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Northbound Ox Road approaching Blu Steel Way (via Google Maps)

(Updated at 3 p.m.) A 76-year-old woman from Alexandria has died following a two-car crash on the Ox Road stretch of Route 123 in Lorton.

On Wednesday evening (Nov. 2), Rachelle Bernice Feth was turning left onto southbound Ox Road from Blu Steel Way when a 2008 Volkswagen Golf going north on Ox Road collided with her 2013 Toyota Camry, the Fairfax County Police Department said yesterday.

(Correction: Police initially identified the victim in the crash as Ruth Feth, but family members shared her correct name. The police news release has also been updated.)

Feth sustained critical injuries and was transported to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

“Rachelle was an amazing woman who was just trying to return home from church,” an anonymous tipster told FFXnow.

The FCPD says its Crash Reconstruction Unit detectives don’t believe alcohol was a factor, but an investigation into the crash, including whether speed was an issue, is still ongoing.

Blu Steel Way is a residential cul-de-sac that intersects with Ox Road next to New Hope Church, turning into a service road for Dominion Power on the south side of Route 123.

At that intersection, Ox Road has two travel lanes in each direction, along with two designated turn lanes on the northbound side, a left turn lane on the southbound side and a grass median. Blu Steel Way has a stop sign but no signal.

The speed limit on Ox Road is 55 mph, per the Virginia Department of Transportation.

According to state crash data, there have been 92 crashes on Ox Road this year, including one previous fatality in February and five that resulted in serious injuries. This week’s crash doesn’t appear to have been reported to the database yet.

Specifically at the Blu Steel Way intersection, one crash has been reported in each year from 2019 to 2021, though no fatalities or serious injuries are listed.

Feth is the 15th non-pedestrian to die in a vehicle crash on county roads this year, surpassing the 14 such fatalities recorded by this point in 2021.

The FCPD has reported 17 pedestrian fatalities this year, most recently from an Oct. 26 hit-and-run on Leesburg Pike in Bailey’s Crossroads. In comparison, there were 11 fatal crashes involving pedestrians by late October 2021, 12 in 2020, and 14 in 2019, according to data provided by the police department.

Police said anyone with information about Wednesday’s crash can contact detectives at 703-280-0543. Tips can also be sent anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone (1-866-411-TIPS) and online.

“Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1,000 dollars,” the FCPD said. “Please leave contact information if you wish for a detective to follow up with you.”

Image via Google Maps

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Afternoon rush-hour traffic clogs up Dolley Madison Boulevard at the Ingleside Avenue intersection in McLean (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

As Fairfax County explores ways to improve the flow of traffic on Dolley Madison Blvd., the McLean Citizens Association sees an opportunity to also address safety issues at the Ingleside Avenue intersection.

The residents’ group urged the Fairfax County Department of Transportation last week to consider installing a traffic signal there or at the adjacent Elm Street intersection as part of the county’s ongoing Dolley Madison Corridor Study.

“Installation of a traffic signal at either location would heighten safety for pedestrians and bicyclists,” MCA President Scott Spitzer wrote in a letter approved by the board of directors on Wednesday (July 6). “A signal at the Dolley Madison/Ingleside intersection would also address concerns raised by residents who are unable to turn left from Dolley Madison Boulevard onto Ingleside Avenue during rush hour traffic.”

Though they’re the size of neighborhood streets, Ingleside and Elm connect downtown McLean to the residences north of Dolley Madison (also known as Route 123) as well as the Dolley Madison Library, McLean Central Park, and McLean Community Center.

Traffic backups on Route 123 routinely block Ingleside in particular, making it “almost impossible” for drivers to turn into or out of the street, one MCA board member said during last week’s meeting.

“I certainly have had experience trying to take a left on Ingleside and having to wait minutes because nobody will let you in,” Glenn Harris, who chairs MCA’s transportation committee, said.

If a traffic light isn’t possible, given the proximity of Old Dominion Drive, MCA says it would support a flashing pedestrian beacon and “enhanced crosswalks” at either the Ingleside or Elm intersection.

There are currently striped crosswalks across Dolley Madison on the east sides of both intersections, but Elm Street has no sidewalks, and Ingleside only has a sidewalk on the west side.

For drivers on Ingleside, even a right turn onto Dolley Madison can be tricky, thanks to trees that block their sightlines, an MCA board member noted.

A crash that killed a bicyclist on Dec. 29 “supports the view that there are safety issues at the intersection,” Harris said. Read More

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To ease Dolley Madison Blvd. traffic in McLean, Fairfax County has proposed some changes to the Great Falls Street and Chain Bridge Road intersection (via Google Maps)

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation is gradually whittling down its options for addressing traffic congestion on Dolley Madison Blvd. in McLean.

An online survey released on Friday (June 24) asks community members to share their thoughts on five proposals for improving the corridor, which is also known as Route 123.

Most of the concepts were introduced at community meetings on the study held in 2019 and this past May, but the survey also includes a new concept that involves changes to the Great Falls Street and Chain Bridge Road intersection.

According to the project page, the new concept proposes restriping northbound Great Falls as it approaches Chain Bridge to eliminate an existing left-turn lane in favor of two through lanes and one right-turn lane.

In addition, the intersection’s signal would be modified to coordinate traffic with Dolley Madison and “operate right-turn overlaps in the northbound and westbound directions,” the graphic says.

FCDOT is looking for input on four other concepts as well:

  • Concept 3: Restricted left turns from Balls Hill Road to Lewinsville Road, which the county says would address conflicts and spacing issues at the Balls Hill/Lewinsville and Dolley Madison/Lewinsville intersections
  • Concept 4: Restricted left turns from Dolley Madison to Old Dominion Drive, which would remove the bottleneck and make eastbound traffic through the corridor more efficient
  • Concept 7: An “option” lane from westbound Dolley Madison that at the split to Tysons and the Dulles Toll Road
  • Concept 8: Extend westbound Dolley Madison’s far-right through lane approaching the Lewinsville/Great Falls intersection

Concepts 7 and 8 were developed as substitutes for concept 6, a proposal to add three westbound lanes on Dolley Madison that encountered opposition from residents when it was raised in 2019.

FCDOT says it decided to introduce a survey “to help focus feedback” on its study of the Dolley Madison corridor.

“Between the two community meetings in 2019 and earlier this year, there have been different improvement concepts developed for the Dolley Madison Corridor Study,” the department told FFXnow by email. “FCDOT wanted to put together a survey that presented all the concepts in one place for ease in commenting, which also will help the project team form a decision moving forward.”

Responses to the survey will be accepted through July 10.

Photo via Google Maps

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Traffic from 2019 on eastbound Dolley Madison Boulevard at the Great Falls Street intersection in McLean (via Google Maps)

Fairfax County has some ideas for short-term fixes that could ease congestion on Dolley Madison Blvd. through McLean, but if traffic grows significantly further down the road, a more substantial overhaul may be needed.

For the first time in almost three years, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation returned to the community with updates on its efforts to address gridlock in the corridor between the Dulles Toll Road and Old Dominion Drive.

At a meeting on May 11, county staff shared revised traffic data and recommendations that they said take into account the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on people’s travel habits as well as infrastructure projects, like the Jones Branch Connector, designed to divert traffic from local roads.

According to the presentation, traffic in the D.C. suburbs is near pre-pandemic levels, with average daily volumes since July returning to about 90% of where they were in 2019, FCDOT project manager Maggie Qi reported.

However, aside from noticeable dips in March-April 2020 and this past January, traffic volumes have stayed relatively level over the past two to three years, and the county anticipates that people working from home will continue to slow growth, at least in the near-future.

“At some point, the ultimate solution would wind up being an interchange, but if we can find a way to keep volumes steady, we may be able to avoid that,” Qi said.

Building off of a 2010 Tysons Neighborhood Study, the Dolley Madison corridor study has been underway since 2017 — long enough that its definition of “short term” has shrunk from 10 to five years, with 2027 as the end of the planned timeframe.

Identifying the Lewinsville Road/Great Falls Street intersection as the corridor’s most problematic, particularly during afternoon peak hours, FCDOT has developed eight possible solutions, six of which come from the last community meeting in 2019:

  • Concept 1: Three continuous lanes on eastbound Dolley Madison, providing additional capacity with a new lane after the Dulles Toll Road
  • Concept 2: Builds on the first concept by extending the three lanes through Lewinsville/Great Falls
  • Concept 3: Eliminate left turns from Balls Hill Road onto Lewinsville, which could get another lane
  • Concept 4: A “partial jughandle” with restricted left-turns from Dolley Madison onto Old Dominion in both directions and onto Ingleside Avenue for eastbound traffic
  • Concept 5: Widen Lewinsville/Great Falls to add two exclusive left-turn lanes, allowing the traffic signal timing to become more efficient
  • Concept 6: Three westbound travel lanes on Dolley Madison from Old Dominion to Lewinsville

Though staff said that it would significantly reduce congestion, the sixth concept is no longer being considered after residents expressed strong opposition, since it would limit access to adjacent neighborhoods from Dolley Madison. Read More

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Morning Notes

Looking up at Tysons Central office building on an overcast day (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Saturday Morning Shooting in Herndon Under Investigation — “Officers are investigating a shooting in the 2100 block of Astoria Circle in Herndon. One person taken to the hospital with serious injuries. Suspect(s) believed to have left the area in a silver sedan.” [FCPD/Twitter]

New Route 123 to I-66 Ramp to Open Tomorrow — “The new permanent ramp from Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road) South to I-66 West is planned to open during the early morning hours on or about Tuesday, April 19. The current temporary left turn and connector ramp from Route 123 South to I-66 West will close as part of this work.” [VDOT]

Fight Leads to Stabbing Near Fairfax Circle — “Officers were called to the location for reports of a group of men fighting. When they arrived, the victim was found with a stab wound to the upper body. The victim was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. The victim’s condition was later upgraded, and the victim remained hospitalized. Preliminarily, this does not appear to be a random act.” [FCPD]

Seven Corners Alehouse to Close — “Dogfish Head Alehouse in Seven Corners is closing. Its last day is May 15. A message from the restaurant on social media says ‘Upon renewal of our lease, we were not able to come to terms with the property owner and as such our time has come to an end.'” [Annandale Today]

T-Mobile Might Be Coming to McNair — Multiple commercial real estate firms reported that telecom giant T-Mobile has signed a lease for almost 200,000 square feet at 2340 Dulles Corner Blvd. An update from one firm suggested the deal had not yet closed, but if accurate, it would be the largest first-quarter lease in Northern Virginia. [Washington Business Journal]

Walkability Still a Challenge in Tysons — “The area known to county planners as Tysons East…has seen significant investment over the past decade…But those areas are separated from each other and neighboring developments like the Tysons Corner Center Shopping Center and Tysons Galleria by major highways, limiting the suburb’s ability to truly feel like an urban center.” [Bisnow]

New Reston Fire Station Celebrated — “Thank you ⁦@ChiefJohnButler⁩ and @ffxfirerescue⁩ for a great grand opening of the new Reston Fire Station this morning (4/16) We appreciate all you do for our community!” [Walter Alcorn/Twitter]

FCPS Hires New HR Assistant Superintendent — “Superintendent Scott S. Brabrand has named Sherry Wilson, who currently serves as director of Human Resources in Chesapeake (Va.) Public Schools, to the role of assistant superintendent, Department of Human Resources, effective June 1, 2022.” [FCPS]

It’s Monday — Rain starting in the afternoon. High of 47 and low of 39. Sunrise at 6:29 am and sunset at 7:50 pm. [Weather.gov]

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View of the Route 123 and I-66 interchange on March 2, 2022 (via VDOT)

Drivers going from Route 123 to I-66 will finally get to see the outcome of construction crews’ work.

An on-ramp to I-66 East from southbound Chain Bridge Road in Oakton is slated to open during the day tomorrow (Tuesday).

That means drivers will no longer have to use the temporary traffic pattern involving a left-hand turn at a traffic signal to go eastbound on the interstate.

To complete the connection, crews will have to close a right lane on Route 123 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The work could be rescheduled based on the weather, though.

Another permanent loop opened Nov. 2, allowing northbound Chain Bridge Road traffic to go west.

The new ramps are part of the Transform 66 project, which will extend the I-66 Express Lanes from I-495 in Dunn Loring to Gainesville. The project is also adding a new trail and transit amenities to the corridor.

The new lanes are slated to open this December.

A map shows a new permanent loop ramp from southbound Chain Bridge Road to I-66 East (via VDOT)
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