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

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 the duration of construction 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, including those 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.”

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.

0 Comments
Patrick Henry Library in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

An initial concept for the upcoming Patrick Henry Library renovation is here, and the Vienna Town Council has some reservations.

At a Town Council conference session on Monday (June 13), Fairfax County public works staff unveiled a conceptual site plan for a one-story library and a four-level parking garage to replace the existing facility and parking lot at 101 Maple Avenue East.

The county hopes to expand the community library from 13,817 square feet to about 18,000 square feet — smaller than the previously expected 21,000 square feet — to accommodate its programming plans, including a larger children’s section and upgraded technology.

The project will also add a public parking garage to the 1.4-acre site. The current concept provides 216 spaces, including seven accessible spots and five with electric vehicle charging stations — more than the 209 spaces required by the county’s agreement with the Town of Vienna.

Fairfax County’s initial concept site plan for the new Patrick Henry Library and parking garage (via Town of Vienna)

With an access road planned from Maple Avenue and a driveway to the garage from Center Street, the two structures will essentially take up every available inch of space.

“The site is quite constrained in size for the uses proposed,” Vienna Planning and Zoning Director David Levy said. “Parking garages in particular have minimum dimensions related to turning radii and efficient layouts. As a result, there’s not really many options for the concept design.”

The limited space will make it difficult to meet Vienna’s tree canopy requirements, which may have to be waived, Levy told the council.

The concept provides open space in the form of a plaza at the corner of Maple and Center. A rooftop terrace to provide outdoor reading and classroom space has been considered, but it would be “cost-prohibitive” to include initially, according to county staff.

Though staff said the setback from Maple Avenue will be slightly increased, council members urged the design team led by the firm RRMM Architects to find ways to use less space and reduce the height of the garage. Read More

0 Comments
The Patrick Henry Library parking lot in Vienna, empty after it closed at 6 p.m. (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

As new development starts to emerge in Vienna’s commercial corridor, the town wants to make sure it’s staying in the lines when it comes to parking.

The Vienna Town Council approved $115,000 in funding on Monday (June 6) for a parking supply and demand study that will assess the current availability of parking, future needs, and potential strategies for managing parking going forward.

The contract will go to Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates, Inc., a transportation firm that’s also involved in the town’s first comprehensive zoning code update in half a century.

Utilizing the same consultant will allow staff to “seamlessly” integrate the study’s findings into the Code Create Vienna project, Andrew Jinks, a transportation engineer and planner for the town, told the council.

“Right now, the schedule is for this to be wrapped up at the end of January,” Jinks said of the parking study. “If it trails into February, the data would already be available.”

The Code Create website suggests a public hearing process could start this fall, but Town Manager Mercury Payton told the council that the new code isn’t expected to be finalized for another 12 to 14 months.

While all five present council members voted to fund the study, some initially questioned whether it’s necessary given the similarities with the Code Create process, which includes a review of the town’s existing parking standards.

Nelson/Nygaard’s proposal breaks the study into three phases:

  1. Review the town’s existing parking situation
  2. Forecast future demand based on projected development, travel patterns, and other factors
  3. Develop an overall parking strategy — a top recommendation of the economic development report that Vienna commissioned last year

The consultant plans to conduct stakeholder workshops, public meetings, and an online survey.

Councilmember Ray Brill argued that some of those efforts seem “duplicative” of what the town has spent more than a year doing with the zoning code update, suggesting the study could instead hone in on areas like Church Street and the Vienna Shopping Center with well-known challenges.

“There’s some fluff in there,” Brill said. “We have a parking problem in certain areas. We don’t in others. Focus on the ones we have, come up with a solution, and don’t take eight months to do it.”

Though public parking concerns have come up in Vienna before, Councilmember Nisha Patel expressed skepticism that another study will add enough new information to justify the cost. She noted that upcoming projects, such as the Patrick Henry Library renovation and a proposed Church Street development, could alleviate current space shortages.

Councilmembers Chuck Anderson and Steve Potter countered that updated data is needed to help the town plan for the future.

“Given the number of changes in our society, especially since Covid, on where [people] work and where they drive and a lot of things being delivered, we need to really go in with our new zoning [code], with realistic numbers for parking,” Anderson said.

Patel said Anderson’s clarification of the study’s goal helped, and she and Brill ultimately supported allocating the funds.

0 Comments
The Herndon Town Council is considering establishing a parking zone in the Leona Lane neighborhood

Residents of Leona Lane in Herndon are seeking the town’s help to rectify long-term parking issues in the area.

The neighborhood is constrained by limited curbside parking, limited space for emergency vehicles, sight line issues, and trash and litter, according to residents. They also say they’ve had trouble getting town services like trash, recycling, and snow and leaf removal.

After investigating the matter, Town Manager Bill Ashton II said he discovered residents of an adjacent neighborhood have been taking up most of the available parking space along Leona Lane from the intersection with Marjorie Lane and its associated cul-de-sac.

An April petition from the Runnymede Manor Homeowners’ Association with 14 signatures made its way to the town, asking officials to consider creating a residential parking permit zone on Leona Lane. The Herndon Town Council is considering the proposal — which would restrict parking from midnight to 7 a.m. daily — at a meeting tomorrow (Tuesday).

“Staff will work with the homeowners to implement the program in the affected areas and will watch carefully to determine if additional action should be taken,” Ashton wrote in a statement.

The town’s engineering staff found that restricting parking is necessary for safety reasons. They recommended removing 13 spaces to improve sight lines and access for emergency vehicles as part of the parking zone.

The implementation of the parking zone is the first planned step in rectifying ongoing issues in the neighborhood.

Ashton said town staff will monitor the area to determine if implementing parking restrictions shuffles issues to another section of Leona Lane.

The zone would only apply to Leona Lane from its intersection with Marjorie Lane to the cul-de-sac where Leona ends.

A vote is expected on June 14.

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Jean R. Packard Center at Occoquan Regional Park in Lorton (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

FCPS Condemns Recent Mass Shootings — “Fairfax County Public Schools remains steadfast in our commitment to speak up and speak out against such acts of hatred and domestic terrorism. This past weekend, the Buffalo, New York, and Laguna Woods, California communities experienced unthinkable acts of violence. We grieve with the families who lost loved ones and are suffering.” [FCPS]

Metro Veers Into Another Safety Issue — “Metrorail repeatedly powered the electric third rail while workers were still on the roadway in recent weeks, bypassing safety procedures and putting people at risk of injury and death, according to a new report issued by the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission.” [DCist]

County Bus Workers Win Statewide Competition — “Fairfax Connector Operators and Maintenance Professionals excelled at the Virginia State Bus Roadeo last month…The Fairfax Connector/ Transdev Maintenance Team placed first in the maintenance team category and will represent the Commonwealth of Virginia in the International Bus Roadeo next year.” [Fairfax Connector]

Local Vietnamese Community Recognized — A Virginia Historical Marker recognizing the significance of Vietnamese immigrants in Northern Virginia will be dedicated at Eden Center in Falls Church on next Tuesday (May 24). The community was nominated by Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School students last year as part of a statewide Asian American and Pacific Islander History Month contest. [City of Falls Church]

Descano Left Out of Virginia Violent Crime Task Force — “Commonwealth’s attorneys Buta Biberaj, of Loudoun County; Amy Ashworth, of Prince William County; and Steve Descano, of Fairfax County, told WTOP they were unaware a task force was being assembled until Youngkin’s news release Monday. All three prosecutors are progressive Democrats.” [WTOP]

Food Trucks Pop Up at Courthouse — “NEW! Starting TOMORROW, 5/18 food trucks will be visiting the Courthouse Grounds THIS week, from 11:30am-2:30pm to offer lunch options.” [Fairfax County Circuit Court/Twitter]

Lake Anne Parking Lot to Close Next Week — “The Lake Anne Park parking lot will be closed off next week due to required warranty work, starting on May 23 through the 25th (weather dependent). A contractor will be seal coating and restriping the entire lot. Any vehicles left overnight will be towed.” [Reston Association/Twitter]

Sale of Tysons Broadcasting Company Approved — Tegna stockholders voted yesterday to approve a sale of the Tysons-headquartered company to investment firm Standard General. Expected to close in the second half of this year, the $5.4 billion deal will turn the broadcaster, which owns 64 TV stations in 51 markets across the country, into a private company. [Deadline]

“Wheel of Fortune” Coming to Tysons — “‘Wheel of Fortune Live!,’ a new live stage show, is kicking off a tour in September that includes a stop at Capital One Hall…Guests can audition to go on stage and will have the chance to spin a replica of the iconic wheel and solve puzzles to win prizes, including $10,000 and trips to Paris and Hawaii. Audience members will also have the chance to be randomly selected to win cash and prizes.” [Inside NoVA]

It’s Wednesday — Rain overnight. High of 72 and low of 52. Sunrise at 5:55 am and sunset at 8:19 pm. [Weather.gov]

0 Comments

Vehicles parked long-term in two Springfield commuter lots are preventing those spaces from being properly used, an organizer of the area’s sluglines program says.

Fairfax County pays for 235 spots at Springfield Plaza (7025 Old Keene Mill Road) through two leasing agreements worth over $199,000 per year. The spots are supposed to be reserved for commuters, but sluglines organizer Nicole Miller says several vehicles stay parked there for weeks.

“Those cars have been there 30 days plus,” she said in an email to FFXnow, citing four vehicles and an ice-cream trailer.

The ice-cream trailer, which is acting as a pop-up food truck, and other vehicles are using the premium commuter parking spots, making them unavailable for commuters, says Miller, who has tried to get the county to have them towed.

Both lots must have the spaces available for commuters between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation says staff have talked about the issue with the lot owners, who are responsible for enforcing those hours, according to their lease agreements.

The lower lot where the ice-cream truck parks must have 127 spaces for commuters, delineated by blue parking space lines. The county currently pays over $648 per each spot there for the year as well as paving work under a 2019 lease agreement.

Fairfax County leases commuter spots in two Springfield Plaza parking lots (via Fairfax County board documents)

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the agreement in June 2019 to give commuters a substitute for the nearby Old Keene Mill Park and Ride, which was rendered unusable by construction of the new six-level Springfield parking garage slated to open in 2023.

The Springfield Plaza lot appears to be owned by property management company Rappaport under the name Springfield Plaza LLC. A Rappaport executive responsible for shopping centers declined to comment, saying he’s “not the right person to answer those questions” and has “forwarded your email along to the appropriate person.”

The county has to keep leasing the blue-marked spaces until it has completed the new Springfield parking garage and transportation center. Read More

0 Comments
Tysons Galleria parking lot (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

As part of an ongoing review of off-street parking rules, Fairfax County is considering an overhaul of its parking requirements for new development.

Under the proposed tiered system, the number of parking spaces required for a particular development would vary depending on the density of the surrounding area.

Currently, developers must provide a certain amount of parking based on the type of use and how many people their building will serve. The same standards are applied throughout the county, though a special planned district for Tysons has its own rules.

The new system would leave standards for low-density areas largely unchanged, but it would impose a ceiling on the amount of parking allowed in medium-density areas and significantly limit parking in high-density, transit-oriented developments.

Those developments need less parking, because they are designed to be walkable and accessible by transit, so people can get to work, shop, and engage in other activities without having to get into a car, the county’s land-use and planning staff argues.

However, with Metro still reeling from last year’s train derailment and Fairfax County’s efforts to build more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly infrastructure a work in progress, transportation experts say signs point to people driving more frequently than they did before the pandemic as more workers return to offices.

According to The Washington Post, experts attribute the shift toward driving over mass transit to the rise in remote and hybrid work. Commuters might be more willing to drive now — and put up with increasing rush-hour congestion — when they only have to make that trip a couple of times a week.

Do you think having less parking in more developed, transit-oriented areas will help reduce Fairfax County’s reliance on cars, or will it just inconvenience people without producing the desired changes in behavior?

0 Comments
The Reston Town Center parking garages have a system that tracks the availability of spaces in real time (staff file photo)

As part of the first comprehensive overhaul since 1988, Fairfax County officials are proposing a tiered system for parking requirements based on development density.

The effort, dubbed Parking Reimagined, kickstarted in response to changing patterns of behavior, technology demographics, and 34 years of development, particularly bus service and Metrorail.

At a Land Use and Policy Committee meeting yesterday (Tuesday), the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors concurred that a tiered system would be an appropriate approach to modernize how the county regulates parking and determines requirements for development.

Board Chairman Jeff McKay lauded staff for not pursuing a “one-size fits-all approach.”

In tier 1, which covers most of the county, low density areas would see only minor changes and modest parking rate reductions. Medium density areas — which are not located in transit areas — would be subject to maximum parking requirements.

But in tier three — high-density areas with urban, mixed-use, and multimodal-oriented development — parking requirements would be significantly reduced to discourage the use of cars and encourage walkability and pedestrian-oriented development.

A tiered system sets parking requirements based on density (via Fairfax County Government)

The county kicked off a month-long series of town halls in November, courting pubic feedback on its first comprehensive parking review in decades.

Public hearings are slated to begin in the fall following community engagement on the draft proposal this summer.

“It is recognized that driving a car will continue to be common activity and that parking will continue to be necessary,” a March county memo says. “However, parking should be considered with other community and personal values.”

Parking requirements can be further reduced in Transit Station Areas and Commercial Revitalization Districts, including the Tysons Urban Center, community business centers, and suburban centers like Dulles, Fairfax Center, and Merrifield.

For example, current requirements state that developments must provide one space for every three people served, along with an additional space per employee.

The new system would set rates based on the tiered system and calculate parking based on the structure’s square footage instead of the number of people served:

The county is also contemplating adding other components to its parking regulations, including bicycle parking, parking lot landscaping, off-street loading, and electric vehicle charging.

Parking Reimagined could set a minimum required number of spaces for electric vehicles. Last year, the county allowed parking spaces for EVs to be used in calculations for total parking requirements.

The overhaul could also establish minimum bicycle parking requirements in order to encourage the use of bicycles in specific areas of the county.

“Not every transit center is the same as the one in Tysons,” said Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik.

The county hired consultant Clarion-Nelson/Nygaard to review nine regional and national municipalities to assess best practices used in other communities. That framework was used to guide the county’s effort.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn encouraged the county’s planning and development staff to coordinate changes to off-street parking requirements with other departments. He also suggested that the county consider ways to open up private parking to the public.

“We do have communities in the county that do not have parking shortages and parking challenges,” Alcorn said.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust suggested establishing a parking authority to enforce parking-related issues and regulations in areas like Tysons.

“I think it’s something we should absolutely be looking at even if its just to come back and say it’s not going to work,” Foust said.

0 Comments
Herndon Police Department has implemented a new electronic parking ticket system (courtesy of Herndon Police Department)

Hopefully, you’re not a habitual Herndon parking ticket recipient, but anyone who does wind up with a ticket may notice a difference in the citations.

Herndon Police Department has implemented a new electronic parking ticket system. While there are still handwritten tickets, you may come across the new type that appear more like a store receipt, the department says.

“The addition of the electronic ticketing system is simple: This is a more productive and efficient system and process than that of handwritten tickets,” HPD spokesperson Lisa Herndon told FFXnow. “Not only does it save time, it allows for automatic import of all information gathered.”

There is not a plan to transition all officers to the system, as the department will only have so many units for use, Herndon said.

Herndon says the change is unrelated to a recent parking rules overhaul, which included adding $50 fines for motorists blocking curbs and restrictions on the length of time certain vehicles can be in residential areas. The town council passed the changes due to increasing complaints over parking issues.

The department encouraged anyone concerned about the legitimacy of the parking tickets they’ve received to call them at 703-435-6846.

Fatimah Waseem contributed to this article.

0 Comments
The Reston Town Center parking garages have a system that tracks the availability of spaces in real time

If you’ve ever lost precious minutes circling a parking lot for an available spot or questioned the amount of space devoted to parking in a new development, the time to voice those concerns has come.

Fairfax County kicked off a month-long series of town halls last week for the public to weigh in on its first comprehensive parking review in decades, inviting stakeholders from business interests and nonprofits to tenants and religious groups to provide feedback.

Any recommended changes are expected to go to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors for votes in late 2022.

“We have lots and lots of privately owned parking, and sometimes it seems we have more than enough parking, and sometimes, we don’t have enough,” Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said during an online town hall meeting on Nov. 10.

Dubbed Parking Reimagined, the county’s initiative focuses on off-street parking. It began last month and could run for 12-18 months. County rules regulate current parking as well as what future developments must build, though exceptions can be made.

The county is partnering with a consultant team, Clarion-Nelson\Nygaard, to study the matter, but a principal with Nelson\Nygaard, Iain Banks, noted that they’re looking at data from 2019 and earlier due to the pandemic’s effects on remote work, the use of transit, and other factors.

“Transportation is changing rapidly, not only as a result of COVID and the subsequent recovery from COVID but also into a future where perhaps traffic peak periods are going to change throughout the day,” Banks said. “It’s not going to be that typical morning and evening rush hour perhaps; it’s going to be more spread out throughout the day as flexible schedules perhaps become the norm.”

Residents expressed the need for parking and observed that parking costs money in the form of taxes, a parking permit, or a parking meter, though Fairfax County currently doesn’t operate any meters for off-street parking.

Michael Davis, parking program manager with the county’s Land Development Services department, said at the town hall last week that the initiative could help people think of parking as a resource.

He said they’re looking at “right sizing” parking, where the supply is appropriate for the demand. He noted that times of high and low demand can change by the hour and season, and there can even be times when cars are unnecessary, such as for nearby commutes.

Davis also raised the idea of shared parking. Instead of requiring a minimum number of parking spots, such as for a site with apartments, offices, and retail, a smaller parking area can be built that provides enough parking for all based on hourly demand.

County officials emphasized their interest in hearing from people at the town hall, which also turned into a brainstorming session of sorts.

Alcorn wondered if there was a way to track the progress of parking availability at developments. Davis noted that technology is already at Reston Town Center and Tysons Corner Center, which have electronic signs in their garages that show how many parking spots are available in real time.

But the changes in behaviors driven by the pandemic are leading officials to cautiously approach how to gather current data.

Information about upcoming meetings and other updates can be found on the county’s website for the project.

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list