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Southbound I-495 approaching the exit to Gallows Road (via Google Maps)

(Updated at 11:55 a.m.) Virginia State Police are investigating a fatal motorcycle crash that occurred on I-495 South in the Annandale area last Friday (Sept. 23), the agency announced today (Thursday).

According to police, 25-year-old Carlos Javier Velez Mantalvo from Orlando, Florida, was riding a 2006 Honda CBR600 motorcycle, going south on I-495 early that morning.

Near the Gallows Road exit, which leads to the Inova Fairfax Hospital campus, Velez Montalvo “rapidly” reduced his speed, “lost control and laid the motorcycle down in the roadway,” state police said.

“The operator then slid across the pavement away from the motorcycle,” VSP said in a news release.

Police responded to the crash at 2:02 a.m. Velez Montalvo was transported to the nearby hospital, but he succumbed to his injuries.

Police say he was wearing a helmet when the motorcycle crashed.

Photo via Google Maps

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Fatal crash on I-495 (photo courtesy Virginia State Police)

The Virginia State Police (VSP) has released more details about a single-vehicle crash on Sunday morning that left one driver dead.

VSP said they responded to the crash on the Beltway near the exit to the Georgetown Pike around 6 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 11.

“A tractor-trailer traveling north on Interstate 495 ran off the road, struck the guardrail and then a pole near Exit 44/Georgetown Pike,” VSP said in a release.

VSP said the driver of the tractor-trailer was Damaree Sanders, 33, from Raeford, North Carolina. VSP said Sanders died at the scene.

The crash remains under investigation.

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A Virginia State Police vehicle (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

A driver nearly hit one vehicle, rammed into a Virginia State Police trooper’s vehicle, and crashed into a third vehicle head-on during a police pursuit last night (Thursday) that extended from I-395 in Arlington to South Kings Highway in Groveton.

According to state police, a trooper saw a vehicle headed northbound on I-395 nearly hit another vehicle traveling in the same direction around 10:27 p.m. yesterday. When the trooper attempted to make a traffic stop, the vehicle instead “sped away,” a news release says.

As the pursuit continued east onto the Capital Beltway (I-495), the trooper learned that Fairfax County police were searching for the vehicle in question, which had been reported stolen in the county.

“The suspect vehicle exited I-495 at Telegraph [Road] and continued through Fairfax County,” the VSP said. “At one point, the suspect vehicle intentionally rammed the trooper’s vehicle and continued to flee.”

After exiting the Beltway, the chase turned onto South Kings Highway. As it neared Telegraph Road, the pursued vehicle “struck the raised median and crossed into oncoming traffic where it struck head-on another vehicle,” according to the news release.

“The impact of the crash caused the suspect vehicle to overturn twice before coming to rest on its side,” state police said.

The pursued vehicle’s driver, an adult man, was transported to Fairfax Inova Hospital for treatment of injuries that VSP described as serious, while the driver of the vehicle that was hit went to the hospital with minor injuries.

No injuries to state police were reported.

An investigation into the incident is underway with charges forthcoming, VSP said.

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The northbound I-495 exit ramp to Little River Turnpike (via Google Maps)

A driver heading from the Capital Beltway onto Little River Turnpike in Annandale shot at another vehicle early this morning (Thursday), Virginia State Police say.

Police are investigating the incident after receiving a call around 4:50 a.m. from an individual who said they had been shot at after pulling off on the I-495 exit ramp:

At approximately 4:50 a.m.,  Virginia State Police were notified by an individual calling in to say that his vehicle was shot at as he and another vehicle were traveling north on I-495 approaching Exit 52B in Fairfax County. Both vehicles pulled off onto the Exit 52B ramp, at which time the shooting suspect exited his vehicle and fired multiple shots at the victim. The shooting suspect then got back into his vehicle and drove away.

The victim didn’t report any injuries resulting from the encounter, police said.

According to VSP, troopers “immediately” responded to the area, and a criminal investigation by the agency’s Fairfax Field Office is now underway.

Police say anyone with information can contact them by dialing #77 on a cell phone, calling 703-803-0026, or emailing questions@vsp.virginia.gov.

Photo via Google Maps

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A new ramp from I-495 North to I-66 West is scheduled to open on Aug. 25 (via VDOT)

After enduring roughly four years of construction, drivers will soon get access to the first piece of the revamped I-66 and Capital Beltway interchange in Dunn Loring.

A new flyover exit ramp from the northbound Beltway, also known as I-495, to I-66 West is set to open next Thursday (Aug. 25) morning, the Virginia Department of Transportation announced on Wednesday (Aug. 17).

According to VDOT, the ramp will open ahead of schedule, and as the first ramp in the interchange to be completed, next week’s opening will represent a milestone for the I-495 portion of the massive project to add toll lanes on I-66 outside the Beltway.

The ramp is located a half-mile south of the old exit ramp, which “will close to allow construction of new ramp connections at the I-66/I-495 interchange,” VDOT says.

“Drivers should stay alert for this new travel change and use caution when traveling in this area,” VDOT said.

With the reconfigured interchange, drivers will be able to get to and from the I-495 Express Lanes to the new I-66 Express Lanes and switch between express and general-purpose lanes. The ramp from I-495 North to I-66 East will stay in the same place.

The new I-66 toll lanes, which will extend 22.5 miles west into Gainesville, are on track to begin operations in December.

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Morning Notes

A frog statue looks up at Giant in University Mall (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Army Nurse Thanks Fairfax County Firefighters — “Sunday, August 7, was a powerful and inspiring day at Station 11, Penn Daw, C-Shift. U.S. Army Captain Paul Petrie, an OR Nurse at Fort Belvoir, stopped by to thank the shift for their role in saving his life in May. Injuries he sustained are fatal a vast majority of the time. Watch to learn more!” [FCFRD/Facebook]

Long-Term Fix for AT&T Service Issues in Reston Coming — A permanent proposal to restore full cell service in the Lake Anne area isn’t expected to come until later this fall, according to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn. Alcorn says AT&T is looking at installing equipment on the new Fellowship House roof, but that will require approvals from Fairfax County and the Reston Association Design Review Board. [Patch]

Fairfax County Parkway Targeted for Traffic Enforcement — “Officers from our Motor Squad are focusing on traffic enforcement on the Fairfax County Parkway this month. On the first day of this enforcement campaign, an officer stopped a car going 108 MPH on the County Parkway at Barta Road, a 50 MPH zone!” [FCPD/Instagram]

Vienna Trail Closed for Repairs — “The Wildwood Park trail that runs between Follin Lane SE and Niblick Drive SE, along with the Mashie Drive Park entrance, will be closed tomorrow, Tuesday, Aug. 9, between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. for repairs. Please use caution when in the area and plan for detours.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

Police Seek Help with Centreville Cold Case — “One of the DNA-analysis companies that Fairfax County Police in Virginia have been working with is Texas-based Othram, which is now crowdfunding help to identify a woman who was found dead…nearly 30 years ago. Even today, there isn’t a lot that police know about the woman, whose remains were found in 1993 near a cedar tree around what’s now the corner of Sharpsburg Drive and Calvary Place in Centreville.” [WTOP]

Connector Buses Not Affected by Metro Shutdown — The closure of several Blue and Yellow Line stations next month will have no impact on Fairfax Connector routes, but instead of taking a train, passengers will transfer to free shuttle buses. Drop-off and pick-up locations at the Huntington, Van Dorn Street, Franconia, and Crystal City stations may also be slightly different. [Fairfax County Government]

Reminder to Get Kids Immunized for School — “Parents, you’ve probably reminded your kids about summer reading and started purchasing school supplies. Have you booked your immunization appointment yet? Don’t wait until the last minute, make sure your children are up to date with their school required immunizations.” [Fairfax County Health Department/Facebook]

Maryland Toll Lanes Project on Hold — “A key federal agency has delayed Maryland’s plan to build toll lanes on the Capital Beltway and I-270, the latest setback for the star-crossed project. The move was immediately criticized by Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who said the delay will imperil the state’s efforts to ease one of the nation’s worst bottlenecks.” [Maryland Matters]

It’s Tuesday — Humid throughout the day. High of 94 and low of 78. Sunrise at 6:18 am and sunset at 8:12 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Lewinsville Park basketball courts in McLean (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

McLean Police Shooting Not Justified, Family Says — The parents of Jasper Aaron Lynch, who was fatally shot four times by a Fairfax County police officer during a mental health crisis call on July 7, said in a statement that the police “could have, and should have, handled this far differently.” Their comments came after the county police department released footage of the encounter. [WTOP]

Bailey’s Crossroads Car Dealership to Expand — “The Radley Acura dealership on Columbia Pike near Route 7 in Bailey’s Crossroads will undergo a major expansion. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a rezoning application Aug. 2 by Radley Management LLC to build a three-level parking garage with 307 spaces and an enclosed customer service drop-off addition.” [Annandale Today]

New Metro Safety Issues Raised — “Metro needs to inspect, clean, and protect Metrorail station rooms that house equipment that detects when trains are on tracks and helps the system avoid crashes, the agency’s safety oversight body said in a report released Thursday. The report further said that Metro had failed to follow through on inspections after the issue was raised in March.” [DCist]

County Pension Fund Doubles Down on Crypto — “Fairfax County, Va.’s $6.8 billion pension fund, the Fairfax County Retirement Systems, has received approval to invest $70 million across two crypto yield farming funds…The $1.8 billion Fairfax County Police Officers Retirement System has made a series of crypto investments in the past alongside the Fairfax County Retirement Systems” [CoinDesk]

Funds for Water to Historic Hall Approved — “The Fairfax County Park Authority Board approved a Mastenbrook Grant request from the Great Falls Grange Foundation (GFGF) in the amount of $20,000 to help install a municipal-connected water line to service the Great Falls Grange…The overall vision for this site is to serve the community as a self-supporting gathering place, a location for classes and a place to hold special events.” [FCPA]

Decision on Maryland’s Beltway Toll Lanes Coming — “With the U.S. Department of Transportation poised to issue its decision on an ambitious Capital Beltway and I-270 toll lanes plan, Montgomery County’s top planner accused state highway officials of running roughshod over Maryland law,” echoing similar complaints leveled by McLean residents over Virginia’s 495 NEXT project. [Maryland Matters]

Poll: What Does “Alexandria” Mean to You? — “One of the very first stories on ALXnow discussed…the distinction between the City of Alexandria and the areas of Fairfax south of Cameron Run sometimes referred to as Alexandria. This past week, two businesses opening this month — a cannabis dispensary and a metal supermarket — identified themselves as ‘Alexandria’ branches of their respective chains despite the fact that both are opening in Fairfax.” [ALXnow]

It’s Friday — Rain in the evening and overnight. High of 91 and low of 76. Sunrise at 6:15 am and sunset at 8:17 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Construction on the bicycle and pedestrian bridge over the Capital Beltway in Tysons will take slightly longer than anticipated.

The Virginia Department of Transportation says the first phase of the project — which will eventually connect Tysons Corner Center and the McLean Metro station via Old Meadow Road — is now expected to be completed this fall, behind the previously advertised summer 2022 timeline.

“No particular reason,” a VDOT Northern Virginia spokesperson said when asked what led to the delay. “But summer weather certainly doesn’t adhere to our timetables.”

VDOT has spent more than half a decade now working to provide a crossing from Tysons East over the Beltway (also known as I-495) for bicyclists and pedestrians, initially unveiling concept plans for a trail along Route 123 in 2017.

However, community members quickly raised concerns about the potential safety risks of at-grade crosswalks on ramps at the I-495/Route 123 interchange, prompting officials to pivot to the current bridge and shared-use path proposal.

Construction began on the bridge in August 2021. With this first phase, the project is also adding a 10-foot-wide path from the bridge, which leads to Tysons One Place, to the Old Meadow and Provincial Drive intersection.

The path will eventually be extended all the way to Route 123, but VDOT is still in search of funding for that phase of construction.

“VDOT continues to work to identify additional funding sources for Phase 2,” VDOT Northern Virginia Communications Coordinator Mike Murphy told FFXnow by email.

The first phase carries an estimated construction cost of $13.4 million, a price tag fueled in part by agreements for property easement and right-of-way acquisitions. VDOT says the cost hasn’t changed with the delay, despite inflation and supply-chain issues driving up construction costs nationwide.

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Drivers coming onto I-495 South from the GW Parkway will be detoured while the north side of Georgetown Pike bridge is demolished (via VDOT)

Nights are about to get noisier in McLean, as work begins in earnest this week on the demolition of the Georgetown Pike bridge over the Capital Beltway.

As early as Wednesday (July 27), construction crews working on the I-495 Northern Extension (495 NEXT) project will start demolishing the northern side of the bridge, which is being replaced and widened to fit six lanes and a new 6-foot-wide sidewalk.

During the demolition, traffic on Georgetown Pike will shift to the south side of the bridge. Crews have been laying the groundwork for the shift since late June, eliminating an existing concrete median and installing temporary traffic lights.

Demolition of the bridge’s north side is expected to take about three weeks, with work generally taking place between 9:30 p.m. and 5 a.m. on Sunday through Friday nights. Work may be needed on Saturdays from 9:30 p.m. to 7 a.m., depending on the weather and other factors, the Virginia Department of Transportation says.

“Specialized equipment will be used to demolish the bridge, including excavators fitted with hammers, saws and hydraulic jaws,” VDOT said in a news release published Friday (July 22). “While every effort will be made to control noise, certain demolition activities are unavoidably noisy and must be performed during nighttime hours when Beltway traffic below the bridge is lightest and necessary lane closures can occur.”

In the coming weeks, drivers should prepare for regular lane closures and traffic stoppages during overnight hours, according to VDOT:

To keep workers and motorists safe during the demolition, overnight triple- and double-lane closures on I-495 (Capital Beltway) and periodic stoppages of I-495 lanes for up to 30-minute intervals will be necessary. Virginia State Police will be on site to assist with implementation of the closures. Lane closures may also occur on Georgetown Pike approaching and over the bridge.

During certain multi-lane closures of the left side of southbound I-495, motorists coming from the George Washington Memorial Parkway heading for southbound I-495 will follow a minor detour accompanied by advance signage. Instead of accessing the Beltway from the left lane of the exit ramp, drivers will be directed to stay right and take the ramp up to Georgetown Pike, proceed straight through the traffic light, and take the ramp back down where traffic will then be able to merge onto the Beltway.

The Georgetown Pike bridge overhaul is part of the 495 NEXT project to extend the Beltway’s express lanes from the Dulles Toll Road in Tysons to the George Washington Memorial Parkway in McLean.

The bridge’s south side is scheduled to be demolished in spring 2024, according to VDOT. The overall project is currently slated for completion in 2026, with the new express lanes potentially opening in late 2025.

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(Updated at 5 p.m.) A tractor-trailer caught fire on I-495 this afternoon (Wednesday), shutting down all southbound lanes at the Route 50 interchange in Merrifield.

The fire appears to have sparked right as the afternoon rush hour was getting underway. The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department reported at 4:16 p.m. that it has units on the scene working to extinguish the fire.

“Currently no clue as to how long the entire roadway will be closed,” a fire department spokesperson told FFXnow.

There have been no reported injuries resulting from the fire, according to FCFRD, which notes that the express lanes are open.

The Virginia Department of Transportation advises that drivers find an alternate route. VDOT traffic cameras suggest vehicles backups on the Beltway extend past Tysons to the Lewinsville Road bridge.

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