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Fairfax County school bus (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Fairfax County Public Schools has made several bus stop changes in the Oakton area after conducting a safety review of the Blake Lane corridor.

Announced today (Friday), the school system has moved 22 stops away from Blake Lane in response to safety concerns after a driver hit three Oakton High School students at the Five Oaks Road intersection on June 7 — one of the last days of the 2021-2022 school year.

Two of the students died, while the third was hospitalized with significant injuries.

The changes will be in effect when the 2022-2023 school year launches on Monday (Aug. 22).

“Our community cares deeply about student safety, and we are grateful for their continued advocacy for increased precautions along the Blake Lane corridor,” said Karl Frisch, who represents Providence District on the Fairfax County School Board. “Moving these bus stops will enhance student safety while local and state partners continue working together to mitigate speeding and other traffic concerns in the area.”

Frisch says the stops have been relocated so that no students will have to wait on Blake Lane, but six stops will still be on the roadway, where side streets lack the capacity for the bus to turn around:

In the past, these students have waited on Blake Lane until the bus stops 50 feet from the intersection. Beginning the first day of school, August 22, students will assemble and wait for the bus on the side street and at least 50 feet away from Blake Lane, not on Blake Lane itself. When the bus arrives, the driver will ensure all traffic is stopped and motion the students to approach the stopped bus to board. In addition, the Office of Safety and Security (OSS) will recommend the installation of marked crosswalks on the intersecting side streets of Blake Lane as part of a VDOT safety review.

Fairfax resident Usman Shahid, the alleged driver in the June crash, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter. A new graduate of Oakton High School, he was driving 81 mph in the 35 mph zone when he hit the students, who were on a sidewalk, police said.

With residents pointing out longstanding safety issues on Blake Lane, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted earlier this month to expand the area where drivers face an additional $200 fine for speeding. The county is also looking at acquiring more “Know Your Speed” devices and introducing speed cameras near schools.

Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik plans to assemble a Blake Lane Safety Community Advisory Group, Frisch says.

A list of the bus stop changes for this year can be found below. Read More

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(Updated at 5 p.m.) Fairfax County is expanding an increased fine zone and installing more road signs along Blake Lane in an effort to discourage speeding and make the road safer after a fatal crash in June.

The Board of Supervisors approved a plan yesterday (Aug. 2) to put up several safety-oriented road signs in the Blake Lane corridor, including five “Watch for Children” signs and “$200 Additional Fine for Speeding” signs.

One “Watch for Children” sign will be placed on Steve Martin Drive, between Five Oaks Road and Blake Lane, while another will go near the Lidenbrook Street and Blake Lane intersection. Three more will be installed on Kingsbridge Drive near Blake Lane.

The county will pay the combined $1,100 needed for the creation and installation of these signs, which should be in place in about two to four weeks, Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik’s office says.

Drivers who break Blake Lane’s 35 mph speed limit will now face an additional $200 fine between Sutton Road and Route 29. The county already approved an enhanced fine on a 0.8-mile stretch of the corridor from Jermantown Road to Sutton last year.

The $500 needed for the new signs to Route 29 will be paid by the Virginia Department of Transportation.

A “prompt installation” of all the signage is expected, but a county spokesperson was unable to provide a more exact timeframe for when all the signs will be up.

The signs come after two Oakton High School students were killed on June 7 while walking on a sidewalk near the intersection of Five Oaks Road and Blake Lane. The driver who hit them was allegedly going around 81 mph and has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.

The signs are part of the county’s Residential Traffic Administration Program (RTAP) that “works directly with communities to decrease the impacts of traffic and enhance safety in area neighborhoods.”

For signs of this nature, particular criteria need to be met. For the $200 fine, it must be a road with a local or minor road with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less and have at least 600 cars per day, with 85% of them driving at least 10 mph over the speed limit.

“Watch for Children” signs can be installed at neighborhood entrances or locations with “an extremely high concentration of children.” This includes playgrounds, daycare centers, and community centers.

Besides signs, the program can also install traffic calming measures, cut-thru mitigation, and through-truck restrictions.

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Morning Notes

Insomnia Cookies has a line for its grand opening at University Mall in Fairfax (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Judge Orders Records Release in Reston Homicide Case — Fairfax County Circuit Judge Brett A. Kassabian denied a motion to seal records related to a double homicide that occurred in Reston in 2017. In a case that may not see trial until mid-2023, Nicholas Giampa has been indicted on murder charges in the shooting and killing of his girlfriend’s mother and stepfather. [The Washington Post]

Driver Charged in Route 1 Hit-and-Run — “Detectives from our Crash Reconstruction Unit have charged the driver of the 2007 Toyota Camry from the July 6 fatal pedestrian crash. The driver, Diego Juarez Gomez, 19, of Maryland was traveling south on Richmond Highway, struck McPhail in the roadway and did not stop at the scene.” [FCPD]

Former West Potomac HS Soccer Coach Cleared of Hazing Allegation — A Fairfax County Child Protective Services investigation recently cleared Ahmad Sasso of wrongdoing during his 8-year tenure as head coach of West Potomac High School’s soccer team. A parent accused him in April of “hazing a player to the point of injury,” prompting his resignation. [ABC7]

Tree Falls Through Oakton House — “A house in Fairfax County is damaged after a massive tree fell on it Saturday night. Officials say that the house impacted is on the 11600 block of Ayreshire Rd. in Oakton, Virginia and that damages are extensive. No one was at the home when the tree hit the colonial-style house because officials say that the owners were out of town for vacation.” [WUSA9]

Man Threatens Sports Bar in Centreville — A 31-year-old man faces multiple charges after allegedly threatening to burn down The Revolution (14114 Lee Highway) on July 16. The man was trespassed and then arrested when he returned later, displaying a handgun. No injuries were reported in connection to the incident. [FCPD]

Sidewalk Replacement Today in Vienna — “A sidewalk replacement project is scheduled to take place this upcoming Monday, July 25 (weather permitting) along Courthouse Road between 423 Courthouse Road and 429 Courthouse Road. Traffic patterns may be affected along this route. Please use caution.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

CIA Marks 75th Anniversary Tomorrow — “The Central Intelligence Agency in Langley is turning 75-years-young on Tuesday, July 26…Not everyone was happy McLean was chosen as the location for the headquarters. Northern Virginians pushed back at the powers that be to the point that they considered building it where the Kennedy Center is now.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Retired Nationals Star Buys McLean Mansion — “Following his retirement from the Washington Nationals, Ryan Zimmerman is making real estate moves. Property records show that the former slugger paid $11 million for a brand-new build in McLean, VA. The purchase comes after the All-Star listed his longtime home in Great Falls, VA, in April for $8.5 million.” [Realtor]

It’s Monday — Rain in the afternoon and evening. High of 87 and low of 76. Sunrise at 6:05 am and sunset at 8:28 pm. [Weather.gov]

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The Oakton location is similar to another restaurant in Georgia (via WNB Factory)

WNB Factory, a restaurant that specializes in wings and burgers, is expected to open two Fairfax County locations next month.

The business plans to open at Hunter Mill Plaza (2952 Chain Bridge Road) between Aug. 15 and 30, depending on final permit approvals, according to a company representative.

Joon Kim, a franchisee with the company, says the new location in Oakton fills what he says is a lack of good wing and burger spots in the area.

Our burgers are all never frozen Certified Angus Beef. Our chickens, chicken tenders, and chicken wings (23 flavors) are all natural, hormone free, cage free,” Kim told FFXnow.

The business also plans to open a location in Huntington sometime in the middle of next month. That spot will be located at 5952 Richmond Highway.

WNB has locations across the country.

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Morning Notes

The sky is reflected by the office building at 8150 Leesburg Pike in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Metro Warns of Hour-Long Waits for July 4 — “Due to the reduced number of railcars available for service, capacity on Metrorail will be less than previous Independence Days. That means customers should be prepared for longer wait times, up to 60 minutes, and for crowding to occur, especially at the conclusion of the fireworks.” [WMATA]

Unhealthy Air Possible Today — “Code Orange unhealthy air is forecast for tomorrow (Thursday) for the metropolitan Washington region. Area residents are encouraged to limit outdoor activities.” [Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments/Twitter]

Police Make Arrest in Fairfax Shooting — Joshua Daniel Danehower, 33, of Arlington has been charged with second-degree murder after the fatal shooting of 32-year-old Fairfax City resident Gret Glyer. Founder of the online fundraising platform DonorSee, Glyer was reportedly killed while in bed with his wife on June 24. Police describe Danehower as an “acquaintance of the family” but didn’t comment on a potential motive. [Patch, NBC4]

Local Man Indicted for Fatal Alexandria Crash — “A 44-year-old Fairfax County man was arrested on June 22 and faces multiple charges for a February 22 crash on Duke Street that resulted in the death of a driver and injuries to other drivers.” A grand jury indicted Carlos Kami Adar McKethan for aggravated vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence of phencyclidine, or PCP. [ALXnow]

Fairfax City Revises Official Seal — “Fairfax City Council voted unanimously during a Tuesday night public hearing to adopt a new city seal. The new seal replaces one containing depictions of a Confederate soldier and a British lord with no direct connection to the city.” [Patch]

Metro Police to Introduce Body Cameras — “Transit Police officers that monitor Metro stations and buses will wear body-worn cameras starting next year, the agency said Tuesday. The Department of Justice gave the Metro Transit Police Department a $905,000 grant for the cameras last year, but now is moving forward with the program.” [DCist]

Health Food Stall Now Open in Tysons — “#MakawSuperfoods’ grand opening is Friday at noon! The health food restaurant that offers fresh açaí bowls and smoothies, recently opened in @TysonsGalleria. For their grand opening, they will be offering a buy ONE get ONE 50% OFF deal and a FREE gift for the first 25 orders.” [Tysons Partnership/Twitter]

New Garden Proposed at Lincolnia’s Green Spring — “Green Spring’s Moon Gate Garden project will include a mix of traditional and modern design concepts to draw visitors into this new Asian-inspired garden. This new garden will provide sanctuary and inspiration for 200,000 visitors who come to this Fairfax County Park Authority site annually.” [FCPA]

Oakton Office Complex Changes Hands — “Network Realty Partners has acquired Redwood Plaza, a three-building office complex in Fairfax. Va., for $23 million…Located at 10560, 10580 and 10600 Arrowhead Drive, the trio of Class A office buildings were recently renovated with the addition of a new tenant lounge, which features arcade games, shuffleboard, craft beer on tap, and a 24-hour café.” [Commercial Observer]

It’s Thursday — Clear throughout the day. High of 87 and low of 68. Sunrise at 5:48 am and sunset at 8:40 pm. [Weather.gov]

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The scene of a crash that injured six people in Oakton (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Neighbors are frustrated by a lack of safety improvements in recent years in Oakton’s Blake Lane corridor, where a driver struck three pedestrians, killing two, earlier this month.

At a virtual community meeting last night (June 23), many people who live on and close to Blake Lane expressed anger at state and county officials for what they describe as inaction despite extensive advocacy efforts. One resident said they’ve been asking for improvements since one particularly bad crash 20 years ago.

“There’s a lot of anger and frustration in our community right now,” said one neighbor. “…There’s anger that we’ve been warning VDOT for years how dangerous this road is, and we’ve gotten a lot of signs but don’t feel like we’ve made much progress other than that. If we don’t address this, more people are going to die. I’m sure of it.”

Hosted by Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik, the meeting saw police, transportation, and schools representatives discuss potential solutions to help make Blake Lane safer near several schools, including Oakton High and Mosaic Elementary.

Vehicle speed, lack of safe pedestrian crossing areas, and educating young drivers are the big concerns that local agencies and residents hope to address.

The 18-year-old driver involved in the fatal June 7 crash was charged with involuntary manslaughter Tuesday (June 21). Police revealed that he was driving 81 miles per hour in a 35-mile-an-hour zone.

There have been 114 crashes on Blake Lane since 2017, according to data presented by the Fairfax County Police Department. Six of them involved pedestrians, and two crashes involved bicyclists. While 31 resulted in injuries, the June 7 crash is the only one that has been fatal.

Just over a quarter — 31 crashes — involved a “young driver,” between the ages of 15 and 20 years old.

Where Blake Lane intersects with Five Oaks Road, where the June 7 crash occurred, there have been 12 total crashes since 2017, including two involving pedestrians and four involving a young driver.

Crash statistics for the Blake Lane at Five Oaks intersection (via Supervisor Dalia Palchik/Facebook)

The county and state officials proposed potential measures but cautioned that many permanent changes are subject to reviews, audits and studies. Read More

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A utility pole appears to be down in a roadway where a crash occurred in Oakton (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 11:45 a.m.) The 18-year-old driver in the Oakton crash that killed two Oakton High School students earlier this month has been indicted.

A grand jury indicted Fairfax resident Usman Shahid on involuntary manslaughter charges Tuesday morning (June 21), Fairfax County Police Department said in a press release. Shahid is expected to turn himself in later today (Thursday), police said. More information on bond will be available then.

The department’s Crash Reconstruction Unit determined that, on June 4, Shahid was driving a 2018 BMW south on Blake Lane at a “high rate of speed” when he struck a 4Runner in the intersection, continued traveling south, and struck three high school students on the sidewalk. The car continued down Blake Lane and struck a utility pole.

Two of the pedestrians died, and the third was seriously injured. Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said at a press conference that she is now recovering at home.

Shahid and the front passenger of the car were transported to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Two passengers in the rear seats of the BMW fled the scene, police said at the time.

The police investigation suggests that Shahid was driving around 81 mph when his car first hit the 4Runner, Davis said.

Davis said the BMW passengers have been identified. While noting that they shouldn’t have fled the scene, Davis said the passengers have cooperated with the investigation, and police don’t anticipate pressing charges against them.

“This is a tragic incident that could have been avoided, and our hearts break for the families of these two young girls,” Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said in a news release. “…I am committed to working toward accountability in a manner that promotes healing for the families involved and the wider community.”

Shahid faces two counts of involuntary manslaughter, both felony charges that carry a maximum sentence of 10 years of jail time, according to Descano.

The crash prompted renewed calls for safety improvements on the Blake Lane corridor. A meeting is scheduled for tonight with stakeholders that will be livestreamed to Supervisor Dalia Palchik’s Facebook.

“Slow down, slow down, be a defensive driver,” Davis said. “There’s nothing so important you have to jeopardize your safety and the safety of others by getting some place 30 seconds faster.”

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The scene of a crash that injured six people in Oakton (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Fairfax County is considering the addition of photo speed cameras in school crossing and highway work zones.

The Fairfax County Police Department has been working on the initiative, and a plan will be finalized before it is presented to the Board of Supervisors in a report, Deputy County Executive for Safety and Security Tom Arnold previously told FFXnow.

Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik hopes to get Oakton High School into a pilot for the speed cameras, she told FFXnow. Two Oakton High students recently died after a driver struck them and another student walking on the sidewalk of Blake Lane, a corridor where the community has had growing safety concerns.

Police say the 18-year-old driver of the car was speeding on Blake Lane before crashing into an SUV and then striking the three students.

Nearby cities and counties have added the safety devices in the last few years since a state law passed in 2020 enabling jurisdictions to install speed cameras in school and construction zones. Arlington County passed its own law allowing the devices in January, and the City of Fairfax added cameras around schools last year.

The state law dictates that local governments can impose a civil penalty if a vehicle is traveling 10 mph or more above the posted speed limit. The penalty can’t exceed $100, state law outlines.

County and state officials will hold a community meeting tonight (Thursday) on possible safety improvements in the Blake Lane corridor. The meeting will take place on Zoom with Palchik livestreaming it on her Facebook page.

The county and state have discussed improvements in the past, such as the recent implementation of an additional $200 fine for speed limit violations on Blake Lane between Jermantown Road and Sutton Road.

How do you feel about adding speed cameras in school and construction zones in the county?

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Morning Notes

Gum Springs celebrates Juneteenth with a Community Day on June 18 (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

Fairfax County Holds Primary Today — It’s primary day for voters in the 8th Congressional District, which now includes McLean, Bailey’s Crossroads, Annandale, and the Route 1 corridor in Fairfax County. With the Republican nominee already set, there is only a Democratic contest between incumbent Rep. Don Beyer and challenger Victoria Virasingh. [Fairfax County Office of Elections]

Man Dies in Oakton Crash — An 18-year-old driver died on Sunday (June 19) after losing control of his car while driving south on Fox Mill Road and hitting a tree near Bronzedale Drive. A juvenile passenger was taken to the hospital with injuries not considered life-threatening. Detectives believe speed was a factor in the crash, which resulted in the fifth non-pedestrian fatality of the year. [FCPD]

Drowned Man Remains Hospitalized — A 29-year-old man who drowned while swimming in Difficult Run Stream in McLean on Sunday is still in life-threatening condition. According to police, the man became submerged and was pulled out of the water by friends when he didn’t resurface. Fire and Rescue personnel found him about a quarter mile away from Georgetown Pike on a nearby trail. [FCPD]

Report Finds Discrimination by Housing Providers — “A fair housing test conducted by The Fairfax County Office of Human Rights, in partnership with The Equal Rights Center, showed ‘discernable differences’ between housing providers’ treatment of white and minority testers. The results also showed that ‘certain housing providers lack the training to provide the same level of treatment to Deaf individuals as they do to hearing individuals.'” [Inside NoVA]

Tysons West Vehicle Pursuit Leads to Arrest — A male juvenile allegedly “verbally threatened the victim” in the 1500 block of Cornerside Blvd on Jun 12. The juvenile attempted to drive away, striking two vehicles, before an officer stopped him using the controversial precision immobilization technique. The juvenile was arrested, and two people were treated for non-life-threatening injuries. [FCPD]

Springfield Trader Joe’s Looking to Move — Trader Joe’s is in talks to take over the roughly 24,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market at Old Keene Mill Shopping Center, suggesting that the new Whole Foods under construction at Springfield Plaza will be a relocation. The space would be larger than Trader Joe’s current 10,673-square-foot store next to the new Giant in Springfield Plaza. [Washington Business Journal]

Bank Plans Relocation From Herndon to Tysons — Part of a larger branding overhaul, Forbright Bank is moving its Herndon branch at 150 Elden Street to 1600 Tysons Blvd., a 13-story office building adjacent to Tysons Galleria. The Herndon location is the company’s only Virginia location among five branches in the region. [Washington Business Journal]

Fairfax County Police Helicopter Appears at Smithsonian Event — “Saturday, our helicopter was on display at the National Air & Space Museum’s Annual Innovations in Flight Event. 50+ aircraft fly in from around the region for this special day. Pilots Mountjoy & Edgerton greeted community members as they got a glimpse into Fairfax 1.” [FCPD/Twitter]

County Partners on Older Adult Activities — “Arlington County, Fairfax County, Prince William County, the Town of Vienna, and ServiceSource Inc. host live virtual programming on Zoom five days a week. The events range from fitness classes to special presentations to interactive games. This resource is free and all older adults and adults with disabilities who live in Northern Virginia are welcome to use it.” [Neighborhood and Community Services]

It’s Tuesday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 81 and low of 68. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

A “LOVE” sign at the Workhouse Arts Center, former site of the Lorton Prison (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Suspect in Annandale Burglaries Arrested — Fairfax County police have arrested and charged a 19-year-old man from Annandale in connection to nine commercial burglaries reported between May 26 and June 14. The suspect broke the front glass doors of each of the businesses, took cash and left on a bicycle, police say. [FCPD]

Covid Quarantine Guidelines Amended — The Virginia Department of Health no longer recommends quarantining for people exposed to COVID-19 who are up to date on their vaccinations or have recovered the disease in the last six months — double what the CDC advises. The state instead suggests isolating only if symptoms appear. [WTOP]

Roaming Rooster Opens in Chantilly — The Nashville-style hot chicken joint will open at 11 a.m. today (Friday) at 14394 Chantilly Crossing Lane, offering a free sandwich to the first 50 customers. Roaming Rooster also has locations in Tysons and Burke. [Roaming Rooster/Twitter]

Proposal Allowing More Housing Near Dulles Airport Advances — “The Fairfax County Planning Commission on June 8 backed a proposed comprehensive-plan amendment to allow residential uses in noisier areas near Washington Dulles International Airport, sending the measure to the Board of Supervisors.” [Sun Gazette]

Meeting Set on Blake Lane Safety — After a car crash killed two Oakton High School students last week, Fairfax County elected officials and transportation, police, and school leaders will hold a virtual meeting next Thursday (June 23) to discuss possible safety improvements. The meeting will take place from 7-8:30 p.m. on Zoom and be live-streamed on Facebook. [Supervisor Dalia Palchik/Twitter]

McLean Residents Criticize Maryland’s Role in 495 NEXT — “Maryland’s plans to undertake major construction work along the Capital Beltway in Fairfax County aren’t sitting well with some Northern Virginia residents and elected leaders, who are questioning why another state is involved in transportation projects outside its borders.” [Maryland Matters]

Boston Properties Sells Springfield Buildings — A Boston Properties affiliate has sold a cluster of 11 office and industrial properties in the Virginia 95 Business Park to the Bethesda-based firm Finmarc Management Inc., which closed the $127.5 million deal on Wednesday (June 15). Finmarc says it plans to lease the buildings, whose current tenants include the State Department and SAIC, but is also open to “longer-term possibilities.” [Washington Business Journal]

State Lawmakers Reconvene to Talk Budget Amendments — The Virginia General Assembly returns to the Capitol today (Friday) to take up 38 amendments proposed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, facing a June 30 deadline to finalize a two-year spending plan. Items on the table include a three-month gas tax suspension and an elimination of state funding for abortions in rare cases where the fetus has “incapacitating” physical or mental issues. [The Washington Post]

Town of Vienna Collects Used Batteries — “Vienna is now collecting single-use & rechargeable lithium-ion batteries (11 lbs. or less; not damaged, bulging, or leaking) at the Vienna Community Center or Town Hall. Stop by during regular business hours and look for the recycling box.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

It’s Friday — Humid throughout the day. High of 85 and low of 74. Sunrise at 5:44 am and sunset at 8:38 pm. [Weather.gov]

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