(Updated at 2:20 p.m.) Fairfax County is beginning talks for a pedestrian crossing at a dangerous intersection of Wiehle Avenue at the Dulles Toll Road ramps in Reston.
As part of its plan to redevelop the Campus Commons office complex, developer TF Cornerstones has agreed to give the county $1.65 million to build an alternative crossing for the area after a study group failed to reach consensus on a preferred alternative for the site in 2021.
But before an alternative option is chosen, the county will kick off a Wiehle Avenue corridor study that will evaluate Wiehle Avenue between Sunrise Valley Drive and the Washington & Old Dominion Trail.
An in-person meeting on the study is slated for Monday, Nov. 13 from 5:30-9 p.m. in the Langston Hughes Middle School cafeteria (11401 Ridge Heights Road).
Resounding community concerns about safety at the proposed at-grade crossing prompted the formation of a study group in 2020 that evaluated three proposed options for the site.
But virtually all members voted against the three options proposed by TF Cornerstones. Instead, 71% supported a crossing with an underpass — which comes with a hefty price tag — and 59% supported an enhanced at-grade pedestrian crosswalk with more multimodal improvements.
So far, the Board of Supervisors has emphasized the need for a high-visibility, at-grade crossing in the area — and one that is considered “aesthetically pleasing,” said Freddy Serrano, a spokesperson for the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT).
A timeline for the implementation of the Campus Commons crossing has not yet been determined. Under its development conditions, TF Cornerstones doesn’t need to give the money to the county until it receives its first occupancy permit for Building C, a 27-story multi-family residential building, according to FCDOT.
“There has been no movement on this project so that timeline is unknown,” Serrano said.
Ultimately, the outcome will depend on the Wiehle Avenue corridor study.
With the study, county transportation officials will incorporate ideas from the public and work with consultant Fehr & Peers to develop three concepts to test in 2030 for the overall corridor. The models will help determine how potential changes will affect traffic operations, accessibility and pedestrian safety.
“We will take these concepts and the resulting future analysis back to the public early next year and will solicit their feedback to arrive at a preferred concept for Wiehle Avenue,” Serrano said.
TF Cornerstone plans to build two buildings with 655 apartments, more than 520,000 square feet of office space and a little over 28,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. A 24-story tower and two small towers are proposed.
Image via Google Maps
Updated at 8:40 p.m. on 11/8/2023 — The community workshop has been relocated to the cafeteria of Langston Hughes Middle School (11401 Ridge Heights Road).
Earlier: Fairfax County is formally launching a new study on how to shift Wiehle Avenue from a car-dominated, suburban road to a multimodal, urban street.
The Wiehle Avenue study kicks off with an in-person community workshop on Nov. 13.
After diving into the background and purpose of the study, the county will open the floor for attendees to brainstorm ideas on how to improve the road between Sunrise Valley Drive and the Washington & Old Dominion Trail in Reston.
The ideas proposed by the community will later be refined into three concepts “to test in future (year 2030) scenarios” by the Fairfax County Department of Transporation and its consultant, Fehr & Peers, FCDOT spokesperson Freddy Serrano says.
“[The scenarios] will give us an overview of how potential changes may affect traffic operations and accessibility and comfort for pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users,” Serrano told FFXnow. “We will take these concepts and the resulting future analysis back to the public early next year and will solicit their feedback to arrive at a preferred concept for Wiehle Avenue.”
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors initiated the Wiehle Avenue study as a follow-on motion after approving TF Cornerstone’s Campus Commons redevelopment plan in 2019.
The project prompted vigorous debate on the safety of a proposed pedestrian crossing at the intersection Dulles Toll Road ramps and Wiehle Avenue. An alternative is being explored after the developer offered $1.65 million instead of developing a solution.
The county previously convened a study group to evaluate options for that crossing, but the group didn’t support any of the developer’s proposals.
FCDOT says this new study will take a broader look at the corridor and how it may have been affected by the opening of Metro’s Silver Line extension last year.
“This effort is expected to identify new and improved bicycle/pedestrian facilities and intersection treatments, as well as evaluate the potential reconfiguration of vehicular lanes and/or widths for current and future land use scenarios,” the department said in a news release.
The community meeting takes place from 5:30-9 p.m.
in the second floor conference room of 1900 Reston Metro Plaza. A light dinner will be provided. RSVPs are encouraged through an online feedback form.
A new concept for Ebbitt House — a suburban remodel of the District’s Old Ebbitt Grill — and changes in Reston Row — a mixed-use neighborhood near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station — are officially moving forward.
Comstock, the developer behind the project, sought to reallocate 280,000 square feet of unbuilt but previously approved office space from its Reston Station neighborhood to Reston Row, increasing the height and number of residential units in a building in Reston Row. Comstock also removed above-grade parking and a private, elevated sport court.
Jeff Owens, chief financial officer for Clyde’s Restaurant Group, said the use of the Old Ebbitt Grill brand was a big move for the company. Clyde’s of Reston closed in Reston Town Center roughly one year ago.
“We’re really anxious kind of get back to Fairfax County again and we wanted to do in a big way,” Owens said.
Jill Parks, an attorney with Hunton Andrews Kirth, said Comstock also reworked the location of some parks and overall landscaping.
The issue of park space drew concern at a Fairfax County Planning Commission meeting in June. Although the commission ultimately recommended approval of the application, members said they worried it doesn’t meet urban parks standards.
Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said the county is in the midst of discussions on how best to calculate the amount of park space required in applications.
“We’re literally moving 280,000 square feet of approved [space], 175 units from here to there,” Parks said, describing the simplicity of the proposed changes.
She said Reston Station and Reston Row represent “two of the most significant mixed-use developments in Reston, resulting in the creation of a dynamic, one-of-a-kind transit-oriented neighborhood.”
At the meeting, Reston Association board president John Farrell restated the board’s concerns about Comstock using amenities managed and owned by RA, like Lake Thoreau, for marketing its residential projects. Farrell also urged the developer to join RA — a move that Parks said Comstock was uninterested in.
Parks noted that Comstock provided $650,000 to Reston Association as part of its development proposals.
Changes to Comstock’s Reston Row neighborhood are moving forward despite concerns about the proposed shift of a public park space into private outdoor dining space for Ebbitt House, an upcoming restaurant.
The Fairfax County Planning Commission recommended on June 28 that the Board of Supervisors approve changes to the project near the Wiehle-Reston Easton Metro station.
Comstock is seeking the county’s permission to reallocate 280,000 square feet of unbuilt but previously approved office space from Reston Station to Reston Row. Specifically, the developer wants to increase the building height of a residential building from 180 feet to 350 feet and from 250 to 350 units.
Other changed elements include increased retail square footage, an elevated sport court, and a shift from two separate garages to a single underground parking garage.
Staff recommended approval of the application even though the project doesn’t fully satisfy the county’s urban parks standards for the area. The total density between the two projects — Reston Row and Reston Station — remains unchanged.
Mary Ann Tsai of the county’s Department of Planning and Development said the decison to approve the application was a “very hard” one.
Even though the application doesn’t meet the urban parks standards, the current plan is an improvement over the previous approval, especially when it comes to additional greenscapes for a corner park at the intersection of Sunset Hills Road and Wiehle Avenue, Tsai said.
“We look at the whole context of the recommendations,” she said, calling staff’s support a “soft” decision.
Jill Parks, an attorney with Hunton Andrews Kurth representing the applicant, said the outdoor dining space is a major placemaking feature of the development instead of a “strip of green.”
“It is more welcoming, it is an amenity and it is a feature to this neighborhood,” Parker said, adding that the applicant “scrubbed every single foot of this project” to improve the urban parks.
Providence District Commissioner Phil Niedzielski-Eichner said Comstock’s significant investment in the project warrants a closer look at the issue.
“The Ebbitt is a significant addition to the development,” Eichner said. “It has a region-wide standing. If the terms of being able to secure them meant there be an outdoors type of arrangement, I can see the logic of that.”
Hunter Mill District Supervisor John Carter concurred that he “actually like[s] the dining space here. This is something for the future.”
Clyde’s Restaurant Group COO Kevin Keller said the outdoor dining space will be a significant amenity for the company’s guests.
“It brings that energy outside and really connects the community,” Keller said.
Overall, the development plan won the approval of the commission. Carter noted that the plan was a hallmark of placemaking that Reston’s transit station areas need.
“Our stations are underperforming. It’s not because of the density. It’s because people can’t get there,” Carter said.
Randall Farran, the Fairfax County Planning Authority’s park planning branch manager, emphasized that failing to meet the urban park standards was seen as a “deficiency,” particularly because supplemental features — like areas fronting buildings — were used to try to meet the 1.2-acre urban park space standard for the development.
“We didn’t feel like it was an equivalent replacement,” Farran said.
Braddock District Commissioner Mary Ann Cortina wasn’t satisfied with the developer’s approach to urban park spaces — even though she understood the need for the private outdoor dining area.
“It does make it difficult to continue to provide what the comprehensive plan expects,” Cortina said, adding that future applicants may argue that the appeal of private amenity space precludes meeting urban spark standards.
The application will go to the Board of Supervisors for a public hearing on July 25.
(Updated at 3:55 p.m.) A shooting in a parking lot near Isaac Newtown Square and Wiehle Avenue in Reston left one individual hospitalized with life-threatening injures last night (Tuesday).
Police believe the individual was shot in an act that does not appear to be random, authorities wrote in a social media post.
“The victim remains hospitalized and there are no apparent threats to the community,” police said.
Though it wasn’t publicized until nearly 2 a.m. today, officers were called to the 1900 block of Isaac Newton Square for the shooting at 11:42 p.m. yesterday, the Fairfax County Police Department said in a news release.
Police believe the shooting occurred inside the victim’s vehicle, according to the release.
Upon arriving at the scene, officers found an adult man who had been shot in the lower body, according to police. The man was taken to a local hospital, where he remains, as of this afternoon.
“Detectives believe the shooting occurred after a verbal argument and continue to investigate to identify a suspect involved,” the FCPD said.
Police said they continue to investigate both incidents.
Officers are in a parking lot near Isaac Newton Sq & Wiehle Ave, Reston for a victim who was shot by unk suspects. Vic was taken to a nearby hospital for injuries considered to be life threatening. Prelim, this does not appear to be a random act. Avoid area as ofcs investigate. pic.twitter.com/EDL1TiWmyJ
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) April 5, 2023
Officers are in the area of South Kings Hwy/Furman Ln in Groveton for an adult man who was shot by an unknown suspect. The victim was taken to a nearby hospital for injuries considered to be life-threatening. Avoid area as officers investigate. pic.twitter.com/KLvB2apcAk
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) April 5, 2023
The Fairfax County Department of Transportation is working on a design for the project, which will include the construction of a bus pad, bench, trash can, and curb-abutted sidewalk at the intersection just west of the Forest Edge neighborhood.
Curb and gutter will be added to both corners of the intersection. A bus pad and a 50-foot-long sidewalk will also connect to the existing sidewalk at North Shore Drive.
The project is located near the Wiehle Avenue overpass.
Reston Association is considering a request from FCDOT for the dedication of a 14-square-foot bus stop easement and 7-square-foot dedication for public street purposes so it can move forward with the project.
“Most of the project will be within the right-of-way,” RA Chief Operating Officer Larry Butler said in a memo. “However, there are parts that will extent to RA property adjacent to the project.”
FCDOT has acquired land rights for one of two properties where easements are needed for the project, according to spokesperson Robin Geiger. A final plan has been approved by the county and RA’s Design Review Board.
The county estimates that the project will cost a total of $105,500.
(Updated at 2:20 p.m.) Fairfax County first responders were sent to an incorrect address during a 911 call for a cardiac arrest incident at the Reston Town Center Metro station yesterday (Tuesday), leading to a delay in the response.
Based on information provided by Metro, the Fairfax County Department of Public Safety Communications dispatched emergency crews to 1901 Reston Metro Plaza — an address next to the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station, reported local public safety watcher Dave Statter.
Personnel then received an address change about 10 minutes later directing them to 12023 Sunset Hills Road, the north pavilion for the Reston Town Center station about two miles away, according to Statter.
A county spokesperson provided the following statement to FFXnow, confirming that there was a mix-up in the address:
On March 21 the Fairfax County Department of Public Safety Communications (DPSC) received a call from the Washington Metropolitans Area Transit Authority (WMATA) via the non-emergency phone line at 09:06:59 reporting a cardiac arrest at the Wiehle Metro Station. DPSC dispatched Fairfax County Fire and Rescue (FRD) to the incident at 09:08:45. The first unit arrived at the dispatched location at 09:13:10. This was identified as the incorrect location by responding personnel. Working together, FRD and DPSC redirected resources to the correct location, Reston Metro Station and arrived on the incident scene at 09:19:29.
The man later died at a hospital, according to the report.
Ian Jannetta, spokesperson for WMATA, said the organization is investigating the incident.
“Metro addresses a number of medical emergencies related to customers daily,” Janetta said. “We are looking into our response to this incident and how we can improve our efforts in the future. Our deepest sympathies are extended to our customer and their family.”
Statter says this isn’t the first time WMATA provided an incorrect address in the past.
WMATA confirmed that its control center initially gave an incorrect station address to the county fire department, noting that Metro workers were administering CPR before emergency responders arrived.
“It was rectified with Fairfax EMS during the response to the incident during which time CPR was being provided prior to their arrival,” Janetta said. “We are verifying all station addresses systemwide to ensure our control centers and jurisdictional partners have the correct information.”
(1) @fairfaxcounty confirms @WMATA gave the wrong address for the Reston Town Center #Metro Station. It delayed fire & EMS getting to a man in cardiac arrest. That man died. How did this mistake occur? #WMATA isn't saying but it fits a pattern. (more) @wmatagm pic.twitter.com/19I8QDdiI3
— Dave Statter (@STATter911) March 22, 2023
The $6.7 million project replaces an at-grade crossing and widens Wiehle Avenue from Sunset Hills to the Reston Fire Station and Pupatella Pizza entrances, according to the county. It will also accommodate future 5-foot-wide bicycle lanes.
The project, which is managed by Allan Myers VA, will wrap up by late spring to early summer of 2024, according to the county.
It’s intended to improve transportation safety in the area by eliminating conflicts between vehicles and trail users and minimizing rear-end crashes.
Since June 2018, 11 crashes at or near the existing crossing were reported, according to state data.
“The W&OD Trail is a heavily traveled regional pedestrian and bicycle trail in Northern Virginia. We estimate the number of daily trail users at the W&OD trail crossing at Wiehle Avenue is as high as 3000,” the county said.
The project was funded by federal and state grants.
As construction continues, the asphalt trail will remain open except from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
A 6-foot-tall safety fence will be installed on the asphalt trail to separate the trail from the construction area. Meanwhile, the gravel trail will be closed on the west side from 11480 Sunset Hills Road to the east from Michael Faraday Court.
The groundbreaking for the Wiehle Ave bridge was held this morning! The estimated completion date for the project is late spring/early summer of 2024. pic.twitter.com/5kBSMFcxW9
— The W&OD Trail (@WODTrail) March 9, 2023
Great morning for groundbreaking to kick off construction on W&OD Trail Bridge over Wiehle Ave. Bridge will greatly improve pedestrian/bike safety & access to Wiehle-Reston East Metro – joining communities! @KenPlum1 @ireneshintweets @JenniferBoysko @VAbikecommuter #HunterMill pic.twitter.com/dj7PUtHLrp
— Supervisor Walter Alcorn (@WalterAlcornFFX) March 9, 2023
Updated at 2:10 p.m. — The gas leak in Reston has been stopped. Fairfax County Fire and Rescue units are returning to service, but the road closures are expected to remain in place “for several hours” while the roads are repaired, the department says.
Earlier: A gas line in Reston was ruptured this morning (Friday), requiring a near-total shutdown of Wiehle Avenue and Sunset Hills Road.
A 4-inch gas line was hit and “actively leaking” under the roadway, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department said at 8:37 a.m.
Sunset Hills Road has been closed except for one westbound lane, and all southbound Wiehle Avenue lanes have been shut down at Isaac Newton Square.
The fire department reported at 9:07 a.m. that the situation has stabilized, but the roads are still closed. The gas company has arrived on the scene and is working “to clamp/stop leak.”
Travelers are still advised to avoid the area. No injuries have been reported, FCFRD says.
— Fairfax County Fire/Rescue (@ffxfirerescue) February 24, 2023
UPDATE – gas leak, Wiehle Ave and Sunset Hills Rd in Reston. Situation remains stable. Gas company on scene. Roadways will be shut down for an unknown and extended amount of time. Avoid area. Seek an alternate route. No reported injuries at this time. #FCFRD #traffic pic.twitter.com/iiNV6YCjH6
— Fairfax County Fire/Rescue (@ffxfirerescue) February 24, 2023
(Updated at 9:55 a.m. on 2/15/2023) A groundbreaking for a new Washington & Old Dominion Trail bridge over Wiehle Avenue is set for next month.
The event, which was originally scheduled for earlier this week, was postponed due to the unavailability of some elected officials.
The new bridge replaces an existing at-grade crossing. Only minor roadway, sidewalk and median changes to Wiehle Avenue are planned at this location.
The project — which has been in the works for years — will boost bicyclist and pedestrian access near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station. The bridge will include a gravel path and asphalt trail.
The project will be completed in spring 2024, according to the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.
Dominion Energy Virginia completed the relocation of transmission facilities in August 2021. An AT&T line was one of nine utility facilities to be relocated.
In a statement to FFXnow, Fairfax Alliance for Bicyclists (FABB) President Bruce Wright lauded the county for proceeding with the long-needed project. He encouraged the county to take one step further by managing detours and trail use at night:
One of the most dangerous road crossings on the W&OD Trail is at Wiehle Ave. Trail users must cross 6 lanes of Wiehle Ave traffic at an unsignalized crossing that is very close to the busy Sunset Hills Rd intersection. There are four southbound travel lanes, including a left turn lane. Where crashes have occurred, cyclists headed eastbound cross the first three lanes when the left turn signal changes. Motorists in that lane proceed through the signal and may not see cyclists or pedestrians crossing the adjacent lanes, and a crash occurs…
While there are only two northbound lanes, motorists can be approaching the crosswalk from three different directions and will often not yield to trail users. When they do yield, there is very little stacking space and cars can be backed up into the Sunset Hills intersection. The median refuge is not very wide which further complicates the crossing.
The new bridge will be a great benefit to W&OD trail users who will be able to safely cross Wiehle without having to stop or rely on motorists to yield to them. Motorists will benefit as well as they will not have to stop for trail users very close to a signalized intersection. Our only concern is how well the W&OD Trail and Wiehle Ave sidewalk/trail detours are handled. There needs to be safe, convenient 24/7 access for trail users. The W&OD Trail is officially closed at 9pm but many people need to use the trail given there are few safe alternatives at night. While we understand that there may be times at night when the trail will need to be closed, it should only be for brief periods after 9pm. If trail users must cross Wiehle at the Sunset Hills intersection, the pedestrian signal timing needs to be extended.
A spokesperson for FCDOT said information on the project was still being updated.
Correction: The bridge was previously expected to be finished this fall, but the timeline has gotten pushed back after a delayed start. H/t to Adam Rubenstein.