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Westlake Legal Group > Fairfax County, VA News

A first look at I-395 toll lane use and financial returns

New financial disclosures are shedding light on the early months of tolling and activity on Interstate 395 in Virginia.

Transurban, the I-395 Express Lanes operator, folded the I-395 data into existing I-95 Express Lanes calculations in its report to investors on the second half of 2019. But the Australia-based company describes the I-395 lanes traffic numbers and revenue as “in line with expectations.”

Overall, toll revenue on the I-95/I-395 corridor was up 13.6% in the second half of 2019 compared to the same period a year earlier.

According to a footnote in the investor presentation, revenue only tied to the I-95 Express Lanes grew 11.4%, so the remainder of the increase would be tied to the first month and a half of 395 tolling.

After transit payments to Virginia, Transurban took in a total of $85 million in revenue on the I-95/I-395 corridor in the second half of 2019. After financing and other costs, the company says it made about $25 million.

The I-395 HOV lanes, where rules only applied at rush hour on weekdays, were converted to 24/7 HOV or toll lanes Nov. 17. The tolling rules include the entire stretch to the 14th Street Bridge for northbound drivers.

Shift to 24/7 HOV or toll lanes

That final stretch of the toll lanes northbound is one of the most common trips, Transurban spokesman Mike McGurk said, with heavy travel from both the regular lanes and S. Eads Street over the Potomac.

In the past, those trips only technically required following HOV rules at rush hour. Now, even HOV trips require an E-ZPass Flex to avoid fees at any time, which likely keeps more cars in the regular lanes than in the past.

For southbound drivers, the rules apply beginning at Eads Street next to the Pentagon.

The average price of tolls paid on I-395 and the prices based on time of day are not broken out in the financial report, but the average toll paid for any tolled trip along the I-95 Express Lanes and I-395 Express Lanes was $9.32, the financial report said.

In October, November and December 2019, Transurban recorded about 57,000 average weekday trips. That compares to 49,000 trips a year earlier.

About a quarter of this fall’s trips involved at least a segment of the toll lanes on both I-395 and I-95.

Transurban highlights the toll lanes as saving time for users, with vehicles in the lanes at the height of rush hour making a trip in about eight minutes that takes drivers sitting in the regular lanes about 26 minutes.

The company also controls the I-495 Express Lanes on the Beltway, where toll revenue was up 3.3% in October, November and December and usage was up about 2%. The average Beltway toll paid is $5.67.

For the 495 Express Lanes, the company recorded $62 million in toll revenue but tracked a $13 million net loss after accounting for financing and other costs

More toll lanes coming

The I-95 Express Lanes are also being extended south near Fredericksburg as part of a project expected to open by the end of 2022.

Transurban is also working on plans to extend the I-495 Express Lanes north toward the Legion Bridge by around 2024, and the company is interested in bidding for toll lanes on the Beltway and I-270 in Maryland.

The existing toll lanes are also set to host more high-tech tests in the coming year including work on autonomous work zone protection vehicles, other self-driving technology, and figuring out how the toll system would work if the gas tax is replaced by a general vehicle miles traveled fee.

Source

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Fairfax police chief said DOJ criticism about local cooperation after Ghaisar shooting is false

The chief of police in Fairfax County, Virginia, is speaking up after the Department of Justice claimed his department didn’t work with federal investigators during its investigation into the police-involved shooting death of a McLean man in 2017.

“That is absolutely not the truth,” Fairfax County Police Chief Col. Edwin Roessler Jr. told WTOP.

After the Department of Justice chose not to prosecute the U.S. Park Police officers who shot and killed Bijan Ghaisar, Fairfax County’s Commonwealth’s Attorney announced plans to open its own investigation into the shooting.

During that investigation came a request to the DOJ for an FBI special agent to appear before a state grand jury to testify on the facts of the federal government’s investigation.

The critical comment against the county came in a letter Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband sent to Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano denying the request.

“At the outset of the investigation the department invited Fairfax County to participate in the Department’s investigation. Fairfax declined to do so,” Dreiband wrote in the letter, which both Descano and the police department released.

In November 2017, Roessler’s officers served as support to U.S. Park Police officers who tried to pull Ghaisar over several times, without success, during a chase down the George Washington Parkway.

After the shooting, Roessler said his department assisted not only the U.S. Park Police, but also FBI investigators, turning over in-dash video and making officers available to speak with investigators.

“I treated that matter as my own officer-involved shooting,” Roessler said.

Among the emails Fairfax County police released was correspondence between an unnamed major with the police department and a supervisory special agent with the FBI.

All the emails released were dated several days after the shooting in November 2017.

In one email, the major wrote that he assigned a detective to assist the FBI.

“Detective [name redacted] will coordinate and facilitate interviews with FCPD officers, produce necessary and required police reports and all evidence within the possession of FCPD which is relevant, needed and remain to this OIS [officer involved shooting] incident,” the major wrote.

“Thank you and we look forward to working with your office,” the special agent responded in the following email.

WTOP contacted the Department of Justice for comment.

Roessler also criticized the federal government for not being more transparent during its investigation of the shooting, calling it “unfortunate” that Ghaisar’s family was not kept apprised of the progress of the investigation.

“Unfortunately the federal government has been silent with the Ghaisar family and the community of Fairfax County and this nation and they need to get on board with the 21st century policing principles of transparency,” Roessler said.

Roessler did praise the work of FBI special agents and the federal law enforcement officers his office works with frequently.

“This is beyond the special agents of the FBI, this is legal issues with the U.S. attorney and other high-ranking officials,” Roessler said.

Roessler said he spoke up to set the record straight and mentioned he also supports the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s investigation into what took place.

“I just pray for everyone involved, including the Ghaisar family, that transparency be the paramount issue during the legal proceedings, and I know that will happen in Fairfax County,” Roessler said.

The response to the comment from the police chief comes as the Commonwealth’s Attorney continues his push for federal government cooperation in his office’s investigation.

In the letter, Dreiband also said the Department of the Interior has requested that the DOJ provide legal representation for the U.S. Park Police officers who shot Ghaisar.

Dreiband said it has also been requested that the U.S. support the officers in their anticipated immunity defenses.

As it reviews those requests, Dreiband said it is unable to authorize any DOJ employees to appear before a grand jury.

Dreiband also said the DOJ’s investigative files have been made available to the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

On Twitter, Descano accused the federal government of “denying federal cooperation” with his office’s investigation.

In response to the letter sent to the assistant attorney general, Descano said his investigation will continue regardless.

“I will continue to pursue this investigation as well as continue to request and expect the Department’s future cooperation when necessary,” Descano wrote.

Source

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Va. Special Olympian’s late-game steal, shot make him an NBA All-Star hero

Westlake Legal Group IMG_03731 Va. Special Olympian’s late-game steal, shot make him an NBA All-Star hero virginia news Sports special olympics rick massimo NBA News NBA All-Star Local News Fairfax County, VA News Chris Carter
Chris Carter, No. 24, in the NBA Cares Unified Basketball Game on Friday night in Chicago. (Courtesy Ben Solomon)

Nobody was supposed to wear Kobe Bryant’s No. 24 at the All-Star festivities in Chicago this weekend. But Chris Carter got to wear his favorite player’s number Friday night, and he did his hero proud.

Carter, of Fairfax, Virginia, took the court Friday night with legends from the NBA and WNBA, but when the final buzzer sounded, he was the clutch star of the NBA Cares Unified Basketball Game.

A George Mason University Special Olympics athlete, Carter capped what he called “a serious comeback” by stealing an inbounds pass and nailing a short jumper with 11.4 seconds left to bring his East team a 44-43 victory.

The unified game brought current and former professional players together with Special Olympics athletes from all over the world.

Carter’s teammates included Horace Grant, Toni Kukoc and Cappie Pondexter. The West squad included Dikembe Mutombo, Chelsea Gray and Muggsy Bogues.

After a Grant tip-in brought the East within one point, “I stole [the ball], made the game-winning shot, and I literally almost cried on the floor,” Carter, a Williamsburg native, told WTOP from Chicago on Sunday.

The celebrations don’t stop there. Carter and his coach, Emilio Alonso, got third-row seats to Saturday night’s slam-dunk contest, 3-point shooting contest and skills competition.

And they’ll be in the house for the All-Star Game proper on Sunday.

“I’m star-struck now,” Carter said. “It’s just been an amazing, amazing, amazing experience.”

‘You’re part of the NBA’

After Friday night’s game, “I woke up at 5 o’clock in the morning and I couldn’t go back to sleep,” Alonso said. “The way everything’s gone down, I couldn’t believe it.”

The two have been blown away by the NBA’s treatment of the players in the unified game all weekend, starting with a chauffeur at the airport and going on from there.

“They treated him like an NBA athlete,” Alonso said. “And they told us that: ‘When you’re here this weekend, you’re part of the NBA.’ And they really have made him feel that way.”

Carter, 30, said that in his family, “Basketball was our love and passion.” He learned the game from his father and uncles.

“If it weren’t for those men, I would not be where I’m at now,” he said.

He’s a 2016 graduate of George Mason’s Life Program, which gives people with disabilities the college experience, complete with classes, dorms, internships and independent living skills. That’s where he got involved with Special Olympics and met Alonso.

“When I started coaching Special Olympics, I thought I was only going to do it for a few months to help out,” Alonso said. “And it’s been 13 years.”

He said he’s even more impressed by the Special Olympians than by athletes such as LeBron James.

“They actually figure out ways to overcome these disabilities and focus on what abilities they have,” Alonso said.

Alonso focuses on abilities too. He said people routinely ask him what Carter’s disability is, and after eight years of working with him, he still doesn’t know.

“I don’t ask him. … I was more interested in what his abilities were. When you’re forming a team, you want to know ‘What can you bring to the table?,’ not ‘What can you not bring to the table?’ I find a way for everyone to contribute to the team.”

Carter cites his favorite player’s trademark toughness when he explains what it takes to accomplish anything important: “You’ve gotta have the Mamba mentality to do whatever you want to do in life.”

And on Sunday, he can watch the All-Star Game knowing he’s already been a hero on the court — just like Kobe.

“You just can’t make this stuff up,” Carter said. “You just can’t.”

You can watch the video of the game on the NBA Cares Facebook page.

WTOP’s Kristi King contributed to this report.

Source

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Va. Special Olympian’s late-game steal, shot make him an NBA All-Star hero

Westlake Legal Group IMG_03731 Va. Special Olympian’s late-game steal, shot make him an NBA All-Star hero virginia news Sports special olympics rick massimo NBA News NBA All-Star Local News Fairfax County, VA News Chris Carter
Chris Carter, No. 24, in the NBA Cares Unified Basketball Game on Friday night in Chicago. (Courtesy Ben Solomon)

Nobody was supposed to wear Kobe Bryant’s No. 24 at the All-Star festivities in Chicago this weekend. But Chris Carter got to wear his favorite player’s number Friday night, and he did his hero proud.

Carter, of Fairfax, Virginia, took the court Friday night with legends from the NBA and WNBA, but when the final buzzer sounded, he was the clutch star of the NBA Cares Unified Basketball Game.

A George Mason University Special Olympics athlete, Carter capped what he called “a serious comeback” by stealing an inbounds pass and nailing a short jumper with 11.4 seconds left to bring his East team a 44-43 victory.

The unified game brought current and former professional players together with Special Olympics athletes from all over the world.

Carter’s teammates included Horace Grant, Toni Kukoc and Cappie Pondexter. The West squad included Dikembe Mutombo, Chelsea Gray and Muggsy Bogues.

After a Grant tip-in brought the East within one point, “I stole [the ball], made the game-winning shot, and I literally almost cried on the floor,” Carter, a Williamsburg native, told WTOP from Chicago on Sunday.

The celebrations don’t stop there. Carter and his coach, Emilio Alonso, got third-row seats to Saturday night’s slam-dunk contest, 3-point shooting contest and skills competition.

And they’ll be in the house for the All-Star Game proper on Sunday.

“I’m star-struck now,” Carter said. “It’s just been an amazing, amazing, amazing experience.”

‘You’re part of the NBA’

After Friday night’s game, “I woke up at 5 o’clock in the morning and I couldn’t go back to sleep,” Alonso said. “The way everything’s gone down, I couldn’t believe it.”

The two have been blown away by the NBA’s treatment of the players in the unified game all weekend, starting with a chauffeur at the airport and going on from there.

“They treated him like an NBA athlete,” Alonso said. “And they told us that: ‘When you’re here this weekend, you’re part of the NBA.’ And they really have made him feel that way.”

Carter, 30, said that in his family, “Basketball was our love and passion.” He learned the game from his father and uncles.

“If it weren’t for those men, I would not be where I’m at now,” he said.

He’s a 2016 graduate of George Mason’s Life Program, which gives people with disabilities the college experience, complete with classes, dorms, internships and independent living skills. That’s where he got involved with Special Olympics and met Alonso.

“When I started coaching Special Olympics, I thought I was only going to do it for a few months to help out,” Alonso said. “And it’s been 13 years.”

He said he’s even more impressed by the Special Olympians than by athletes such as LeBron James.

“They actually figure out ways to overcome these disabilities and focus on what abilities they have,” Alonso said.

Alonso focuses on abilities too. He said people routinely ask him what Carter’s disability is, and after eight years of working with him, he still doesn’t know.

“I don’t ask him. … I was more interested in what his abilities were. When you’re forming a team, you want to know ‘What can you bring to the table?,’ not ‘What can you not bring to the table?’ I find a way for everyone to contribute to the team.”

Carter cites his favorite player’s trademark toughness when he explains what it takes to accomplish anything important: “You’ve gotta have the Mamba mentality to do whatever you want to do in life.”

And on Sunday, he can watch the All-Star Game knowing he’s already been a hero on the court — just like Kobe.

“You just can’t make this stuff up,” Carter said. “You just can’t.”

You can watch the video of the game on the NBA Cares Facebook page.

WTOP’s Kristi King contributed to this report.

Source

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Ex-wife of Beltway sniper shares story of domestic abuse on Valentine’s Day

On Valentine’s Day, the former wife of Beltway sniper John Allen Muhammad shared her story of domestic abuse in one of the communities where Muhammad and partner Lee Boyd Malvo killed 10 strangers in 2002.

Mildred Muhammad said she hopes recounting her story will prevent future tragedies.

She was the featured speaker in a Prince George’s County community center event called “Love Shouldn’t Hurt: A Celebration for Survivors of Domestic Violence,” hosted by Council member Jolene Ivey, D-District 5, and the county’s Family Justice Center.

John Allen Muhammad and Malvo terrorized the D.C. area for three weeks in October 2002, in which 10 people were killed and three others injured.

Westlake Legal Group GettyImages-835982388-300x200 Ex-wife of Beltway sniper shares story of domestic abuse on Valentine’s Day virginia news Prince William County, VA News Prince George's County, MD News prince george's county family justice center neal augenstein Montgomery County, MD News Mildred muhammad Maryland News Local News Lifestyle News lee boyd malvo jolene ivey john allen muhammad Fairfax County, VA News Crime News beltway sniper
Mildred Muhammad, author and ex-wife of Beltway sniper John Allen Muhammad, was present at TV One’s D.C. premiere of “When Love Kills: The Falicia Blakely Story,” in Mitchellville, Maryland, on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Mildred Muhammad and her children were taken into protective custody until her husband and Malvo were caught.

“Law enforcement informed me I was the intended target,” Mildred Muhammad said. “The theory was he was targeting innocent people to cover up my murder, so that he could come in as the grieving father and get custody of our children.”

After John Allen Muhammad and Malvo were caught, and law enforcement revealed she was the intended target, Mildred Muhammad said she was blamed, despite being a victim of domestic violence in her own relationship.

“I began getting the comments of, ‘If you would have stayed with him, he just would have killed you,’ and, ‘How dare you bring this drama into this quiet community?’” she said.

Prince George’s County and other communities now have procedures in place to help victims of domestic violence get themselves out of dangerous relationships, said Ivey, the council member who hosted the event. The county’s justice center even provides a place for a victim to testify, to avoid having to confront an abuser in court.

Ivey and Mildred Muhammad said a major goal is for abuse victims to know they are not alone.

“Eighty percent of victims do not have physical scars to prove that they are victims,” said Mildred Muhammad. “I am in that 80%.”

She offered advice to women in abusive relationships: “Document, document, document — date and time, and if you had others there to witness. What we have to do is build our case, in order to show law enforcement that it’s a pattern of abuse.”

Source

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Fairfax County bakery manager accused of assaulting 2nd developmentally disabled worker

The Fairfax County, Virginia, bakery manager who was arrested last month after being accused of inappropriately touching a woman who worked there has been arrested again after being accused of assault by a second victim, police said Friday.

Westlake Legal Group 0131_Alberto-Figueiredo-150x150 Fairfax County bakery manager accused of assaulting 2nd developmentally disabled worker virginia news Local News Fairfax County, VA News fairfax county police Crime News Alberto Figueiredo
Fairfax County police want to know if anyone has had inappropriate contact with Alberto Figueiredo. (Courtesy Fairfax County police)

Alberto Figueiredo, 73, of Fairfax, was arrested at his home Thursday night.

According to authorities, a second victim told their parents about the alleged assault earlier in February. The assault itself, according to court documents, happened in September 2019.

Figueiredo now faces additional felony charges of object sexual penetration and forcible sodomy.

The second victim also worked at Wildflour Bakery.

Figueiredo served as the general manager and has worked there for more than 10 years.

Fairfax County police said the bakery routinely hires people with developmental disabilities.

Figueiredo is being held without bond at the Adult Detention Center.

Authorities ask that anyone who has more information, or who may have had inappropriate contact with Figueiredo, to call their Major Crimes Bureau detectives at (703) 246-7800, option 3.

Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone at 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477), by texting “FCCS” plus the tip to 847411, or by submitting the tip online.

Source

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What’s billed as biggest ‘Breweriana Show’ in the East arrives in Virginia

Your eyes will have to do all the drinking if you attend the Blue Gray Breweriana Show in Herndon, Virginia, because all the cans are empty.

The Blue and Gray Show brings together collectors and enthusiasts of everything imaginable with a brewery name on it.

Beer can collecting, which gained popularity in the 1970s and 1980s, has evolved to include all sorts of advertising.

“Most serious collectors are looking at items from either before prohibition (1919), or from the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s,” Larry Handy, the Blue Gray Breweriana Brewery Collectible Show’s coordinator, said. “Things before 1960 are of top interest.”

Items on display include everything from ashtrays and bottle openers to signs alive with bright neon colors, ascending bubbles or perhaps a revolving diorama depicting a horse-drawn carriage in a snowy landscape.

Go to the show and you might expect to be directed to a ballroom or exhibit area with tables and booths, but that’s not the case. This event takes place in the individual hotel rooms of participants.

Westlake Legal Group beweriana1 What’s billed as biggest ‘Breweriana Show’ in the East arrives in Virginia virginia news Loudoun County, VA News Local News Lifestyle News Latest News kristi king Food & Restaurant News Fairfax County, VA News collecting collectibles breweries breweriana blue gray breweriana beer can collecting
At the Blue Gray Breweriana Show, you’ll see just about anything with a brewery name on it: signs, lights, trays, cans, coasters, ashtrays and bottle openers.
(WTOP/Kristi King)
Westlake Legal Group breweriana2-1672x1254 What’s billed as biggest ‘Breweriana Show’ in the East arrives in Virginia virginia news Loudoun County, VA News Local News Lifestyle News Latest News kristi king Food & Restaurant News Fairfax County, VA News collecting collectibles breweries breweriana blue gray breweriana beer can collecting
The Blue Gray Breweriana Show is at the Hilton Washington Dulles Airport through Saturday.
(WTOP/Kristi King)
Westlake Legal Group breweriana3 What’s billed as biggest ‘Breweriana Show’ in the East arrives in Virginia virginia news Loudoun County, VA News Local News Lifestyle News Latest News kristi king Food & Restaurant News Fairfax County, VA News collecting collectibles breweries breweriana blue gray breweriana beer can collecting
Beer can collecting gained in popularity in the 1970s, according to the Brewery Collectibles Club of America.
(WTOP/Kristi King)
Westlake Legal Group breweriana4-1672x1254 What’s billed as biggest ‘Breweriana Show’ in the East arrives in Virginia virginia news Loudoun County, VA News Local News Lifestyle News Latest News kristi king Food & Restaurant News Fairfax County, VA News collecting collectibles breweries breweriana blue gray breweriana beer can collecting
Exhibitors buy, sell and trade items brought to the show.
(WTOP/Kristi King)
Westlake Legal Group breweriana5-941x1254 What’s billed as biggest ‘Breweriana Show’ in the East arrives in Virginia virginia news Loudoun County, VA News Local News Lifestyle News Latest News kristi king Food & Restaurant News Fairfax County, VA News collecting collectibles breweries breweriana blue gray breweriana beer can collecting
The most popular collectibles in the show tend to be from before 1919 and depict good graphics.
(WTOP/Kristi King)

(1/5)

Westlake Legal Group beweriana1-260x174 What’s billed as biggest ‘Breweriana Show’ in the East arrives in Virginia virginia news Loudoun County, VA News Local News Lifestyle News Latest News kristi king Food & Restaurant News Fairfax County, VA News collecting collectibles breweries breweriana blue gray breweriana beer can collecting
Westlake Legal Group breweriana2-260x174 What’s billed as biggest ‘Breweriana Show’ in the East arrives in Virginia virginia news Loudoun County, VA News Local News Lifestyle News Latest News kristi king Food & Restaurant News Fairfax County, VA News collecting collectibles breweries breweriana blue gray breweriana beer can collecting
Westlake Legal Group breweriana3-260x174 What’s billed as biggest ‘Breweriana Show’ in the East arrives in Virginia virginia news Loudoun County, VA News Local News Lifestyle News Latest News kristi king Food & Restaurant News Fairfax County, VA News collecting collectibles breweries breweriana blue gray breweriana beer can collecting
Westlake Legal Group breweriana4-260x174 What’s billed as biggest ‘Breweriana Show’ in the East arrives in Virginia virginia news Loudoun County, VA News Local News Lifestyle News Latest News kristi king Food & Restaurant News Fairfax County, VA News collecting collectibles breweries breweriana blue gray breweriana beer can collecting
Westlake Legal Group breweriana5-260x174 What’s billed as biggest ‘Breweriana Show’ in the East arrives in Virginia virginia news Loudoun County, VA News Local News Lifestyle News Latest News kristi king Food & Restaurant News Fairfax County, VA News collecting collectibles breweries breweriana blue gray breweriana beer can collecting

Some rooms might be piled haphazardly with items. Others have beds stacked with organized trays or items arranged in shelves as if on museum display.

People attending the event buy, sell and trade collectibles of varying value, ranging from rusted old cans to works of art.

“If you look through some of the collectors’ rooms, you’ll see pieces that are very ornate, attractive scenery and, especially on pre-1970s items, attractive women,” Handy said. “High-quality printing processes … everything’s gone plastic now-a-days, but the further back you go, you see some real quality-produced items.”

As for what things are worth, or what you might spend?

“You’ll see everything from free cans in the hallway — just help yourself — to lithographs, prints or reverse glass signs in the thousands of dollars,” Handy said.

The Blue Gray Breweriana, Brewery Collectibles Show is at the Hilton Washington Dulles Airport in Herndon through Saturday.

What you can get at a breweriana show

Source

Westlake Legal Group WEB-AUDIO-BREWERIANA What’s billed as biggest ‘Breweriana Show’ in the East arrives in Virginia virginia news Loudoun County, VA News Local News Lifestyle News Latest News kristi king Food & Restaurant News Fairfax County, VA News collecting collectibles breweries breweriana blue gray breweriana beer can collecting   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Massive Fairfax Co. fire caused $48M in damage; sparked by improperly discarded smoking materials

Westlake Legal Group 2-1 Massive Fairfax Co. fire caused $48M in damage; sparked by improperly discarded smoking materials virginia news South Alex Local News Jack Moore fire Fairfax County, VA News fairfax county fire
Virginia firefighters battled the large fire in a multi-story construction site in Fairfax County Feb. 8 (Courtesy Anthony Kelleher)

Officials in Fairfax County, Virginia, say the massive fire over the weekend that gutted a large development project off North Kings Highway caused more than $48 million in damages and was accidental in nature.

All told, the Feb. 8 fire destroyed a five-story apartment building that was under construction and 14 town homes, according to an update Thursday from the Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department.

In addition, the blaze damaged five other apartment buildings, 14 other town homes, four houses, 29 vehicles and several pieces of construction equipment.

The fire was caused by smoking materials that had been improperly tossed in a trash chute, fire officials said in the update.

The fire broke out about 9:40 a.m. Saturday in a building under construction in the 2800 block of Poag Street in the Groveton area of Fairfax County. The blaze sent massive billows of black smoke into the air, which could be seen for miles around. The smoke was so heavy it even showed up on the weather radar.

About 150 firefighters responded to the fire, and it took them several hours to get it under control. Fire officials said because the development was under construction, there were no sprinklers, which allowed the fire to rapidly spread.

One firefighter suffered second-degree burns and was treated on the scene, according to a fire spokesperson. Another civilian was taken to the hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.

Slated to open in 2021, plans for the mixed-use “South Alex” development included 400 apartments and retail space, including an Aldi grocery store, according to The Washington Business Journal.

Source

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Fairfax County has highest rate of senior pedestrian deaths in Virginia

Virginia saw an uptick in senior pedestrian deaths in 2019, with the highest rate unfolding in Fairfax County, according to motoring organization AAA.

AAA Mid-Atlantic found that people 65 and older accounted for more than a third of pedestrian deaths last year in Fairfax County.

From January to October, 16 senior pedestrians were killed in Virginia: six in Fairfax County, four in Henrico County and three in Arlington County.

According to preliminary data, a total of 37 pedestrians who are over 65 were killed in Virginia by the end of 2019, compared to 19 in 2018.

These fatalities are more likely to occur in populated areas on urban roads. The most common times for senior citizens to be struck are during sunset (between 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.) and sunrise (between 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.), a AAA Mid-Atlantic news release said.

AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John Townsend said one reason for these fatalities is that it takes older pedestrians much longer to cross legally in a crosswalk, in addition to other issues related to the aging process. These have to be addressed by traffic engineers and local jurisdictions, he said.

One way to make older pedestrians safer is to change the timing system to give them more time to cross and designing better intersections.

Nine out of 10 victims were struck and killed within five miles of their homes.

“The huge increase in senior pedestrian fatalities in Virginia is alarming,” Morgan Dean, a senior specialist at AAA Mid-Atlantic Public and Government Affairs, said in a statement.

There were 16 total pedestrian deaths during 2019 in Fairfax County, down from 17 in 2018.

Most pedestrian fatalities are on roadways with speed limits between 40 to 45 mph, such as Route 1, Route 7, Route 236 and Route 29, according Fairfax County.

In Maryland, there were 23 pedestrian fatalities in Prince George’s County (down from 28 in 2018) and 14 in Montgomery County. D.C. saw 14 pedestrian deaths last year (same as in 2018)

AAA has the following safety tips to consider while walking outside:

  • Wear brightly colored or reflective clothing to make yourself more visible to drivers.
  • Use a flashlight to make you more visible to vehicles in the dark.
  • Cross at controlled crosswalks with flashing warning lights.
  • If there’s isn’t an intersection or crosswalk, cross the road in a well-lit area.
  • Don’t assume a driver sees you. Signal them and make eye contact with them before you step off the curb.

Early numbers from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles indicate there were 133 fatalities involving senior drivers in 2019.

Most of those happened on roads other than interstates, and 43% were single-vehicle crashes, AAA Mid-Atlantic said.

WTOP’s Dick Uliano contributed to this report.

Source

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Arrest made in 2019 fatal pedestrian crash in Northern Virginia

Police in Fairfax County, Virginia, have arrested a man in connection with a crash that killed a 93-year-old man over a year ago.

Michael Smith, 30, was arrested and charged with felony hit-and-run on Feb. 6.

Fairfax County police said Smith was the driver of a car that struck and later killed Pericles Apostolou on U.S. Route 50 near Jefferson Village Park on Jan. 18, 2019.

Police said last year that Apostolou, of Falls Church, was not in a crosswalk. There is no crosswalk in the area.

Smith is currently being held without bond.

Source

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