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The intersection of Cedar Avenue, Chain Bridge Road and Jenny Lynne Lane in Fairfax City (via Google Maps)

(Updated at 11:55 a.m.) This week, Fairfax City kicked off a project to build a new 530-foot sidewalk on Chain Bridge Road’s east side, connecting Old Town Fairfax with the Northfax areas.

On Monday (Feb. 5), construction crews began work on the new eastern sidewalk from Jenny Lynne Lane to Kenmore Drive, with plans also to relocate a pedestrian crossing at Cedar Avenue from the south to the north side to make pedestrians more visible to motorists..

Slated for completion in July, roadwork is scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the week, with reduced hours on Friday. Off-road construction will occur from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday, avoiding weekends.

The east Chain Bridge Road sidewalk improvement project was approved in 2021 and was paid for using a total of $430,000 in federal and local funds.

A public hearing is planned for summer 2024 to discuss allocating another $9.25 million for additional improvements along the western edge of Chain Bridge Road, which extends from Taba Cove to Warwick Avenue.

In 2020, the city applied for SmartScale funding, which is allocated by the state for transportation projects, for this initiative.

The improvements along the west side of Chain Bridge Road would include improvements to pedestrian crossings at five intersections, upgrades to two bus stops, a new drainage system, new street lighting, and the construction of a retaining wall.

Image via Google Maps

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The developer JBG Smith is selling a parcel from its Sheraton hotel property on Sunrise Valley Drive so Fairfax County can complete a walkway (via Google Maps)

Missing pedestrian links along Sunrise Valley Drive in Reston may soon be filled following the acquisition of land.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors formally accepted land at 11810 Sunrise Valley Drive from developer JBG Smith, which owns the Sheraton hotel there.

The acquisition will allow the county to complete a 10-foot-wide walkway from Reston Parkway to Soapstone Drive.

The gift comes after JBG Smith — which owns one of the parcels affected by the walkway — declined to grant limited land rights to construct the project. The company instead asked the county to take ownership of the parcel in its entirety, according to a board matter introduced by Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn on yesterday (Tuesday).

“Acceptance of this small parcel would allow the county to avoid condemnation to complete the Sunrise Valley Drive pedestrian enhancements and would provide the county with land to make one or more small improvements on this open space in the future,” Alcorn wrote in the board matter.

County staff have previously said construction is expected to begin this winter on the project, which will improve existing walkways and install missing links along 1,500 linear feet on the north side of Sunrise Valley Drive.

According to the the board’s transportation priorities plan, roughly $8.8 million has been recommended over six years to install separated bicycle lanes and pedestrian facilities on the north side of Sunrise Valley Drive.

Image via Google Maps

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Construction on the next phase of The Boro in Tysons has prevented pedestrians from safely walking on the streets around the site, a Fairfax County inspector says.

Matthew Stenger, an investigator with the county’s Department of Code Compliance, issued violation notices last month against The Meridian Group, The Boro’s master developer, and Silverstone Silver Living, which is constructing The Trillium Tysons, a senior living building expected to open this year.

A Nov. 15 inspection of the construction site bounded by Westpark Drive to the south and Greensboro Drive to the east “revealed that there is no safe and efficient pedestrian pathway provided along the properties street frontages,” Stenger said in the Dec. 15 notices.

The code compliance investigator also alleged that the companies failed to submit a construction management plan required as a condition of the expansion project’s approval in 2021.

Both developers have now separately filed appeals challenging the citations, stating that they have in fact provided the promised plan, which shows that a sidewalk on the southbound side of Westpark Drive would be closed throughout construction.

“Sidewalk closures are specifically identified as an appropriate method to ensure pedestrian safety,” Silverstone’s zoning appeal says. “…After consultation with County staff, due to existing sensitive fiber optics and live power infrastructure…along the Block J frontage, it was agreed that no safe interim pedestrian pathway was possible and a closure of the southbound side sidewalks during construction was necessary.”

Block J — The Trillium — is one of four blocks planned for The Boro’s expansion to the west side of Westpark Drive. Under construction since spring 2022, the apartment building for seniors will eventually be joined by two multi-family residential buildings with retail and either a health club or townhouses.

During the county’s review of plans for the development, nearby residents raised concerns about its accessibility and potential construction impacts, which led Meridian and Silverstone to agree to provide a construction management plan.

In addition to raising the possibility of fines, the code compliance department directed the developers to submit the required plan and build temporary pedestrian facilities along Greensboro and Westpark.

“Within two weeks after the date of this notice, you must complete the installation of an asphalt path along the Greensboro frontage,” Stenger wrote. “Within three weeks of the date of this Notice, you must complete the installation of that asphalt trail down Westpark Drive as close to the frontage of Block J as possible.”

However, Silverstone says in its appeal that construction on the Westpark trail — which will represent the first segment of the planned Tysons Community Circuit — can’t begin until Dominion Energy relocates its electrical utilities, a process expected to be complete this January.

Even after the utilities are moved, a temporary sidewalk can’t be safely built “due to the required installation and coordination of tree pits, bio filters, and additional underground infrastructure along the street,” Walsh Colucci land use attorney Lynne Strobel wrote in a statement on the developer’s behalf.

In a separate appeal application, The Meridian Group noted that the proposed temporary sidewalk on Westpark Drive would lead “pedestrians to a dead end at an active construction site,” which could result in people crossing the road without a crosswalk or traffic signal.

“The appropriate solution is to direct pedestrians to cross Westpark Drive at its intersection with Greensboro drive to access the existing sidewalk on the northbound side of Westpark,” Strobel wrote. “…The suggested sidewalk should only be constructed when the pedestrian signal at Boro Place is operational.”

According to the application, construction is underway on sidewalks along Clover and Broad streets, and the developer has agreed to build a temporary asphalt sidewalk on Greensboro. All of the facilities are on track to be completed and open for use “within the next several weeks,” as of mid-December.

A public relations firm representing The Meridian Group said the developer has no comment on its appeal.

Meridian and Silverstone have asked the county to dismiss the notices of violations, saying they’re “based on incorrect and inaccurate facts.”

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Fairfax County is seeking funds for a project to add crosswalks and a signal on Burke Lake Road at the Lake Braddock Secondary School entrance (via Google Maps)

Fairfax County is making another push to fund pedestrian safety improvements at Shrevewood Elementary School in Idylwood.

The long-gestating crosswalks project is one of five that the Fairfax County Department of Transportation intends to submit to the state for funding consideration under the federal Transportation Alternatives grant program.

“This program invests in community-based projects that expand non-motorized travel choices and enhance the transportation experience by improving the cultural, historical and environmental aspect of the transportation infrastructure,” FCDOT said in a press release last week.

For fiscal year 2025, which starts July 1, 2024, the department will request a total of $9.2 million to fill walkway gaps to the Mason Neck Trail in Lorton, add a shared-use path on Compton Road in Centreville, and support three Safe Routes to Schools projects — a program that encourages students to walk and bike to school.

Shrevewood Elementary School — Safe Routes to School

  • Total estimated cost: $2.99 million
  • Grant request: $1.14 million

Part of a larger effort to improve safety in the Shreve Road corridor after a fatal crash in 2019, this project will add marked crosswalks at Fairwood Lane, the school’s eastern driveway and across Virginia Lane at Virginia Avenue. The Fairwood Lane crosswalk will include a pedestrian refuge island.

FCDOT says the crosswalks “will provide neighborhood access to school amenities” and the nearby Washington & Old Dominion Trail.

Bush Hill Elementary School — Safe Routes to School

  • Total estimated cost: $3.66 million
  • Grant request: $1.86 million

Approximately 850 feet of sidewalk will be added on Bush Hill Drive between Ninian Avenue and Larno Avenue in Rose Hill.

“Completing this missing sidewalk link will improve safety and accessibility for children walking and bicycling to school,” FCDOT said.

Lake Braddock Secondary School — Safe Routes to School

  • Total estimated cost: $2.55 million
  • Grant request: $2.04 million

Crosswalks and a pedestrian signal will be constructed at the school’s entrance on Burke Lake Road. The project will also reconstruct a sidewalk on the road’s south side to be 6 feet wide and bring six ramps up to ADA standards.

Mason Neck Trail

  • Total estimated cost: $13.96 million
  • Grant request: $1.7 million

The project will build missing pieces of the walkway along Gunston Road from Richmond Highway (Route 1) to the existing trail.

Compton Road Walkway

  • Total estimated cost: $9.3 million
  • Grant request: $2.5 million

Approximately 550 feet of a 10-foot-wide, paved shared use path will be added on the east side of Compton Road, connecting the Cub Run Stream Valley Trail with an existing path crossing to the Bull Run Regional Events Center’s entrance.

The project will also widen a bridge over Cub Run to accommodate the shared use path.

FCDOT Communications Specialist Lynn Krolowitz noted that the grant request amounts could be revised if the project cost estimates changed before the applications are finalized in October.

“FCDOT select projects based on several factors such as program eligibility criteria and project readiness requirements, the need of continued funding for existing projects, and previous Board approval/consideration, which assumes some level of public involvement,” Krolowitz said in an email to FFXnow.

To be eligible for Transportation Alternatives grants, projects must have already gotten public feedback, be ready for design, require less than four years of construction, have a “logical” endpoint — such as an existing sidewalk or a road intersection — and be beneficial even if no other improvements are made in the area, according to FCDOT.

Three of the projects under consideration in this round, including the Shrevewood project, have previously gotten the grants, giving them priority in the selection process, Krolowtiz says.

FCDOT will host a virtual public input meeting to discuss the proposed projects at 6 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday).

Image via Google Maps

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A memorial at Columbia Pike and Tyler Street for Lesly Diaz-Bonilla, who was killed by a driver on Nov. 16, 2022 (photo by Ellie Ashford, courtesy Bailey’s Crossroads and Culmore PBI Coalition)

To the relief of Bailey’s Crossroads residents, some traffic safety improvements are in the works for the often harrowing area where Columbia Pike and Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) meet.

Perhaps the most urgent change will be the addition of a pedestrian hybrid beacon at the crosswalk across Columbia Pike at Tyler Street — the intersection where a driver hit and killed Justice High School student Lesly Diaz-Bonilla in November.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved an allocation of $920,000 to fund improvements at the intersection on April 11 as part of a $25 million slate of pedestrian safety projects planned throughout the county.

In the wake of Diaz-Bonilla’s death, over 1,000 residents signed an in-person and online petition calling for a reduction of the speed limit on Columbia Pike from 35 to 25 mph and other changes to the intersection, according to the Bailey’s Crossroads & Culmore Place-Based Initiative (PBI) Coalition, a community initiative led by George Mason University.

“This is a daily route to school for many children, including my own, and a route to work for many of us in Culmore,” resident Laura Doughty said in a press release from the coalition. “The lack of safety features for pedestrians coupled with the high-speed traffic makes it extremely dangerous for those of us who walk in the community everyday.”

Just 17 years old, Diaz-Bonilla had dropped off a younger sibling at a bus stop in front of the Barcroft View Apartments when a sedan crashed into her shortly before 9 a.m. on Nov. 16. After the crash, community members said they’d raised concerns about the intersection’s safety for years.

A report released last summer found that high vehicle speeds, incomplete sidewalks and limited crossings make Bailey’s Crossroads dangerous for pedestrians, particularly along the major corridors of Columbia Pike and Route 7.

A pedestrian hybrid beacon requires vehicles to stop if a pedestrian is present and pushes an activation button. A rapid flashing beacon with a pedestrian refuge island could be considered at the Tyler Street crosswalk instead if a hybrid beacon “is not feasible or warranted,” county staff said in a list of the safety projects that the board approved.

The April 11 vote also designated $1.9 million for a sidewalk on westbound Route 7 in front of the Liberty Gas station at 5930 Leesburg Pike in Culmore. A pedestrian was killed there in December 2021.

By press time, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation hadn’t returned a request for comment on when the projects will be implemented.

So far, the county has allocated about $30 million out of the $100 million that the Board of Supervisors pledged to spend on active transportation safety projects over six years, starting in 2022.

The inclusion of the Bailey’s Crossroads improvements in the latest package is the result of advocacy by residents, businesses, nonprofits and other organizations that have united around the need for safer streets, PBI Coalition program manager and Fairfax Families for Safe Streets Board of Directors member Katie Wilson said.

“The PBI Coalition will continue building these pipelines between local residents, organizations, and county leadership to amplify resident voices and ultimately work in partnership to build a community where all thrive,” Wilson said.

In a separate project, the county is planning to build a sidewalk and make other improvements in the Annandale section of Columbia Pike.

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Columbia Pike between Backlick Road and Tom Davis Drive (via Google Maps)

A stretch of roadside along Columbia Pike referred to as a “disaster” in a recent meeting — near where four people were struck by a driver last year — could be getting some safety-focused upgrades.

On Monday (Jan. 23), Fairfax County presented plans for a “Complete Streets” overhaul for a section of Columbia Pike from Backlick Run to Tom Davis Drive. The project involves the construction of a new 6-foot-wide sidewalk and a high-visibility crosswalk at Tom Davis Drive, along with ADA-compliant curb ramps and a 6-foot-wide strip of landscaping.

In terms of “Complete Streets” projects, the Columbia Pike one is fairly limited in scope: it only affects the southern side of the street and doesn’t include any bicycle upgrades. Staff emphasized that what was presented was just the first phase.

Area of improvements planned for Columbia Pike (via Fairfax County)

“[This project] has been discussed for a long time,” said Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross. “It looks simple on paper, but when you look at the various land use parcels that need to be included it becomes a much broader kind of proposal. I am anxious to learn what the design is going to look like now…Now we’re really getting down to the nitty gritty so some decisions can be made.”

The Complete Streets project will also cut down on the number of curb cuts — areas where vehicles cross over the sidewalk to get in and out of parking. While limiting vehicle access can be frustrating for retail along a street, Gross said the reduction in curb cuts shouldn’t impact businesses too severely.

“Right now it is chaotic for pedestrians and vehicles alike in that section,” Gross said. “There are too many curb cuts. It really shouldn’t affect access to businesses because there will be other curb cuts available. The basic idea is much safer for everyone.”

James Albright, a member of the county’s Trails, Sidewalks and Bikeways Committee, said he was excited to see improvements coming to Columbia Pike.

“I appreciate this project because this sidewalk is a disaster. It’s not safe,” Albright said. “This has been an area of concern.”

But Albright also expressed concern that the county was doing nothing for cycling along Columbia Pike, with no additional bicycle facilities planned as part of the overhaul.

Turner acknowledged that bicycle lanes were not proposed as part of the phase 1 improvement. Transportation Planner Nicole Wynands said Columbia Pike is a relatively narrow, four-lane road without much wiggle room to include bicycle lanes.

The project is currently scheduled to continue design through summer 2025, with construction running from 2026-2027.

Photo via Google Maps

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Town of Herndon government offices (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Sidewalk improvements are in the works for two streets in the Town of Herndon.

Included as part of the town’s long-range capital projects planning tool — the Capital Improvement Program — the town is planning a series of sidewalk improvements on Spring and Locust streets, each of which will cost over $1 million overall.

The overall CIP uses roughly $49.6 million in grant funding to support 25 different projects — a figure that does not include $57 million for projects at Elden Street and nearly $18 million in funding for Spring Street improvements.

Both of those projects are primarily funded through grants.

“Funding for large capital projects needs a mechanism so projects can come to fruition. The FY2024-FY2029 CIP incorporates all projects despite the lack of funding,” John Vernin, who manages the town’s CIP program, said in a memo.

The CIP establishes a six-year schedule for public improvements. The town’s planning commission, which held a work session on Monday (Jan. 9), makes recommendations to the town manager prior to the town council’s consideration of the program.

So far, the town has budgeted nearly $1.4 million each for the Spring and Locust street improvements. The town plans to construct continuous, ADA-compliant, 5-foot-wide sidewalks along both sides of the streets.

The Locust Street project will extend from old Spring Street to Elden Street. It will also include curb-cuts.

For Spring Street, the project will extend from Locust Street to the new Spring Street. A project to widen a quarter-mile of East Spring Street is currently underway.

The town might construct the project in phases.

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A new county-supported study is recommending pedestrian and bike-friendly improvements in the Huntington Metro corridor, including more crosswalks, wider sidewalks, additional lighting, and increasing shared-use paths.

At a virtual meeting tomorrow (Sept. 14) night, a Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) study – “Huntington Metrorail Active Transportation Study” – will be presented to the public that looked into the pedestrian and biking conditions within the Huntington Transit Station Area (TSA).

The Huntington TSA covers an area bordered by North Kings Highway to the south, Huntington Avenue to the north, Telegraph Road and Jefferson Manor Park to the west, and Richmond Highway to the east.

As the study points out, the area is continuing to grow in density.

“The Huntington TSA has been transitioning from low density to mid density for decades and will continue to become denser,” it reads while providing a list of new developments and projects that will contribute to the growing population in the years to come.

Along with that, the Richmond Highway Bus Rapid Transit is expected to create a “greater need” for pedestrian access and safety in the corridor when the system opens within the next decade.

While considering all future conditions and projects up to 2045, the study concluded generally that the corridor is “uncomfortable” for pedestrians and bicyclists. That’s due to a prevalence of narrow sidewalks, lack of bike lanes, high speed of traffic, and the far distance pedestrians have to go to cross major roads.

“Almost all of the analyzed roads were deemed highly uncomfortable for pedestrians… due to narrow sidewalks, large crossing distances, and high speeds,” reads the study. “It is also worth noting that areas around community resources such as Mt. Eagle Elementary School and the Huntington Community Center are also highly uncomfortable due to sidewalk quality and a lack of pedestrian scaled lighting.”

Three intersections are particularly worrisome due to the crossing length exceeding 400 feet.

These include Huntington Avenue between Biscayne Drive and Foley Street, North Kings Highway between Telegraph Road and Jefferson Drive, and North Kings Highway between Fort Drive and Fairhaven Avenue.

There are also no official bike lanes in the Huntington TSA.

To rectify these issues, the study recommends a number of fixes and solutions.

At the intersections with long crossing lengths, it’s suggested that “high visibility” crosswalks be added with crossing warning signs and pedestrian refuge islands.

Where pedestrian crossings currently exist in the Huntington Transit Station Area (via Fairfax County)

There are also suggestions for implementing for a number of roads the concept of “Slow Streets,” where traffic speeds are lowered and entry points are closed to traffic to create a safer space for pedestrians.

In terms of costs, the study notes that “improving sidewalk quality” is a lower-cost option than adding new or widening sidewalks. The highest cost options are changing road diets, adding new bike and pedestrian facilities, like shared use paths, or subtracting traffic lanes.

Overall, the study recommends potential options for individual streets with a focus on lower and medium-cost options.

For example, on Monticello Road in the Jefferson Manor neighborhood, the recommendation is to fix the “cracked and failing” sidewalk and widen it to 8 feet in some places plus adding more lighting. On North Kings Highway, the recommendations include new traffic signs telling traffic to stop for pedestrians, restricting truck traffic with signs, a new crossing location at Fairhaven Avenue, and a high-cost option of removing traffic lanes on Jefferson Drive.

Besides this study, a number of other planned infrastructure improvements are found in other county-supported plans, including a 10-foot wide path along N. Kings Highway and Huntington Avenue, narrowing travel lanes on N. Kings Highway to allow for wider sidewalks, installing more barriers, lights, and crosswalks, and installing a beacon crossing signal in front of Mount Eagle Elementry School.

Throughout the county – and region – car crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists have continued to be a major and tragic problem. In July, a woman was killed by the driver of a car who hit her while she was crossing an eight-lane section of Richmond Highway included in this study.

There have been 10 fatal crashes involving pedestrians on Richmond Highway since 2017.

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The sidewalk on Plum Street SW from Cottage Street to Tapawingo Road is one of the completed Robinson Trust projects (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The Town of Vienna has now committed about a third of the $7 million bequeathed by late councilmember Maud Robinson for building sidewalks to specific projects.

As of Aug. 2, the town has allocated approximately $2.3 million from the Robinson Charitable Trust based on open purchase orders, per Vienna’s finance department. The funds can be used to engineer, design and construct sidewalks in areas with existing curb and gutter.

“Of this amount, approximately $997,000 has been billed and reimbursed to the Town from the Trust,” the town told FFXnow.

Vienna has pursued 28 projects so far, seven of which have been completed. Others are currently being studied or designed, and despite some pushback from residents, one is set to begin construction this week: a 1,500-foot path on Alma Street SE.

When it met on July 11, the town council also approved funding to build a sidewalk on Blackstone Terrace NW and initiate design work on four other projects.

According to Robert Froh, an engineer for the town’s Department of Public Works, construction has finished on 10 additional, small projects that received trust funding.

“These projects are along the frontage of one or several properties where there may be existing sidewalk on the sides of these ‘missing link’ project locations,” Froh said by email.

The Robinson Trust was established in early 2020 with a gift from the late councilmember, who died in March 2019. Projected to cover 3.3 miles of sidewalks, the money is intended to support projects that weren’t already planned or funded.

The current $2.3 million commitment represents a notable step forward from where Vienna was in the spring of 2021. At that point, just four projects had been approved, as the town struggled to win support from property owners.

However, with the halfway point looming, the town needs to pick up the pace even more in order to meet the October 2024 deadline set by the trust.

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Construction is expected to start this week on a sidewalk for Alma Street SE in Vienna (via Google Maps)

A sidewalk is coming to Vienna’s Alma Street SE, whether the residents there want it or not.

Construction to add about 1,500 linear feet of concrete, curb and gutter, driveway aprons, and ramps on the northwest side between Follin Lane and Delano Drive will begin by the end of this week, the Town of Vienna shared on Monday (Aug. 8).

One of many sidewalks in the works as part of Vienna’s Robinson Trust Sidewalk Initiative, the Alma Street project drew some particularly strong opposition from residents along the road, who petitioned against the proposal as it moved through the engineering and design process last year.

The town maintains that the sidewalk is needed for older residents, people with mobility challenges, and anyone else who doesn’t want to walk in the roadway or might benefit from the accompanying ramp, crosswalk and other accessibility improvements.

“The Town believes that sidewalks are an important amenity for residents of a street — and for the community at large,” Department of Public Works Engineer Robert Froh said in an email. “Sidewalks promote good health and pedestrian safety, connect individuals and destinations in the community, support Town businesses and sustainability goals, and enhance the ‘greater good’ of the community — today and in the future.”

A flier dated Aug. 4 that a resident shared with FFXnow said construction would take about three weeks, depending on weather. It will require relocations of water meters for five houses, and homeowners were told to move sprinkler systems and any personal belongings out of the right-of-way.

Street also targeted for Dominion undergrounding project

The resident says they learned earlier this week that Dominion Energy will underground its electric lines, which are on the same side of Alma Street as the incoming sidewalk, leading them to question the location and timing of construction.

Dominion Energy confirmed it has a project for Alma Street SE under its Strategic Underground Program, which focuses on moving its “most outage-prone overhead power lines” underground. Read More

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