The first segment of the Virginia Department of Transportation’s planned shared-use trail along I-66 has been completed.
State and Fairfax County officials will celebrate the milestone today (Wednesday) with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11 a.m., followed by an inaugural bicycle ride or walk on the finished section, which starts east of the Vienna Metro station and extends to Cedar Lane near Merrifield.
The segment includes a tunnel under Nutley Street, one of several below-grade crossings planned for the 11-mile, mostly 10-foot-wide trail being built from Gallows Road in Dunn Loring to Route 29 in Centreville.
More portions are expected to be finished later this month, including a crossing at an I-66 entry ramp at the Nutley Street interchange and a segment from Blake Lane to Route 123 in Oakton.
“The 66 Parallel Trail and new bike and pedestrian access across the I-66 bridges supports VDOT’s commitment to providing multimodal travel options to ‘move more people — not just vehicles,'” VDOT said in a statement to FFXnow.
VDOT’s private partner I-66 Express Mobility Partners (I-66 EMP) and construction contractor FAM Construction built the 66 Parallel Trail — a name chosen by a Fairfax County survey — as part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project, which added 22 miles to the I-66 Express Lanes.
Including sidewalks being added on bridge crossings over I-66, the project will deliver 18 miles of new pedestrian and bicycle facilities, according to VDOT.
The trail’s inclusion in the highway widening project came after a campaign by local pedestrian and bicycling advocates, including the nonprofit Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling (FABB).
“The new 66 Trail will significantly improve east-west connectivity for people walking and biking in the corridor that does not exist today,” said former FABB President Sonya Breehey, who’s now the Northern Virginia advocacy manager for the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “The trail opens up the opportunity to walk, bike, roll to the Metro, schools, parks, restaurants, retail, and other places throughout the corridor.”
The design process for the trail was contentious, as cycling advocates pushed to keep it outside the I-66 soundwalls. However, adjacent homeowners objected to giving up part of their backyards, fearing a loss of privacy and green space.
The final design placed approximately three miles directly next to the highway, while about eight miles will be behind a noise barrier or have no noise barrier.
Breehey calls the trail’s placement inside the soundwalls an “unfortunate compromise,” but VDOT mitigated some concerns by elevating some portions above the highway and putting others behind a 50-inch concrete barrier. Read More
A local classical composer is preparing to blast off for the world premiere of his newest symphony.
The suite “Cosmic Cycles, A Space Symphony” will be performed for the first time by the National Philharmonic at Capital One Hall (7750 Capital One Tower Road) in Tysons at 7:30 p.m. next Thursday (May 11).
Composer Henry Dehlinger, who was born in San Francisco but now lives in Oakton, was commissioned to develop the piece for the orchestra as part of an ongoing collaboration with NASA for the 2022-2023 concert season, according to a press release.
A second performance is scheduled for May 13 at the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda.
“Cosmic Cycles is a dream project because it bridges the gap between art and science,” Dehlinger said. “Together with two of D.C.’s biggest stars — NASA and NatPhil — we’re taking the audience on an exploration of the universe through an immersive experience that combines symphonic music and visual storytelling.”
Known for choral music and jazz arrangements as well as symphonic works, Dehlinger previously worked with NASA on “Return to the Moon,” a brass fanfare that debuted with the March 12, 2022 rollout of the main Artemis I launch vehicle for the agency’s new lunar program.
The National Philharmonic has also collaborated with NASA in the past, most recently when it played Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” in February 2022 at Capital One Hall and Strathmore. The music was accompanied by images of planets taken by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
“Capital One Hall is a great venue with an oversized screen that really lends itself to a visual and aural presentation that is designed to project the awesomeness of space and the universe,” said National Philharmonic Director Piotr Gajewski, who will conduct both concerts.
For “Cosmic Cycles,” the process was flipped: Dehlinger composed the music in response to images provided by NASA.
“Henry Dehlinger has been a long-time collaborator with NatPhil and his style of music with sweeping melodies and brilliant orchestrations is perfect, I thought, for the images that NASA was putting forward,” Gajewski said. “When I saw the images, I immediately thought of Henry.”
Gajewski counts Dehlinger as a close friend, per the press release. This will be the third time that the philharmonic has premiered one of Dehlinger’s pieces.
Here’s more on “Cosmic Cycles” from the National Philharmonic:
Cosmic Cycles, A Space Symphony is a seven-movement symphonic suite that draws inspiration from images captured by NASA’s Hubble and James Webb Space Telescopes and visualizations created by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Each movement carries a programmatic title, alluding to the images, illustrations, and videos which informed the composer’s writing process: 1. The Sun; 2. Earth, Our Home; 3. Earth as Art; 4. The Moon; 5. Planetary Fantasia; 6. The Travelers; and 7. Echoes of the Big Bang. In the upcoming performances, these symphonic poems will be paired with HD projections of the visuals.
The concert will be preceded by a lecture and question-and-answer session with a NASA astronaut, along with educational “Ask a Scientist” booths and a kiosk with a touchable lunar rock. At Capital One Hall, those activities will begin at 6:45 p.m., and the booths and kiosk will also be open during intermission.
Tickets are available online through Capital One Hall’s website. Prices start at $19, but all kids get free admission.
Community organizer Erika Yalowitz has suspended her campaign for the Virginia State Senate’s 37th District.
One of three candidates seeking the Democratic nomination, Yalowitz announced today (Thursday) that she is withdrawing from the race and will instead endorse her opponent, Saddam Azlan Salim, a financial consultant and vice president of the Fairfax Young Democrats.
After launching her campaign in February, Yalowitz says she has decided to work with Salim in a bid to defeat incumbent Chap Petersen, who has represented voters in the now-defunct 34th District since 2008.
“If we want to make progress on the issues we care about, such as gun safety, reproductive justice or housing affordability, we need to elect a different senator,” Yalowitz said in a statement. “That is why I am making the decision to suspend my campaign and endorse Saddam Salim in this race. Saddam is a good candidate that I know supports a lot of the same issues that I do.”
Yalowitz’s campaign has stopped accepting donations and will use its remaining funds to cover remaining expenses, such as staff compensation, she said in a message to supporters. She plans to give any funds leftover after that to Salim’s campaign.
Created by Virginia’s redistricting process in 2021, the new 37th Senate District incorporates Tysons, Merrifield and Falls Church City into the former 34th District’s boundaries, which included Vienna and Fairfax City.
An Arlington Circuit Court officer, Yalowitz lives in Tysons and has held leadership roles in several community organizations, including the Providence District Council, Tysons Community Alliance, and the Fairfax Federation. She also advocated for preserving Oakton’s Blake Lane Park when it was being eyed as a potential school site.
She previously ran for the Providence District seat on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 2019.
Both Yalowitz and Salim have criticized Petersen for breaking with Democrats on issues like an assault weapons ban and marijuana legalization.
In a statement released by his campaign, Salim thanked his former opponent for her support:
I want to thank Erika Yalowitz for bringing a progressive voice into this campaign and advocating for important issues like reproductive rights, the fentanyl crisis, gun violence prevention and public education. I also want to thank her for her endorsement – I appreciate it deeply and I look forward to working with her on the campaign trail to give the people of the 37th District a new choice for the first time in sixteen years. Erika will have a great future in the Democratic Party and I look forward to supporting her wholeheartedly in her next endeavors.
Petersen said that he spoke Yalowitz earlier today and wishes her well, but her decision won’t affect his campaign for reelection.
“We’ll continue forward with a positive message focused on our constituents,” he told FFXnow.
Petersen has raised the most money of the 37th District candidates so far, as of Monday (April 17), when the campaign finance reports for the first three months of the year were due.
The Democratic primary will be held on June 20, with this year’s general election coming on Nov. 7. The lone Republican candidate is Ken Reid, a former Loudoun County supervisor.
Metro will assemble an armada of shuttles this summer to support travelers during its multi-week shutdowns of several stations on the Orange, Silver and Green lines.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) announced yesterday that free shuttle buses will be available throughout the closures, which will begin on May 12 and roll out to Fairfax County’s Orange Line stations starting June 3.
During the closures, the agency will conduct maintenance work at each of the stations and modernize their facilities.
“Continued maintenance work is essential to safe and reliable rail service,” WMATA Chief of Infrastructure Andy Off said in the press release. “We are working strategically to target maintenance locations and minimize the impacts on customers as we conduct this critical work to upgrade systems, improve reliability, and modernize station facilities.”
In Fairfax County, the closures will take place in two phases.
First, the Vienna, Dunn Loring, West Falls Church and East Falls Church stations will close from June 3 to 25 so that Metro can replace the 40-year-old train rails and add fiber-optic cables.
“Replacing the track in this section is a top priority to ensure safety and increase reliability,” WMATA said.
A combination of local, express and limited-stop shuttle service will be offered:
Orange Line Shuttle: Local service between Vienna, Dunn Loring, West Falls Church, East Falls Church, and Ballston-MU stations.
- Local service between McLean, East Falls Church, and Ballston-MU stations.
- Every 5 minutes during rush hours. (6- 9 a.m., 3-7 p.m.)
Orange Line Express: Express service between Vienna and Rosslyn stations.
- Service every 5 minutes during rush hours. (6-9 a.m., 3-7 p.m.)
- Service every 10 minutes during non-rush hours. (9 a.m.-3 p.m., 7-9 p.m.)
Silver Line Limited: Limited-stop service between Washington Dulles International Airport, McLean, and Rosslyn.
- Service every 5 minutes during rush hours. (6-9 a.m., 3-7 p.m.)
- Service every 10 minutes during non-rush hours. (9 a.m.-3 p.m., 7-9 p.m.)
Silver Line riders will need to take a shuttle to bypass the East Falls Church transfer station. Trains between Ashburn and McLean will run every eight minutes, except after 9:30 p.m., when they will operate every 10 minutes.
Both of the Falls Church stations will reopen on June 26, but the Vienna and Dunn Loring stations will stay closed through July 16 to finish the rail replacement and cable installation.
Free local shuttle service will be provided betwen the Vienna, Dunn Loring and West Falls Church stations, operating every 5 to 10 minutes on weekdays and every 10 minutes on weekends while Metrorail is open.
Several county-run farmers markets are returning for the spring season this month with the remainder opening soon after.
The Fairfax County Park Authority operates 10 farmers markets across the county where residents can pick up fresh veggies, fruit, meat, and other locally produced goodies.
“Our markets are strictly producer-only, meaning that all of our farmers and producers may only sell what they raise on their farms or make from scratch,” reads the county’s website.
Three farmers markets are coming back later in April.
- April 19: McCutcheon/Mount Vernon on Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to noon
- April 22: Burke on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon
- April 29: Reston on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon
The seven remaining farmers markets will open in May.
- May 3: Oak Marr on Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to noon, Wakefield on Wednesdays from 2-6 p.m.
- May 4: Annandale on Thursdays from 8 a.m. to noon, Herndon on Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
- May 5: McLean on Fridays from 8 a.m. to noon, Kingstowne on Fridays from 3-7 p.m.
- May 7: Lorton on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Each market’s webpage has a list of vendors that are set to be selling. Besides food for sale, many markets will also offer family-friendly activities, live music, and civic-engagement opportunities.
Besides the county-run farmers markets, the nonprofit FreshFarm also has a number of local markets, including three that operate year-round.
- Oakton on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Mosaic District on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Reston on Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Two other FreshFarm markets — Springfield and Mosaic on Thursdays — were open last year, but it is not immediately clear if those will be open starting next month. FreshFarm is the area’s largest farmers market operator, and in February, its employees voted to unionize.
Network Realty Partners is seeking to redevelop a trio of office buildings in Oakton into a residential development.
In an April 3 application, the Arlington-based company is seeking Fairfax County’s permission to demolish three mostly vacant office buildings in Redwood Plaza (10600 Arrowhead Drive) and turn the property into a 268-unit residential development.
“The project is focused on bringing true ‘missing middle’ housing to Fairfax County through a unique mix of appropriately sized townhouse units, along with multifamily above ground-floor amenities and potential neighborhood retail in the community’s center,” said the application, which was first reported by the Washington Business Journal.
Missing middle housing refers to duplexes, townhouses and other housing scaled in between single-family detached homes and apartment buildings. Northern Virginia has been familiarized with the term, thanks to Arlington’s recently approved effort to allow more of that kind of residential development.
The site currently houses three office buildings between two and five stories, totaling nearly 220,000 square feet of office space. According to the developer, roughly 30% of the existing office buildings will be occupied by the end of the year.
The housing mix, if approved, would include 242 rear-loaded townhouses, 12 back-to-back townhouses, and 12 multifamily units over ground-floor amenity or retail space.
The mix of houses is intended to bring “missing middle” in the area, land use lawyer David Gill said in a statement of justification on the developer’s behalf.
The project is focused on bringing true ‘missing middle’ housing to Fairfax County through a unique mix of appropriately sized townhouse units, along giant multifamily above ground floor amenities and potential neighborhood retail in the community’s center. By blending efficient family style unit designs, pedestrian first principles and a distribute and activated open space approach, the project is designed to create a desirable alternative aims at bridging the gap between multifamily/condo and traditional larger townhome development throughout the county.
As part of the application, Network Realty is requesting a roughly 9% reduction in parking, offering to provide 644 total spaces compared to the 708 spaces currently required by the county’s zoning code.
The proposal is in the early stages of the planning process and has not yet been accepted for review by the county.
Maintenance work on the Circle Woods stormwater pond in Oakton will have to wait until this summer — or until the hawks nesting in a nearby tree take their leave.
The Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services (DPWES) shared on Monday (April 3) that its contractor had encountered an “active hawks nest” in a tree that has been slated for removal.
The birds and their nest are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treat Act and a nationwide permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to the county.
“The construction team and our Fairfax County Park Authority partners made the decision to pause active work to limit disruption that could impact the nesting birds and ensure we maintain compliance with the permit and federal law,” DPWES said in an update on the project page.
DPWES spokesperson Sharon North confirmed that only one nest has been found, but it’s unclear how many birds are using it. At least two hawks have been photographed in the area.
Work will resume after the nesting period, which is expected to last through early June, or once the project team determines that the nest is no longer being used.
Construction on the pond was scheduled to begin on March 3, according to Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik. Some initial setup and tree-clearing activities had gotten underway when workers found the hawk nest.
@ffxpublicworks completed survey, permitting, design, & support services for the Circle Woods Pond Improvement Project to perform necessary maintenance on an existing stormwater detention facility & make improvements within the pond floor and at the outfall. pic.twitter.com/eyjNWzUdv4
— Dalia Palchik (@SupvPalchik) February 21, 2023
DPWES says it initiated the project after maintenance workers detected “dam and control structure deficiencies” with the detention pond, which is located near East Blake Lane Park.
In addition to making “necessary repairs” to the dam and replacing the control structure, the project will involve the removal of sediment and an “extensive” tree root structure that has begun to encroach on the dam embankment, according to the county.
With a total budget of $685,000, the project was expected to be finished in November, suggesting that if construction work doesn’t resume until June, it will now continue into 2023.
Once construction restarts, the East Blake Lane Trail will be closed between Vaden Dr. and Route 29 will be closed throughout the project.
(Updated at noon on 3/31/2023) The Fairfax County Planning Commission has indicated it will support the possibility of redeveloping the AT&T campus in Oakton, but many residents remain concerned about increased density and traffic.
At a meeting last Thursday (March 23), the commissioners took a unanimous, preliminary vote to prioritize a review of the redevelopment of a 33-acre tree-lined site right off Chain Bridge Road in Oakton.
This comes as the county considers dozens of nominations submitted last fall for land use changes as part of its ongoing Site-Specific Plan Amendment (SSPA) process.
The current proposal for 3033 Chain Bridge Road would convert it into “residential mixed-use development” with a mix of market-rate, affordable, and senior housing, along with office space and “community-serving” retail, restaurants and grocery stores.
The campus and 440,000-square-foot main building on the site were first constructed in 1981 to act as AT&T’s corporate offices. While the building was once nearly fully occupied, the workforce assigned to the campus had dwindled even before 2020, but the pandemic accelerated the trend.
The building is now less than 10% occupied and there are about 1,150 unused parking spots taking up close to 50% of the site, Cooley LLP lawyer Mark Looney told the commission on behalf of EYA, the development partner of the property owner.
(Correction: The article previously identified EYA as the property owner as well as the developer. County records identify the owner as Oakton NLA LLC.)
AT&T sold the site in 2013, but still leases the building. The campus also has a large open space, a central lawn, and “stands of mature trees.”
The property’s current underuse, deteriorating physical condition, the neighborhood’s need for amenities, and location near I-66 makes it appealing for redevelopment, the developer argues.
The proposal calls for an “appropriately-scaled mixed-use neighborhood destination” with townhomes, several mid-rise multifamily residential developments, parking garages, and space for office and retail uses. It also seeks to maintain open, park, and tree-lined spaces.
The county’s comprehensive plan currently says any further development on the site “should be within the approved intensity and compatible with existing development,” meaning the AT&T building, though the area to the immediate south has an option for mid-rise multifamily housing.
While EYA’s proposal aligns with the county’s goal of increasing housing, a number of residents who spoke at the meeting shared their concerns that adding such a large development would overwhelm the neighborhood.
Increased traffic, pedestrian safety, overcrowding of schools, and the continuing loss of open space and trees were repeatedly brought up. Read More
An 18-year-old man has been charged with second-degree murder in connection to a fatal shooting in the Fairfax Village Apartments on Saturday (March 25).
Fairfax County police officers were called to the apartment complex in the 10400 block of Viera Lane in Oakton at 7:47 a.m. by a family member of the victim who reported the shooting to 911.
According to the Fairfax County Police Department, the family member was in the apartment’s bedroom when they were awoken by a gunshot. They found Javier Gomez, 20, of Fairfax lying on the living room floor and saw the suspect — identified as Darren Cruz Colindres, 18, of Vienna — running out of the apartment.
“This is not a domestic-related shooting, but the suspect is known to the family,” FCPD Lt. James Curry said in a media briefing that morning.
Cruz Colindres had apparently been staying at the apartment overnight, police said.
When officers got to the scene, they found Gomez on the floor with what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the upper body and administered medical aid until Fairfax County Fire and Rescue personnel arrived to transport him to a hospital, where he later died.
Officers and detectives tracked Cruz Colindres to a home in the 2700 block of Pleasantdale Road in Merrifield, according to the FCPD, which reported just before noon that a suspect had been taken into custody.
In addition to second-degree murder, Cruz Colindres has been charged with the use of a firearm while committing a felony.
No firearm has been recovered yet, as of 5 p.m. Saturday, when the FCPD issued its news release.
“The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will conduct an autopsy in the coming days to determine the cause and manner of death,” the police department said. “Detectives continue to conduct interviews, collect video surveillance and process evidence recovered from the scene.”
The FCPD says anyone who may have information can contact its Major Crimes Bureau detectives at 703-246-7800, option 2. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone (1-866-411-TIPS) and online.
This was Fairfax County’s second homicide last week after a couple was found dead on a Reston trail on Wednesday (March 22) in what police believe was a murder-suicide incident.
(Updated at 2:35 p.m.) Hundreds of people in Fairfax County have lost electricity today (Tuesday) as winds buffet the D.C. region, taking out power lines and contributing to at least one fire.
Georgetown Pike is currently closed in both directions at Miller Avenue in Great Falls due to a tree that fell on power lines and “a resulting fire,” the Virginia Department of Transportation said shortly after 1 p.m.
The closure extends between Stephanie Circle and Ellsworth Avenue, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.
“Expect delays for several hours as emergency and utility crews clear the scene,” VDOT tweeted.
#GreatFalls: Georgetown Pike at Miller Rd closed in both directions for a fallen tree on power lines and a resulting fire. Expect delays for several hours as emergency and utility crews clear the scene. #VATraffic #NOVA #DMVTraffic pic.twitter.com/okCC4QQeQ5
— VDOT Northern VA (@VaDOTNOVA) March 14, 2023
TRAFFIC ALERT: Georgetown Pike is closed between Stephanie Circle and Ellsworth Avenue in Great Falls due to a tree on wires. The closure is expected to last several hours. Please use an alternate route. #FCPD pic.twitter.com/2n569vx8t1
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) March 14, 2023
That one outage has affected 277 Dominion Energy customers, according to the utility company’s outage map. Power isn’t expected to be restored there until 4-9 p.m.
Further south in the Vienna and Oakton area, Dominion crews are assessing the damage caused by the wind storm in the Lake Vale neighborhood. Power is now being restored to over 800 customers.
Vale Road has been closed between Hunter Mill Road and Stryker Avenue due to fallen power lines, according to Fairfax County police.
“The closure is expected to last several hours. Please use an alternate route,” the FCPD said.
TRAFFIC ALERT: Vale Rd is closed between Hunter Mill Rd and Stryker Ave in Vienna due to power lines in the roadway. The closure is expected to last several hours. Please use an alternate route. #FCPD pic.twitter.com/fbWvWKo1k7
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) March 14, 2023
While those are the largest outages reported so far, power losses and road closures due to fallen wires have been seen across the county today. As of 1:50 p.m., about 1,268 Dominion Energy customers in the county were without power.
The National Weather Service issued a Wind Advisory that took effect at 9 a.m. today and will remain in place until 2 a.m. tomorrow (Wednesday).
Winds have been consistently exceeding 40 mph, with some gusts topping 50 mph, according to the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang.
The Wind Advisory has been updated and is now in effect from 9 AM this morning (3/14/23) to 2 AM Wednesday (3/15/23).
Use extra caution when driving, especially if operating a high profile vehicle. Secure outdoor objects. pic.twitter.com/CGgjWXbXsW
— Ready Fairfax (@ReadyFairfax) March 14, 2023
A #windadvisory is in effect until 2 a.m. 🍃
Here's a list of who to contact if you see a downed tree or wires: https://t.co/PGVTIaoj2z
If there’s an immediate life-safety issue, call or text 9-1-1. pic.twitter.com/yIRKqS0u8Y
— Fairfax County Government 🇺🇸 (@fairfaxcounty) March 14, 2023
Not a fun day outside, DC. Temps barely above 40 and winds pretty consistently gusting over 40 mph. Here are peak gusts so far– a few spots topping 50 mph. pic.twitter.com/yiTYLHwSBs
— Capital Weather Gang (@capitalweather) March 14, 2023