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Route 7 has a new eastbound lane between Reston Avenue and Riva Ridge Drive (via VDOT)

Drivers headed east on Route 7 in Reston can now get a small taste of what the road will be like once it’s fully widened.

A third eastbound travel lane opened along a 2-mile stretch of Route 7 (also known as Leesburg Pike) from Reston Avenue to Riva Ridge Drive on Friday (Sept. 30), the Virginia Department of Transportation announced.

A third westbound lane will open in the same area during the week of Oct. 10, VDOT says, noting that both lanes are arriving “ahead of schedule.”

This is the first segment of new lanes to be finished since construction began over three years ago on the project, which is expanding a 7-mile section of the corridor from four to six lanes between Reston and Tysons.

The $313.9 million project is also adding shared-use paths on both sides of Route 7, replacing the Difficult Run bridge, reconfiguring the Lewinsville Road intersection, and building a new pedestrian underpass at Colvin Run.

Work on the median and noise barriers between Reston Avenue and Riva Ridge will continue until mid-2024, when the full project is scheduled to be complete, according to VDOT’s project page.

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(Updated at 6:15 p.m.) — Bailey’s Crossroads, including Route 7 and Crossroads Place, has reopened and shelter-in-place orders have been lifted after reported gunshots prompted a massive police response to the area.

The Fairfax County Police Department continues to investigate the shooting, which reportedly damaged two cars in the 3500 block of Jefferson Street but didn’t result in any injuries.

Initial reports suggested the shots came from a “high-powered rifle” in a nearby high-rise, but police now say detectives have determined that they were fired by a handgun at ground level, according to a press conference broadcast live by NBC4.

“Detectives determined the gunfire was not from an elevated position or from a high caliber weapon,” the FCPD said. “Detectives continue to investigate & remain in the area.”

Throughout this afternoon (Friday), Bailey’s Crossroads residents and visitors were directed to shelter in place after police received a “shots fired” call at 11:15 a.m.

According to scanner traffic, a driver reported hearing a loud noise, and the rear window of their car shattered. Officers at the scene determined that two to three vehicles parked at the Crossroads Place shopping center had been damaged by gunfire.

Two people had been standing in the proximity of both vehicles at the time of the shooting, but neither of them were hit. Police currently believe that the shooting was random, and there is no indication that the people whose cars were hit knew each other, FCPD Lt. Dan Spital told media.

“We have no reason to believe that any specific individual was targeted in the shooting,” he said at the briefing.

Around 12:30 p.m., police told FFXnow that it wasn’t considered an active shooter situation, meaning there was no ongoing gunfire.

However, Crossroads Place was completely blocked off, and Leesburg Pike shut down in both directions. Fairfax County Public Schools also issued “secure the building” alerts at Bailey’s and Glen Forest elementary schools.

“[That] means no outside activities are occurring right now, everyone has been brought inside, doors are locked and the learning continues,” an FCPS spokesperson said around 2 p.m.

Arlington took similar actions at Wakefield High School and Claremont Elementary School.

“Wakefield has been notified of an incident involving police activity near the school,” Arlington Public Schools said. “As a precaution, we have placed the school in Secure-the-Building* status. This means that all doors are locked and no one can leave or enter the building as a precaution.”

FCPD had helicopter, special operations, and patrol officers involved in the search. Arlington first responder units were also dispatched to assist.

While no additional shots were reported after the initial call, Spital said the large emergency response was appropriate, since “we’re always going to err on the side of caution.” Police have not identified any suspects, but the investigation is ongoing, and community members are advised to remain “cognizant.”

“We’re not aware if [the shots] came from a vehicle or a person walking by, but we do have some active leads. We’re combing through a lot of evidence,” Spital said.

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Detours and lane shifts are planned as the Route 7/Baron Cameron Avenue intersection is reconstructed (via VDOT)

While orange traffic cones are a familiar sight as the widening of Route 7 continues, more changes are afoot at the Baron Cameron Avenue intersection in Reston.

Night work on the project began last night, resulting in detours and changing traffic patterns on eastbound and westbound Route 7, Baron Cameron Avenue and Springvale Road. Detours are planned at night between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. through Thursday (Sept. 1).

Beginning around Tuesday, Sept. 6, more detours and lane shifts are planned during the same hours, as crews reconfigure the intersection to shift traffic to the north.

All homes, businesses and public facilities will remain accessible.

Here’s more from the Virginia Department of Transportation on signage and changes:

Monday, Aug. 29 – Thursday, Sept. 1, 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

  • The median crossover at Route 7 and Baron Cameron Avenue will be closed.
  • Drivers on westbound Route 7 to Baron Cameron Avenue will proceed to Bishopsgate Way, U-turn to eastbound Route 7, and turn right onto Baron Cameron Avenue.
  • Drivers on Springvale Road to Baron Cameron Avenue will turn right onto westbound Route 7, U-turn at Bishopsgate Way to eastbound Route 7, and turn right onto Baron Cameron Avenue.
  • Drivers on eastbound Route 7 to Springvale Road will proceed to Delta Glen Court, U-turn to westbound Route 7, and turn right onto Springvale Road.
  • Drivers on Baron Cameron Avenue to Springvale Road will turn right onto eastbound Route 7, U-turn at Delta Glen Court, proceed on westbound Route 7 and turn right onto Springvale Road.

On or about Tuesday, Sept. 6, 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

  • Drivers will follow the detour routes above and will experience lane shifts on eastbound and westbound Route 7 while crews shift traffic to the north.

Following the traffic shift and continuing through late 2022:

  • Drivers on eastbound Route 7 will use a temporary displaced right-turn lane to access Baron Cameron Avenue.
  • Access from eastbound Route 7 to the Sunoco Service Center and Three Cees Car Wash will be maintained. To return to Route 7, drivers exiting the businesses will turn right onto Baron Cameron Avenue and U-turn at Hunter Gate Way/Hunter Mill Road.

The project is part of VDOT’s effort to widen almost seven miles of Route 7 from Reston Avenue to Jarrett Valley Drive. The project would widen the road from four to six lanes, add paths and update many of the intersections along the route. Overall, the project is on track for a July 2024 finish.

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Drivers to and from eastbound Route 7 at the Lewinsville Road intersection will be detoured this weekend (via VDOT)

By this time next week, the intersection of Route 7 and Lewinsville Road in the Wolf Trap area will have a whole new look, but drivers must endure some inconveniences before the result of the makeover is revealed.

The median that currently facilitates traffic between eastbound Route 7 and Lewinsville will close at 7 p.m. on Friday (Aug. 26), requiring drivers to take an extended detour through Tysons, the Virginia Department of Transportation says.

Signs will be erected to guide drivers through the detour, which will go from Route 7 to Westpark Drive with a northward turn onto International Drive and Spring Hill Road.

“All residences, businesses and other public facilities will remain accessible via the signed detour route,” VDOT said in the news release.

The new Lewinsville Road will open to westbound Route 7 drivers, who can turn right at the McLean Bible Church intersection.

The detour will remain in place through 5 a.m. on Monday (Aug. 29), but the median will reopen to some movements at 6 a.m. Sunday (Aug. 28):

  • Drivers on LewinsvilleRoad/Brook Road will be able to turn left onto eastbound Route 7, turn right onto westbound Route 7, and go straight across to McLean Bible Church at the old Lewinsville Road intersection.
  • Drivers from McLean Bible Church at the old Lewinsville Road intersection will be able to turn left onto westbound Route 7, turn right onto eastbound Route 7, and go straight across the intersection to Lewinsville Road/Brook Road.
  • Drivers from McLean Bible Church at the new Lewinsville Road intersection will be able to turn right onto eastbound Route 7.
  • Drivers on westbound Route 7 will be able to turn left into McLean Bible Church at the old Lewinsville Road intersection.

When the new intersection fully opens at 5 a.m. on Monday, there will be a new, displaced left-turn lane for eastbound Route 7 drivers to access Lewinsville and Brook Road. The service road in front of McLean Bible Church will permanently close.

The new Lewinsville Road and Route 7 intersection (via VDOT)

The intersection was previously expected to open in the spring as part of the ongoing project to widen Route 7 from four to six lanes between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive.

The intersection’s permanent configuration is scheduled to be completed on Oct. 25, with the overall Route 7 project on track for a July 31, 2024 finish.

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Morning Notes

Looking up at Tysons Tower outside Tysons Corner Center (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Route 7 Traffic Shift Starts Today — “During the daytime hours on Aug. 11 and the overnight hours on Aug. 15, lane closures and temporary detours will be in place along Route 7 while crews continue paving operations at Carpers Farm Way and Colvin Run Road (east) and shift westbound Route 7 traffic to the new Difficult Run bridge.” [VDOT]

Pro-Nazi Social Media Posts Excluded from Reston Murder Trial — “A Virginia judge has ruled that prosecutors cannot tell the jury in an upcoming double-murder trial about the defendant’s social media posts containing praise for Adolf Hitler and support for Nazi book burnings and the neo-Nazi Atomwaffen Division, according to newly unsealed court records.” [The Washington Post]

Foust on Upcoming Retirement — “Deciding to step down in 2023 was not easy, but Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville) is ready to try some new challenges…He plans to stay involved on issues he cares about – such as affordable housing, economic development and climate change — and seek part-time consulting opportunities that ‘take advantage of the expertise that I’ve developed over the years.'” [Sun Gazette]

Salt Water Levels Rising in Region — “Once algae-pocked emblems of water pollution during the early 1970s, the Potomac River and the Occoquan Reservoir — the two sources of drinking water used by Fairfax Water to serve more than 2 million customers in Northern Virginia — are now trending in the wrong direction on salt, while the other contaminants have largely been cleaned up.” [The Washington Post]

Lorton Plant Gets Tech to Reduce Emissions — “Covanta, the company that runs the facilities, announced the installation of the pollution-fighting technology in a news release earlier this week, saying it has helped cut nitrogen oxide emissions by nearly 50%…The Fairfax County facility is located at its I-95 waste management complex in Lorton, and is one of the largest waste-to-energy facilities in the nation, according to the county.” [WTOP]

Report Grades Stream From Lake Barcroft — “Holmes Run, which flows through the Annandale area, is not in great condition, according to a report released Aug. 10 by the Audubon Naturalist Society…The report gives Holmes Run a grade of ‘moderately poor’ for climate, a rating of ‘good’ for access to nature, and ‘fair’ ratings for water quality and for biodiversity and habitat.” [Annandale Today]

California Firm Buys Local Defense Office Buildings — “The properties include six buildings at five locations in Fairfax County, Fairfax City and Loudoun County. They’re 96% leased to the likes of Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT), General Dynamics Corp. (NYSE: GD), The Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) and Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE: NOC).” [Washington Business Journal]

Reston Turns Out for Trucks — “Thank you to all the families that came out for this year’s Totally Trucks event! For the past 22 years, Totally Trucks has delighted kids and adults alike, and this year was no different with more than 1000 people in attendance.” [Reston Association/Twitter]

Local Breweries Win Awards — “Vienna and Merrifield’s Caboose Brewing Company and Sweetwater Tavern scored several awards in the 2022 Virginia Craft Beer Cup, announced by the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild Monday. The Virginia Craft Beer Cup is the largest state competition of its kind in the U.S.” [Patch]

It’s Thursday — Possible drizzle in the morning. High of 85 and low of 73. Sunrise at 6:20 am and sunset at 8:10 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

A car at the Franconia-Springfield Metro station pick-up line (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Sidewalk Projects Planned to Address Route 7 Pedestrian Safety — Virginia and Fairfax County officials are working to add sidewalks along Route 7 in the Culmore area of Bailey’s Crossroads. Prioritized sites include the Liberty gas station where a pedestrian was hit and killed by a vehicle in December, prompting safety advocates to campaign for improvements. [Annandale Today]

Person Rescued from Lincolnia House Fire — “Units arrived on scene with smoke visible and fire on the second floor. Two of three occupants evacuated the home prior to fire department arrival. One occupant was trapped in a bedroom. Crews rescued the occupant via a ground ladder — unharmed!” [FCFRD]

Former FCPD Officer Sentenced in Daughter’s Death — Jason Michael Colley pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree assault in Frederick County Circuit Court last week in connection to his 6-month-old daughter’s death in 2017. Sentenced to a combined 50 years, he will serve eight in private home detention and serve five years of supervised probation on the condition that “he not engage in physical punishment of children.” [ABC7]

Old Dominion Drive Closed for Two Days — “Old Dominion Drive (Route 738) will be closed to through traffic between Balls Hill Road (Route 686) and Route 123 (Dolley Madison Boulevard), weather permitting, from 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 8 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 9 to replace stormwater pipes…Traffic will be detoured via Balls Hill Road, Lewinsville Road (Route 694) and Route 123 back to Old Dominion Drive.” [VDOT]

Two Charged in McLean Church Burglary — Two men were reported forcing entry into the Faith Bible Presbyterian Church (6901 Haycock Road) through a window at 5:17 p.m. on July 31. Officers found the 18-year-olds inside the church, taking property. They were both charged with burglary and property destruction, and one of them was charged with providing false identification to law enforcement. [FCPD]

Reston Assault by Teens Under Investigation — “Officers from the Reston District Station of the Fairfax County Police Department are investigating an assault that occurred Wednesday night in the South Lakes area, according to the weekly crime report. Around 10:45 p.m., a group of teens stole property and assaulted a person in the 11900 block of Barrel Cooper Court…The victim was treated for non-life-threatening injuries” [Patch]

Renovation of Merrifield Fire Station Complete — “After a little over two years, the renovation at Station 30, Merrifield, is complete. [Thursday], crews moved back in. Station was totally operationally during the renovation with a trailer for personnel in back. The reno included an addition of 440 square feet.” [FCFRD/Facebook]

Graffiti by Soldiers Revealed at Historic Fairfax Farmhouse — “Between March 1862 and June 1863, hundreds of Union soldiers left their enduring marks in charcoal, graphite or crayon on the walls of the attic and first and second floors of Historic Blenheim, a brick 1859 farmhouse and 12-acre estate on what is now Old Lee Highway.” [WTOP]

It’s Monday — Humid throughout the day. High of 91 and low of 76. Sunrise at 6:17 am and sunset at 8:13 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Ping pong games are underway at the Mosaic District (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

GW Parkway Rehab Prompts Closures — “Rolling single-lane closures are coming to a busy portion of George Washington Memorial Parkway starting today (August 1) and continuing through Friday (August 5). Impacted will be the seven-mile segment of the GW Parkway between Spout Run Parkway in Arlington and the I-495 interchange in McLean.” [ARLnow]

Wolf Trap Road Closed for Route 7 Project — “Starting on or about Aug. 2 and continuing until Aug. 19, Trap Road will be closed at Route 7 while crews continue to build the improvements in this area. Drivers will use Towlston Road for access between Trap Road and Route 7. All residences, businesses and other public facilities will remain accessible.” [VDOT]

Patrick Henry Housing Project Advances — “The Fairfax County Planning Commission on July 27 endorsed a proposal to replace the Patrick Henry emergency family shelter in Seven Corners with a new building providing permanent supportive housing. The new four-story facility, called Patrick Henry Place, will have 16 units.” [Annandale Today]

FCPS Mostly Staffed But Still Hiring — Fairfax County Public Schools will interview candidates for teacher and counselor positions both in person and virtually on Thursday (Aug. 4). Superintendent Michelle Reid said last week that classrooms are 97% staffed, and there are “plans in place to address the remaining vacancies” before the new school year starts Aug. 22. [FCPS/Twitter, WTOP]

County Gets Money from Opioid Settlement — “Attorney General Jason Miyares (R) announced July 29 that payments were heading out to Virginia’s 133 counties and cities as the first installment of the settlement with McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health…Fairfax County — the commonwealth’s largest jurisdiction by population — is entitled to 8.672 percent of the latter total, or $352,630.” [Sun Gazette]

Clifton Restaurant Prepares for Reopening — “Nearly three years ago, the decade-old, highly acclaimed restaurant Trummer’s on Main completed a major renovation and menu overhaul to reopen as an American bistro, hoping to pivot from its reputation as a special-occasion spot to something more approachable…Fast forward two-and-a-half years and Trummer’s is completing what it set out to do, led by a new executive chef, Zack Ridenhour” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Herndon IT Company Looks to Grow — “Fairfax County is the ideal location for Herndon-based IT solutions provider Iron Bow Technologies’ new 35,600-square foot headquarters, said Rene LaVigne, president and CEO of Iron Bow… ‘We’ve recently relocated to new offices in February to accommodate our employees in this new era of hybrid work,’ said LaVigne.” [Fairfax County EDA]

Discount on Bicycle Storage Available — Fairfax County is currently offering a 50% discount on memberships for its secure bicycle lockers, which can be found at the Wiehle-Reston and Herndon Metro station as well as the Stringfellow Park and Ride. Anyone interested can use the code FFX50 to get the discount. [FCDOT]

Vienna Youth Players Musical Sells Out — “All remaining shows for ‘Shrek The Musical’ are officially sold out. There are no more tickets available for purchase online or in person on show night. Thank you, Vienna, for supporting the arts and for supporting all those who help make shows like this possible!” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

It’s Tuesday — Humid throughout the day. High of 89 and low of 75. Sunrise at 6:12 am and sunset at 8:20 pm. [Weather.gov]

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A Virginia State Police vehicle (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

A Maryland driver has been arrested after leading police on an extended chase down the Capital Beltway yesterday (Monday) that crossed state lines and ended with a car flip in Tysons.

According to Montgomery County police, its officers were on the lookout for 26-year-old Frederick K. Njihia of Germantown after getting a report of a man shooting a rifle at people, including a local sanitation worker whose vehicle was hit multiple times.

No one was injured in the shooting, which occurred around 9:20 a.m., the Montgomery County Department of Police said.

The pursuit began when an officer spotted a blue Honda Civic matching the reported description of Njihia’s vehicle. Njihia shot at the police cruiser, flattening a front tire, and other officers pursued him on southbound I-270, police said.

Virginia State Police were notified about the pursuit at approximately 9:41 a.m. and took over once it crossed the American Legion Bridge and entered the state, according to a VSP news release.

Once the Honda Civic passed into Virginia on I-495, it exited onto Route 7 towards Tysons Corner. When it did a U-turn on Route 7 at Route 267/Dulles Toll Road, a Virginia State Police trooper administered a pursuit intervention technique by making contact with the suspect vehicle. The Honda Civic ran off the road, struck the Jersey wall, and overturned onto its roof.

With a pursuit intervention technique, also known as a precision immobilization technique or PIT manuever, police stop a vehicle by running into its rear, causing it to turn and often flip. The move has been the subject of some debate over its safety.

The crash closed all east and westbound lanes on Route 7 and required a medical response, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. Virginia State Police reported that Njihia was transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital “for treatment of minor injuries sustained when his vehicle overturned.”

The VSP has charged Njihia with eluding police, a felony, and reckless driving, a misdemeanor. He’s currently being detained without bond at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.

Njihia also faces four counts of attempted murder and a count of first-degree assault with a firearm in Maryland.

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Pedestrians cross Route 7 at Glen Carlyn Drive in Culmore (photo by Sonya Breehey)

For residents of Bailey’s Crossroads, particularly the Culmore area, crossing the street is no small feat.

In some spots along Route 7, it means surviving six lanes of traffic traveling at 40 miles an hour without the refuge of a median or sidewalk, or walking two blocks to reach the nearest crosswalk. Limited street lighting creates an added danger at night.

It’s a corridor built for cars, moving an estimated 24,000 vehicles per day, even though residents of the surrounding, predominantly Spanish-speaking, neighborhood frequently travel by walking, bicycling, or bus, a new report says.

“We have folks who are relying on those means of transportation, but we’re not doing anything to make it safer for them, and we know it’s a problem area for vulnerable road users,” Coalition for Smarter Growth Northern Virginia advocacy manager Sonya Breehey told FFXnow.

Released on Friday (June 10), the report was developed by the nonprofit coalition and the immigrant advocacy organization CASA as part of an ongoing campaign to improve the safety of Route 7 in Culmore for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other non-motorized travelers.

A survey of 202 residents found that 91% of female respondents and 80% of male respondents walk more than once a week. 63% of women and 38% of men said they walk every day — much higher than the 9% daily walk rate reported in the D.C. region prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Walking, bicycling, and transit use among Culmore residents (via Coalition for Smarter Growth)

According to the report, 67% of survey respondents said they don’t feel safe walking, bicycling, or getting to transit, compared to about 10% who said they felt safe or very safe.

While crime was highlighted as a top concern, traffic-related issues included inadequate lighting, drivers not following the 40 mph speed limit and other rules, a lack of continuous sidewalks, insufficient bicycle lanes or paths, and pedestrian signals not allowing enough time to cross the street.

Pushed by the advocacy campaign, which started in response to a fatal pedestrian crash in December, the Virginia and Fairfax County transportation departments are looking at possible safety improvements on Route 7 between Glen Carlyn Drive and Glen Forest Drive. Read More

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Morning Notes

Wall art by Starr Hill Biergarten at The Perch in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

County Board to Adopt New Budget Today — “Board of Supervisors set to adopt FY23 budget tomorrow, May 10. It fully funds @fcpsnews employee compensation and invests in priorities. $96 million balance to reduce real estate tax rate, increase affordable housing, parks, among others.” [Fairfax County Government/Twitter]

Lee District Gets New Community Center — Elected officials and community members gathered on Saturday (May 7) to cut the ribbon for Fairfax County’s new Lee District Community Center, which will provide recreation, educational workshops, and other programs to residents in the Buckman Road area on the west side of Richmond Highway. The center also hosts a workforce training and development center. [Neighborhood and Community Services]

Metro Reports Higher-than-Expected Ridership — “Ridership has already surprised their conservatively-estimated projection of 28 million rides by nearly 40% through the first three quarters of the fiscal year…The numbers bode well for the region’s economic recovery as tourism rebounds and more workers return to the office, but it is less welcome news for train and bus riders who are experiencing more crowded vehicles.” [DCist]

Great Falls Road Closure Starts Today — “Springvale Road will be closed for 48 hours starting Tuesday to allow VDOT crews to reconstruct the road’s approach to Route 7. During the closure, drivers on Springfield Road can access Route 7 by taking Georgetown Pike to the Utterback Store Road.” [Patch]

Mental Health Services Facility to Be Renamed — “Fairfax County officials on May 12 will celebrate the renaming and dedication of the former Merrifield Center as the ‘Sharon Bulova Center for Community Health’…Bulova served as chairman through 2019, when she retired after 31 years on the board.” [Sun Gazette]

Route 7 Bus Service Plan Inches Forward — “Plans to create a bus-rapid-transit, or BRT, line using Route 7 to connect Tysons to Alexandria continue to move forward, with the next installment to hire a consultant that will guide the next phases of the project.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

Fort Hunt Teacher Reflects on Three-Decade-Long Career — “Reading Specialist Jill Norris joined the staff of Stratford Landing Elementary School in Fairfax County last August after a break from a 35-year career as a teacher. ‘To share my passion for reading and writing with kids and teachers,’ is what brings joy to Norris.” [ABC7]

It’s Tuesday — Clear throughout the day. High of 66 and low of 46. Sunrise at 6:02 am and sunset at 8:11 pm. [Weather.gov]

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