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Fairfax County police car lights flashing (file photo)

(Updated at 10:15 a.m. on 9/2/2022) Fairfax County police have arrested four people after chasing a vehicle on Route 1 that was allegedly stolen.

The north left shoulder, left lane, and center lane of Route 1 (also known as Richmond Highway) were closed today (Thursday) at the Fort Hunt Road intersection in Belle Haven, just south of the Capital Beltway, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation’s traffic information site.

According to the county police department, an officer spotted a vehicle going north on Route 1 that had been reported stolen in a Prince George’s County carjacking. When the officer attempted a traffic stop near Fort Hunt Road, the “car did not stop and continued to drive away,” a spokesperson said.

The resulting pursuit ended in the Huntington Avenue area when the officer deployed a Precision Immobilization Technique, a manuever for stopping high-speed vehicles that the FCPD pioneered but has been criticized as risky.

The move prompted the car to roll over into southbound Route 1 traffic, police told FFXnow.

Four occupants of the vehicle were taken into custody and transported to a hospital with injuries not considered life-threatening, according to police. No officers were injured.

The FCPD is advising community members to avoid the area.

The department will identify those arrested — all of them adults — and announce charges tomorrow (Friday).

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A Fairfax County police SUV with lights on (file photo)

A 24-year-old man from Maryland died on Saturday (July 30) after getting injured in a one-vehicle crash on Richmond Highway more than two weeks ago.

The Fairfax County Police Department announced last night (Sunday) that Santos Casco Sierra had succumbed to injuries sustained after he drove off of Richmond Highway, also known as Route 1, near Woodside Lane in Lorton around 5:14 a.m. on July 16.

According to police, Casco Sierra was driving south on the roadway in a 2010 Ford Fusion “when the vehicle left the roadway, struck a tree and caught on fire.”

“Fire and Rescue personnel responded to extinguish the fire and extricate Casco Sierra,” the FCPD said. “He was taken to the hospital with injuries that were considered life threatening. Sadly, he succumbed to his injuries yesterday.”

Detectives with the department’s Crash Reconstruction Unit believe speed and alcohol were both factors in the crash, the FCPD says.

This is the eighth non-pedestrian fatality from a vehicle crash that the FCPD has reported this year, topping the six such deaths recorded by August in 2021. His death came on the heels of news that a motorcyclist had died weeks after veering off of Braddock Road near Fairfax County Parkway.

Casco Sierra was the third person to die after a crash on Richmond Highway this July.

A recent study of speed conducted by the Virginia Department of Transportation recommended lowering the speed limit in the northern section of the corridor from Belle Haven through Mount Vernon. The proposal doesn’t apply to Lorton, since the study’s scope ended at Fort Belvoir Road to the east.

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Richmond Highway (via Fairfax County)

A project to underground Richmond Highway utilities may be buried due to cost, construction delays, and the risk it poses to federal funding for other projects happening along the corridor.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors weighed the pros and cons of undergrounding utilities along the highway, also known as Route 1, at an economic initiatives committee meeting on Tuesday (July 26).

Undergrounding utilities is a fairly common (and supported) practice, but the Route 1 proposal is complicated by two other major infrastructure projects in the corridor: the highway widening and the build-out of a bus rapid transit (BRT) service.

While the board didn’t take any definitive action on Tuesday, it was clear that a number of committee members, including Chairman Jeff McKay, were leaning towards scrapping the project altogether.

“It feels a little bit like ‘why wouldn’t we do it?’ if you just look at it on the surface, but as we dug into it today quite a bit…it makes it a little bit clearer how unclear it is,” Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said.

In a presentation, staff said the county would be solely responsible for financing any undergrounding, with no assistance from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) or the Federal Transit Authority (FTA).

Undergrounding utilities could also result in a two-year delay for the Route 1 widening and BRT projects, tacking on an extra year each for design work and construction. That would push the completion date for the widening to 2031 and for the BRT to 2032.

Utility undergrounding would also increase the cost of the two projects by at least $264 million, requiring an additional $136 million for the actual construction and potentially another $128 million to account for inflation during the two-year delay.

Potential costs of Richmond Highway utility undergrounding (via Fairfax County)

To raise the needed funds, county staff proposed working with the General Assembly to implement a utility “surcharge.” A $1 per month surcharge for residents and a 2.5% surcharge on commercial properties that could reach a maximum of 6.67% would bring in $40 million in revenue annually.

However, a surcharge would require an agreement with utility companies, mainly Dominion Energy, Verizon, Cox, and NOVEC. Even if an agreement is reached, it could take 12 to 18 months for the companies to sign off through their own “internal legal review” processes, delaying the undergrounding even more.

According to staff, undergrounding utilities could also result in the loss of $334 million in federal funding that the FTA is providing for the BRT project. Read More

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Traffic on Richmond Highway (via Fairfax County)

The speed limit on a 7-mile stretch of Richmond Highway should be lowered to 35 mph, the Virginia Department of Transportation says.

The road from Jeff Todd Way to the I-95/I-495 (Capital Beltway) interchange currently has a speed limit of 45 mph.

Announced at a virtual public information meeting on Wednesday night (July 20), the recommendation comes from a speed study that VDOT began nearly a year ago.

The study determined that lowering the speed on that 7.31-mile stretch of Richmond Highway was best practice considering the high crash rate, the amount of pedestrian activity, the number of bus stops, and signalized intersections that are currently along this corridor.

“Change in speed allows for longer perception and reaction time for drivers,” VDOT project manager Warren Hughes said. “We want to…change driver behavior. By changing driver behavior, it will enhance safety in the corridor.”

Richmond Highway Speed Limit Study recommendations (via Fairfax County)

As the study showed, crash rates were much higher on this section of Richmond Highway than the Northern Virginia and state averages for primary highways. On a particular 1.5-mile segment from Jeff Todd Way to Buckman Road, crash rates were 74% higher than the statewide average.

Just this month, two pedestrians were killed in separate crashes on the highway, which is also known as Route 1.

Officials noted that ample evidence suggests lowering speeds even a little saves lives, particularly when it comes to pedestrian-involved crashes.

“The impact of speed correlates to the chance of survival,” VDOT Northern Virginia District Traffic Engineer Gil Chlewicki said. “The lower the speed is when the vehicle hits the pedestrian, the better chance the pedestrian has to survive or less severe injuries. It decreases significantly, even with just five to 10 miles per hour.” Read More

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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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Morning Notes

Bella Mack of Vienna spins and jumps on roller blades at Wakefield Skate Park in Annandale (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Underground Utilities Proposed for Route 1 — Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck has joined many residents, businesses, and state Sen. Scott Surovell (D-36) as an advocate for moving power lines along Richmond Highway underground, though that isn’t in the current designs for widening the road. Advocates say undergrounding would limit storm damage and bring economic benefits. [On the MoVe]

Metro Plans for Budget Shortfall — “Metrorail has only recovered 42% of its ridership and Metrobus has recovered about 60%. This time, Metro officials are not banking on the cavalry — in the form of a federal bailout or additional local dollars — to arrive. Later this summer, board members and new Metro General Manager Randy Clarke will begin to calculate how to plug a $356 million operating budget gap.” [DCist]

Police Investigate Gunshot in Fair Oaks — “Fairfax County Police are investigating a shooting that occurred early Tuesday morning in the Fair Oaks area, according to the weekly crime report. Police responded around 3:18 a.m., for the report of a man firing a handgun into the air in the 12000 block of Thompson Road.” [Patch]

Bailey’s Crossroads Library Volunteer Honored — “Fairfax County officials gathered Saturday to honor Carmen Fernandez, a longtime pillar of the Culmore community. A conference room at the Woodrow Wilson Library in Falls Church now bears plaques in Fernandez’s honor.” [Fairfax County Public Library]

McLean Theater Group Retakes the Stage — “McLean Community Players is back after a three-year hiatus and will hit the Alden Theatre’s stage July 22 to 24 with ‘The Show Must Go On! A Musical Revue.’ The effort features an array of songs from past productions and shows the company hopes to perform in the future.” [Sun Gazette]

Local Hummingbird Photographers Get Focus — “I have been promised hummingbirds. I am, after all, at Green Spring Gardens, in the Alexandria area of Fairfax County, prime hummingbird territory…Jane [Gamble] takes me somewhere we’re guaranteed to find hummingbirds: inside the house, where 46 hummingbird photos hang on the walls.” [The Washington Post]

It’s Tuesday — Rain in the evening. High of 87 and low of 70. Sunrise at 5:55 am and sunset at 8:36 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

An empty bench by Lake Audubon in Reston (photo by Marjorie Copson)

(Updated at 9:25 a.m.) Fire and Rescue Rejects Agreement in Sexual Harassment Complaint — The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that a former Fairfax County firefighter was sexually harassed by a captain in 2017 and demoted after she reported it. But the county fire department has refused an agreement requiring improved efforts to address sexual harassment, new training, and a $150,000 award to the woman, raising the possibility of a federal lawsuit. [The Washington Post]

Pedestrian Killed in Lorton Crash Identified — The Fairfax County Police Department says Keith Thomas, 24, was walking in the southbound lanes of Richmond Highway when he was hit by the driver of a 2005 GMC Sierra at 1:28 a.m. Friday (July 8) at the I-95 interchange. The driver called for help, but Thomas was struck by other vehicles and ultimately died at the scene. [FCPD]

McLean Man Sentenced for Covid Relief Fraud — “A McLean businessman who bilked nearly $1.6 million from federal coronavirus relief programs and spent much of the money on a mansion with its own movie theater and cigar room was sentenced Friday to two years and nine months in prison.” [The Washington Post]

West Springfield House Fire Reported Yesterday — “House fire on 7/10 in 8500 block of Grigsby Drive in West Springfield area. Heavy fire on arrival. No occupants were home at time of fire. Five occupants were displaced. There were no reported injuries. Fire is under investigation. Damages: $594,825.” [FCFRD/Twitter]

Burke & Herbert to Consolidate in Kingstowne — “The bank will remain headquartered at 100 S. Fairfax St. in Old Town Alexandria, but a ‘large portion’ of its local workforce, currently dispersed across the area, will shift to 5680 King Centre Drive in Kingstowne. Burke & Herbert paid $22 million for that 113,000-square-foot building July 1, according to Fairfax County records.” [Washington Business Journal]

Virginia Workers Leave Over Telework Policy — “More than 300 employees from five state agencies have resigned since Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced Virginia’s new telework policy in early May, according to records obtained by 8News. This includes 183 Virginia Department of Transportation employees, 28 of whom cited ‘telework options’ as the reason for leaving.” [ABC8]

Vienna Band Director Steps Away — “A long commute to and from Anne Arundel County, Md., has prompted Cornelius Young to give up his post as music director for the Vienna Community Band, but he leaves with good memories of the group and the town. Young, who has been with the band since October 2014, decided to try for the job after not being selected to lead Annandale High School’s band.” [Sun Gazette]

Reston Student on Performing “Newsies” — “Reston Community Players’ new apprentice program is designed to help students ages 13 to 18 interested in theater gain pre-professional performance and technical experience. That’s exactly what Anna Schoenborn, a rising junior at South Lakes High School in Reston is gaining this summer with RCP’s production of ‘Newsies.'” [Patch]

It’s Monday — Clear throughout the day. High of 82 and low of 66. Sunrise at 5:54 am and sunset at 8:37 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Richmond Highway facing south at Huntington Avenue (via Google Maps)

(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) A pedestrian was killed in a crash on Route 1 in Lorton early this morning (Friday), just hours after Fairfax County police announced that a woman had died following a hit-and-run in the corridor.

With those two deaths, Fairfax County has now reported 12 pedestrian fatalities from vehicle crashes this year — nearly doubling the seven deaths recorded at this point in 2021.

The 2022 death toll doesn’t include a man killed on the Dulles Airport Access Highway in the Reston area on Tuesday (July 5), since that incident was handled by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police.

The Lorton crash occurred on Richmond Highway, also known as Route 1, over the northbound I-95 ramp at 1:28 a.m., the Fairfax County Police Department said in a news release this afternoon.

The pedestrian — now identified as 24-year-old Keith Thomas — was walking in the highway’s southbound lanes when he was struck by a 2005 GMC Sierra headed in the same direction.

“While the driver of the GMC called for help, Thomas was subsequently struck by other vehicles,” the FCPD said.

Thomas died at the scene. Police say alcohol and speed don’t appear to have been factors in the crash.

Charges possible in Huntington hit-and-run

Yesterday afternoon (Thursday), the FCPD announced that Doris Anita McPhail, 56, of Alexandria had succumbed to her injuries at a hospital that morning after being hit by a car while crossing Route 1 on Wednesday (July 6).

According to police, McPhail was near the Huntington Avenue intersection when a car traveling south on the highway hit her in the left lane.

Officers responded to the 5600 block of Richmond Highway around 10:20 p.m. The vehicle was originally described as a dark-colored, older SUV, but Crash Reconstruction Unit detectives later identified it as a 2007 dark-green Toyota Camry. Read More

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Morning Notes

Capital One Center on Scotts Crossing Road in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Pedestrian Hospitalized By Route 1 Hit-and-Run — “Officers are investigating a crash involving a pedestrian on Rt. 1 & Huntington Ave in Alexandria. The pedestrian was taken to the hospital with injuries considered life threating. Striking vehicle left the scene.” [FCPD/Twitter]

Suspect in Tysons Corner Center Shooting Denied Bond — “The D.C. rapper accused of firing a gun inside Tysons Corner Center in Tysons, Virginia on Father’s Day weekend has been denied bond. The Commonwealth’s Attorney announced that Noah Settles, 22, was denied bond after a bail hearing was held on Wednesday.” [FOX5]

Herndon Police Officer on Leave After Shooting — “A Herndon police officer has been placed on administrative leave after he shot a man fleeing on foot from a traffic stop on Tuesday afternoon, according to Capt. Justin Dyer of the Herndon Police Department.” The man is reportedly in stable condition, and the investigation has been turned over to the Northern Virginia Criminal Incident Response team. [Patch]

Plan to Restrict Trucks Near West Falls Church Metro Nixed — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will no longer hold public hearings next month on a plan to reroute truck traffic away from Grove Avenue at Haycock Road in McLean. The proposal fell through in the face of resident opposition and news that Falls Church City has already banned trucks on N. West Street, which had been suggested as part of the detour. [Sun Gazette]

Fairfax City Bicycle Shop Gets New Name and Owner — “Trek Bicycle Fairfax is hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its store on Fairfax Boulevard at 12 noon, on Friday…The bike shop, which is located at 10937 Fairfax Blvd., has been operating from that storefront for years as Spokes Etc. In March, bicycle manufacturer Trek purchased the business from the shop’s previous owners, who chose to retire.” [Patch]

Merrifield Tech Startup Stretches Legs — MarginEdge Co., which runs a platform that helps restaurants manage their finances, is moving its headquarters to a 23,500-square-foot office above Arlington’s Ballston Quarter mall. The company has outgrown its existing 10,000-square-foot space in Merrifield and hopes to “appeal to a new era of office-goer,” co-founder and CEO Bo Davis said. [Washington Business Journal]

Coalition for TJ Cofounder Appointed to State Board — Suparna Dutta was recently appointed to the Virginia Board of Education by Gov. Glenn Youngkin. She co-founded the Coalition for TJ, which has sued the Fairfax County School Board over changes to the admissions process for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. [ABC7]

Lake Accotink Park Prepares 60th Birthday Celebration — “A daylong event will be held Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022, for the 60th anniversary of Lake Accotink Park. Members of the public are invited from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. for special cost-free activities. Bring your family for classes, demonstrations, historical guided experiences and much more.” [Fairfax County Park Authority]

It’s Thursday — Rain until evening. High of 82 and low of 73. Sunrise at 5:52 am and sunset at 8:38 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Traffic fills the Richmond Highway (via Fairfax County)

The public’s chance to comment on proposed tweaks to Fairfax County’s plan for bus rapid transit in the Route 1 corridor is almost over.

In a pair of April meetings, staff from the Fairfax County Department of Transportation recommended reducing the number of turn lanes currently along Route 1, also known as Richmond Highway, as well as some revisions to the project design, including reducing the design speed from 45 to 35 mph.

Branded The One, the planned BRT will travel to nine stations on Richmond Highway between the Huntington Metro station and Fort Belvoir. Prompted by community concerns, the proposed turn lane changes seek to improve the corridor, particularly for bicyclists and pedestrians.

In coordination with the Virginia Department of Transportation, county staff analyzed 30 proposals and recommended changes at 13 intersections:

  • Penn Daw Area — Entrance to Kings Crossing​
  • Penn Daw Area — Shields Avenue​
  • Furman Lane
  • Southgate Drive
  • Beacon Hill Road
  • Memorial Street​
  • Arlington Drive​
  • Fordson Road/Boswell Avenue​
  • Sherwood Hall Lane​
  • Ladson Lane​
  • North Buckman Road/Mount Vernon Highway​
  • Sacramento Drive/Cooper Road​
  • Jeff Todd Way/Mount Vernon Memorial Highway​

A 17-question survey seeking public input on whether to reduce turn lanes at those intersections will close at 5 p.m. today (Tuesday).

Federal money is projected to help the estimated $795 million project, according to the county. Construction could begin in 2026 and end in 2030.

Photo via Fairfax County

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