Live More, Commute LessLive More, Commute Less

Jun
28

Riders Enjoy Half-Fares on All I-66 OmniRide Buses

Passengers on OmniRide express buses serving the Manassas and Gainesville areas are taking advantage of big discounts on fares as construction is under way to add Express Lanes on I-66.

Riders pay half-fares on OmniRide express buses that travel along the I-66 corridor for the duration of the construction, which is expected to last for four years. The discount applies to Manassas and Gainesville OmniRide express buses serving points in Washington, D.C., the Pentagon, and the Tysons Corner Metro Station. 

Half-fares on the routes are funded by the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation to mitigate congestion along I-66 during Express Lanes construction. The goal is to encourage commuters to use transit rather than driving alone.

One-way SmarTrip fares on OmniRide buses to the Pentagon and points in Washington, D.C. are $3.45 instead of the regular $6.90 fare, and on buses serving the Metro station are $1.75 instead of the regular $3.45 fare.

“Not only will OmniRide passengers ride for half-price during construction of the Express Lanes, but they’ll also get the added benefit of relaxing during their commute so they won’t be too exhausted to engage with family and friends or enjoy the long summer days,” said OmniRide Executive Director
Bob Schneider.

There are currently three primary commuter lots where passengers can board I-66 OmniRide buses, but riders are strongly encouraged to use the Portsmouth Road commuter lot, off Sudley Road in Manassas, because it has ample parking and adequate bus seating availability.  

For those whose destination or work schedule makes it difficult to use transit, OmniRide also offers a free service to help people find carpools and vanpools. Simply fill out an online form with basic facts about the commute, and OmniRide will add the information into a regional database to find potential ridesharing matches.

To learn more about ridesharing and transit – including route maps and
timetables – visit PRTCtransit.org or speak with a Customer Service Agent at (703) 730-6664.

Jun
28

Metro Matters: What Does Amazon Purchase Near Innovation Center Station Mean?

Talk of the possible selection of lands along the Loudoun-Fairfax line near the future Innovation Center Metrorail Station for the East Coast headquarters of Amazon continues as speculation across the nation consistently keeps this Virginia location high on the huge company’s list of potential sites.

The Innovation Center Station area including land in both Fairfax and Loudoun counties would make an ideal home for Amazon, according to local commercial real estate brokers and state, local and regional business and
political leaders.

Meanwhile, Dulles Metrorail crews are pushing ahead with construction of this station which is being built in the median of the Dulles Toll Road/Access Highway corridor between the future Herndon and
Loudoun Gateway stations.

Construction of the entire Phase 2 segment of the Silver Line – which will eventually connect eastern Loudoun, Dulles Airport and Reston-Herndon to downtown Washington and the existing WMATA rail system – is approximately 78 percent complete. 

Fairfax County is building the parking garage that will serve Innovation Center Station via its south pavilion. The garage, according to county officials, is about 50 percent complete and construction is on schedule.

Several large mixed-use developments have already been approved by Loudoun County for sites along Route 28 near the Dulles Toll Road interchange.  One of those is Waterside, a 335-acre site that includes the existing Chantilly Crushed Stone quarries.

On June 20, the Washington Business Journal reported that Amazon Web Services is buying more than 100 acres of the Waterside development where Amazon plans to build perhaps more than one data center. That leaves more than 200 acres in Waterside.

What’s going there? Mixed use according to approved plans.

Could this indeed be a hint that even more of Amazon may be coming this way?

Only time will tell.

Jun
28

July 4th Events

Alexandria 

Oronoco Bay Park, 100 Madison St., Alexandria, Virginia. Celebrate Alexandria’s Birthday & the USA’s on Saturday, July 7, 2018, 7-10 p.m. Enjoy a concert by the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra at 9 and fireworks at 9:30 p.m.

Fairfax 

Fairfax City, Independence Day Parade through the downtown area beginning at 10 a.m. Musical entertainment begins at 6 p.m. at Fairfax High School with a spectacular fireworks display at dark.  Wednesday July 4, 2018 – rain date – July 5th. (703) 385-7858.

Fairfax 

Lorton Workhouse Fireworks, Workhouse Arts Center, 9518 Workhouse Way Lorton, Virginia.  5:00 p.m. – 10 p.m.  June 30, 2018.  Admission to Workhouse Fireworks is free; parking is $20 per car (cash only) and is available at the Workhouse campus (enter via eastbound Workhouse Road). NOTE: Guests are welcome to bring blankets and lawn chairs; coolers, outside food and beverages; pets are prohibited during the event. Service animals are always welcome.

Falls Church

George Mason High School, 7124 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, Virginia. Live music will start at 7 p.m. followed by fireworks at 9:20 p.m.  Wednesday July 4, 2018.

Herndon

Bready Park, Herndon Community Center, 814 Ferndale Ave., Herndon, Virginia. (703) 787-7300. Face painting, balloon sculpturing, bingo and crafts begin at 6:30 p.m.  Music at 7 p.m. Fireworks at 9:30 p.m.  Wednesday July 4, 2018.

Leesburg

Ida Lee Park, Rt. 15 (King Street) and Ida Lee Drive, Leesburg, Virginia. (703) 777-1368. Parade on King Street at 10 a.m.  Gates open at 6 p.m.  Music starts at 6:30 p.m.  Fireworks around 9:30 p.m.  Wednesday July 4, 2018.

Leesburg

Lansdowne Resort, 44050 Woodridge Parkway, Leesburg, VA. (703) 729-8400. July 1, 2018. Live concert from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. followed by fireworks at approximately 9:45 p.m. Food and drink vendors on-site. No outside coolers allowed.  ADMISSION DETAILS: Tickets will ONLY be sold in advance on Eventbrite. No “day of” sales. Event is not open to the public without an Eventbrite admission ticket.  $25 for adults; $10 for children ages 4 – 12; FREE for children under the age of 3.

Mt. Vernon 

3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon, Virginia. Mansion tour and fireworks $35 for adults; $25 for youth. No Mansion Tour: $30 for adults; $20 for youth. June 29 and 30, 2018, 6:45 – 9 p.m.

Manassas

9431 West Street, Manassas, Virginia. (703) 335-8872. Enjoy live music, children’s activities, food and fireworks. Entertainment begins at 3 p.m. Fireworks at 9:15 p.m.  Wednesday July 4, 2018 – Rain Date – July 5th.

Reston

Lake Fairfax Park, 1400 Lake Fairfax Dr., Reston, Virginia. (703) 471-5415. Fireworks begin around 9:15 p.m. Saturday June 30, 2018 – Rain Date – July 1. $10 parking fee.

Vienna 

Vienna Community Center, 120 Cherry Street Southeast, Vienna, Virginia. Arts and crafts, food, live music, vendors, and games. Celebrations start at 11 a.m. Fireworks at 9:15 p.m. at Southside Park on Ross Dr. Wednesday July 4, 2018 – Rain Date – July 5th.

Apr
23

Celebrate Fairfax! Festival June 8-10

Northern Virginia’s largest community-wide event, the 37th annual Celebrate Fairfax! Festival, is set to take place June 8-10, 2018 on the grounds of the Fairfax County Government Center. The Celebrate Fairfax! Festival features 25 acres of amazing concerts, family programs, exhibits, thrilling carnival rides and nightly fireworks! Among the festival’s highlights are more than 120 performances on seven stages, with an exceptional line-up of national, regional and local artists. Included are three main attractions: 

2018 Headline Entertainment Schedule for the Bud Light Main Stage: 

Friday, June 8th at 8:00 p.m. – Good Charlotte. The multi-platinum selling band Good Charlotte was founded in Waldorf, Maryland circa 1996. The group’s 2000 self-titled debut laid the foundation with the singles “Little Things” and “Festival Song,” but 2002’s The Young and the Hopeless catapulted their brand of pop-punk into the stratosphere, making them one of the biggest bands of the new
millennium. Highlighted by the single “Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous,” that album sold almost 5 million copies and set them on a path to superstardom. 

Saturday, June 9th at 6:30pm – Sugar Ray & Gin Blossoms. When “Sugar Ray’s” breakthrough hit song “Fly” put them on the map in 1997, lead vocalist Mark McGrath was thrust into the public eye. The single “Fly” reached #2 on the Adult Top 40 charts, #1 on the Modern Rock Tracks, #1 on Top 40 Mainstream charts. Since then Sugar Ray has sold over 8 million records. They have a robust calendar of live dates scheduled and look forward to seeing everyone out on the road. In late 1980’s, Gin Blossoms started to grow a huge following as the #1 local music draw in Phoenix, Arizona but it was not until their breakout record “New Miserable Experience” in 1992 that their rise to fame began. “New Miserable Experience” kept the band on the charts for almost 3 years with singles “Hey Jealousy,” “Allison Road,” “Until I Fall Away,” “Mrs Rita,” and “Found Out About You.” The album took the airwaves by siege and held MTV hostage with multi cross-over hits in 4 different radio formats. It was this record that rocketed the band into the mainstream going on to sell over 5 million copies making the band a 90’s radio mainstay. 

Sunday, June 10th at 4:30pm – Cracker. At The Sunday Brew, Cracker will be performing at Celebrate Fairfax! Festival’s newest addition, the Sunday Brew. Throughout the band’s 24-year history they have been described as a lot of things: alt-rock, Americana, insurgent-country, and have even had the terms punk and classic-rock thrown at them. Over the years, Cracker has amassed ten studio albums, multiple gold records, thousands of live performances, hit songs that are still in current radio rotation around the globe (“Low,” “Euro-Trash Girl,” “Get Off This” and “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out With Me” to name just a few), and a worldwide fan base. 

The Sunday Brew will feature 13 local and regional breweries, each with up to 4 types of craft beer on tap. This program will also include two stages of non-stop entertainment, beer-focused activities and exhibits. All festival attendees are welcome to enjoy the music and activities; however, only those attendees that purchased the Sunday Brew ticket will be able to taste the craft brews. 

Tickets are limited! In addition to the outstanding entertainment schedule, there are plenty of enhancements to the festival programming at Celebrate Fairfax!, including areas such as the popular Silent Disco, the Fairfax County Karaoke Championship, the Fairfax County DockDogs Competition, PSISTORM Cup VI esports Arena, Tastes of Virginia Wine Bar, Virginia Tourism LoveArtwork, Celebrate Fairfax 5k Race, Transportation Station, Robotics Pavilion and the Inova Children’s Hospital Avenue, the Sunday Brew, the Emerging Artist Showcase, and expanded VIP experiences with front of stage viewing for headliner shows, plus more than 60 carnival rides, games, and attractions, and over 30 food vendors with enough variety to please anyone! These fantastic attractions are some of the many programs that Celebrate Fairfax! is so proud to host at this year’s festival. 

General admission is available for all performances; shows are free with daily tickets to the event. Advance tickets go on sale April 1st at www.celebratefairfax.com and May 1st at all Northern Virginia Wegmans locations. 

The 37th annual Celebrate Fairfax! Festival is a presentation of Celebrate Fairfax, Inc. and will be held Friday, June 8th through Sunday, June 10th, 2018. Celebrate Fairfax, Inc. is a nonprofit, 501(c) 3 organization commissioned in 1982 by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. Its mission, “The Celebration of Fairfax County and Its Communities,” is met through the production of the Celebrate Fairfax! Festival, Fall for Fairfax KidsFest, The Workhouse BrewFest, and educational programs such as Celebrate Fairfax CV+ Event Training Program. For more information call (703) 324-3247 or visit the website at www.celebratefairfax.com. 

Apr
23

Pedaling the Emerald City

By Old Folks on Spokes on the West Coast

I’ve taken bike tours in a variety of cities, including New Orleans, Baltimore and Boston, but was somewhat intimidated by the terrain of the Emerald City, better known as Seattle, Washington.  Seattle is often referred to as a mini-version of San Francisco for good reason – the hills!  This wasn’t my first visit to Seattle; during that sojourn I walked a great deal of the city and was very familiar with the geography including a nice long climb up from Puget Sound on the west side of the city.  A bike excursion seemed like it would be quite the work out.

Enter stage left, Craig Scheak, owner of the Seattle Cycle Tours.  Craig’s been leading bike tours in Seattle since 2007.  In fact, Seattle Cycle Tours enthusiastically states “We ‘iron out the hills.’ So don’t worry.”  I thought – bring on the iron!

I am a huge advocate for seeing a city by bicycle.  You cover way more area in a shorter timeframe than walking.  With a knowledgeable guide, like Craig, you get to see and hear great stories along the way and you get a glimpse into what makes a city tick.  

All of the guides I have encountered have been incredibly friendly and knowledgeable, and Craig is no exception.  Our tour took us through some of the most popular neighborhoods in the downtown core: Pioneer Square, The Metropolitan Tract, International/Chinatown, Waterfront, Seattle Center, and South Lake Union (Amazonia) Neighborhoods…all in one three hour ride around the city.  That is an exceptional amount of territory to cover, particularly knowing Seattle’s terrain.

Seattle is a bike friendly city.  Our tour was conducted almost entirely on bike lanes, some of which (2nd Avenue) are grade separated with bike-oriented signalization.  The city is contemplating converting more car lanes to dedicated bike lanes, a phenomenon that we are seeing in cities across the country – and in our own backyard in D.C. (see companion @livemore article on DC’s bike friendly award).

Craig’s knowledge of the city and its history are deep, but he is also very familiar with mobility issues as well, having worked as a consultant with King County Metro.  Starting a bike tour company was a life-long passion, so when transit consulting funding was on the wane in the mid-2000, he decided to start Seattle Cycle Tours.  Today Craig offers a wide variety of tours outside of the central city tour that my wife and I rode.  You can see Bainbridge Island (half day) or tour some of Seattle’s neighborhoods such as Ballard, Freemont, Georgetown and Duwamish.  

Obviously I am sold on the bike tour industry, and when you are riding you never know what you might come upon.  Craig mentioned that a couple weeks ago, while taking a bride-to-be and her six bridesmaids on a tour, they ran across Paul McCartney and his entourage in Pioneer Square.  That must have been a sight – Band on the Run, Bride on a Bike!  So get out of your car on your next visit to a city and take a bike tour and learn how to Live More and Commute Less!