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The small blue corner signs for Lee Highway and Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway are being replaced (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Officially, Fairfax County doesn’t have a Lee Highway or Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway anymore, but months after the names were dropped, they can still be seen on street signs throughout both corridors.

By the end of this month, that should no longer be the case — at least for smaller signs, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation says. A contractor is replacing the small blue signs at street corners with ones identifying the roadways as Route 29 and Route 50, respectively.

“This work is underway, and we anticipate this work to be complete by the end of November,” FCDOT Head of Communications Freddy Serrano told FFXnow.

The process of replacing larger, overhead directional signs, however, isn’t expected to begin until next year.

Getting those signs made and installed will be the Virginia Department of Transportation’s responsibility, though the county is covering all of the costs. A VDOT spokesperson says the department hopes to finalize an agreement with a contractor by the end of this year.

“It will involve 110 signs and it should take about two years to complete from the start of the contract that is anticipated to start in Jan. 2024,” VDOT said by email.

According to Serrano, a preliminary schedule from VDOT estimates that the overhead sign replacements will be finished by the end of 2025.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted on Sept. 13, 2022 to stop referring to routes 29 and 50 as Lee and Lee-Jackson Memorial, names adopted in the early 20th century as nods to Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.

Instead of giving the roadways entirely new names, as Arlington County did with its Route 29 segment in 2021, the board opted to use the route numbers to reduce confusion and the cost of new street signs. FCDOT staff previously said changing the signs would be more challenging for longer names.

At the time of the vote, county staff estimated that the sign updates would cost about $1.4 million. It cost about $46,000 for FCDOT’s contractor to fabricate and install the corner street signs, according to Serrano.

“Most of the costs of the sign replacement will be VDOT’s replacement of the larger overhead signs,” he said. “FCDOT will not have an updated cost estimate for that portion of the sign replacement until VDOT begins their preliminary design.”

County staff estimated it would take another $1.5 million to fund grants to help affected property owners cover expenses for updating business licenses, land records and other documents, as recommended by the Confederate Names Task Force that reviewed the proposed renamings.

On its website, FCDOT says the county “is developing” a financial assistance program, but Serrano confirmed to FFXnow that “the proposed grant program for businesses has not been approved at this time.”

The county updated addresses in its records to reflect the name changes, including for property taxes and voter registrations, on July 5.

Eastbound Route 50 is closed after a crash that hospitalized a teen at Annandale Road in West Falls Church (via Google Maps)

A teen has suffered potentially life-threatening injuries in a crash on Route 50 near the Mosby neighborhood in West Falls Church.

Police and emergency medical personnel were dispatched to Route 50 (Arlington Blvd) at Annandale Road shortly before 8:30 p.m., according to scanner traffic on Open MHz.

“It looks like there’s a 13-year-old patient that’s unconscious. They are breathing,” a dispatcher told police at 8:28 p.m.

The teen was a pedestrian and has been transported to a hospital, the Fairfax County Police Department said. It’s unclear what vehicle was involved, but police said the driver stayed at the scene.

Eastbound Route 50 has been closed, and police are advising community members to avoid the area.

Map via Google Maps

A proposed mixed-use development concept for the northeast corner of Chain Bridge Road and Fairfax Blvd (via Fairfax City)

The vacant Fuddruckers building along Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road) in Fairfax City may not be standing for much longer.

The site at 3575 Chain Bridge Road, which has been empty since the burger joint closed in 2017, is being eyed for a potential mixed-use development that would also encompass the adjacent Exxon gas station and Tobacco Hut lots, covering about 2.3 acres total at the corner of Chain Bridge and Fairfax Blvd (Route 50).

While no formal application has been submitted yet, a development concept is scheduled to be presented to the Fairfax City Council at a work session tonight (Tuesday). It went to the city’s planning commission for feedback on Sept. 25.

According to a staff report, the potential concept from Chain Bridge LLC would transform the site with an 8-story, mixed-use building featuring about 271 apartments and 2,253 square feet of retail uses on the ground floor.

The project would also include a five-level, 316-space parking garage, approximately 1,662 square feet of open space on Chain Bridge Road and two new streets: a Northfax Street extending east from Chain Bridge and a not-yet-named north-south road off of Fairfax Blvd.

“This mixed-use development aims to transform the current car-centric commercial area into a vibrant urban block. The mid-rise structure will place retail, residential lobby, and amenity areas along Northfax Street’s extension,” Justin Johnson, vice president of real estate development for JM International, wrote in a Sept. 11 letter to the city.

The letter indicates that the residential units will be apartments, averaging 775 square feet in size. About 65% of the units will be studio or one-bedroom apartments, and the remaining units would have two bedrooms. The applicant says it would commit to making 6% of the units affordable in accordance with the city’s still relatively new Affordable Dwelling Unit program.

Johnson said the proposal “aligns with the vision of creating a bustling pedestrian-focused pathway along Northfax Street,” as laid out by the Northfax Small Area Plan that the city council approved in June 2020.

According to the letter, the property owner had reached a lease agreement with a new tenant for the Fuddruckers building in May when the city’s Economic Development team contacted them to “relay the City’s eagerness to see the Fuddruckers demolished and the road network extended as soon as possible.”

At last week’s briefing on the concept, the planning commission raised concerns about the building’s height and limited retail space.

The property owner looked at providing up to 3,000 square feet of retail, but determined that “unfortunately eats away at the needed residential lobby and amenity space,” Johnson said.

In order to make the development work, JM International says it would need a density increase of up to 125 units per acre, a 33% reduction from the city’s residential parking requirement, a waiver from parallel parking on the new north-south street and “a moderate amount” of retail frontage adjacent to Chain Bridge.

The garage parking spaces would be broken down into 305 spaces for residents and 11 for the retail. The concept also proposes 12 parallel parking spaces off-site along Northfax Street.

Without the requested incentives, the project risks “becoming merely a standalone retail location,” the letter said.

In addition to replacing a gas station and underutilized retail buildings with housing, the proposed concept would improve the site’s accessibility and ease traffic congestion between Old Town Fairfax and I-66 with the Northfax Street extension, according to the developer.

“By replacing an aging structure situated at a key intersection, the project introduces additional residents and rejuvenates the area,” Johnson wrote. “Given these compelling features, the project holds a high likelihood of realizing its envisioned success.”

Virginia State Police vehicle (photo by John Calhoun/JC Photography)

(Updated at 12:35 p.m.) A pedestrian died last night (Sunday) after being hit by a driver on the Capital Beltway (I-495) near Merrifield, Virginia State Police say.

The state police responded to calls about a pedestrian being struck on a northbound I-495 service road to Route 50 around 9:14 p.m., according to a VSP spokesperson.

Identified as Douglas C. Haskett II, a 55-year-old Ashburn resident, the pedestrian was hit by the driver of a Chevrolet Traverse, who fled the scene. Haskett died at the scene, according to police.

A dispatcher asked for any unit on the Beltway that could “check on a pedestrian walking in the road,” according to scanner traffic on Open MHz.

“There’s people standing on that ramp north to 50,” the dispatcher told the responding troopers.

Troopers shut down the ramp from Gallows Road, reporting that there were “multiple vehicles” on the scene. However, the vehicle responsible for the crash was not present, a trooper told the dispatcher.

At 9:39 p.m., a Fairfax County police officer said they had “received a call from a citizen who believes he might be the hit-and-run driver,” according to the scanner.

“During the course of the crash investigation, state police were notified by Fairfax County Police that they had received a call from the driver of the Chevrolet,” VSP spokesperson Corinne Geller confirmed in an update around 12:20 p.m. today (Monday).

The call came from a parking garage in the Mosaic District. Upon locating the Chevrolet in the garage, troopers arrested the driver — Brian C. Diffell, 46, of Falls Church — and charged him with a felony count of hit-and-run.

“The investigation remains ongoing and in consultation with the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney,” Geller said.

Arlington Blvd at South Manchester Street near Seven Corners (via Google Maps)

A Fairfax County police officer is under investigation for allegedly driving while intoxicated, causing a crash on Route 50 (Arlington Blvd) near Seven Corners.

Justin Faison, an officer assigned to the Mount Vernon District station, was arrested Saturday night (Aug. 19) after crashing into another vehicle near South Manchester Street at 1:41 a.m., the Fairfax County Police Department reported yesterday (Sunday).

There were seven people in the other vehicle. They were all transported to a nearby hospital to get treatment for what police described as “minor injuries.”

“The officer was off-duty and driving his personal vehicle at the time of the arrest,” the FCPD said.

Faison has been charged with a DUI and is now on administrative leave while the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau conducts an investigation, police said. He was sworn in as an officer last year.

The FCPD handled the crash even though it occurred just east of the county border, according to an Arlington County Police Department spokesperson, who said ACPD wasn’t involved in the response.

Image via Google Maps

Police direct traffic at Route 50 and Pickett Road after a three-vehicle crash (via VDOT)

(Updated at 6:30 p.m. on 8/13/2023) An 85-year-old man died Friday (Aug. 11) after getting seriously injured in a three-vehicle crash on Arlington Blvd (Route 50) in Merrifield.

Paul Hession, a resident of the Churchill neighborhood in the McLean area, was a passenger in a 2015 Toyota Camry that was turning left from westbound Arlington Blvd to Stonehurst Drive around 11:44 a.m. on Friday, the Fairfax County Police Department said in a news release on Saturday (Aug. 12).

“The driver of a second vehicle, a 2010 Toyota Prius, traveling eastbound on Arlington Boulevard, struck the Camry in the intersection,” police said. “After the initial collision, the Camry struck a third car, a 2023 Mercedes-Benz Eqs300, that was stopped at the intersection.”

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department units were dispatched to the scene of the crash around 11:58 a.m., according to scanner traffic on Open MHz. At least one person had to be extricated from their vehicle.

Hession was taken to an area hospital, where he died. The drivers of all three vehicles were also hospitalized with injuries not considered life-threatening.

Virginia Department of Transportation traffic cameras showed vehicle backups on Route 50 approaching Pickett Road, where police directed traffic at the Fairfax City border.

The crash occurred as other police and fire units were busy investigating a major two-vehicle crash on Route 50 at I-66 near Fair Oaks Mall. Route 50 was fully closed there, and both drivers were initially considered to be in life-threatening condition, the FCPD said.

Route 50 has been closed at I-66 after a two-vehicle crash near Fair Oaks (via Google Maps)

Updated at 6:40 p.m. on 8/13/2023 — Fairfax County police have determined that the crash on Route 50 started when the driver of a 2007 Jeep Laredo rear-ended a 2023 Lexus. The driver then hit a Land Rover and a guardrail, drove across the grass median and went airborne, striking a 2009 Ford U-Haul Truck.

The Jeep and U-Haul drivers were hospitalized with injuries initially considered life-threatening, but their condition has since been changed to non-life-threatening.

Police are still investigating whether alcohol, drugs or speed were a factor in the crash.

Updated at 3:30 p.m. Route 50 has reopened to traffic, according to police.

Earlier: Two people have been taken to the hospital after a two-vehicle four-vehicle crash at the Route 50 and I-66 interchange near Fair Oaks Mall.

Eastbound Route 50 has been shut down at West Ox Road as officers investigate the crash, according to the Fairfax County Police Department. The eastbound I-66 ramp to eastbound Route 50 and the I-66 West ramp to westbound Route 50 have also been closed.

Police initially reported that one person had been transported to a hospital with life-threatening injuries, but a later update stated that both drivers were in critical condition.

A Fairfax Alert on the road closure described the crash as “significant.”

The Virginia Department of Transportation advises drivers to expect delays. Its traffic camera system indicates that the east left and right shoulders of Route 50 are closed.

According to scanner traffic on OpenMHz, the incident involved two separate crash scenes with a Jeep Grand Cherokee and a U-Haul mini truck found overturned about a quarter-mile apart.

“We have a report of a Jeep Cherokee that flipped over the median with a female occupant still inside the vehicle,” a dispatcher told responders with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department at 11:11 a.m.

Per scanner traffic, the Jeep occupant had a broken arm and needed to be extricated.

The person who suffered life-threatening injuries was trapped in the driver’s front seat of the U-Haul. FCFRD responders reported that they had extricated the person around 11:35 a.m.

At least two other vehicles were reportedly involved in the crash, including an SUV that got flipped onto its driver’s side. The dispatcher reported at 11:38 a.m. that they got a call from someone who had pulled off at Route 50 and Waples Mill Road with two people in need of medical attention.

Map via Google Maps

The Woodlake Towers condominium complex in Seven Corners (via Google Maps)

A man shot his mother and himself in Seven Corners yesterday (Thursday), sending both of them to the hospital, Fairfax County police say.

Officers were dispatched to the Woodlake Towers condominiums at 6001 Arlington Blvd around 4:34 p.m. for the apparent domestic violence incident, according to scanner traffic on Open MHz.

A dispatcher relayed that a woman had called, saying her son shot her “in the arm, body and leg” and also shot himself.

Around 4:44 p.m., an officer at the scene reported that the shooter had been located with a gun in his hand.

“He shot himself in the head, and he shot the victim,” the officer said.

Both individuals were taken to the hospital with injuries that were initially considered life-threatening, according to the Fairfax County Police Department. Later, the woman’s condition was changed to non-life-threatening.

Police said there was “no apparent threat to the community.”

Photo via Google Maps

A Lee Highway road sign (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Fairfax County can officially retire Lee Highway and Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway as its names for routes 29 and 50.

The highways will be renamed after their route numbers effective July 5, the county announced today (Thursday).

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted on Sept. 13 to drop the highway names, which were homages to Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, but the Commonwealth Transportation Board didn’t approve the changes until May 24.

“The renaming of both roadways signifies our unwavering dedication to acknowledging the experiences of our community, especially our African American neighbors,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said in a statement. “Thanks to the dedicated work of all the community members who participated in the Confederate Names Task Force, we can put these divisive names behind us and continue to move our County in the right direction.”

According to the county, its records will automatically update on July 5 to reflect the new street names, including for property taxes, voter registrations and Fairfax Water.

However, individual property and business owners will be responsible for updating their address when it comes to their driver’s license, legal documents, utility bills, mail and other services.

The county says it’s developing a grant program to provide financial assistance for those affected by the name changes, though the program needs to be approved by the Board of Supervisors.

The Virginia Department of Transportation will replace the road signs, but the county has agreed to cover those costs, which were previously estimated to range from $1 million to $4 million, depending on the length of the new names.

The Board of Supervisors created the Confederate Names Task Force in 2021 after the Fairfax County History Commission identified hundreds of sites bearing names associated with the Confederacy, including Lee and Lee-Jackson Memorial highways.

According to the task force’s report, Lee Highway covers about 14 miles from Centreville to Falls Church, with a break in the middle where Route 29 meets Route 50 in Fairfax City. It was named after Robert E. Lee in 1919.

Lee-Jackson Memorial consists of about 8 miles of Route 50 in western Fairfax County. The name was adopted in 1922.

The highways have already undergone renamings in other jurisdictions, including Arlington County, Fairfax City and Loudoun County.

Northbound Arlington Blvd at Patrick Henry Drive in Seven Corners (via Google Maps)

(Updated at 4:50 p.m.) One person died and two people were seriously injured in a two-vehicle crash at the Route 50 (Arlington Blvd) and Patrick Henry Drive intersection in Seven Corners early this morning (Friday).

Emergency responders with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department were dispatched to the scene of a crash with injuries around 1:11 a.m., according to scanner traffic on Open MHz.

A preliminary investigation indicated that a 2016 Honda Accord headed east on Arlington Blvd crashed into a 2018 Honda Civic that was trying to make “an abrupt U-turn” from the far-right lane of eastbound Arlington Blvd., the Fairfax County Police Department said in a news release.

According to a dispatcher, one of the vehicles in the crash caught on fire. Christina Hamilton, 37, who’s believed to have been the Civic driver, died after being transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital.

The driver and a passenger in the Accord were hospitalized with injuries not considered life-threatening.

Witnesses told responders that another man had fled the scene and was seen headed toward the nearby Target store. However, police now say the crash doesn’t appear to have been a hit-and-run.

“At this time, detectives do not believe there is anyone outstanding,” the FCPD said. “Detectives continue to investigate to confirm Hamilton was the driver of the Civic.”

Route 50 was closed to traffic between Olin Drive and Patrick Henry until shortly before 6 a.m, according to police.

This is the third fatal crash on Fairfax County roads in 2023 that didn’t involve pedestrians, following a single-vehicle crash on Braddock Road in February and the Jan. 10 crash on Lee Chapel Road that killed two teens. At this time last year, the FCPD had recorded two non-pedestrian-involved fatal crashes.

There have been a total of seven traffic fatalities in the county this year, including highway crashes and pedestrians, according to state data.

Photo via Google Maps


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