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A Capital Bikeshare station outside Tysons Corner Center (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Fairfax County might soon expand its Capital Bikeshare network beyond the Silver Line corridor.

The county’s transportation department has proposed adding 28 new stations, including seven in the Franconia District and 21 additional locations in the Providence District.

This will be the rental bicycle-sharing system’s first foray into the Franconia District, where the Fairfax County Department of Transportation plans to install four stations near the Franconia-Springfield Metro station and three near the Huntington Metro station.

FCDOT will discuss its proposal in a virtual meeting at 7 p.m. tomorrow.

The county hopes to fund the Franconia station sites with a Commuter Choice grant that it’s requesting from the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, while the Huntington sites will be covered by federal money secured by Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner.

“The opportunity to install stations near the Huntington Metrorail Station is due to the County working with our Congressional delegation to secure federal support to expand Capital Bikeshare to underserved populations in the County,” FCDOT said in a news release. “…Residents who qualify for certain state or federal assistance programs may be eligible for CaBi’s Capital Bikeshare for All equity program, which offers unlimited 60-minute rides with an annual membership of just $5.”

The department will also hold a virtual meeting this coming Monday (Dec. 5) to share an update on its plans to expand Bikeshare in the Tysons area, including to the Vienna area and West Falls Church.

There are currently 30 Bikeshare stations in Tysons and Merrifield after the recent addition of a location at Hartland Road and Harte Place.

According to FCDOT’s Bikeshare webpage, proposed new locations in Providence include:

  • Circle Woods Drive and Lee Highway
  • Gatehouse Road and Telestar Court
  • Hilltop Road & Willowmere Drive
  • Kingsbridge Drive and Draper Drive
  • Mission Square Drive
  • Mosaic District garage
  • Prosperity Flats
  • Providence Community Center
  • Vienna Metro South Entrance

“Since Fairfax County launched Capital Bikeshare in Tysons in 2016, recently completed residential and commercial developments have provided new opportunities to better serve residents and visitors by moving some existing Capital Bikeshare stations to be closer to those types of properties,” FCDOT said.

The Providence District expansion is being funded by a combination of county money and outside grants.

In addition to answering questions at the meetings, county staff will accept comments on the proposed expansions by email (bikefairfax@fairfaxcounty.gov), phone (703-877-5600) and mail (FCDOT, Capital Bikeshare Program, 4050 Legato Road, Suite 400, Fairfax, VA 22033) until 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 16.

The county also has Bikeshare stations in Reston, where a new one was installed at North Shore and Wainwright drives this fall. Two additional stations are expected at the now-open Reston Town Center Metro station.

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The Reston Town Center Metro station will open tomorrow (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

After years of anticipation and upwards of $3.1 billion in investments, phase two of the Silver Line will officially open to customers tomorrow.

Here’s a breakdown of everything you need to know about the 11.4-mile extension, which brings six new stations into Loudoun County. Notably, the extension provides a direct connection to Dulles International Airport, with its terminus in Ashburn.

The project also includes the largest rail yard in the Metro system — the Dulles Rail Yard — which is located on 90 acres of the Dulles Airport property.

Grand opening ceremonies

The first train will take off at 1:54 p.m. on the Ashburn Metro station, traveling the full 11.2-mile extension to Downtown Largo in Maryland. The deadline to snag one of 100 “Wonka-style ‘Silver Tickets'” for a preview ride at 1:15 p.m. ended last week via a social media contest.

A slew of grand opening ceremonies and celebratory events are planned throughout the day.

Dulles Airport gets its own big, invite-only ribbon-cutting. Then, at 2 p.m., the Fairfax County Department of Transportation will hold its own ceremony at the Innovation Center station.

Meanwhile, county officials will gather at the office building at 1950 Opportunity Way in Reston at 3:30 p.m. for another celebration. Attendees will get a chance to ride the new Reston Town Center shuttle and the new Fairfax Connector routes that start the next day, though service will officially launch Wednesday (Nov. 16).

Town of Herndon officials will also gather at 8 a.m. at the entrance of the Herndon Metro Station on the first full day of service — Wednesday — to celebrate the station’s opening. Newly re-elected Mayor Sheila Olem, State Senator Jennifer Boysko, and Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust are all scheduled to speak.

FCDOT is also planning a family day at the Innovation Center station from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19.

How the extension works

Trains will run up to every 10 minutes during rush hour, every 12 minutes during midday, evening and weekends, and every 15 minutes during late-night hours.

Riding from the airport to the Metro Center station in D.C. takes around 52 minutes, while riding from the farthest station in Ashburn to Union Station takes 74 minutes.

Fares are based on distance travelled and the time of day, with costs ranging between $2 to $6. One-way trips after 9:30 p.m. are just $2. Metro offers a cost estimator to plan trips online.

Payment is made via Metro’s SmarTrip card, which can also be loaded to your mobile device. A plastic SmarTrip card can be purchased at all Metrorail stations, retail locations and online.

Getting to Metro

Each Silver Line station has a kiss-and-ride drop-off location — except the airport stop. Fairfax Connector buses are also available for all the stations. Detailed routes that service each station are available online.

Local jurisdictions own all the parking facilities near the Metro Stations. Parking fees can be paid by the SmarTrip card. Commuter parking is available for all but the airport and Reston Station stops.

Stations in Reston and Herndon

The Reston Town Center Metro Station (12023-A Sunset Hills Road Reston) is the first of the six new stations and includes two entrances on both sides of the Dulles Toll Road. While there’s no hourly parking in the kiss-and-ride lot, drop-offs are available on both sides. The facility also has 40 bike racks and 22 bike lockers. Future Capital Bikeshare stations are planned. But don’t bring your car and expect to leave it there — there’s no commuter parking.

The Herndon Metro Station (585-A Herndon Parkway) is near a planned transit-oriented development that hasn’t quite kicked off yet. While that project is still in the planning phases, the stop includes parking for roughly 3,500 cars in two garages, along with an exit to the Dulles Toll Road. The facility also has 162 bike racks and 18 bike racks. Two repairs stations and a bottle-filling station are also included.

The Innovation Center Metro Station (13747-A Sunrise Valley Drive) has a parking garage on the south side of the station for 2,000 cars, but parking is reserved and multi-day parking is not allowed. The facility has 177 bike racks and 10 bike lockers. Future electric vehicle charging stations are planned.

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Proposed “Ring Road” street changes at Seven Corners (via Fairfax County)

Fairfax County has come up with a plan to improve Seven Corners and will be explaining it to residents next week.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) is holding two virtual meetings on Nov. 8 and 9 to update and ask for feedback from residents on its findings from the Seven Corners Phasing Study.

The four-phase plan will build a “Ring Road” that the county believes will improve pedestrian and bicycle safety, as well as relieve traffic congestion, in the Seven Corners area, particularly where Route 7, Arlington Blvd (Route 50), and Wilson Blvd all meet.

The first phase is to build a Ring Road on the west side of the interchange between Arlington Blvd and Route 7. The Ring Road will then be extended to the south side, and the central interchange will be reconfigured above Arlington Blvd where Route 7, Wilson Blvd, and Sleepy Hollow Road meet. The final phase will complete the Ring Road on the east side of the interchange connecting Wilson and Roosevelt Blvds.

The interchanges in and around Seven Corners are known to be confusing and dangerous. As recently as August, it was the site of a tragedy when a driver veered off the road and fatally hit a pedestrian in a nearby parking lot.

The Seven Corners study dates back a decade when a community task force first started discussing the future of the area.

The task force proposed recommendations in 2015 that were adopted into a plan amendment approved by the Board of Supervisors. At that time, FCDOT committed to a “phasing analysis” to determine how and in what order improvements were to be made.

In June 2020, FCDOT started conducting this analysis looking into “future transportation conditions; incorporated feedback received from previous rounds of outreach; and worked with various stakeholders to identify a recommended phasing approach.”

In Feb. 2021, a community meeting was held to update residents on that work and, again, in November.

Now, a year later, FCDOT is reaching back out to the public for a final round of feedback for the phasing study, which is expected to be completed by early next year.

However, there’s no set timeline yet for the project’s engineering and design phase, which is “dependent upon funding,” FCDOT spokesperson Robin Geiger told FFXnow in an email.

“The County has applied for Smart Scale funding from the Commonwealth for the first phase of the project and expects to hear early next year whether funding has been awarded,” Geiger said.

The county will also apply for federal funding as well. Once funding from local, state, and federal become available, design, utility coordination, and right-of-way acquisition will commence.

Once funding is awarded, Geiger said it should be expected that Phase 1 will take two years to construct.

The timeline for the other three phases is hard to predict at this point since they are “contingent upon the availability of funds.”

“We will continue to apply for funding progressively based on construction start for each phase,” Geiger said.

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Missing segments along Sunrise Valley Drive will be completed as part of the walkway project (via FCDOT)

Construction on a new walkway along Sunrise Valley Drive in Reston is set to begin in the winter of 2024.

At a meeting before Reston Association’s Design Review Board on Tuesday (Oct. 18), Fairfax County transportation planners said the project would provide much-needed pedestrian enhancements from Reston Parkway to Soapstone Drive.

The project will also provide a critical connection from the future Reston Town Center Metro station to adjacent neighborhoods, according to Sonia Shahnaj, a project manager for the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.

Construction of a 10-foot-wide walkway is planned, filling in missing segments along the north side of Sunrise Valley Drive.

In response to questions from DRB members on landscaping and tree preservation, Shahnaj noted that the presence of many utilities makes landscaping very challenging. FCDOT plans to remove eight trees throughout the entire project — including one that is nearly dead, she said.

“We are trying to save the existing trees, but there’s not enough buffer,” she said.

The project will add illumination on Sunrise Valley and Colts Neck Road, along with an 8-foot-wide refuge island at Indian Ridge Road, ADA curb ramps and bus stop improvements. A new bus shelter and loading pad are also planned.

Indian Ridge would get a 10-foot-wide asphalt walkway, in addition to the removal of a westbound turn lane to a driveway entrance.

A shoebox-style fixture is planned at Colts Neck Road. Crosswalks are planned at the intersection of Reston Parkway and Colts Neck, at commercial driveway entrances, and at the Sheraton Reston Hotel entrance.

DRB member Brian Cutler encouraged the county to look into installing a flashing light system for pedestrians at Indian Ridge.

“Cars are coming down that hill really fast,” Cutler said, referring to the west side of Sunrise Valley.

Shahnaj said the county explored the possibility of flashing beacon lights, but pedestrian traffic in that area does not warrant the addition, based on state guidelines.

“I’m not sure it’s warranted at this location,” she said, adding that the county is open to examining other pedestrian safety measures in that area.

Design plans will be finalized this November. Initial land acquisition is slated for the winter, with utility relocation and the beginning construction expected to begin the winter of next year.

Construction will likely be finished in the fall of 2025.

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Fairfax County is considering renaming three stations in the first phase of its Richmond Highway bus rapid transit project (via FCDOT)

Fairfax County is going back to the drawing board for the names of its proposed Richmond Highway bus rapid transit (BRT) stations.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation says it is looking for feedback on names for three stations “in response to community ideas about better ways to reflect station location and community character,” according to a news release published today (Tuesday).

The three stations being revisited are:

  • Station #2: currently named Penn Daw, located at North Kings Highway and South Kings Hwy
  • Station #5: currently named Hybla Valley, located at Boswell Avenue and Fordson Road
  • Station #6: currently named Gum Springs, located at Sherwood Hall Lane

Dubbed “The One,” the planned BRT service will ultimately consist of nine stations in the Route 1 corridor, starting at the Huntington Metro station and ending in Fort Belvoir past the Woodlawn Plantation.

To gather input on what the stations should be called, FCDOT will host an open house at the Hybla Valley Community Center (7950 Audubon Avenue) from 6:30-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 12.

An online survey will also launch that day and stay open through Nov. 4.

Not expected to begin operations until 2030, the BRT will use dedicated bus lanes built in the median of Richmond Highway after the Virginia Department of Transportation widens the roadway from four to six lanes.

This summer, the county asked the public to weigh in on design elements and artwork at the future stations. The designs will be finalized by a Richmond Highway BRT Executive Commission in late spring 2023, according to FCDOT.

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The West Falls Church Active Transportation Study area (via FCDOT)

The general public’s last chance to weigh in on Fairfax County’s ongoing study of the bicycle and pedestrian network in the West Falls Church Metro station area will come later than anticipated.

Two community meetings that had been scheduled for next week will instead be held on Oct. 26 and 27, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation announced yesterday (Thursday).

A virtual meeting has been set for 7:30-9 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26, and county staff will also host an in-person meeting in Longfellow Middle School’s cafeteria at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 27.

“The team felt like we had not given the amount of notice we had planned that we would ensure the most participation by residents and stakeholders in the community,” FCDOT told FFXnow. “This is the final round of community input and attendees will hear about the survey results on active transportation alternatives.”

Launched last December, the West Falls Church Active Transportation Study is intended to identify needed safety improvements and gaps in the bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure within a 2-mile radius around the Metro station (7040 Haycock Road).

After paving the way for over 1 million square feet of new development, the county hopes the study will result in projects that can mitigate traffic and safety concerns raised by residents, some of whom have argued that the area can’t support the anticipated growth.

Replacing parking lots with housing, office, and retail construction, the proposed West Falls Church Metro redevelopment will include a new grid of streets that EYA — one of three developers involved in the project — has said should help alleviate pressure on the existing local streets.

However, that won’t address the missing sidewalks and lack of safe street crossings that community members highlighted during an initial round of public engagement on the transportation study in February.

The feedback will be used by county staff and a 13-person advisory group to develop recommendations for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on the future of non-motorized transportation in the area.

Adjacent to the Metro station redevelopment site, construction is underway on the West Falls project in neighboring Falls Church City, and plans were submitted last week for a major buildout of Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center campus.

Map via FCDOT

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A future Richmond Highway BRT station in need of “community charm” (via Fairfax County)

Fairfax County is seeking the public’s help with adding “charm” to the upcoming Richmond Highway Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) stations.

Announced Tuesday (Aug. 2), a public survey is now open, surveying residents on what locally inspired design elements and artwork — “community charm” — should be added to each of the nine new BRT stations set to come to Richmond Highway by 2030.

“The ‘Community Charm’ initiative is focused on integrating artwork into each BRT station to reflect the history, identity, and character of the neighborhoods surrounding each station area,” the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) said in its news release. “Students from local schools [are] to design artwork for the windscreen area based on themes developed with the community.”

The county notes that over the last several years, it has asked the community for input into the station’s “potential themes.” This survey, which closes on Aug. 14, provides a final chance for thoughts prior to those themes being chosen.

Questions in the survey focus on ranking the importance of including historical, cultural, and physical landmarks in each station’s artwork.

For example, for the Penn Daw station, the survey asks residents to rank how they would prioritize the corridor’s history of roadside and historic motels, diversity and multiculturism, and physical landmarks of Hunting Creek and the Potomac River.

At the Woodlawn station, it asks to rank in order of importance the Pope-Leighey House, Woodlawn Plantation, the history of enslaved people in the community, Dogue Creek, and the Quaker community.

After the survey closes, the county’s Department of Planning and Development and History Commission will develop “narratives” for each station using the publicly-chosen themes. Starting around late fall or early winter, students will work on the designs before presenting them to the community for more feedback next spring, according to FCDOT.

After all that, a Richmond Highway BRT Executive Commission is expected to vote on the final designs in late spring 2023.

With pop-up events scheduled for next Tuesday and Wednesday (Aug. 9-10) at Gum Springs Community Center and Old Mount Vernon High School, respectively, county staff will be available to talk in person about the community charm initiative as well as the overall BRT project over the next several weeks.

Named “The One” earlier this year, the Richmond Highway BRT will consist of nine stations built along an 8-mile stretch. The stations will be constructed in two sections. It’s not expected to be completed until 2030.

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Reston’s massive Soapstone Connector project will likely cut through a historic district (via FCDOT)

A massive, half-mile road extension in Reston will likely have to cut through a historic district on Association Drive.

The Soapstone Connector would bring a new, direct link between Sunset Hills Road and Sunrise Valley Drive over the Dulles Toll Road — a critical connection that would relieve congestion on Wiehle Avenue.

As preliminary design work continues, county and state planners have revised an environmental assessment — first completed in 2017 — with updated traffic studies, summaries of previous public hearings, an impact analysis and additional documentation, according to Negin Askarzadeh, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation’s Soapstone Connector project coordinator.

The county’s transportation department held a meeting on the topic for the first time in several years last night (Monday). It was the first public meeting since 2018.

The county still favors one option of several discussed thus far: the southern terminus would be located at the intersection of Soapstone Drive and Sunrise Valley Drive, while the northern terminus would connect to Sunset Hills Road. The proposal would disrupt nine of 10 sites potentially eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

The Soapstone Connector would link Soapstone Drive to Sunset Hills Road over the Dulles Toll Road in Reston (via Fairfax County)

A new memorandum of agreement between federal, state and county stakeholders details a number of mitigation measures to limit the impact on the historic area.

Askarzadeh also said a public historical report would be prepared in order to “meaningfully convey the importance of the district” as part of Reston’s planned community.

By 2046, the existing transportation network won’t be able to accommodate projected peak hour demand for travel in the area. The average delay at Reston’s major intersections is expected to increase from 40 to 80 seconds.

A draft evaluation — known in planning jargon as a 4(f) evaluation — also states that “there is no feasible and prudent alternative to the use of land from the historic district,” according to the county. The report, completed in 2020, was recently approved for public availability.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is expected to make a decision on the preferred alternative for the project after reviewing the drafted agreement. The document also requires the approval of the Federal Highway Administration to determine that no other alternative is feasible to proceed with the project.

Once those approvals are in place, the county will coordinate with the Virginia Department of Transportation to begin designing the project.

At the meeting, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said he looks forward to the next steps in the planning process.

“This project has been a long time in the making so we’re moving forward,” Alcorn said.

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Afternoon rush-hour traffic clogs up Dolley Madison Boulevard at the Ingleside Avenue intersection in McLean (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

As Fairfax County explores ways to improve the flow of traffic on Dolley Madison Blvd., the McLean Citizens Association sees an opportunity to also address safety issues at the Ingleside Avenue intersection.

The residents’ group urged the Fairfax County Department of Transportation last week to consider installing a traffic signal there or at the adjacent Elm Street intersection as part of the county’s ongoing Dolley Madison Corridor Study.

“Installation of a traffic signal at either location would heighten safety for pedestrians and bicyclists,” MCA President Scott Spitzer wrote in a letter approved by the board of directors on Wednesday (July 6). “A signal at the Dolley Madison/Ingleside intersection would also address concerns raised by residents who are unable to turn left from Dolley Madison Boulevard onto Ingleside Avenue during rush hour traffic.”

Though they’re the size of neighborhood streets, Ingleside and Elm connect downtown McLean to the residences north of Dolley Madison (also known as Route 123) as well as the Dolley Madison Library, McLean Central Park, and McLean Community Center.

Traffic backups on Route 123 routinely block Ingleside in particular, making it “almost impossible” for drivers to turn into or out of the street, one MCA board member said during last week’s meeting.

“I certainly have had experience trying to take a left on Ingleside and having to wait minutes because nobody will let you in,” Glenn Harris, who chairs MCA’s transportation committee, said.

If a traffic light isn’t possible, given the proximity of Old Dominion Drive, MCA says it would support a flashing pedestrian beacon and “enhanced crosswalks” at either the Ingleside or Elm intersection.

There are currently striped crosswalks across Dolley Madison on the east sides of both intersections, but Elm Street has no sidewalks, and Ingleside only has a sidewalk on the west side.

For drivers on Ingleside, even a right turn onto Dolley Madison can be tricky, thanks to trees that block their sightlines, an MCA board member noted.

A crash that killed a bicyclist on Dec. 29 “supports the view that there are safety issues at the intersection,” Harris said. Read More

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To ease Dolley Madison Blvd. traffic in McLean, Fairfax County has proposed some changes to the Great Falls Street and Chain Bridge Road intersection (via Google Maps)

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation is gradually whittling down its options for addressing traffic congestion on Dolley Madison Blvd. in McLean.

An online survey released on Friday (June 24) asks community members to share their thoughts on five proposals for improving the corridor, which is also known as Route 123.

Most of the concepts were introduced at community meetings on the study held in 2019 and this past May, but the survey also includes a new concept that involves changes to the Great Falls Street and Chain Bridge Road intersection.

According to the project page, the new concept proposes restriping northbound Great Falls as it approaches Chain Bridge to eliminate an existing left-turn lane in favor of two through lanes and one right-turn lane.

In addition, the intersection’s signal would be modified to coordinate traffic with Dolley Madison and “operate right-turn overlaps in the northbound and westbound directions,” the graphic says.

FCDOT is looking for input on four other concepts as well:

  • Concept 3: Restricted left turns from Balls Hill Road to Lewinsville Road, which the county says would address conflicts and spacing issues at the Balls Hill/Lewinsville and Dolley Madison/Lewinsville intersections
  • Concept 4: Restricted left turns from Dolley Madison to Old Dominion Drive, which would remove the bottleneck and make eastbound traffic through the corridor more efficient
  • Concept 7: An “option” lane from westbound Dolley Madison that at the split to Tysons and the Dulles Toll Road
  • Concept 8: Extend westbound Dolley Madison’s far-right through lane approaching the Lewinsville/Great Falls intersection

Concepts 7 and 8 were developed as substitutes for concept 6, a proposal to add three westbound lanes on Dolley Madison that encountered opposition from residents when it was raised in 2019.

FCDOT says it decided to introduce a survey “to help focus feedback” on its study of the Dolley Madison corridor.

“Between the two community meetings in 2019 and earlier this year, there have been different improvement concepts developed for the Dolley Madison Corridor Study,” the department told FFXnow by email. “FCDOT wanted to put together a survey that presented all the concepts in one place for ease in commenting, which also will help the project team form a decision moving forward.”

Responses to the survey will be accepted through July 10.

Photo via Google Maps

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