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A shared-use path is in the works for the south side of Post Forest Road in Fair Oaks (via Google Maps)

A spoke in the I-66 parallel trail for cyclists and pedestrians is one step closer to rolling forward.

Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors agreed yesterday (Tuesday) to support the Virginia Department of Transportation project in Fair Oaks, which will provide a key portion of the new 11-mile trail that’s part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project.

The $9.2 million trail segment will remove existing, on-street bicycle lanes and create a new 10-foot-wide, shared-use path along the southern side of Post Forest Drive and eastern side of Random Hills Road.

“This is a relatively small project but…a really important project in the context of the Multimodal Transit Center that’s under construction,” Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw said yesterday (Tuesday).

There will be a buffer between traffic on the road and the new shared-use path, which will connect to the Monument Drive Commuter Parking Garage and Transit Center. A sidewalk on the northern side of Post Forest Drive will remain.

Other upgrades include new crosswalks, ramp upgrades and pedestrian crosswalk signals at the intersection of West Ox Road and Post Forest Drive, among other changes.

The segment will be part of the I-66 Trail spanning Centreville to Dunn Loring. The trail will connect to the Washington and Old Dominion Trail via Gallows Road as well as the Fairfax County Parkway Trail.

Construction for the Fair Oaks segment could begin in 2025 and end in 2026.

Photo via Google Maps

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One of the most heavily used trails in Fairfax County will undergo construction starting this summer to address recurring flooding issues.

The Fairfax County Park Authority is planning to upgrade a portion of the trail at Lake Accotink Park in Springfield. The $3 million project will add a 325-foot-long, elevated, concrete pedestrian crossing over the park’s dam outfall, along with approximately 300 feet of asphalt trail improvements.

“The contractor, Franco’s Liberty Bridge Inc, will be mobilizing on site with active construction activities beginning this summer,” the FCPA said in an announcement on Wednesday (May 4).

Parts of the Lake Accotink Loop Trail will be closed during construction. The FCPA says signs will be posted on the site and advises nearby residents to expect occasional construction traffic entering and exiting the park.

The Fairfax County Park Authority is planning improvements on the trail by the Lake Accotink dam in Springfield (via FCPA)

Despite the short-term inconveniences, the project will likely come as welcome news to visitors like Milo Nekvasil, who says he sometimes takes off his shoes and socks to walk through flooded areas on the trail during light rains. Heavy rains make it impassable for him.

Tree limbs, logs and other debris can clog along the path, causing backups where water would normally flow under the path.

Nekvasil’s experiences aren’t unique. Flooding is frequent and can be sudden, stranding trail users or leading them to wade through waters, according to the community group Friends of Lake Accotink Park.

“Excessive damage due to major storm events has required a total reconstruction of the trail twice in the last five years,” the Park Authority said. “This project will resolve these issues, enhancing safety and accessibility for park users.”

The project is scheduled to be completed in early 2023.

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Fairfax County will restore an eroded stream at Royal Lake Park in Kings Park West (via Fairfax County)

Fairfax County Public Works and Environmental Services has started construction on a project to improve a watershed in Kings Park West near Burke by restoring eroded stream banks.

Part of a plan approved over a decade ago, the Shanes Creek restoration seeks to stabilize the channel and prevent future erosion and degradation along the stream. It will also reconnect the channel to its floodplain and restore native trees and herbaceous planting to promote natural reforestation and a healthy ecosystem, according to a project page.

“The project will restore more than 4,800 linear feet of natural channel and about 1,300 linear feet of outfall leading to it,” the project page says, noting that construction work began on April 13.

The project requires closures of the trail network leading from nearby residential neighborhoods into Royal Lake Park, which is just to the south of the creek.

“The existing parkland trails within the project boundaries will be closed for the duration of the project to ensure public and worker safety,” the Fairfax County Park Authority said. “Active construction is anticipated to be completed by winter 2023.”

According to DPWES, work on the stream will start at Roberts Road, and crews have begun to set up fencing, “trail closed” signs, and other equipment. Trail closures will depend on where construction is underway.

“We are attempting to keep as many open as we can while construction is occurring, so there is not a clear map of what is open now [versus what] will be later,” DPWES spokesperson Sharon North said by email. “…We are working to install the fence and signs as we can.  The limits of disturbance will be well marked before construction of the stream starts.”

The Board of Supervisors approved a watershed management plan for the Pohick Creek watershed in 2010. The plan called for stream restoration efforts to re-establish those waterways that would help minimize erosion, including planting vegetation to stabilize and protect stream banks.

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A Northern Virginia Transportation Commission committee meeting on April 14 (via NVTC/YouTube)

Whenever the planned I-66 Trail is unveiled, it might have some glaring gaps in Fairfax County.

For a second time, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission has opted not to recommend funding for the county’s planned 1-mile segment of trail from the Vienna Metro station near Nutley Street to Blake Lane in Oakton.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation had requested $2.2 million in funding for the project, which would add a 5,000-foot-long cycle track along Country Creek Road/Virginia Center Boulevard and a 10-foot-wide paved path along Sutton Road.

It was one of four projects that the county submitted for consideration in the next round of the I-66 Commuter Choice program, which allocates I-66 toll revenue to transportation projects throughout the corridor.

NVTC staff recommended moving forward with six of nine projects proposed for fiscal years 2023-2024, which runs from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023. The regional group’s program advisory committee met yesterday (Thursday) to discuss the rankings prior to opening a public comment period today (Friday).

With a score of 69 out of 100 points, the only Fairfax County project to make the cut was a request for $1.2 million to support two more years of bus service between the Vienna Metro station and Pentagon. The funding will cover 10 morning and 10 evening peak direction, express trips.

The Vienna Metro trail project received 57 points based on technical merit, cost-effectiveness, and other factors. The county had previously submitted the project for Commuter Choice funding in 2019.

NVTC staff also did not recommend funding for an I-66 Trail segment along Post Forest Drive in Fairfax to the future Monument Drive commuter parking garage, or to enhance bus service from the Stringfellow Road Park-and-Ride in Centreville to the Pentagon.

Those projects had price tags of nearly $4.4 million and nearly $2.9 million, respectively, and received scores of 40 and 47.

How efficiently a project can move people is the leading factor when calculating scores, said Ben Owen, NVTC’s Commuter Choice senior program manager. The top six projects would involve nearly $12.4 million in funds, with a conservative estimate of $14.1 million expected to be available for this year.

The recommended projects are projected to reduce vehicle usage in the region, cut greenhouse gas emissions by 84%, and save commuters 83,000 hours of delay and $2 million annually in fuel costs, according to a presentation to the committee.

People can weigh in on all of the projects, regardless of their technical score, in a survey that’s available in English and Spanish through May 16.

The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission and Commonwealth Transportation Board are slated to approve the project list in June and begin funding in July.

Photo via NVTC/YouTube

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Cyclists on the Mount Vernon Trail (via National Park Service)

An iconic resource along the Potomac River is turning 50.

The Mount Vernon Trail first opened on April 15, 1972. Half a century later, elected officials and others will gather to celebrate its storied history with activities for all ages.

Scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday (April 16), the 50th anniversary event at Daingerfield Island (1 Marina Drive) in Alexandria will feature giveaways, work demos, the National Park Service’s Junior Ranger Program, and more, according to an event page.

“The creation of the Mount Vernon Trail exemplifies how determined community members can help foster partnerships with government and the private sector to create a community asset that benefits all of us,” Mount Vernon Supervisor Daniel Storck said during a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting yesterday (Tuesday).

The Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail credits volunteers as instrumental in creating the multi-use path, which now spans more than 18 miles across Fairfax and Arlington counties and Alexandria City:

On April 15, 1972, the first 4.5-mile stretch of the Mount Vernon Trail opened to the public. The gravel path ran from Belle Haven in Alexandria to the Memorial Bridge in Arlington and was the brainchild of two Alexandria women, Ellen Pickering and Barbara Lynch. In 1971, the two gathered over 700 signatures on a petition to create a trail alongside the George Washington Memorial Parkway.

The National Park Service was sympathetic to the plea and agreed to provide the right-of-way, gravel, and tools if Pickering and Lynch could provide volunteers to do the work. So Pickering and Lynch organized 40 volunteers, and every Saturday that winter they spread gravel. In total, 400 recruits spread 4,200 tons of gravel, contributing 5,300 hours of labor to start the trail that would become a vital recreational and transportation corridor in the region.

Storck said the trail serves as an essential artery for the Mount Vernon District, an 18.5-mile anchor for the region’s trail network with approximately 1 million annual users.

In addition to Storck, speakers at the celebration will include:

  • George Washington Memorial Parkway Superintendent Charles Cuvelier
  • Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail President Judd Isbell
  • Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol
  • Alexandria City Councilmember Sarah Bagley

Several community, transportation, and governmental groups are also expected to attend, including BikeArlington, WalkArlington, Capital Bikeshare, GO Alex, East Coast Greenway, Capital Trails Coalition, Friends of Dyke Marsh, and the Rosslyn Business Improvement District.

The event is free and open to the public.

Photo via National Park Service

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Morning Notes

Office buildings on Arlington Boulevard near Seven Corners (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 9 a.m.) County Board Chair Tests Positive for Covid — Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay announced last night (Monday) that he has tested positive for COVID-19. He reported experiencing “minor symptoms which are uncomfortable but manageable” and is currently working from home and quarantining. [Jeff McKay/Twitter]

Johnny Depp Fans Wait at Courthouse — “Fans who stood outside the main entrance of the Fairfax County Courthouse with the hopes of glimpsing actor Johnny Depp as he appeared for the first day of his defamation trial were disappointed. The ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ star skipped the crowds and entered the courthouse through another door.” [Patch]

Sen. Mark Warner Visits for Affordable Housing Talk — “Every community needs access to affordable housing. Glad to deliver funding to Fairfax County today to create up to 250 affordable housing units and talk to local leaders about how we can further support their initiatives at a federal level.” [Mark Warner/Twitter]

Trees Cut Down for Mount Vernon Bicycle Trail Project — “Construction to improve and link the Mount Vernon Bike Trail along the Mount Vernon Memorial Highway is in its early stages and to clear the way, a significant number of trees have been cut down along the road. According to the project team, there is no plan to replant additional trees when the project is completed, a county spokesperson said.” [The Connection]

Tysons Real Estate Leaders Explore Nats Sale — The Lerner family, which is behind the Tysons II development master plan, has hired an investment bank to explore potential investment partners for the Washington Nationals, The Washington Post reported. Mark Lerner, the baseball club’s managing principal owner, called the move “exploratory” with “no set timetable or expectation of a specific outcome.” [Patch]

County Unemployment Rate Declines — “Inflation may be eating away at their earnings, but a larger share of Fairfax County residents had jobs in February than a month before, according to new federal data…The county’s unemployment rate for the shortest month of the year stood at 2.5 percent, down from 2.9 percent a month before.” [Sun Gazette]

Local LGBTQ+ Advocates Worried About New Law — “Under a new law, Virginia school districts must notify parents whenever instructional materials include sexually explicit content and must provide parents alternative, non-explicit materials if requested…FCPS Pride said the bill ‘creates an adversarial relationship between teachers and parents or guardians.'” [The Washington Post]

Public Safety Workers Honored in Reston — “Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce officials on March 31 honored police, fire-and-rescue and Sheriff’s Office employees for their outstanding acts of public protection. More than 600 people attended the 44th annual Fairfax County Valor Awards, held at the Hyatt Regency Reston.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

Herndon Plans Town-Wide Clean-Up — “The annual spring clean-up, an opportunity for residents to place large or bulky items curbside for pickup, takes place April 27-29. Pickup is on your trash day only.” [Town of Herndon]

It’s Tuesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 72 and low of 53. Sunrise at 6:37 am and sunset at 7:44 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Outside the City of Fairfax Regional Library (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

County Lands $10M to Address Homelessness — Fairfax County will get $10 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to support services for people experiencing homelessness. The money will fully fund 19 projects and represents a 9% increase from last year’s award, mostly for a domestic violence rapid rehousing program run by the nonprofit Shelter House. [Housing and Community Development]

FCPS to Provide Free Online Tutoring — “Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand said unlimited tutoring in any subject for every grade level will be available through a new partnership with Tutor.com. The rollout will begin after spring break.” [WTOP]

Utility Work Requires W&OD Trail Detour in Reston — Washington & Old Dominion Trail users are being detoured to a gravel path this week so that AT&T can relocate a utility line in preparation for the construction of the planned pedestrian bridge over Wiehle Avenue. The work began on Monday (March 21) and could last up to a week. [Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling]

Vienna Town Council Eases Rules for Residential Porches — “Home improvement just got easier in Vienna. Homeowners with homes built near the front setback line can now construct a covered front porch on their property thanks to last night’s Town Council vote on a zoning code update.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

Paved Trail in Burke Completed — “Burke residents joined Fairfax County officials on Sunday to celebrate the completion of the Burke Centre VRE Trail Project, a new paved path that will provide pedestrians and bicyclists with easier access to the Virginia Railway Express station.” [Patch]

Afghan Refugee Graduates from FCPS — “Mountain View High graduate Eltaf Samim traversed six countries, completed seventh, eighth and ninth grade multiple times in different nations and turned in coursework in three languages on the way to get his high school diploma in Fairfax County this year.” [FCPS/Inside NoVA]

Wolf Trap National Park Adds More Summer Performances — “Newly added shows include Van Morrison, Boyz II Men, Tom Jones, Boy George & Culture Club, Kool & the Gang and more. Closing the season will be a community singing celebration called Joyfully Together on Sept. 18.” [Patch]

Reston Museum Seeks Volunteers — “Reston Museum seeks volunteer docents for flexible shifts Tues-Sun 11-4 pm. Docents greet visitors, introduce them to the museum and Reston’s history and assist with shop sales. Training provided, register here.” [Volunteer Fairfax/Twitter]

It’s Wednesday — Rain starting in the afternoon. High of 60 and low of 43. Sunrise at 7:08 a.m. and sunset at 7:25 p.m. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

A rainy mid-day in Fairfax (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Invasive Spiders Could Reach D.C. Area — “An invasive species of spider the size of a child’s hand is expected to “colonize” the entire East Coast this spring by parachuting down from the sky, researchers at the University of Georgia announced last week.” [Axios]

Ramp Closure Coming to I-66 Near Vienna — “Travel lanes on Nutley Street will shift and the ramp from Nutley Street South to I-66 West will be closed as part of work planned for this weekend, March 11-14, for the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway Project. Drivers heading from Nutley Street South to I-66 West will proceed..past the current ramp to turn right at a traffic signal onto a temporary ramp to access the interstate. This detour will remain in place for approximately three weeks.” [VDOT]

TJ-Inspired Bill Passes General Assembly — Legislators passed a bill on governor’s school admissions that was inspired by opposition to the overhaul at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. The bill originally blocked measures aimed at addressing disparities like the ones used by the Fairfax County School Board but was amended to broadly prohibit racial discrimination. [Associated Press/WTOP]

McLean Murder Case Goes Before Jury — “The bloodshed inside the family home in McLean, where two women were fatally shot in 2017, was either motivated by money for a new house or love for an unpopular boyfriend, depending on whom jurors decide to believe.” [The Washington Post]

Uniqlo Plans Fairfax Store — “Japanese fashion retailer Uniqlo is planning a second Northern Virginia location to its growing portfolio of stores in Greater Washington. The retail chain is taking over space formerly occupied by home furnishings company Kirkland’s at 13041 Fair Lakes Shopping Center, according to Fairfax County permit data.” [Washington Business Journal]

Trail Repairs in Mantua Begin Monday — “Tibbs Paving will be making repairs and paving the stretch of the Gerry Connolly Cross County Trail from Route 50 to Thaiss Memorial Park (City of Fairfax) beginning March 14, 2022. The anticipated project duration will be about two weeks running from March 14 through 25, 2022.” [Fairfax County Park Authority]

Taco Rock Opens in Falls Church — “The new location, the largest of [chef Mike Codero’s] three Taco Rock locations at 2,800-square-feet, is in the new, Giant Food-anchored Birch & Broad shopping center…It has a 25-foot-long tequila bar, and a big heated outdoor patio with seating for 100.” [WTOP]

County Rec Centers Seek Swim Teachers — The Fairfax County Park Authority is hiring aquatics instructors to teach children and adults of various skill levels. Positions are available at all nine rec centers, and pay starts at $21.64 per hour, increasing based on experience and certifications. Applicants must be at least 16 and able to work some weekends. [FCPA]

South Lakes Students Start Company to Support Artists — “Sixteen teens from South Lakes High School have built a company called “JACP Company F: Iris,” or IRIS for short. The company is entirely student-run, operating at the school’s address…IRIS sells merchandise such as t-shirts and first-edition stickers printed with juried artwork submitted by local high school and college students.” [Reston Connection]

It’s Thursday — Today will be mostly cloudy, with a high near 53 and a low around 35. The sun rose at 6:26 and will set at 6:11 p.m. [Weather.gov]

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