It took four days of work, but all trees have finally been cleared from the George Washington Memorial Parkway.
The parkway’s northern section between the Capital Beltway (I-495) in McLean and Spout Run Parkway in Arlington reopened at 9:45 a.m. today after hundreds of trees downed by a storm on Saturday (July 29) necessitated an extended closure.
The northbound lane reopened at 1 p.m. yesterday (Tuesday), but the southbound lane weren’t cleared until this morning, according to the National Park Service.
The GW Parkway will be fully operational for the afternoon rush-hour.
Drivers should use caution as the 3-lane traffic configuration is still in effect for the north parkway rehabilitation project.
— National Parks of Greater Washington, DC (@NPSNewsDC) August 2, 2023
“We extend our sincere appreciation to the public for their patience and understanding during this closure period,” GW Parkway Superintendent Charles Cuvelier said. “The safety of our visitors and commuters remains our top priority. We are dedicated to ensuring their well-being and convenience throughout their journey on the George Washington Memorial Parkway.”
As of yesterday, clean-up crews had removed up to 325 trees from the roadway, creating more than 500 tons of wood and debris that filled up 100 dump trucks and 15 chipper trucks, the NPS previously said.
The NPS noted that drivers should still be cautious around ongoing construction to rehabilitate the parkway. The project required the addition of a third, reversible lane in the median that has been in effect since April.
(Updated at 1:35 p.m.) The ear-splitting thunder that accompanied Saturday’s rainstorm has faded, but efforts to clean up the resulting damage continue.
All southbound lanes on the northern section of the George Washington Memorial Parkway in McLean and Arlington remained closed during rush hour this morning (Monday), as crews worked to remove fallen trees.
“Currently, the northern section (from Spout Run Parkway to I-495) continues to be closed, with the exception of the northbound lanes from Route 123 to I-495,” the National Park Service said last night, urging drivers “to use caution in the area.”
The cleanup effort is expected to take another three to four days, according to the park service, which has deployed five different teams to assist.
“These closures are necessary to ensure the removal of hazardous trees, including those that have fallen across the roadway and broken limbs that pose a risk to travel lanes,” the NPS said in an update shortly before 1:30 p.m.
According to Dominion Energy, 768 of its customers in Fairfax County are still without power, as of 9:30 a.m.
The largest outage is in the West Falls Church area along Sleepy Hollow Road, affecting 437 people. The estimated time of restoration is still undetermined “pending investigation,” according to the utility company’s outage map.
There are also still smaller outages scattered around the Seven Corners area, Springfield and the Richmond Highway corridor.
Over the past couple of days, Dominion has managed to restore power to most of the 128,000 customers in Virginia who experienced an outage during the storm on Saturday (July 29), including approximately 26,000 people in Fairfax County.
“This was a severe storm with winds as high as 60-80 mph, which caused significant damage to trees, branches and power lines,” Dominion said in a tweet yesterday, stating that its crews would continue working through the evening to restore electricity for all those still affected.
The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department said it responded to 238 calls between 4:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Saturday — double the call volume it sees on a typical summer Saturday.
⚠️Currently, the northern section (from Spout Run Parkway to I-495) continues to be closed, with the exception of the northbound lanes from Route 123 to I-495, and the southbound lanes of the Spout Run Parkway are also closed as tree crews work to remove trees from the roadway.
— National Parks of Greater Washington, DC (@NPSNewsDC) July 31, 2023
This was a severe storm with winds as high as 60-80 mph, which caused significant damage to trees, branches and power lines.
— Dominion Energy (@DominionEnergy) July 30, 2023
Yesterday’s storm meant a busy evening for your #FCFRDsBravest. The #FCFRD responded to 238 calls between 4:30pm and 10pm. That is more than double the total amount of total calls and 10x the number of fire-related calls run during that time period on a normal summer Saturday. pic.twitter.com/10YzyuJp61
— Fairfax County Fire/Rescue (@ffxfirerescue) July 30, 2023
Map via Google Maps
After failing to materialize yesterday, stormy weather showed up in force around the D.C. region this afternoon (Tuesday).
A Severe Thunderstorm Warning was issued for Fairfax County and the rest of the area for around 2:11-3 p.m. The National Weather Service reported that the east-moving storm had reached the Oakton and Vienna area around 2:09 p.m., bringing 60-mph wind gusts and hail the size of quarters, according to Fairfax County.
“Damaging winds will cause some trees and large branches to fall,” the county’s emergency information blog said. “This could injure those outdoors, as well as damage homes and vehicles. Roadways may become blocked by downed trees. Localized power outages are possible. Unsecured light objects may become projectiles.”
As of 3 p.m., about 2,826 people in Fairfax County and Fairfax City have lost power, according to Dominion Energy.
Per the utility company’s outage map, the largest individual outages appear to be along Fairfax Blvd, where 914 customers are without power, and in Great Falls, where 509 customers are affected.
The Fairfax outage stems from an out circuit and is expected to be restored between 5-8 p.m. Dominion estimates a restoration time of 6-9 p.m. for the Great Falls outage, which is directly attributed to the storm.
In Tysons, downed trees were reportedly blocking the ramp from eastbound Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) to northbound Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road), according to the NWS.
“The storm which prompted the warning has weakened below severe limits, and no longer poses an immediate threat to life or property,” a 2:51 p.m. update said. “Therefore, the warning will be allowed to expire. However gusty winds and heavy rain are still possible with this thunderstorm.”
Severe Thunderstorm Warning including Washington DC, Arlington VA and Alexandria VA until 3:00 PM EDT pic.twitter.com/yIwOq9WR4E
— NWS Baltimore-Washington (@NWS_BaltWash) June 27, 2023
At 2:25 PM EDT, Tysons Corner [Fairfax Co, VA] Broadcast Media reports Tstm Wnd Dmg. The ramp from eastbound VA-7 Leesburg Pike to northbound VA-123 Chain Bridge Road was blocked by downed trees. https://t.co/6fPcuWCyU4 pic.twitter.com/e9iAfmMCCv
— IEMBot LWX (@iembot_lwx) June 27, 2023
Small hail and strong wind in Reston pic.twitter.com/9gRQCqlsN0
— Robyn Matthews (@robyndmatthews) June 27, 2023
(Updated at 2:35 p.m.) Hundreds of people in Fairfax County have lost electricity today (Tuesday) as winds buffet the D.C. region, taking out power lines and contributing to at least one fire.
Georgetown Pike is currently closed in both directions at Miller Avenue in Great Falls due to a tree that fell on power lines and “a resulting fire,” the Virginia Department of Transportation said shortly after 1 p.m.
The closure extends between Stephanie Circle and Ellsworth Avenue, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.
“Expect delays for several hours as emergency and utility crews clear the scene,” VDOT tweeted.
#GreatFalls: Georgetown Pike at Miller Rd closed in both directions for a fallen tree on power lines and a resulting fire. Expect delays for several hours as emergency and utility crews clear the scene. #VATraffic #NOVA #DMVTraffic pic.twitter.com/okCC4QQeQ5
— VDOT Northern VA (@VaDOTNOVA) March 14, 2023
TRAFFIC ALERT: Georgetown Pike is closed between Stephanie Circle and Ellsworth Avenue in Great Falls due to a tree on wires. The closure is expected to last several hours. Please use an alternate route. #FCPD pic.twitter.com/2n569vx8t1
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) March 14, 2023
That one outage has affected 277 Dominion Energy customers, according to the utility company’s outage map. Power isn’t expected to be restored there until 4-9 p.m.
Further south in the Vienna and Oakton area, Dominion crews are assessing the damage caused by the wind storm in the Lake Vale neighborhood. Power is now being restored to over 800 customers.
“The closure is expected to last several hours. Please use an alternate route,” the FCPD said.
TRAFFIC ALERT: Vale Rd is closed between Hunter Mill Rd and Stryker Ave in Vienna due to power lines in the roadway. The closure is expected to last several hours. Please use an alternate route. #FCPD pic.twitter.com/fbWvWKo1k7
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) March 14, 2023
While those are the largest outages reported so far, power losses and road closures due to fallen wires have been seen across the county today. As of 1:50 p.m., about 1,268 Dominion Energy customers in the county were without power.
The National Weather Service issued a Wind Advisory that took effect at 9 a.m. today and will remain in place until 2 a.m. tomorrow (Wednesday).
Winds have been consistently exceeding 40 mph, with some gusts topping 50 mph, according to the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang.
The Wind Advisory has been updated and is now in effect from 9 AM this morning (3/14/23) to 2 AM Wednesday (3/15/23).
Use extra caution when driving, especially if operating a high profile vehicle. Secure outdoor objects. pic.twitter.com/CGgjWXbXsW
— Ready Fairfax (@ReadyFairfax) March 14, 2023
A #windadvisory is in effect until 2 a.m. 🍃
Here's a list of who to contact if you see a downed tree or wires: https://t.co/PGVTIaoj2z
If there’s an immediate life-safety issue, call or text 9-1-1. pic.twitter.com/yIRKqS0u8Y
— Fairfax County Government 🇺🇸 (@fairfaxcounty) March 14, 2023
Not a fun day outside, DC. Temps barely above 40 and winds pretty consistently gusting over 40 mph. Here are peak gusts so far– a few spots topping 50 mph. pic.twitter.com/yiTYLHwSBs
— Capital Weather Gang (@capitalweather) March 14, 2023
The project to extend the I-495 Express Lanes north toward the American Legion Bridge has been under construction for half a year now, but some McLean residents remain as determined as ever to fight the Beltway’s encroachment into their neighborhoods.
Residents along Live Oak Drive in particular have consistently argued that they will face the most disruptions from the I-495 Northern Extension (495 NEXT) without getting the congestion relief benefits touted by the Virginia Department of Transportation.
The latest blow came at the sight of workers cutting down trees that serve as a buffer between Live Oak and two existing I-495 (Capital Beltway) and George Washington Memorial Parkway ramps.
VDOT says the tree clearings were necessary to make room for the Beltway widening, a new retaining wall adjacent to I-495, and a planned noise wall adjacent to Live Oak Drive. But residents fear the redesigned interchange will be a new “Mixing Bowl,” the tangle of ramps and overpasses where I-495, I-395 and I-95 meet in Springfield.
“VDOT/Transurban are trying to shove through a new ‘Springfield Mixing Bowl’ right here in McLean,” Northern Virginia Citizens Association President Debra Butler said in a recent email to members. “Future demolition and construction will impact both sides of 495 at Georgetown Pike, Live Oak Drive, Langley Swim Club, Scotts Run Nature Preserve with a new ‘McLean Mixing Bowl’ with ramps as high as 271 feet [above sea level].”
Discussions of potential legislation underway
Organized in opposition to 495 NEXT, the association held a meeting at the Langley Swim & Tennis Club on Friday (Dec. 16) to discuss the tree removals and their issues with the project’s size.
Attendees at the meeting included Del. Kathleen Murphy (D-34) and state Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31), who have started talking to Virginia Secretary of Transportation W. Sheppard Miller III about options for addressing resident concerns.
The association has suggested allowing commercial trucks in the I-495 Express Lanes, where they’re currently prohibited, and having them get on and off in Tysons instead of McLean, eliminating the need for some flyover ramps.
VDOT says a planned exchange ramp allowing vehicles to exit the toll lanes at the GW Parkway is intended for all vehicles, though one purpose is to give trucks from Maryland access to the general purpose lanes.
Legislators could also introduce a bill with new controls on public-private partnerships like the one between VDOT and express lanes operator Transurban, improving transparency and limiting their ability to substantially change a project’s design after a public hearing, Butler says.
Murphy confirmed she and Favola are having discussions about potential legislation, but no concrete proposals have formed yet, even with a Jan. 1 deadline to submit bills for the 2023 General Assembly session looming.
“Those are certainly things we are going to bring to the attention of the secretary of transportation to see what possibilities are available, and as soon as we finish those conversations, we’ll have a better idea,” she told FFXnow. Read More
Judge Orders Records Release in Reston Homicide Case — Fairfax County Circuit Judge Brett A. Kassabian denied a motion to seal records related to a double homicide that occurred in Reston in 2017. In a case that may not see trial until mid-2023, Nicholas Giampa has been indicted on murder charges in the shooting and killing of his girlfriend’s mother and stepfather. [The Washington Post]
Driver Charged in Route 1 Hit-and-Run — “Detectives from our Crash Reconstruction Unit have charged the driver of the 2007 Toyota Camry from the July 6 fatal pedestrian crash. The driver, Diego Juarez Gomez, 19, of Maryland was traveling south on Richmond Highway, struck McPhail in the roadway and did not stop at the scene.” [FCPD]
Former West Potomac HS Soccer Coach Cleared of Hazing Allegation — A Fairfax County Child Protective Services investigation recently cleared Ahmad Sasso of wrongdoing during his 8-year tenure as head coach of West Potomac High School’s soccer team. A parent accused him in April of “hazing a player to the point of injury,” prompting his resignation. [ABC7]
Tree Falls Through Oakton House — “A house in Fairfax County is damaged after a massive tree fell on it Saturday night. Officials say that the house impacted is on the 11600 block of Ayreshire Rd. in Oakton, Virginia and that damages are extensive. No one was at the home when the tree hit the colonial-style house because officials say that the owners were out of town for vacation.” [WUSA9]
Man Threatens Sports Bar in Centreville — A 31-year-old man faces multiple charges after allegedly threatening to burn down The Revolution (14114 Lee Highway) on July 16. The man was trespassed and then arrested when he returned later, displaying a handgun. No injuries were reported in connection to the incident. [FCPD]
Sidewalk Replacement Today in Vienna — “A sidewalk replacement project is scheduled to take place this upcoming Monday, July 25 (weather permitting) along Courthouse Road between 423 Courthouse Road and 429 Courthouse Road. Traffic patterns may be affected along this route. Please use caution.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]
CIA Marks 75th Anniversary Tomorrow — “The Central Intelligence Agency in Langley is turning 75-years-young on Tuesday, July 26…Not everyone was happy McLean was chosen as the location for the headquarters. Northern Virginians pushed back at the powers that be to the point that they considered building it where the Kennedy Center is now.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Retired Nationals Star Buys McLean Mansion — “Following his retirement from the Washington Nationals, Ryan Zimmerman is making real estate moves. Property records show that the former slugger paid $11 million for a brand-new build in McLean, VA. The purchase comes after the All-Star listed his longtime home in Great Falls, VA, in April for $8.5 million.” [Realtor]
It’s Monday — Rain in the afternoon and evening. High of 87 and low of 76. Sunrise at 6:05 am and sunset at 8:28 pm. [Weather.gov]