holiday commemorating the abolition of slavery in the U.S. As of last night (Monday), there are still openings for the hour-long, virtual presentation, which will start at 6:30 p.m. and requires advance registration. [FCPL]
Lincolnia Fire Started by Unattended Cooking — A townhouse fire in the 4500 block of Southland Avenue on Friday (June 10) displaced five people and caused approximately $77,747 in damages. Investigators determined that the fire was started accidentally by “unattended food cooking on the stove” in the kitchen. [FCFRD]
Vienna Eases Rules for Roofs Over Decks — “The Vienna Town Council voted tonight to amend the zoning ordinance to enable homeowners to upgrade their outdoor living space by putting a roof over up to 400 square feet of a deck under certain conditions. For more details, visit http://viennava.gov/zoning.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]
County Urges Vigilance for Signs of Child Abuse — “Fairfax County is asking community members to be on the lookout for possible signs of abuse and neglect, now that kids are out of class…Twana Johnson, assistant program manager, child abuse & neglect prevention services at the Department of Family Services, says as child supervision declines during summer months, so do calls to the hotline.” [WDVM]
FCPS Program Teaches Kids How to Ride Bicycles — “33 schools participate in the program, including both elementary schools — which typically have 30 bikes and 40 helmets on hand at a given time. [Safe Routes to Schools coordinator Sally] Smallwood estimates 10% to 20% of FCPS students in grades three to eight do not know how to ride a bike.” [ABC7]
It’s Tuesday — Rain in the morning. High of 83 and low of 72. Sunrise at 5:44 am and sunset at 8:37 pm. [Weather.gov]
Criminal Case for Bijan Ghaisar Shooting Ends — The Justice Department won’t reopen a federal investigation into two U.S. Park Police officers who fatally shot McLean resident Bijan Ghaisar in 2017. Ghaisar’s family called the decision “a betrayal,” but it will allow their civil lawsuit that has been pending since October 2020 to move forward. [WTOP, The Washington Post]
Police Look for Man Reported Missing — “53YO Juan Ward last seen at 12:47pm on May 25 in 12500 blk of Dillingham Sq. in Woodbridge. 5’11”, 185lbs, black/grey hair, brown eyes, wearing a long-sleeve grey sweatshirt. Missing under unusual circumstances. Call 703-691-2131 w/info.” [FCPD/Twitter]
Two Rescued from Vehicle Crash on I-95 — “Approximately 3 a.m. [Saturday], units were on scene of a one vehicle crash, I-95 NB prior to Telegraph Rd. Rescue Squads 426 and 411 extricated two patients who were heavily entrapped in a pick up truck. Fire Department, City of Alexandria, VA assisted. Transported w/ non-life-threatening injuries.” [FCFRD/Facebook]
Seven Displaced by Annandale House Fire — “At 3:09 a.m., units dispatched for a house fire in the 3900 block of Terrance Drive, Annadale. Units arrived with fire showing. Multiple occupants were removed or assisted from the home by #FCFRD. No reported injuries. 7 displaced.” [FCFRD/Twitter]
FCPD Continues Oakton Crash Site Investigation — “On Thursday morning, Fairfax County Police returned to the scene of a deadly crash involving seven Oakton High students. They said they came back to do more investigating to make sure they give the commonwealth’s attorney the evidence he needs to decide on charges.” [ABC7]
Armed Robbery Reported in Tysons — “1700 block of Tysons Central Street, 6/8/22, 2:44 a.m. Four men approached the victim when he exited his taxi. Two men displayed firearms, took property, and fled the area in a vehicle.” [FCPD]
Annandale School Starts Principal Search — “Annandale Terrace parents will soon have an opportunity to participate in the selection process for a new principal. The current principal, Lisa Pilson, will start a new job July 1 as director of early childhood curriculum and grants management with Fairfax County Public Schools.” [Annandale Today]
Lifeguard Shortage Not an Issue in Reston — As of Wednesday (June 8), Reston Assocation has managed to hire 186 lifeguards for its swimming pools, a number it didn’t meet last year until September. While many pools across the country have struggled to find staff, RA says it retained 71% of lifeguards from last year and will continue hiring through the season to prepare for next year. [Patch]
It’s Monday — Humid and partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 85 and low of 72. Sunrise at 5:44 am and sunset at 8:37 pm. [Weather.gov]
Annandale Subway Vandalized — “A rowdy group of youths vandalized the Subway on Heritage Drive in Annandale at about 10:15 a.m. this morning [Thursday]…It will cost $2,000 or $3,000 to fix the window, [owner Emil] Ranakusuma says. He plans to file an insurance claim.” [Annandale Today]
General Assembly Dumps Football Stadium Bill — “The state legislator who has led the charge to lure the Washington Commanders to Virginia gave up the fight Thursday…State Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said comments that Commanders defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio made this week about the Jan. 6 insurrection were the last straw for the stadium bill.” [The Washington Post]
Tysons Financial Company to Expand HQ — “Nodal Exchange, a Fairfax County-based derivatives exchange providing price, credit, and liquidity risk management solutions to participants in the North American commodities markets, will increase capacity at its headquarters located at 1921 Gallows Road in Tysons. The expansion will create 37 new jobs.” [Fairfax County EDA]
I-66 West Ramp to Close — “The ramp from I-66 West to Vienna/Fairfax/GMU Metrorail Station (Country Creek Road and Virginia Center Boulevard) is scheduled to close for about three weeks beginning on or about Monday, June 13, for continued construction of the new westbound I-66 express and general-purpose lanes…Drivers will be detoured around the closure via Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road) and I-66 East.” [VDOT]
Flooring Store Opens in Tysons — “Floor & Décor, an Atlanta-based retailer of hard-surface flooring, has…signed a 10-year, 11,327-square-foot lease at the Tysons Corner Retail Plaza, a three-building, 22,000-square-foot retail center, and has already opened for business.” [Commercial Observer]
Vienna Approves Covid Relief Funds for Police Cameras — “The Vienna Town Council on June 6 unanimously approved the spending of $128,600 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to replace and upgrade in-car video systems for Vienna Police Department patrol vehicles.” [Sun Gazette]
Friends of Reston Library Officially Makes Donation — “We love our library branches in Fairfax County, but Reston is especially dedicated to the Reston Regional Library! I was honored to join in the celebration last night (6/9) of the Friends of Reston Regional Library donating $200,000 to the library for its book collection.” [Supervisor Walter Alcorn/Facebook]
FCPS Appoints New Ombudsman — Fairfax County Public Schools has named Dawn Clements as its next ombudsman, effective July 1. Currently the assistant ombudsman for special education, Clements will lead the office responsible for addressing student, family, and community questions and complaints. [FCPS]
It’s Friday — Possible drizzle overnight. High of 77 and low of 60. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:35 pm. [Weather.gov]
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]
Fairfax County Rescue Dog Dies — “We regret to announce the passing of #canine Phayu after a long illness. An 8-year veteran, he deployed worldwide including to quakes in Haiti & Nepal, and hurricanes in the Bahamas & USA. We thank Phayu for his service and extend condolences to his family and our #K9 section.” [Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue Team/Twitter]
County Firefighters Deliver Free Shoes to Kids — “The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department along with Firefighters and Friends to the Rescue on Thursday gave away more than 300 pairs of new shoes to children and families in need. The giveaways were held at Gum Springs and Lee District community centers in Alexandria.” [ABC7]
Route 28 Lanes Closed for Skewed Sign — A Route 28 sign for the Willard Road exit in Chantilly got knocked out of place during the morning rush hour yesterday (Thursday). Crews had to block off two southbound lanes for almost five hours while they addressed the situation, which required a removal of the sign pole. [VDOT/Twitter]
Free School Meals to End This Fall — “For the past two years, the federal government has provided no-cost meals to all public school students without the need to complete the annual Free and Reduced-Price Meal application. The extension of the no-cost meals benefit to all students is expected to expire at the end of this school year, meaning families must submit an application and be approved to be eligible for free and reduced price meals for the 2022-23 school year.” [FCPS]
McLean Rec Center to Close Tomorrow — “Spring Hill Rec Center will close June 4 through 7 to address electrical maintenance issues. This project was planned for August but has been moved up to ensure continuous site operation and safety.” [Supervisor John Foust/Twitter]
Herndon Man Charged With Assault — A 43-year-old man faces aggravated assault and burglary charges after Herndon police say he allegedly “entered a home in the 600 block of Center Street without permission on May 23 and assaulted one of it occupants.” The man is currently being held without bond at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center. [Patch]
Asian Fusion Eatery Joins Tysons Biergarten — “RollBär, an Asian fusion restaurant, opens TODAY at @shipgarten! Shipgarten, a new pop-up located at the future site of Scotts Run’s ‘Taylor’ block, launched last Thursday with the reopening of #TysonsBiergarten.” [Tysons Partnership/Twitter]
The St. James Plans Maryland Expansion — After unveiling a performance club at Reston Town Center in April, the Springfield-based sports complex announced yesterday (Thursday) that it will bring a similar facility to downtown Bethesda this winter. The new club will be smaller than The St. James’ flagship site, which is the largest athletic facility in the region, but it will include a Vim & Victor Café. [Washingtonian]
Charcoal Chicken Restaurant Coming to West Falls Church — “Super Pollo Charcoal Chicken is moving into the spot vacated by DC Steakholders at 6641 Arlington Blvd…Juan Carlos Hernandez, manager of the Barcroft Plaza Super Pollo expects the new place will open in two to three months.” [Annandale Today]
It’s Friday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 75 and low of 63. Sunrise at 5:46 am and sunset at 8:31 pm. [Weather.gov]