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A Fairfax County school bus tire caught on fire in Pimmit Hills (via Ring)

A Fairfax County Public Schools bus had a tire catch fire while on Route 7 yesterday (Wednesday), causing some alarm in the surrounding Pimmit Hills neighborhood.

The tire fire occurred around 11:42 a.m. on Leesburg Pike in front of the Trader Joe’s shopping center near Pimmit Drive, as first reported by the Falls Church News-Press.

The bus driver noticed smoke coming from the vehicle’s wheel area and evacuated the students who were on board, according to the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.

“Tire fire was small and did not catch fire until students were off,” FCFRD spokesperson William Delaney said, confirming that there were no injuries to students or staff.

FCPS says the bus was towed by Fairfax County’s Department of Vehicle Services, which manages and maintains the fleets for both the county government and the school system. The department “will conduct a thorough investigation,” an FCPS spokesperson said.

Community members on Nextdoor reported hearing explosions, with one resident saying the “second one” made their house shake. Another person said they could hear and feel the explosions from Idylwood Road.

Delaney told FFXnow that the “explosion” was from the tire “popping.”

H/t to Alan Henney

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Morning Notes

Snow on bridge in Reston’s The Glade (photo by Marjorie Copson)

Deadline for Feedback on School Calendars Extended — “Thank you to the approximately 23,000 families, staff, students, and community members who completed FCPS’ Calendar Feedback Form…The form will close on Monday, February 6, at noon. The School Board is scheduled to vote on a calendar on Thursday, February 9.” [FCPS]

McLean Teen Launches Swim School in South Africa — “An 11th-grade student at The Potomac School in McLean returned to the United States in late January after launching a youth swim academy in Alexandra…The not-for-profit Alexandra Youth Swim Academy, founded by Sasha Minsky, 17, provides free swim instruction to children aged 7 to 16 in the township, near Johannesburg.” [Patch]

Herndon Data Company Considering First Acquisition — “Unissant has grown organically over the years, but that phase may be coming to an end. It is actively looking to acquire, [Chairman and CEO Manish] Malhotra said, and indeed just dropped a letter of intent for an unnamed company it is evaluating.” [Washington Business Journal]

Silver Line Wins Award — “The Washington Airports Task Force (WATF) presented the Silver Line with the 2022 Williams Trophy during its annual general meeting on Friday, Jan. 20…The award recognizes how people in the region collaborated and took the initiative to make rail service to Dulles a reality.” [The Connection]

Mount Vernon Town Hall Will Have Food Tastings — “The annual Mount Vernon Town Meeting will feature a new event this year: a Taste of Mount Vernon. The town meeting hosted by Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck is planned for Saturday, Feb. 11 from 7:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Mount Vernon High School, 8515 Old Mount Vernon Rd.” [Patch]

Chantilly Mom Looks to Support Pediatric Patients — Inspired by a social worker who gave her son a bag of toys when he was at Johns Hopkins Hospital with a brain tumor in 2004, Chantilly resident Marcie McCauley and her family started making “Boredom Busters” with supplies to help kids and their parents during an extended hospital stay. As of 2022, the nonprofit has delivered over 2,000 boxes to patients. [WTOP]

It’s Thursday — Overcast throughout the day. High of 42 and low of 32. Sunrise at 7:15 am and sunset at 5:32 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Fairfax County is no longer considering a proposal to allow more housing in Wolf Trap’s Crowells Corner neighborhood.

The Site-Specific Plan Amendment (SSPA) submission has been withdrawn by its nominator, county planner David Stinson said at a virtual meeting last night (Tuesday) to discuss requested land use changes in east Reston and along Hunter Mill Road.

The proposal had requested an increase in density for six parcels totaling 10 acres on Crowell Road to one to two dwellings per acre, up from under 0.5 dwellings per acre as currently designated in the county’s comprehensive plan.

Submitted by Panthea Mohtasham, a local real estate agent, the application suggested either closing off Crowell Road in front of the new development, or rerouting it around the north side of the houses.

“As the Community and Fairfax County have grown, traffic has increased, safety concerns have become more acute,” the application said. “The Nominator’s proposal would permit restructuring of the road to increase safety for current residents, provide access to existing and future residences, and encourage commuters to adhere to safe speeds along Crowell Road.”

The first option would’ve turned the road into a private street, adding a gated entry after the driveway to Oakcrest School and eliminating the current connection to Browns Mill Road in favor of a cul-de-sac.

The second option would restructure Crowell Road with multiple turns, encouraging slower traffic compared to the existing straight segment, according to the application.

However, the road is a key link to Vienna and Reston for existing residents as the only direct connection between Hunter Mill Road to the west and Beulah Road to the east other than Route 7, according to community members.

“This would be a horrible decision that would block access to schools, the metro, the Toll Road, grocery stores, doctors, the hospital and numerous other devastating impacts,” a Crowells Corner resident said on Nextdoor. “In addition — a large number of homes would be effectively blocked in any time a large rain fall floods Brown Mill and people must go to Hunter Mill to go around. This is a safety and environmental problem and it must be made clear this proposal cannot move forward in any way.”

While the withdrawn application wasn’t discussed at yesterday’s meeting, some attendees said in the chat that safety and vehicle speeds have indeed been a concern on Crowell Road.

“We have children on this road who play and cars honk at us for checking our mail, pulling in and out of our driveways, etc,” commenter James C said, stating that residents have contacted the county and state about reducing the speed limit. “This is not a Nascar race track. This is our family road. We’ve almost gotten Tboned coming out of our drive 1 too many times.”

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a plan amendment in 2018 that realigns Sunset Hills Road to create an intersection with Crowell at Hunter Mill Road in the hopes of easing traffic congestion in the area.

An SSPA nomination that would develop the south side of that intersection remains up for consideration, along with other Reston proposals. A virtual meeting on applications for Tysons will be held at 7 p.m. tonight (Wednesday).

Map via Google Maps

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Police blocked off southbound Route 29 at Centrewood Drive after a fatal pedestrian crash in November (via VDOT Northern Virginia/Twitter)

The Fairfax County Police Department is doubling down on traffic enforcement and awareness efforts after a rise in pedestrian fatalities last year.

At a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors safety and security committee meeting yesterday (Tuesday), Police Chief Kevin Davis stressed that the department is focusing on education and enforcement, with pedestrian safety as a primary mission.

The police department recorded 24 pedestrian fatalities last year, a five-year high — though there were fewer pedestrian-related crashes overall (153) than in 2018.

That count doesn’t include crashes on state highways, which are reported by Virginia State Police, or on the Dulles Toll Road, which is enforced by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police. Per state data, Fairfax County had a total of 192 crashes involving pedestrians, 32 of whom were killed — by far the most since at least 2010.

Deputy Chief of Police Bob Blakely said the rise in pedestrian fatalities is “very concerning.” The police department is also reminding officers about prevention and awareness by refreshing training, reminding officers and sharing information internally, he said.

“Our number one coal it to reduce crashes. If we reduce crashes, we reduce fatalities,” Blakely, adding that it’s not to write tickets.

Fairfax County police data for crashes involving pedestrians in recent years (via Fairfax County)

Each month, the police department hopes to focus on specific traffic safety initiatives with targeted public-facing campaigns and awareness months around the year.

The police department will resume Road Shark — in which officers are assigned to high-traffic areas for enforcement — on June 4 through June 18.

Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk asked the department to consider focusing on more pedestrian-safety campaigns throughout the year.

Davis noted that while overall crashes are lower now than in 2018 and 2019, the number of citations rose by 6,000 between 2022 and 2021. In line with national trends, the FCPD saw significant dips in the number of warnings, citations and crashes during the height of the pandemic.

The department issued roughly 115,000 citations in 2018 and 2019 compared to between 49,000 and 56,000 in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross encouraged the police to provide information about the consequences of speeding and disobeying traffic laws.

“People think it’s a black hole, that nothing happens,” Gross said.

Davis said that it can be easy to raise awareness about high-profile incidents and more challenging to provide information on how individuals were adjudicated.

Law enforcement and county officials hope the addition of speed cameras — a pilot program that will begin this year — will help reduce speeds in highly problematic areas.

“This is going to really effect behavior in those localized areas,” said Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn.

But Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw said that part of the solution may lie in pursuing societal change: limiting the speeds at which vehicles can operate.

Reflecting on how seat belt usage factors into crash injuries and deaths, Walkinshaw said state and local officials should monitor some federal efforts and technologies that control the speed of cars.

“There is not reason that cars need to be traveling more than 100 miles per hour,” Walkinshaw said, adding that electric vehicles can be even more problematic with high speeds and performance.

He conceded that he may not be very popular amongst the car hobbyist crowd.

Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said high speeds in low-speed areas continue to be problematic.

“That’s the area where I have so much concern,” Palchik said.

FCPD says it also hopes to work with Fairfax County Public Schools to provide educational resources to new and future drivers in classrooms.

Photo via VDOT Northern Virginia/Twitter

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Fairfax County firefighters respond to a fire in the 1000 block of Westwood Drive (photo by M. Clark via FCFRD/Twitter)

A firefighter was injured while responding to a house fire in Vienna just before midnight.

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department units were dispatched to the 1000 block of Westwood Drive NE at 11:58 p.m. yesterday (Tuesday), according to a tweet.

“Crews arrived [with] fire visible from 2nd floor of a house under construction,” the department said.

The firefighter’s injury was described as “minor.” An investigation into the fire is now underway, and the department says more information will be shared as it becomes available.

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Morning Notes

A dusting of snow on trees (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Redevelopment Proposed in Bailey’s Crossroads — “Several community members who attended a Fairfax County Planning Department presentation on a proposal for a major mixed-use project on the Food Star site in Bailey’s Crossroads said the county should address the immediate problems in that area first. Those problems include crime, litter, traffic, weeds in the median, safety and trash issues at Skyline Park, and the lack of safety for pedestrians.” [Annandale Today]

Lorton Man Charged With DWI in Alexandria — “A 23-year-old Lorton man was charged with driving while intoxicated after allegedly crashing into four cars in Old Town. The crash occurred near the intersection of S. Patrick Street and Gibbon Street at around 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21. Three people suffered minor injuries and went to the hospital, and the driver was released later that day.” [ALXnow]

No Safety Threat After Alleged Sexual Assault — Frost Middle School Principal Anthony Harris said in a letter to families on Monday (Jan. 30) that “there is no reason for concern about students’ safety” after one student reported that she had been sexually assaulted in a bathroom on Jan. 12. Fairfax County police are still investigating, but said there is “no apparent threat” to students or the general community. [WTOP]

County Prosecutors Share More Bond Data — “Fairfax County’s top prosecutor says his office is now recommending fewer people sit in jail for minor and nonviolent crimes — and he has the data to prove it. The data, released Monday morning by the office of Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano, is a follow-up from data released in October.” [DCist]

GSA Seeks to Offload Groveton Property — “The General Services Administration is holding an online auction for a 10.5-acre site in Alexandria that features an empty, 110K SF office building surrounded by parking lots and green space. The bidding process began in late December, and the agency expects to close the auction in late February.” [Bisnow]

Tysons Tech Company Explores Sale — Cvent, a Tysons-based company that provides software to support in-person and virtual events, “is exploring a sale that could value the cloud-based event-software provider at upwards of $4 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.” After going public in 2021, the $3.3 billion company has seen its shares lose nearly half their value from an early 2021 high. [Wall Street Journal]

Vienna Opens Parking Survey — Vienna’s public works and economic development departments have launched an online survey to gather information about the town’s current and future parking needs. Open through Feb. 28, the survey is part of a supply-and-demand study that will help inform the town’s ongoing zoning code update. [Vienna Voice]

Construction Concludes on Fort Belvoir Water Project — Construction is mostly finished on a main water line replacement along Richmond Highway that serves Fort Belvoir, according to American Water Military Services Group General Manager Wes Casa. In the works since July 2021, the project “involved replacing a 3,100-foot-long section of 24-inch potable water pipeline that had reached the end of its useful life.” [On the MoVe]

GMU Delivery Robots Celebrates Fourth Anniversary — “It was January 2019 when George Mason University became the first college campus in the United States to offer autonomous food delivery through Starship Technologies. Now Mason and Starship are celebrating four years of autonomous robot deliveries.” [GMU]

It’s Wednesday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 42 and low of 32. Sunrise at 7:16 am and sunset at 5:31 pm. [Weather.gov]

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A&J Restaurant in Annandale (file photo)

Seven restaurants in Fairfax County are part of this year’s Washingtonian’s 100 Very Best Restaurants list.

The restaurants that earned a coveted spot include:

The highly anticipated list was published by the regional magazine for the first time since 2020. That year, nine local restaurants made the list, including several that reappeared this year: A&J, Elephant Jumps, Mama Chang, and Marib.

A&J Restaurant at 4316 Markham Street is no stranger to these types of accolades. The two-decade-old Annandale dim sum eatery was on the 2020 and 2019 lists as well, and last summer, it won a RAMMY for its brunch.

“We are excited to be included in the 100 Best again. Since we opened in the mid-90s, the Best Bargains issue featured us every year. 2019 marked the first time we were included in the 100 Best,” a restaurant spokesperson told FFXnow via email. “There are many outstanding restaurants in Fairfax County. It is great to see The Washingtonian highlight some hidden gems in the suburbs.”

Korean barbeque restaurant Honest Grill opened in 2021 in the Centreville Square Shopping Center and immediately got the attention of the magazine’s critics.

Restaurant manager Kevin Yoo told FFXnow that Honest Grill’s inclusion is “a testament to the hard work and dedication of the staff, and a reflection of the restaurant’s popularity among Washington DC foodies.”

Yoo also noted that the county has a “thriving food scene” that’s attracting a “growing local community of culinary innovators,” as evidenced by the restaurants that made this year’s list.

Aracosia, which opened about three years ago in McLean, serves Afghan cuisine and is owned by a Kabul native. Elephant Jumps on Arlington Blvd near Merrifield is regarded as one of the best Thai restaurants in the region.

The famed French establishment L’Auberge Chez Francois has been in Great Falls for close to 50 years. Springfield’s Marib is perhaps the centerpiece of a booming Yemeni food scene in Northern Virginia, while Mama Chang is one of several very popular area restaurants by former Chinese embassy chef Peter Chang.

Elsewhere, Arlington County placed four restaurants on the 2023 list. Plus, the magazine included a number of restaurants in Alexandria and Falls Church City included as well.

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The upcoming Wolf Trap season will include a tribute to Studio Ghibli fillms by the National Symphony Orchestra, led by composer Joe Hisaishi (photo by Dan Aulsebrook)

A preview of summer at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts has arrived.

More than 50 artists have been scheduled for the upcoming season at the Filene Center (1551 Trap Road), the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts announced today (Tuesday).

“The shows we’re announcing today are quintessentially ‘Wolf Trap,’ with extraordinary artists spanning genres and generations,” Wolf Trap Foundation President and CEO Arvind Manocha said. “Now is the perfect moment to call your friends and family, and make plans to hear your favorite artists live in one of the most beautiful settings in the country. We can’t wait to see you.”

Kicking off on May 25 with The Avett Brothers, a regular presence at the park, the season will be highlighted by pop singer John Legend, guitarist Kenny Loggins’s farewell tour, and a two-night tribute to Studio Ghibli movies, including “Spirited Away” and “My Neighbor Totoro.”

This summer will also feature Wolf Trap first-timer Jason Mraz, a two-day Out & About Festival dedicated to LGBTQ artists on June 24 and 25, and a variety of orchestral, opera and dance performances, including the Richmond Ballet’s debut for “Carmina Burana” on Aug. 30.

In addition to the Studio Ghibli tribute on July 14 and 15, which will be led by composer Joe Hisaishi, the National Symphony Orchestra’s schedule includes screenings of “Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi” and “Jurassic Park.” The group will also play Brahms and Tchaikovsky with violinist Hilary Hahn on Aug. 4 and Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” alongside NASA footage on July 7.

For musical theater fans, Arlington’s Signature Theater will return on June 16 for its third annual “Broadway in the Park” concert, this time featuring Lea Salonga, the Filipina actor who originated the role of Kim in “Miss Saigon” and provided the singing voices of Disney’s Mulan and Jasmine.

The full schedule of announced shows can be found on Wolf Trap’s website. Tickets will go on sale for the general public at 10 a.m. on Feb. 17, though presales began today for members who donate $80 or more to the foundation.

Additional performances, including artists at the Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods, will be announced in the coming months, according to the foundation.

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or Laura@GuidingYourMove.com.

The 2023 Wolftrap Schedule is out and some shows are already sold out, but otherwise some tickets are going on sale in February.

If you’ve never been, here are some of my tips:

  1. Parking is free, but if you take the Toll Road, you’ll pay a toll (see what I did there)
  2. You can get in up to 90 minutes before the show and lawn seats are first come, first serve. Bring a blanket to sit on! If it has rained in the days leading up to your concert, bring a tarp to set under the blanket so any mud/moisture doesn’t seep through.
  3. Covered seats open up 30 minutes before show time
  4. Bring your own food and beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are all OK, just no kegs). They also have concession stands to purchase food and beverages.
  5. Remember that the show goes on regardless of rain! So bring your poncho or smaller umbrellas (anything under 6 ft in diameter).
  6. No athletic equipment (think little kids throwing a ball or frisbee) or dogs are allowed (unless they’re service animals!)
  7. No wagons or carts to carry your stuff, coolers on wheels must not exceed 18″ x 16″ x 12″
  8. Each person can bring in up to 2 bags, but that doesn’t include blankets to sit on
  9. If you want back support, bring a little chair. This makes my old back happy!

Kidz Bop is coming in July! We took our kids to this a few years ago and it was a great first show for younger kids.

Have fun!

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A proposed redevelopment of the West Falls Church Metro station property (via Fairfax County)

The nearly 24-acre, mixed-use development planned for the West Falls Church Metro station will come with at least a few upgrades to the surrounding transportation network in Idylwood, if it’s approved.

Developers EYA, Rushmark Properties, and Hoffman & Associates — known collectively as FGCP-Metro LLC — have agreed to construct a shared-use trail along the north side of Haycock Road over I-66, according to a draft proffer agreement in Fairfax County’s Jan. 24 staff report on the development plans.

The proposed trail would replace the road’s existing asphalt sidewalk and one of its westbound lanes. It would be at least 10 feet wide — exceeding the 8 feet recommended by a county study of the area’s pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.

A concept plan shows the trail being separated from the road by a 3-foot-wide jersey barrier on the I-66 bridge and a guardrail and buffer strip to the east of the bridge. With the trail, the developers would also add a crosswalk across Turner Avenue, where the trail would begin.

Under the proffers, which are conditions tied to the development, the Haycock Metrorail Connector Trail must open before the county issues a 40th residential-use permit for the townhouses planned on the Metro station site, though the deadline can be deferred if needed to get required approvals and easements.

Other improvements that the developers say they’ll provide include:

  • Falls Church Drive: pedestrian crosswalks, installation of pedestrian-actuated signalization, and modifications to the existing median, including an eastbound left turn lane
  • Haycock and Great Falls Street intersection: an exclusive left-turn lane and a single shared through/right-turn lane in each direction along Haycock
  • A right-turn lane along Grove Avenue at its intersection with Haycock Road
  • An extension of West Falls Station Blvd through the Metro property, with $2 million offered to help pay for the new road’s construction in Falls Church City’s nearby West Falls development
  • On-road bicycle lanes on both sides of West Falls Station Blvd
  • Up to four bus shelters
  • A concrete pad for a future Capital Bikeshare station

The developers have also agreed to conduct a traffic signal timing analysis and contribute $20,000 that the county can use to install traffic signal preemption devices on traffic lights within a 5-mile radius of the development site.

The development’s traffic impacts have been a top concern for many in the community, who argue that the existing infrastructure is insufficient even without the over 1 million square feet of residential, office and retail space that FGCP-Metro hopes to build on the Metro station’s parking lots at 7040 Haycock Road.

Another 820,000 square feet of development has been proposed on Virginia Tech’s adjacent Northern Virginia Center campus.

Metro’s West Falls Church redevelopment will bring up to 810 multifamily units, 90 townhomes, and a 110,000 square feet office building with up to 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.

The developers intend to build the project’s eight blocks in four phases. Individual plans have been submitted for the grid of streets, townhouses, the office building and one multifamily building, along with two proposed parks, but the blocks could be completed in any order under the proffer agreement.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust’s office will hold a virtual community meeting on the project at 7 p.m. today (Tuesday). The application is set to go to the Fairfax County Planning Commission for a public hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 8.

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