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The proposed location of a new Capital Bikeshare station on Fort Drive in Huntington (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

Fairfax County is adding seven Capital Bikeshare electric bicycle stations in the Franconia District, splitting them between the Franconia/Springfield Metro station and the Huntington transit station area.

Last week, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) held a public meeting where it laid out its plan for the expansion of the Capital Bikeshare program in the Franconia District.

The goal is to add seven stations in the Franconia District and one at the Huntington Metro south entrance that would technically be in the Mount Vernon District. The stations are scheduled to be installed starting next year and into 2024.

“When you need to get from Point A to Point B with more than two feet but less than four wheels, borrowing a bicycle in might be your answer,” the Fairfax County Department of Transportation said on its website.

All the stations would have e-bikes, as opposed to classic bicycles, due to demand. While currently only 6% of its Capital Bikeshare fleet are e-bikes, they make up 15% of total trips, according to FCDOT. E-bikes can also be locked to any public bicycle rack.

The proposed locations of the stations include four near the Franconia-Springfield Metro station and three in and around the Jefferson Manor neighborhood.

The suggested station locations are:

  • Fairhaven Avenue & Monticello Road
  • N Kings Highway & Fort Drive
  • Poag Street & S Kings Highway
  • Franconia/Springfield Metrorail North
  • Seatrend Way & Andrew Matthew Terrace
  • Charles Arrington Drive & Manchester Lakes Drive
  • Metro Park Drive & Walker Lane

These exact locations are not set in stone, however.

“All locations are subject to input from the community and our elected officials and could change as a result,” FCDOT spokesperson Robin Geiger told FFXnow.

Each station is slated to cost about $55,000. That includes the station itself, installation, and six e-bikes. The county plans to acquire its own e-bikes to ensure “future e-bike service after contractor-provided e-bikes begin phasing out in August 2023,” according to staff.

E-bikes are significantly more expensive than classic bikes, but rider fees and grants will cover operating costs.

A Northern Virginia Transportation Commission grant will pay for the four stations at the Metro, while a federal grant for underserved communities will finance the other three stations.

Fairfax Country currently has more than 50 Capital Bikeshare stations but is working on doubling that. Beyond the seven coming to the Franconia District, 21 additional locations are being added in the Providence District as well.

Over the past year, Reston has also gotten an additional 19 stations.

Residents can weigh in with input and comments about the Capital Bikeshare plan and proposed locations in the Franconia District through Dec. 16.

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Franconia sign (via Fairfax County)

General Robert E. Lee has suffered another defeat in Virginia — the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has voted to rename the Lee District to the Franconia District.

The board unanimously approved changing the county code to reflect the new name on Tuesday (Dec. 6), formalizing a change that it had already supported in June.

The name change is the latest in a series of efforts to disentangle localities from names honoring Confederate leaders, though Fairfax County’s release noted that there is no conclusive historical evidence that the district was named for Robert E. Lee.

Still, the release said the general perception is that the name honors Lee. Name changes for that district and Sully District were recommended in March by the county’s Redistricting Advisory Committee.

While other officers like John Mosby have also been brought up for discussion, Lee has been an easy and iconic target for renaming. In 2019, Arlington renamed its Washington-Lee High School to Washington-Liberty, and Fairfax County Public Schools renamed Robert E. Lee High School for Rep. John Lewis in 2020.

Supervisor Rodney Lusk helped launch the renaming initiative last March and said it’s been an issue on his mind for years:

Back when I was a candidate, I heard from many in the community about their desire to have conversations about [the name]. For me, as an African American and a proud resident of this district for the past 22 years; whose lived my life, raised my two African American daughters under the signage of the Robert E. Lee Recreation Center, under the signage of Robert E. Lee High School, it’s been a conversation I’ve carried in my heart for many years, and I know that’s true for many others in our community… As we turn the page and continue to write the history of our community; we’re not erasing history, we’re making it.

Staff said much of the groundwork required for the name change has already been laid out. The last changes will be updates to the county’s GIS mapping and election precincts, which will all be completed this spring.

“Residents deserve a community that better reflects them,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said. “We can’t go back and change history, but we absolutely have a right to decide what it is in history we want to celebrate and what it is in history we want to learn from and do better.”

The county release said the renaming will also include:

  • Lee District Rec Center, which is now known as the Franconia Rec Center
  • Lee District Park is now called Franconia Park
  • Lee High Park is now Lewis High Park
  • Lee Residential Permit Parking District is now the Lewis Parking District
  • Lee Community Parking District is now renamed the Franconia Parking District

The day after the Board of Supervisors vote, the Fairfax County Park Authority announced that its board had unanimously approved renaming three of its facilities:

  • Lee High Park to Lewis High Park
  • Lee District Rec Center to Franconia Rec Center
  • Lee District Park to Franconia Park
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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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Metro map of service changes starting Nov. 6 (via WMATA)

The six Metro stations south of Reagan National Airport are reopening this weekend with Blue Line service replacing the Yellow Line service.

Braddock Rd, King St-Old Town, Eisenhower Ave, Huntington, Van Dorn St, and Franconia-Springfield stations will all reopen on Sunday (Nov. 6) after being closed for nearly two months. The stations were initially scheduled to reopen two weeks ago, on Oct. 23.

The closures were needed to connect the new Potomac Yard station to the main rail system, though that station’s opening was also pushed back to next year.

When service restarts this weekend, the two Yellow Line-only stations will see some changes to their normal operations.

With rehab and construction still ongoing on the Yellow Line bridge and tunnel, all trains coming and going from Huntington and Eisenhower will run with Blue Line service and be routed through Rosslyn. Trains will run every 15 minutes along the whole line, per Metro.

This is scheduled to continue until at least May 2023, when it’s expected the rehabilitation will be completed.

Most shuttle service at those stations will also stop starting Sunday, but Metro will continue to provide limited-stop shuttles that cross the Potomac during weekday rush hours. In addition, parking will no longer be free at the Van Dorn Street, Huntington, and Franconia stations.

The end of the station closures continue a week of good news for Metro.

On Halloween, the transit service announced that the long-awaited Silver Line Phase II is finally set to start service on Nov. 15. Then, Metro said that train service will increase over the next two months with the long-sidelined 7000-series trains getting back on the tracks.

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Inova received the county’s blessing to expand its Springfield hospital (Photo via INOVA).

Construction on a new hospital next to Inova’s existing Franconia-Springfield HealthPlex is expected to begin late next year after the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the rezoning plan at a meeting yesterday (Tuesday).

The board voted unanimously to bring 985,000 square feet of medical space to the 21-acre campus on the intersection of Beulah Street and the Franconia-Springfield Parkway. Two representatives recused themselves from the vote due to their tie’s with Inova.

Tim Sampson, Inova’s land use attorney and representative, said that the project represents an “opportunity to fill a space in the geographic area without those facilities today.”

The first phase of the project will include a hospital with a maximum of 144 beds spread across two patient towers and an outpatient center. The current HealthPlex will be incorporated through a new road network and walkway connections.

Eventually, the emergency room will be expanded and relocated into the hospital. The former ER space will be filled with other medical uses.

Phase two may include a third patient tower with up to 72 beds and a second outpatient center. The plan also includes nearly 1,500 parking spaces and a helipad, although Inova officials only expect a few landings.

Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk said he was particularly impressed by the project’s aesthetics and Class A office space.

“The finishes and the design features of the campus are slated to be extraordinarily attractive,” Lusk said, adding that the project will likely bring 1,200 net new jobs to the district.

Inova’s expansion includes planned road improvements along Franconia-Springfield Parkway, Jasper Lane, Walker Lane, Beulah Street and a new internal roadways.

The county’s planning commission unanimously voted to approve the project earlier this year.

I think it is something that Inova and the county will be proud of for generations to come,” Sampson said.

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Huntington Metro station (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

Shuttles, increased capacity, and an extension of the Blue Line are among the changes Metro will make to help riders when the Yellow Line shuts down this weekend, a closure that will last eight months.

Starting this Saturday (Sept. 10), the Yellow Line bridge and tunnels will close until May 2023 for long-overdue repair work. Construction will also be done to connect the new Potomac Yard station to the main rail system so that station can open this fall.

Both projects will result in a months-long shutdown of the Yellow Line, which runs through Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax County. Parts of the Blue Line will also be closed through Oct. 22.

While this will undoubtedly inconvenience many local riders, Metro hopes to mitigate the impact of the construction and shutdown, which will happen in two phases.

During the first phase, which begins Saturday (Sept. 10) and lasts through Oct. 22, all six Blue and Yellow Line stations south of Reagan National Airport will be closed, as the Potomac Yard construction is completed. Those stations include Braddock Road, King Street, Van Dorn Street, Franconia-Springfield, Eisenhower Avenue, and Huntington.

Metro will offer seven free shuttles will be offered during this time. Options include local, express, and limited-stop shuttles that cross the Potomac River.

The local shuttles will stop at all Metro stations and be available during all Metrorail operating hours.

  • Blue Line Local: Between Franconia, Van Dorn Street, King Street, Braddock Road, and National Airport stations every 10-20 minutes
  • Yellow Line Local: Between Huntington, Eisenhower Avenue, King Street, Braddock Road, and Crystal City stations every 10-15 minutes.

Express shuttles, which will stop at the Pentagon and at the end of each line, will be available from 4:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays, and from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends.

  • Blue Line Express: Franconia-Pentagon Express service between Franconia and Pentagon stations every six minutes.
  • Yellow Line Express: Huntington-Pentagon Express service between Huntington and Pentagon stations every six minutes.

Limited shuttles, which will take riders into D.C., will be available during weekday rush hours only.

  • VA-DC Shuttle 1: Between Crystal City, Pentagon City, Smithsonian, and L’Enfant Plaza stations every 12 minutes
  • VA-DC Shuttle 2: Between Pentagon, Smithsonian, and Archives stations every 12 minutes.
  • VA-DC Shuttle 3 (former 11Y route): Between Mt. Vernon, Alexandria, and Potomac Park stations every 20 minutes. Peak direction service only.

Metro will increase capacity on the other lines by shortening wait times and increasing the length of railcars. Read More

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A new donation center opens tomorrow in Franconia (Photo via GreenDrop).

A new mobile donation center offers local residents another option to donate gently used items in Franconia’s Festival at Manchester Lakes Shopping Center. 

GreenDrop, a private organization, has partnered with the American Red Cross, Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation and the National Federation of the Blind for the donation center. Residents can donate gently used items to the center, which is located at 7015 Manchester Boulevard in the parking lot of the shopping center by Boardwalk Fries. 

The center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for drop-offs, including lightly-used clothing, shoes, blankets, kitchenware and household goods. An attendant will be on site to receive the items and asks donors to indicate which nonprofit organization they would like to donate to. Donors receive a tax deductible receipt. 

“We are thrilled to bring our sustainable services to the Festival at Manchester Lakes donation center and provide an easy, earth-friendly way for Fairfax County residents to support three deserving nonprofits,” said Jason Krieger, Director of GreenDrop operations. “We look forward to being an integral part of the Franconia community.”

GreenDrop is a  for-profit paid solicitor that accepts donation on behalf of other organizations. It aims to support nonprofit organizations through free-standing locations throughout the mid-Atlantic region. The company pays its nonprofit partners for the items individuals donate. 

A groundbreaking to celebrate the opening of the center is set for tomorrow (Friday) at 10 a.m. 

Photo via GreenDrop 

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Morning Notes

People walk by Caffi Field, a football field in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Driver in Fatal Franconia Crash Charged With Manslaughter — Sara Flores, 20, of Lorton was charged with involuntary vehicular manslaughter yesterday morning (Thursday) for a May 12 crash in Franconia where she allegedly drove into a telephone pole, killing a passenger. Police had already obtained a warrant charging Flores with driving under the influence. [FCPD]

Developer Pleads Guilty in Teen’s Death — “The owner of a Virginia construction company that specializes in luxury homes pleaded guilty Wednesday to involuntary manslaughter in the death of a 16-year-old boy who was killed while working for his company in 2019. Thomas Digges, of Digges Development Corporation, operated the Fairfax County job site where a trench gave way and buried Spencer Lunde, of McLean, on July 23, 2019.” [NBC4]

Two Displaced by Fair Oaks Townhouse Fire — A fire at a three-story townhouse in the 12000 block of Dorforth Drive on Wednesday (Aug. 10) was caused by improperly discarded smoking materials, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department says. The fire displaced two residents and resulted in approximately $175,000 in damages. [FCFRD]

One Rescued From Annandale House Fire — “8/11/22 at 1:08 a.m., in 3800 block of Gallows Road. One occupant trapped on 2nd floor was rescued by #FCFRD crews via ladder. Fire contained to basement. No injuries. NO smoke alarms found in home! Cause: improperly discarded smoking material. Damages $16K.” [FCFRD/Twitter]

County Names New Planning and Development Director — Fairfax County has appointed Tracy Strunk as director of its Department of Planning and Development, where she succeeds Barbara Byron, who retired earlier this year. Strunk’s career for the county goes back to 1998 and includes work as a planner and a member of the team that helped develop the Tysons Comprehensive Plan. [Fairfax County Government]

Fairfax County Public Schools Creates Program to Help Hire Teachers — “[Catherine] Coulter is entering her first year teaching in Virginia’s largest school system as a teaching resident, a newly-created position aimed at placing qualified teachers in classrooms while they take the final steps toward receiving a specific certification.” [WTOP]

Expansions and Renovations in Progress at FCPS — “Most students and teachers have taken the summer off, but Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has been busy with its usual tall order of school renovations and additions. Improvements now are in progress at these schools in the Sun Gazette’s readership area” [Sun Gazette]

Falls Church Development Nears Movie Theater Lease — “Developers of the new Founder’s Row mixed use development…announced through a new filing with the City that it is ‘in the final stages of securing a lease with Paragon Theaters,’ noting that ‘Paragon will operate a seven-screen movie theater, including an IMAX-similar screen with a total capacity of approximately 600 seats.'” [Falls Church News-Press]

Fairfax Shopping Center Gets New Mural — “If you’ve been by the Giant at Scout on the Circle recently you might have noticed some color appearing on the walls! The Abstract Expressionist painting on the corner of the building is by Steven Johnson. Johnson is a Indiana biased artist, who recently made his art available in the public domain.” [City of Fairfax/Facebook]

It’s Friday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 81 and low of 68. Sunrise at 6:21 am and sunset at 8:09 pm. [Weather.gov]

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A woman gets dropped off at the Franconia-Springfield Metro station kiss-and-ride (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 10:45 a.m. on 11/3/2022) Metro is waiving fares on a local bus line and parking fees at several stations starting next month because of upcoming construction.

On Sept. 10, all Blue and Yellow stations south of the DCA Metro station will close for two major projects to complete the new Potomac Yard Station and repair the Yellow Line bridge and tunnel. The closure is expected to last six weeks, until Oct. 22.

The Metro Board of Directors voted late last week to waive all fees for those six weeks at the three stations with parking lots — Van Dorn Street, Huntington, and Franconia-Springfield. This is to allow riders to use the free shuttle service that’s being offered.

At the Franconia station, parking fees for non-riders will be waived until early summer 2023, when the Yellow Line bridge rehabilitation is expected to finish. This is to “encourage use of the Metrobus or Virginia Railway Express, transit alternatives available at Franconia-Springfield.”

(Correction: This article previously said parking fees would be waived at all three stations for the duration of construction.)

The board also did away with fares on the bus rapid transit Metroway-Potomac Yard Line through Oct. 22.

All of this came at the urging of Fairfax County staff, notes the Metro report.

While the waiving of the $4.95 parking fee and bus fare will save riders money, it will cost Metro nearly $611,000 in lost revenue, per the report.

Expected to open to riders in late fall, the Potomac Yard Metro station in Alexandria will serve both the Blue and Yellow lines. In September, new tracks will be constructed to connect the station to the main tracks along with performance and safety testing.

The Yellow Line Tunnel and Bridge rehab project will shut down the line for longer. That work is expected to take eight months, so the Yellow Line won’t operate again in Virginia until at least May 2023.

In June, Metro announced several alternative methods to get commuters where they need to go. That includes free shuttle service and increased Blue Line service for the first six weeks.

Then, on Oct. 22, all the Blue Line stations will reopen, and service will extend to Huntington until May 2023.

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Inova is proposing to expand its hospital campus in Franconia (via Inova)

Inova Health System’s proposal to build a new hospital in Franconia is moving forward with the blessing of the Fairfax County Planning Commission.

At a meeting last Wednesday (July 27), the commission voted unanimously in favor of Inova’s plan to build a medical campus northwest of the intersection of Franconia-Springfield Parkway and Beulah Street. The existing HealthPlex at 6355 Walker Lane would remain on the site.

If approved, the campus would be built out in two phases, with the first phase including a 144-bed, roughly 407,000-square-foot hospital, a utility plant, a 134,100-square-foot outpatient center, and the existing HealthPlex.

But a request that Inova consider moving its overhead facilities in a reservation area to allow a future interchange drew contention from the applicant during a July 20 public hearing.

The applicant’s representative Timothy Sampson said it was unfair for state and local transportation officials to ask Inova to relocate its utilities to make way for a future interchange that the Virginia Department of Transportation has planned in the area — a project that is contemplated in the long-term.

“My point is that it’s not fair at all to say that what Inova is doing is costing the public right,” Sampson said. “What Inova is doing is saving the public by giving the right-of-way. “

Fairfax County Department of Transportation staff member Marc Dreyfuss said that if Inova does not commit to relocating the proposed facilities, the public would bear the burden of removing utilities in the area.

“It would be on the public to relocate them in the future,” said Dreyfuss.

Dreyfuss told the planning commission last week that Inova has agreed to locate its utilities within 21 feet of the right-of-way line for the interchange project.

“This will allow the utilities to be placed in a location that will be under the future shared-use path and landscape buffer, but not under the roadway, which would be acceptable for VDOT in the future,” he said. “So, we believe that this resolves the challenge that we worked through last week, and we no longer have any transportation issue with the application.”

The second phase of the project would expand the hospital by 72 beds and the outpatient center by 82,600 square feet. Inova is formally seeking the county’s permission to rezone the property from industrial uses to a planned development community.

The planning commission approved a comprehensive plan amendment to allow for the expansion on June 8.

The main hospital would include an emergency department, an imaging department, below-grade parking, and a helipad to serve the emergency department.

The emergency center would not include a level one or level two trauma center, which means that the proposed helipad won’t see many emergency trips.

“The proposed helicopter operations at the application property would have extremely limited impact on the surrounding area,” Sampson said.

Overall, 2,202 parking spaces will service the campus.

The nonprofit health care provider spent more than $40 million in 2020 to acquire property in a residential area near the Inova HealthPlex, turning the site into a 21-acre campus in lieu of the Liberty View mixed-use development that had previously been approved.

There is still other development in store for the Franconia-Springfield Metro area, including a new townhouse complex on Beulah Street and a new Franconia Government Center. To the north, the existing government center could be replaced by affordable housing.

“The expansion is expected to meet the needs of a growing population, which is expected to grow by more than 50,000 people by 2030,” Sampson said.

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