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Town officials are working through the town’s first rebranding effort in ten years (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Town of Herndon officials are mulling the town’s first rebranding effort in ten years.

The move — last discussed at a Herndon Town Council meeting earlier this month — comes as phase two of the Silver Line opens by Thanksgiving.

The rebranding package characterized the town as a “next generation small town.”

Mayor Sheila Olem said the placemaking nature of the new Herndon Metro Station provides an opportunity for the town to position itself as a rivaling area to others in the Commonwealth.

“With Metro coming in, it’s the perfect time,” Olem said at the Oct. 19 meeting.

Anne Curtis, the town’s director of communications, said distilling the town’d “distinctive attributes” was key in developing its brand strategy.

Curtis offered the following brand positioning statement:

A next generation small town pulses on the edge of Fairfax County. Turn off the highway and find yourself in a place that welcomes innovators, risk-takers, history seekers and family-keepers. This is where the roots of history help to grow the ideas of tomorrow.

The town’s logo also emphasizes “on” in the visualization of Herndon, with the font connecting “o” to “n.”

But council members concurred that more discussion and research is needed before any changes occur. The proposal was presented in response to the council’s strategy initiatives planning meeting earlier this year.

Vice Mayor Cesar del Aguila suggested that the brand strategy move out of relying on the town’s reputation as a small town.

“There are dollars out there to be had that we should position ourselves to grab,” del Aguila said, noting that the town must put itself on the regional map and move out of a “small town charm mentality.”

The town launched a brand identity development effort in 2012. Consultant Trialogue Studio worked with the town to launch the strategy.

In the most recent effort, the town held five focus groups, more than 20 interviews with key community and corporate leaders, and launched an online survey that yielded 400 responses.

From that effort, town features like “great location, “small town” and “Hispanic,” were salient.

Staff will continue to work on the proposal. A visualization exercise is planned for early next year.

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The extension could open in time for Thanksgiving travel.

As the county officially approves paying an additional $40 million to finish the Silver Line Phase II, fare evasion continues to irk supervisors.

At yesterday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, the county followed through on the transportation committee’s recommendation last month to pay an additional $40.25 million to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) for the completion of the Silver Line Phase II.

As noted at the Sept. transportation committee meeting, the board didn’t have much choice in the matter. In July, MWAA agreed to increase the budget for the extension by $250 million which will be largely shouldered by Dulles Toll Road users. Because the original project agreement calls for Fairfax County to pay about 16% of the overage, the county owed an additional $40.25 million.

Last month, Board Chair Jeff McKay expressed his frustration about paying even more money for the much-delayed project but noted that it was a “requirement” and the county didn’t have the flexibility to not pay it “without significant negative consequences.”

At yesterday’s meeting, though, McKay struck a slightly different tone by focusing on the Silver Line Phase II’s potential to be a “game-changer” for the region.

“We can’t understate the importance of this project to the long-term success of Fairfax County,” McKay said. “It’s a major milestone.”

There remains no set date for when the line will be ready for riders, though Metro confirmed to FFXnow yesterday that it’s on track to open by Thanksgiving with the go-ahead to add more trains.

The supervisors also took a few moments at this week’s meeting to discuss Metro’s plans to stop fare evasion. Earlier this month, Metro announced it was ramping up enforcement and will be testing new station fare gates that are more difficult to jump over.

Metro estimates that fare evasion has cost the agency about $40 million this year, or nearly a quarter of its budget gap.

Several supervisors noted that they were pleased there was finally movement on better enforcement of fare evasion. Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said there are certainly “equity issues” when it comes to enforcement, but “it has to be a level playing field.”

However, Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust called fare evasion the “least of [Metro’s] challenges” in terms of securing long-term funding for a system that could be facing a $500 million funding gap next year.

“They need a plan that goes way beyond [dealing] with fare evasion,” said Foust.

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A silver line Metro train, seen from The Perch in Tysons (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Phase II of the Silver Line is still on track for opening by Thanksgiving, according to a Metro spokesperson.

The news comes after a key hang-up for the opening of nearly 11-mile extension — the need for more trains — was resolved today (Tuesday) after the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission announced its approval of Metro’s plan to bring back more its 7000-series trains.

Metro’s General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Randy Clarke welcome the approval of its plan — although an exact  opening date still remains elusive. Last week, Metro announced it hoped to open the extension to Dulles International Airport in time for Thanksgiving travel.

“With this approval and close collaboration on the Silver Line extension safety report, Metro will be able to set an opening date in the near future,” Clarke wrote in a statement.

Several safety issues and approvals are still needed.

In a statement last week, Metro said it was awaiting the WMSC’s approval of its return to service plan and disagreed with the commission’s methodology to determine the safety of the trains. At the time, Metro anticipated opening in time for Thanksgiving travel.

In an Oct. 17 letter to Metro, WMSC’s deputy CEO and Sharmila Samarasinghe said that its previous plan was not supported by “available safety information.” Those issues have now been largely resolved.

But the WMSC still needs to complete its concurrence of the project. Metro is still working through a number of open items to obtain WMSC’s concurrence the project, a WMSC spokesperson said.

Final approvals from the Federal Transit Administration are also needed.

More from WMSC on the technicalities of the approval to the overall return to service plan, after the jump:

Read More

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The Reston Town Center Metro station (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 12:05 p.m.) The second phase of the Silver Line may finally be ready to begin in time for the start of busy Thanksgiving travel, Metro announced today. 

But the opening of the long-anticipated and long-delayed extension into Loudoun County is pending security certifications from the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission. Metro says it also still needs more trains to officially support the extension. 

“We committed for the Silver Line extension to being operationally ready for the Silver Line extension in October, and we have met our deadline,” Metro General Manager and CEO Randy Clarke said. “Since control of the extension was turned over to Metro, we and our partners at the Airports Authority, Fairfax, and Loudoun have worked diligently to complete all of the steps needed for Metro to offer safe and reliable service for rail travel to Dulles Airport and Loudoun County, and we are just awaiting concurrence from our Safety Commission partners.”   

The WMSC still needs to provide approvals of two submissions: a return-to-service plan for 7000-series railcars and a safety certification report on the extension project. The commission formally rejected Metro’s new return-to-service plan for its 7000-series rail cars.

Metro does not view the final Silver Line safety certification report as a barrier to preparing for the opening of passenger service before Thanksgiving holiday travel,” Metro said in a statement.

Last month, Metro’s senior safety and operations officials said they were concerned about the safety of moving cars from other crowded lines for new service, citing the need for more trains.

Metro says that it’s confused by WMSC’s rejection of its plan, noting the following: 

The letter indicates that there are differences in the track interface with trains on Blue/Orange/Silver lines that require monitoring, then indicates permission to run on those lines temporarily, but offers no metrics for successful completion;

The letter implies that Metro could swap axles to increase the fleet; however, that is operationally infeasible and would impact Metro’s ability to safely and efficiently manage its fleet, as well as changes many variables at once;

WMSC approved in December 2021 the use of the 7K fleet on all rail lines, and is now using the same data analysis to justify fleet restrictions, with no definitive root cause identified in the NTSB investigation.

Metro took control of the project from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority in June. The project’s completion has been delayed several times over the last two years.

In a statement, WMSC spokesperson Max Smith said the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has “not yet” submitted any documentation to get the necessary safety certification for the Silver Line extension:

Metrorail has since been conducting the additional work needed to prepare for a safe opening of the line. Metrorail is responsible for completing its safety certification of the project in accordance with its safety procedures. Metrorail still has open items in this process, and has not completed its safety certification of Silver Line Phase 2. After Metrorail completes its process, it will submit that information to the WMSC for our concurrence – based on our spot checks, regular meetings and other work over the last three years – that Metrorail has carried out this safety process in accordance with its procedures. As Metrorail has not yet completed all open items, Metrorail has not yet submitted this documentation and request. There is nothing pending before the WMSC.

Smith added that Metro hasn’t submitted any revisions to its return-to-service plan for the 7000 series trains that have mostly been offline since a Blue Line derailment last October.

WMSC says it sent Metro a letter on Monday (Oct. 17) explaining that a plan it submitted on Sept. 28, and then again without revision last Thursday (Oct. 13), “is not supported by all available safety data.”

“The letter also reiterates specific examples of options for Metrorail that are supported by the available data,” Smith said. Read More

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Fairfax County Connector in Reston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

A new circulator through the Town of Herndon is set to open when service for phase two of the Silver Line officially begins.

The Herndon Circulator — run through the Fairfax Connector — will include weekday and weekend service through the Herndon Metro station, Spring Street, Downtown Herndon, Elden Street, Parcher Avenue and Worldgate Drive.

“The route was developed in response to community input and to increase connectivity between downtown and the north side Herndon bus bays,” Robin Geiger, a spokesperson for the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, said.

Service is expected to begin when trains start running for phase two, according to the county. It’s unclear that will begin.

Most recently, Metro’s general manager stated that Metro may be operationally prepared to seek safety certification from the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission and Federal Transit Administration sometime this month.

An opening date has not yet been set, although a fall date is anticipated.

The route is one of several approved recently for Fairfax Connector. Other service changes include a new route between Tysons and Centreville that will take effect next year.

The route comes after the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved several new routes and changes to the Fairfax Connector in February.

Under the plan, the county added four new routes, altered 19 existing bus routes, and eliminated 12 bus routes.

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The Herndon Metro station (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

With the Silver Line Phase II opening still in flux, Fairfax County is being asked to pay another $40 million.

At its transportation committee meeting on Friday (Sept. 30), the Board of Supervisors got an update on the ramifications of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) agreeing in July to increase the budget for the Silver Line extension by $250 million.

The original project agreement calls for Fairfax County to pay about 16% of the asked-for overage, so with the quarter of a billion dollar budget increase, the county owes an additional $40.25 million.

All told, the county will have spent nearly a billion dollars — $960 million — on the second phase of the Silver Line, which will add six stations from Reston to Ashburn in Loudoun County.

In total, the project has cost just over $3 billion. The board is set to vote on the payment later this month.

While likely to approve the additional payment, several supervisors expressed frustration and annoyance with the need to throw even more dollars at a project that has been besieged by constant delays.

“I don’t think it’s a shock and it’s a tiny portion of the overall project,” Chairman Jeff McKay said. “But [the extra $40 million] has rightly angered a lot of folks given all the delays.”

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust also made clear he was not happy that the county is being asked to pay more.

“Have we asked ourselves if this is a good deal and the Airports Authority is not just…spending a lot of money to make a problem go away? And it’s our money that they are spending,” Foust asked staff.

He also asked if $960 million will be the final amount. However, county staff couldn’t guarantee that there won’t be any further costs, considering Phase 1 is still undergoing repairs after opening in 2014.

“We still have to reconcile Phase 1 and Phase 2…All parties have to be reconciled at the end of the project,” said Martha Elena Coello, head of special projects for the Fairfax County Department of Transporation. “We are still doing some work on Phase 1 and that needs to be completed. At the end, there will be a reconciliation of both those phases.”

McKay asked, seemingly rhetorically, what would happen if the county didn’t pay the extra money. Staff responded that it might become a “legal matter” since the payment is required by the signed project agreement.

“According to the funding agreement, this is not a ‘might be’ or ‘may be,'” he said. “It’s a requirement for the county. We don’t have the flexibility…without significant negative consequences.”

Still relatively new Metro General Manager Randy Clarke was given authority by the Board of Directors last month to set an opening date for the Silver Line extension. While no exact date has been announced, Clarke said safety certifications are expected this October, and Metro has updated its maps to feature the new stations.

At the same time, Clarke warned that opening the Silver Line could force service reductions due to a deficit in trains when currently shuttered Blue and Yellow Line stations south of Washington National Airport reopen.

That headache will be put off a little longer by an entirely different Metro problem. Last week, the transit agency announced that its new Potomac Yard station won’t open until 2023. As a result, the Yellow and Blue stations will be closed for another two weeks, until Nov. 5.

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The Fairfax County Department of Transportation advertises the coming opening of Metro’s Silver Line extension at the Mosaic District Fall Festival (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 9:40 a.m. on 9/30/2022) Metro’s extension of the Silver Line through Herndon into Loudoun County is finally starting to look like a reality, instead of a hypothetical, albeit expensive, project.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority unveiled new maps for its rail system last Friday (Sept. 23) that featured the six new stations, among other changes. A day earlier, its general manager got the go-ahead to set an opening date, though one has yet to be announced.

Coming six years after its initial projected opening of 2016, Silver Line Phase 2 will bring the D.C. region’s subway system into Loudoun for the first time, with stops at Dulles International Airport and Ashburn. Along the way, trains will pass through Reston Town Center, Herndon, and Innovation Center in the Dulles area.

Despite frustrations with the project’s many delays, Fairfax County officials remain hopeful that the rail line’s arrival will be a boon for residents and businesses in Reston and Herndon, fueling growth akin to what Tysons has seen since the Silver Line’s first phase opened there in 2014.

Are you excited to enter the shiny new Silver Line stations, potentially as soon as next month? Or have Metro’s ongoing safety and reliability issues turned you off of the transit system for now?

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The latest map includes phase two of the Silver Line (via Metro)

Metro has officially debuted changes to its 2019 map of the rail system.

This past Friday (Sept. 23), Metrorail began rolling out the new maps — which feature the Silver Line extension and stations with new name — to its stations, trains and transit centers.

As first reported by DCist, the new map includes stations on phase two of the Silver Line: Reston Town Center, Herndon, Innovation Center, Washington Dulles International Airport, Loudoun Gateway and Ashburn.

The map also lists Potomac Yard station in Alexandria as a future station.

But it will take some time before the whole system’s maps are upgraded. The overall system has more than 5,000 maps in stations and trains alone.

“Metro is getting a head start now for what will take more than a month to replace every map in the system in preparation for opening,” the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said.

The map also includes new station names — which were approved by Metro’s Board of Directors — changing Largo Town Center to Downtown Largo, Prince George’s Plaza to Hyattsville Crossing, White Flint to North Bethesda, and Tysons Corner to Tysons. West Falls Church-VT is also the new name of the station that used to bear the University of Virginia’s name.

Here’s more from Metro on the changes:

The map’s original design was created more than 40 years ago by graphic designer Lance Wyman and was revised by Wyman for the opening of the first phase of the Silver Line and the extensions’ completion. Over the decades, millions of people have navigated Metrorail using the simple but classic map showing all six rail lines – Red, Blue, Orange, Silver, Green and Yellow – crossing the region with crisp, clean lines.

Printing has been underway for weeks, as Metro prepares for the opening of the Silver Line extension. Maps of various sizes, fare tables, and customer brochures are all being updated.

Metro has not yet decided when the Silver Line extension will officially open. But its Board of Directors took a key step last Thursday (Sept. 22) when they delegated to Metro General Manager and CEO Randy Clarke the authority to accept the project once certain conditions are met.

Right now, a fall opening is anticipated.

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A date for service to begin on the Silver Line’s second phase is likely planned for the fall (Staff photo by Jay Westcott).

After years of delays, Metro has officially passed the baton over to its general manager to set an opening date for phase two of the Silver Line.

At a board meeting today (Thursday), Metro’s Board of Directors unanimously approved a motion to have General Manager Randy Clarke set the opening date of the project.

“This is obviously a very important step and a lot is on the line,” said board chairman Paul Smedberg.

The move would set into motion the 11.4-mile project, which adds six new stations from Reston to Ashburn to the overall Silver Line.

While no actual date was announced, Clarke expects to receive safety certifications by next month. Test runs simulating service on the new line are scheduled to start in early October.

However, safety concerns that have sidelined dozens of trains since October could pose a challenge.

If efforts to restore the trains are further delayed, Clarke says it could force Metro to either reduce service when shuttered Blue Line stations reopen next month or push back the Silver Line opening, per WAMU/DCist transportation reporter Jordan Pascale.

Handed to Metro in late June, the second phase of the Silver Line has been in the works under the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority for almost a decade now, encountering numerous delays that have frustrated local residents, business owners, and elected officials.

The new stations are located at Reston Town Center, Herndon, Innovation Center, Dulles International Airport, Loudoun Gateway and the terminus at Ashburn. The project also includes a new Dulles Rail Yard designed for 168 Metrorail cars.

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Phase two of the long-awaited Silver Line is likely slated for a late fall opening.

At a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority board meeting today (Thursday), efforts are underway to complete safety and certification requirements, according to Theresa Impastato, WMATA’s executive vice president and chief safety officer.

But an exact date remains uncertain. Metro’s board will set the date for servicing the 11.4-mile extension into Loudoun County. It’s unlikely service will begin until late October, especially since simulated service that is expected to continue through mid-October.

“I know everyone in the community is dying to hear,” said WMATA’s CEO Randy Clarke, adding that the organization is entering the “red zone” towards announcing a date.

With nearly all hiring completed, onsite training is planned by September 11. Simulated service will take place between October 3 and 17, according to Lynn Bowersox, WMATA’s senior vice president.

The second phase of the Silver Line has been in the works under the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority for almost a decade now, encountering numerous delays that have frustrated local residents, business owners, and elected officials.

The Washington Metrorail Safety Commission will then approve a safety certification when the materials are submitted in the middle of October — one of the 10 conditions of acceptance of the project.

Metro’s board will then set a date for service.

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