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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 (image 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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Morning Notes

A family hits the mini golf course at Jefferson District Park in Idylwood (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Metro Promises Relief for Train Riders Next Month — Starting Monday (Aug. 1), the addition of more rail cars will speed up service on the Orange, Blue and Silver lines to every 15 minutes on weekdays instead of the current wait times, which can reach up to 20 minutes. Metro says it anticipates expanding those service adjustments to weekends in September. [WMATA]

Man to Plead Guilty to Herndon Murder — A Virginia man told a Fairfax County judge he wants to plead guilty to the 1987 killing of 37-year-old Eige Sober-Adler in Herndon after being indicted in the case in January. Charles Helem is already serving life in prison for strangling and killing his ex-girlfriend, Patricia Bentley, in Chantilly in 2002. [WTOP]

Reston Residents Frustrated by Car Burglaries — “Some angry Reston residents are complaining that the police are doing too little to stop a persistent car burglar repeatedly targeting their community…Neighbors say the same burglar has returned to the West Market neighborhood near Reston Town Center at least four times over the course of the year” [WUSA9]

New Sidewalks in Lincolnia Near Finish — “Work is wrapping up on #Lincolnia Road Sidewalk and Spot Improvement Project! This #FairfaxCounty Transportation project consists of 1,000 LF of sidewalk to connect pedestrian facilities along North Chambliss Street and Lincolnia Road from the Lincolnia Senior Center to Linmar Court” [Supervisor Penny Gross/Twitter]

Pittsburgh Bank Coming to Reston — “First National Bank is expanding in Northern Virginia. F.N.B. Corp. (NYSE: FNB) said Wednesday it has filed applications with the Order of the Comptroller of the Currency to open new branches in Reston and Arlington. The bank currently operates seven First National Bank offices in Northern Virginia and the District and said it expects to grow that total to 11 by 2024.” [Washington Business Journal]

Maintenance Set for Planned Tysons Trail — “Fairfax County supervisors on July 19 authorized the county’s transportation director, Thomas Biesiadny, to execute a perpetual agreement with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) for joint operation and maintenance of a new shared-use path in Tysons.” [Sun Gazette]

Idylwood Office Buildings Sold — “Dave Schaeffer, CEO of Cogent Communications, has acquired 7799 Leesburg Pike, a pair of 11-story office towers totaling 377,717 square feet in Tysons, Va. The sale price was $49 million, according to someone close to the deal…At the time of the sale, the buildings were 36 percent leased to seven tenants, including Tyson MRI and Imaging Center and the University of the Potomac Virginia Campus.” [Commercial Observer]

Reston Offers “Superhero” Triathlon for Kids — Coming this Sunday (July 31), the CORE Foundation will host its first-ever Reston Superhero Youth Triathlon at Ridge Heights Pool. Over 100 people have registered for the competition, which will feature running, swimming, and bicycling and have categories for para and adaptive athletes. [CORE Foundation]

Vienna Parks and Rec Registration Coming — “Get ready, get set for fall fun with Vienna Parks and Recreation! Explore the program guide and sign up for classes, camps and more adventures for the whole family! Registration for Town residents opens at 8 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 1. Registration for all others opens Monday, Aug. 8.” [Town of Vienna]

It’s Friday — Rain in the evening and overnight. High of 82 and low of 74. Sunrise at 6:09 am and sunset at 8:25 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Thursday afternoon traffic at the Balls Hill Road and Old Dominion Drive intersection (via Google Maps)

Fairfax County has a plan to fix the Balls Hill Road and Old Dominion Drive intersection, but it will likely take another half-decade for the changes to fall into place.

Construction on the proposed realignment — which will split the X-shaped intersection into two T intersections — isn’t expected to start until the spring of 2027, finishing in fall 2028, Fairfax County Department of Transportation staff told the community in a pair of meetings this week.

The lengthy timeline partly stems from an extensive utility relocation process projected take up to 24 months. It could be shortened if the supply-chain issues that have slowed construction during the pandemic abate.

“Some of those [utility] poles are located right now where we’d need to put roadway stuff, sidewalks, whatever, so they have to be out of the way before we can begin construction,” FCDOT project manager Jared Kerr said during a virtual meeting on Wednesday (June 22).

An in-person meeting was held last night (Thursday) at Churchill Elementary School.

Fairfax County’s proposed preliminary design for the Balls Hill Road and Old Dominion Drive intersection (via FCDOT)

Local transportation officials say the wait will be worthwhile for McLean drivers, whose patience is regularly tested by traffic congestion in the central intersection between I-495 and Route 123.

Selected out of three options proposed when the county first brought the project forward in 2018, the T-intersection concept will move traffic more efficiently by reducing driver confusion and relocating signals so vehicles are less likely to block residential driveways, FCDOT staff say.

By 2045, the changes will shave almost two minutes off the average morning rush-hour delay and three minutes off peak afternoon travel times compared to what would happen if nothing is done, according to a staff presentation.

Those couple of minutes could mean the difference between sitting through one or two traffic signal cycles and limit vehicle queues to 125 to 150 feet long. Currently, queues on Balls Hill can extend over half a mile, backing up to The Langley School, one resident at Wednesday’s meeting observed. Read More

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The current asphalt path on Old Courthouse Road west of Tysons (via Town of Vienna/Twitter)

Construction begins today (Monday) on a long-gestating project to upgrade the pedestrian facilities along Courthouse Road NE in Vienna.

The asphalt path that currently runs along the east side of the road will be closed for several months between Pine Valley Drive and Battery Park Street, as crews replace it with a concrete, ADA-compliant sidewalk, the Town of Vienna announced yesterday (Sunday).

“The new sidewalk will be able to safely accommodate pedestrians and people with disabilities who use a wheelchair or other assistive devices, and the overall project will enhance the neighborhood appearance,” Andrew Jinks, the town’s transportation engineer, said in a news release.

Jinks deems the existing trail “unsafe” for pedestrians. In addition to being narrow with an uneven, cracked surface, it runs next to an open drainage ditch that the project will enclose with a curb and gutters.

In the works since 2013, the full project extends to Gosnell Road beyond the town’s boundary. The remaining segment will be addressed by Fairfax County as part of an agreement with Vienna.

The $1.2 million project is being built by Sagres Construction, which was awarded a contract in March 2021.

It’s being funded by a combination of local and state funds, including a Safe Routes to Schools grant that the town got from the Virginia Department of Transportation in 2013 due to the site’s proximity to Westbriar Elementary School.

Vienna anticipates that construction on the new sidewalk will be complete in January 2023.

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Morning Notes

People sit and walk by Occoquan River in Lorton (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Arrests in Fairfax and Arlington Counties Stir Debate over Bail Reform — “The man who was arrested on Sunday for robbery and carjacking after an inter-jurisdiction car chase on I-395 was awaiting trial in Fairfax County for stealing a car, court records show…Randall Mason, the president of the Arlington Coalition of Police, said Fairfax County’s release of the alleged carjacker put officers, the driver and the public at risk of injury.” [ARLnow]

Fairfax Real Estate Listing Goes Viral — “The $800,000 listing, a five-bedroom, 3.5-bath, single-family home, is only accepting all-cash offers despite needing multiple repairs and coming with roommates who aren’t paying rent and don’t have a lease. Oh, and potential buyers can’t see the lower level.” [Axios]

Herndon MS Students Enjoy Recess — Herndon Middle School students support the introduction of recess, calling it a “brain break.” Fairfax County middle schools started piloting recess periods this school year, and the school board is expected to make the practice permanent with a vote tomorrow (Thursday). [NBC4]

Reston Association Election Results Announced — The Reston Association Board of Directors announced the results of its latest election yesterday (Tuesday) at an Annual Members’ Meeting. The new directors are Glenn Small (At-Large), Irwin Flashman (Lake Anne/Tall Oaks District), and Laurie Dodd (North Point District). [RA]

Vienna Advances More Sidewalk Projects — “The Town of Vienna will move forward with engineering design of sidewalks on more streets as part of the Maud Robinson Trust…An estimated 3.3 miles of sidewalk can be added through the trust, according to the town.” [Patch]

Longtime Annandale Shoe Business for Sale — “Express Shoe Repair, at 7048 Columbia Pike, is for sale…Anna Koundakjian and her husband founded Express Shoe Repair in 1985, five years after they immigrated to the U.S. from an Armenian enclave in Lebanon. They are ready to retire, and Anna plans to start a new hobby — quilting.” [Annandale Today]

Vienna Little League to Celebrate Opening Day — “For the first time in a couple of years, Vienna Little League will hold an opening-day ceremony, scheduled for Saturday morning April 16 at 9 a.m. at the league’s Yeonas Park complex The ceremony has not been held the last couple of years at the regular time because of the pandemic.” [Sun Gazette]

TV Actor to Help Dedicate Reston Garden — Actor and environmental activist Ed Begley Jr. will visit Reston Community Center on May 4 to raise awareness about environmental sustainability. He will join officials at 5 p.m. for the dedication of a new pollinator garden by Hunters Woods Village Center before giving a talk on CenterStage at 8 p.m. [RCC]

It’s Wednesday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 78 and low of 59. Sunrise at 6:36 am and sunset at 7:45 pm. [Weather.gov]

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The north side of Adahi Road at the Park Street intersection, where Vienna plans to add sidewalk (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Vienna is dipping into its sidewalk trust funds again.

During its March 21 meeting, the Vienna Town Council approved spending $261,448 to build sidewalks along two residential streets using money from the Robinson Trust Sidewalk Initiative, which was established by the late councilmember Maud Robinson’s estate after her death in 2019.

The newly authorized funds will go toward installing:

  • Approximately 575 linear feet of concrete sidewalk on the north side of Adahi Road SE between Park and Glyndon streets
  • Approximately 680 linear feet of concrete sidewalk on the south or even-numbered side of Cherry Street SW between Courthouse Road and Cottage Street

Both projects will include construction on concrete driveway entrances and Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant curb ramps.

Awarded to the Sterling-based company Arthur Construction Co., Inc., the funds consist of $117,228 for the Cherry Street project, $144,220 for Adahi, and a 15% contingency.

Construction on Cherry Street is expected to start at the end of April, with work on the Adahi sidewalk coming after that, according to project manager Alsina Ervin.

The Robinson Trust initiative launched in February 2020 with $7 million that the Town of Vienna is required to spend on new sidewalks for streets that already have curbs and gutters. The town estimates that the funds will cover about 3.3 miles of added sidewalks.

Faced with a fall 2024 deadline for spending the money, the town council approved construction funds for four projects in April 2021. They were all completed by the end of last year.

During that April meeting, the council also advanced nine other projects to the design or engineering study phase:

  • Alma Street SE — Delano Drive to Follin Lane
  • Birch Street SW — Battle Street to Plum Street
  • Blackstone Terrace NW — Holmes Drive to Lawyers Road
  • Charles Street SE — Locust Street to Branch Road
  • Cherry Circle SW — Cottage Street to End
  • Elmar Drive SE/SW — DeSale Street to Park Street
  • Oak Street SW — Birch Street to Center Street
  • Symphony Circle SW — Melody Lane to End
  • Timber Lane SW — Tapawingo Road to Harmony Drive

“The other projects are in a preliminary stage and have not been approved by Town Council,” Ervin said.

The Alma Street project in particular has encountered some opposition from residents, but there is no indication right now that that will prevent them from getting approved once the designs are completed.

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Morning Notes

I-495 South under Route 7 overpass in Pimmit Hills (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Woman Dies in Crash on I-495 — Virginia State Police are investigating a fatal crash on I-495 near the Eisenhower Avenue Connector in the Rose Hill area. The crash occurred at 9:27 p.m. on Saturday (March 5) when a sedan hit a disabled vehicle, causing it to catch fire. The driver of the disabled vehicle died at the scene, while the sedan driver suffered minor injuries and was arrested on multiple charges, including driving under the influence. [Virginia State Police, InsideNova]

Trial for McLean Murder Suspect Begins — “Fairfax County police quickly announced that what unfolded inside the large, yellow home in McLean in 2017 appeared to be a tragic murder-suicide…But after a 16-month investigation, police offered a stunning turnabout: what initially appeared to be a murder-suicide was allegedly a double killing. They claimed the scene had been carefully staged by the real perpetrator.” [The Washington Post]

I-66 to Close Overnight in Fairfax This Week — “All lanes of I-66 West approaching Route 50 will close nightly, March 9-12, to allow for installation of bridge beams for a new access ramp from the future westbound I-66 Express Lanes to Route 50 West as part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway Project.” [VDOT]

No Injuries Reported in Reston Shooting Incident — Police responded to the 2200 block of Castle Rock Square around 11:17 p.m. last Tuesday (March 1) after members of the Shadowood Condominium complex community reported hearing gunshots. Officers found damage to a buildings and numerous cartridge cases in the area. [Patch]

Lorton Pizza Restaurant Robbed — According to Fairfax County police, a man entered Antonelli’s Pizza (8212 Gunston Corner Lane) around 9:53 p.m. on March 1 and assaulted an employee. The man walked behind the counter, discharged a firearm, and took property before leaving. The employee was treated for injuries considered not life threatening. [FCPD]

Sheriff’s Office Expands Mental Health Services for Staff — “Dr. Grace Davidson, Licensed Professional Counselor, recently joined the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office under contract full-time to provide behavioral health services for the agency’s 550 employees and their families.” [Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office]

McLean Teacher Gives Art Class to Support Ukraine Relief — “During the COVID-19 pandemic, Pamela Saunders has used art as a way to keep children engaged during virtual learning. Now she can use her platform as a way to show support for Ukraine after the Russian invasion.” [Patch]

Work Begins Today on New Lorton Playground — “The Fairfax County Park Authority will soon begin work on a new playground at Laurel Hill Central Green. Construction is scheduled to start the week of March 7 and is anticipated to be completed next month.” [FCPA/Twitter]

New Sidewalk Built to Park in Groveton — “The Telegraph Road Walkway project features more than half a mile of new sidewalk along the south side of Telegraph Road from 500 feet north of S. Kings Highway to the entrance of Lee District Park and Rose Hill Road. Watch the ribbon cutting ceremony.” [Fairfax TV Channel 16/Twitter]

It’s Monday — Showers are likely and possibly a thunderstorm, mainly after 4 p.m. Today will have a high near 80 and low near 42. It will be breezy, with a southwest wind 11 to 21 mph, with gusts as high as 34 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms. Sunrise was at 6:30 a.m. and sunset will be at 6:08 p.m. [weather.gov]

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