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The Fox Mill and Pinecrest roads intersection in Reston (via VDOT)

Construction on improvements to the intersection of Fox Mill and Pinecrest road is slated to begin in the fall of 2024.

Once the $5.7 million project is completed, the intersection will have a permanent traffic signal, left-turn lanes on northbound and southbound Fox Mill Road, four crosswalks, new sidewalks and curb ramps, and an 8-foot-wide walkway on the southeast corner.

The Virginia Department of Transportation will hold a public hearing on the project design on May 18.

A temporary signalized intersection was installed in August last year in order to improve the safety of the area. Between 2013 and 2020, the intersection has been the site of 53 crashes, two of which resulted in severe injuries.

Right-of-way acquisition is expected to begin in the summer of 2024.

Information on how to log on to the meeting — which takes place online — is available the project’s page.

The project is primarily funded by county dollars and is currently in the design phase.

A completion date in the summer of 2025 is anticipated.

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Morning Notes

Wolftrap Creek in Vienna is high during a rainy Saturday (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Amazon Plans Chantilly Data Center — “Amazon.com Inc.’s data center arm is working to develop a new data center facility in Chantilly, with plans to invest nearly $36 million into the project, according to Fairfax County records. The vacant property located at 3980 Virginia Mallory Drive is part of Amazon’s 46.4 acres in Avion Parkway, which the company bought for $55.9 million in 2021.” [Washington Business Journal]

Rappelling Stunt Supports Fairfax County Nonprofit — “On Thursday and Friday, about 80 people, including two local elected officials, a Washington Post reporter, and a member of the D.C. Divas women’s football team, dressed in full pads and uniform, rappelled down the side of the Crystal City Hilton to raise funds and awareness for New Hope Housing.” [The Washington Post]

County to Choose COVID-19 Memorial Site by September — “The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is positioning the county as one of the first localities in Virginia, Maryland and D.C. to build a permanent pandemic remembrance. The Fairfax County Park Authority recently submitted a memorandum to the board, summarizing project details, including design considerations, the project timeline and next steps, including the memorial’s location.” [WTOP]

County Board Sides with American Legion After Neighbor Complaints — “The Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) voted 4-1 April 27 to overturn the zoning administrator’s ruling that American Legion Post 270 in McLean improperly was operating as a banquet-and-reception hall. Surrounding residents have complained about noise, loitering, late-night events and parties lasting until the early morning” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

FCPD Traffic Campaign Yields Citations — “On Tuesday [May 3], officers from our Traffic Division wrote over 100 citations and warnings during our extra enforcement campaign in the Annandale area. This campaign runs through May 22 and is geared towards making our roads safe for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers.” [FCPD/Facebook]

Afghan Refugees Look for Jobs in Tysons — “Job seekers, like 21-year-old Mohammad Fasih Yaqoobi, had the chance to meet with more than 30 employers hiring for roles at all skill levels. In Yaqoobi’s case, the fair represented an opportunity to provide for his family, who have already lived a lifetime of unimaginable circumstances.” [NBC4]

Chapel Road Closed in Clifton Starting Today — “Chapel Road (Route 641) between Water Street and Yates Ford Road (Route 612) will be closed to through traffic, weather permitting, Monday, May 9 through Wednesday, May 11 between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. each day to replace a stormwater pipe, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.” [VDOT]

It’s Monday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 60 and low of 42. Sunrise at 6:03 am and sunset at 8:10 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Vienna has hired a contractor to replace and upgrade the traffic signals at the Maple Avenue and Park Street intersection (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

A central traffic signal in Vienna is set for an overhaul.

The Vienna Town Council voted unanimously on March 21 to award a contract for a reconstruction of the Maple Avenue and Park Street traffic signal, a project that has been in the works for more than a decade.

Located at a busy intersection near the Vienna Marketplace shopping center and Vienna Presbyterian Church, the signal is one of the town’s oldest and in need of a replacement and upgrade, Vienna Transportation Engineer Andrew Jinks told FFXnow by email.

According to the project page, the intersection’s traffic signals currently do not align with the road lanes. The mast arms on the two existing poles have also been strained by the addition of separate left-turn lights.

The poles will be replaced by a “four-pole configuration with underground wiring and pedestrian-audible countdown signals.” A design plan finalized last July indicates that the new mast arms will be 40 or 49 feet long and feature new road signs and LED lights.

The contract awarded last week went to the Richardson Wayland Electric Company, whose bid of $550,258 was the lowest of three competing vendors.

The council also approved a 10% contingency fund of $55,026, bringing the total to $605,284.

The project will be fully funded by the state through the Virginia Department of Transportation’s SMART SCALE program, which allocates tax dollars to local transportation projects based on congestion mitigation, safety, and other factors.

No date has been set for construction yet, but Jinks says the contractor is currently developing a schedule. The existing signals and vehicle detection system will remain operational during construction, according to the project plans.

“Since most of the improvements are outside of the roadway (or above it) we do not anticipate significant traffic impacts,” Jinks wrote. “Any improvements that many impact traffic will be scheduled at off-peak times.”

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Reston Association wants the Virginia Department of Transportation to redesign the island (staff photo by David Taube)

Reston Association is calling on state and local officials to push forward the redesign of a circuitous traffic island near Lake Anne Plaza.

At a meeting last night (Thursday), RA’s Board of Directors unanimously approved a letter asking the Virginia Department of Transportation, state officials, and county departments to consider fixing what directors dubbed “pork chop island.”

The island allows pedestrians and cyclists from Village Road to pass a right-turn lane and continue along Baron Cameron Avenue.

“The Board has received numerous and strong complaints about that facility, specifically the traffic separator (‘porkchop’) island in the south leg of that intersection, especially after Reston Now published its Jan. 27 story and photo,” the letter states. “RA’s Multimodal Transportation Advisory Committee has detailed to the Board a list of the facility’s problems, and we are aware of concerns expressed by the Reston Accessibility Committee and others.”

The previous design provided a straight shot for pedestrians, but the latest redesign requires a more adventurous undertaking and may actually present more challenges for people who use wheelchairs or have other physical constraints.

“It really is hard for all pedestrians crossing at that intersection but especially with seniors and other persons with limited mobility,” said board member John Mooney.

He thanked Reston Now — a sister site of FFXnow — and RA’s Multimodal Transportation Advisory Committee for bringing up the issue.

The letter outlines a litany of issues associated with the island. For example, the crossing-signal button is too hard to push, the crossing time across Village Road is too short, and the median refuge in the middle of Baron Cameron is unsafe and hard to negotiate.

RA’s board says ensuring that area is walkable is particularly important because of its proximity to the Lake Anne House, a 240-unit facility for seniors.

“The residents of Lake Anne House themselves should be consulted appropriately about this design,” the letter says. “We believe it would also be useful to have an on-site meeting of representatives of the county, VDOT, the developer and RA to discuss the problems and redesign.”

Board Director Tim Dowling encouraged RA to ensure the letter was strongly worded and leveraged the association’s “collective voice” as an organization that represents more than 20,000 households in Reston.

VDOT is currently re-examining the design of the facility.

“Unfortunately the construction of the pedestrian improvements contains deficiencies that must be remediated. We have been working with Fairfax County and the permittee regarding said remedy,” a spokesperson told FFXnow.

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Families, including young children, called for changes yesterday (Tuesday) to make the Route 7 corridor in Bailey’s Crossroads safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

At a rally organized by the immigrant advocacy organization CASA and the transit nonprofit Coalition for Smarter Growth at the corner of Route 7 and Glen Carlyn Drive, mother Viviana Valverde, who is pregnant with her third child, said through a translator that the area has become more dangerous due to a lack of signage.

“We are here to win badly needed safety improvements,” Coalition for Smarter Growth Northern Virginia advocacy manager Sonya Breehey said.

Cards distributed by CASA attribute fatal crashes on Route 7, also known as Leesburg Pike, to a lack of signage, pedestrian crosswalks, adequate lighting, and heavy, high-speed traffic.

Route 7 there has a 40 mph speed limit, but based on Virginia Department of Transportation data from September 2016 to September 2021, the community group Fairfax Families for Safe Streets has called it one of the deadliest roads in the county.

Most recently, 68-year-old Falls Church resident Nguyet Ly died on Dec. 13 after a 2018 Subaru Impreza hit her as she was walking near the shoulder in a section of Leesburg Pike with no sidewalk.

VDOT is looking at possible improvements to the corridor between Glen Carlyn Drive and Glen Forest Drive, such as adding missing sidewalks. The department hopes to share concepts and feasibility analysis by mid-June, VDOT administrator Claudia Llana wrote in a Feb. 28 email.

Group presses VDOT for faster timeline, temporary upgrades

Emphasizing the urgency of the situation, Fairfax Families for Safe Streets asked VDOT to make interim upgrades by this summer, including temporarily lowering the speed limit and creating a pedestrian path on the road using jersey barriers.

VDOT said on Monday (March 12) that it’s gathering speed and crash data to prepare for a full speed study, which is required under Virginia law for evaluating potential speed changes.

“The study could take several months and will incorporate input from Fairfax County police, Department of Transportation staff, among others,” Llana wrote. “Due to the potential for change in posted speed limit, installing a speed feedback sign is not recommended at this time, that would reinforce a speed limit that may change.”

The department suggested it’s working with the county on the effort, but Fairfax Families for Safe Streets board member Phil Kemelor called the response disappointing and frustrating.

“People are getting hit out here,” he said. “We’re hoping we can collaborate more and have a seat at the table.”

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Morning Notes

Fair Oaks Mall on a March Sunday (staff photo by David Taube)

Trucker Convoy Leaves Capital Beltway — “After a week of ineffectual laps around the Beltway, the ‘People’s Convoy’ is now jamming up part of I-395 in Arlington. The convoy…is intended to protest the Covid-related government mandates. It received considerable media attention last week but didn’t do much to disrupt traffic.” [ARLnow]

School Board Appeals TJ Admissions Ruling — “The Fairfax County School Board is appealing a federal judge’s ruling that invalidated the recently revised admissions system for the prestigious Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology magnet school…Legal experts were divided over how the 4th Circuit is likely to rule.” [The Washington Post]

Mac & Cheese Restaurant Chain Eyes Tysons — “I Heart Mac & Cheese, a fast casual concept, tentatively plans to open in Tysons in October 2022. The Tysons location will be the first in Virginia and owned by franchisee Md Billal Hossain. A spokesperson could not share the location’s address yet, as the lease is still being finalized.” [Patch]

Pedestrian Improvements Finished in Bailey’s Crossroads — The Virginia Department of Transportation has completed work on pedestrian and traffic safety measures at the Columbia Pike (Route 244) and Lacy Boulevard intersection. Changes include a new traffic signal, four new high-visibility crosswalks, ADA curb ramp upgrades, and flashing yellow arrows for left turns from Columbia Pike. [VDOT]

More Details on Reston Invasive Plant Pilot Program — “Reston National Golf Course plans to spend $140,000 on a three-year project targeting invasive plant species affecting an area that includes the Hunters Green Cluster in Reston. This proposal is different from the one introduced by the Reston National Neighborhood Study Group in February.” [Patch]

Route 7 Construction to Require Great Falls Road Closure — “Starting the week of March 28 and continuing through June, drivers on Colvin Run Road will proceed to the east end of Colvin Run Road to access Route 7 eastbound and westbound as crews perform utility work and other construction activities at the west end of Colvin Run Road.” [VDOT]

Board of Zoning Appeals Has Vacant Seat — “The Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals has an opening for one member. Interested candidates must apply by Monday, April 11, to the Fairfax Circuit Court, which appoints the board’s seven members.” [Fairfax County Government]

It’s Tuesday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 64 and low of 40. Sunrise at 7:21 a.m. and sunset at 7:17 p.m. [Weather.gov]

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Traffic safety advocates from across the D.C. area have banded together to urge local officials to make improvements that they believe could help prevent the next death of a pedestrian or cyclist.

The campaign specifically focuses on the Route 7 corridor around Baileys Crossroads and Seven Corners after 68-year-old Nguyet Ly was hit and killed when walking along a section of Leesburg Pike without a sidewalk on Dec. 13.

“The Route 7 corridor between these traffic hubs are among the most hazardous in Fairfax County,” said Phil Kemelor, Mason District board member for the community group Fairfax Families for Safe Streets.

Fairfax FSS has partnered with the Coalition for Smarter Growth, CASA, Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling, and other concerned individuals to ask the Virginia Department of Transportation to help.

In a letter to VDOT, the organizations recommend installing a continuous sidewalk or multi-use path on Leesburg Pike, adding crosswalks across all side streets, and prohibiting vehicles from parking within 20 feet of a driveway or intersection, which they say leads to blocked sightlines for drivers.

The letter also notes that the curbside lane where Ly was walking measures 16 feet in width, encouraging speeding compared to lanes that typically range from 10 to 13 feet.

“The Rt. 7 corridor in the Culmore community is a notoriously dangerous place for people walking, biking, and accessing the bus stops,” Sonya Breehey, Coalition for Smarter Growth’s Northern Virginia advocacy manager, wrote in an email. “The recent fatality is just one of many people who are struck and either killed or left with serious injuries in this community.”

While this campaign focuses on the Mason District, Fairfax FSS says the safety issues on Route 7, including insufficient sidewalks and crosswalks, can be seen elsewhere in the county as well and have contributed to other fatal crashes.

A map of pedestrian deaths (red circles) and injuries (orange circles) due to vehicle crashes (courtesy Fairfax Families for Safe Street)

Based on five years of VDOT data, the group identified the following as the most dangerous roads in Fairfax County, in addition to Route 7:

  • Route 1
  • Route 29
  • Route 50
  • Little River Turnpike
  • Backlick Road
  • Telegraph Road
  • Shreve Road at the Washington and Old Dominion Trail
  • Eastbound sections of Columbia Turnpike
  • Old Keene Road/Franconia Road

The data spanned September 2016 to September 2021 and involved over 100 crashes where pedestrians or cyclists were severely injured or killed.

“Nearly 50% of the fatalities are among those who are 60 years of age and older,” Kemelor said in an email.

Fairfax Families for Safe Streets has also compiled a map of “near misses” reported by pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers to show where streets could be upgraded. People can add to the map by completing an online survey.

Ly was the 13th pedestrian killed in a traffic crash last year in Fairfax County, which ended 2021 with 14 such deaths after an Annandale resident was hit by a car on Route 123 in Tysons and died on Dec. 30. The county also recorded three bicyclist deaths last year.

Police reported the first pedestrian fatality of 2022 on Tuesday (Jan. 18). The crash occurred on Jan. 8 on Route 29 at Forum Drive, and Joel Gonzalez, 22, of Fairfax later succumbed to his injuries while in a hospital.

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