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19 "Exact Change" Lanes To "E-ZPass Only"

Work Begins September 2 on West-Bound Fairfax County Parkway Exit

To ease congestion and increase convenience for drivers, 19 toll-lanes along the Dulles Toll Road will be converted from “exact change” to “E-ZPass only” over the next year, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which operates the road, announced Wednesday.

During the conversion project, which begins Tuesday, Sept. 2, coin baskets will be removed and replaced by upgraded E-ZPass infrastructure.  Conversions are scheduled for unattended “exact change” lanes at the main toll plaza and exit ramps along the roadway.

“This lane conversion continues the long tradition of providing a convenient, consistent travel option for drivers in Northern Virginia,” said Dulles Toll Road Manager Cyndi Ward.  “About 90 percent of drivers currently using these lanes are already paying with E-ZPass rather than coins. Full-service lanes will continue to be available at all toll plazas along the roadway for those wishing to pay with cash, but we encourage drivers to consider the added convenience of E-ZPass in order to bypass the lines associated with cash payments.”

 Drivers can sign up for E-ZPass or find locations on how to pick up E-ZPass On-the-Go transponders in stores across the state at www.ezpassva.com.

To minimize congestion, lanes will be reconfigured one at a time, with each conversion taking two to four weeks.  When the project is complete, all toll plazas will still have at least one “full service” lane available.

The first lane to be converted will be the right-most lane on the westbound Fairfax County Parkway exit.

Washington, DC (PRWEB) - For the first time since 2008, the SBA has made significant changes to how it classifies small businesses. These changes came into effect on July 14th, 2014. The new adjustments were made to account for the inflation that has occurred since the last classification, which was based on data from 2007.

This adjustment will turn about 8,500 companies currently classified as large to small business, according to the Washington Post. The updates will mean that companies can make anywhere from $5.5 million and $38.5 million, depending on the industry, and still count as a small business.

Some have criticized this change, saying the new size limitations would bring in companies that should be classified as a large business. Opponents of the changes believe that these adjustments will be detrimental to those who they believe are “real” small businesses. This is key in understanding which companies will have access to the many small-business set-aside contracts that are available with the federal government.

The SBA explained its reasoning for the new size classification as based solely on trying to catch up to the rate of inflation. They believe that many companies have been pushed out of their small business classification due to inflation and should be included to compete for small business set-aside procurement opportunities, where they belong.

The SBA defended its position by saying the government will have more small businesses to choose from for their small business contracts. As a result, the new small businesses will have a better chance at winning opportunities. The government could also benefit from the lower prices that would result from the increased competition.

The SBA is accepting comments regarding this change.  Visit the website for more information.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has voted down the proposed ESI plan to continue operation of the Lorton landfill and to build an energy park on its site. We view this as a missed opportunity for maintaining a huge energy asset and one that had environmental applications as well. This decision will drive the cost of construction debris up and will adversely affect (re)development in the county for years to come.

Dear Neighbor,

The new Metro Silver Line is scheduled to open tomorrow - Saturday, July 26th at noon. The new Silver Line trains will operate between Reston and Largo, Maryland including stops at five new stations: McLean, Tyson’s Corner, Greensboro, Spring Hill and Wiehle-Reston East.

For many residents in Western Fairfax and Eastern Loudoun Counties, the Wiehle Avenue station will be more convenient and accessible than the Orange Line Vienna station.

I encourage you to evaluate your commute and other travel patterns to see if the Silver Line makes sense for you. Please note that many additional bus routes in Western Fairfax County will also start operating on July 26 that serve the Wiehle Avenue station. Other existing bus routes are being changed, and a few will be discontinued.

For information on the Silver Line, including fares, travel times, and station information please visit their website.

Details about new and changed Fairfax Connector bus routes.

Additionally, a new nonstop bus connection will operate between the rail line and Washington Dulles International Airport. The Silver Line Express bus at Metrorail’s Wiehle-Reston East station will replace the existing Washington Flyer Coach service from the Orange Line’s West Falls Church station. To learn more about this new bus service, please visit to see schedules, maps and additional information for Silver Line Express riders.

Most importantly, I’m interested in your comments about how well this significant expansion of our transportation system works for you. Please feel free to contact by eamail or call me at (703) 264-1432.

Yours for good government,

Jim LeMunyon
Member, Virginia House of Delegates
67th District
www.LeMunyon.com

Air China, the flag carrier and one of the major airlines of the People’s Republic of China, landed at Dulles International Airport on June 10th, making Dulles its 6th regularly-scheduled U.S. airport destination. Initially there will be four non-stop flights each week between Dulles and Beijing, with an eye toward establishing daily service in the future. The Houston-Beijing service started as four weekly flights and quickly became a twice-daily service. The other US cities served by Air China are New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Honolulu.

Last week’s arrival was marked by festivities at the airport which included a welcome by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. That evening a gala was held at the Chinese embassy in Washington attended by 300 Chinese and local dignitaries such as Virginia Secretary of Trade and Commerce Maurice Jones, DC Mayor Vincent Gray, Dr Zhihang Chi of Air China, Metro Washington Airport Authority Jack Potter and the MWAA board. A Chinese string trio performed before dinner and acrobats and singers kept the guests entertained during the dinner of Chinese delicacies.

Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce President Eileen Curtis, an attendee at the gala, acknowledged the importance of this new offering, “As the chamber most centrally aligned with Dulles International Airport, we are delighted that a major airline such as Air China has entered our market. We believe it adds depth to the services offered at Dulles and stimulates trade and tourism between our two nations.”

The current round-trip economy class fare between Dulles and Beijing is $1022. Flights are scheduled for Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

The Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA) wants people to know about the strategic vision Momentum that they are putting forward to address tomorrow’s issues. They really want to hear from our local businesses and invite you to contact Greg Potts and fill out this form. The WMATA page Momentum Endorsements includes numerous organizations including the Dulles Regional Chamber—now they would like to add your company’s name to the roster.

Hooray! As of July 26, our area residents will have access to Metro Rail. For all the information you need to know regarding schedules, stations, prices, etc., go to silverlinemetro.com. If you click on “service”, there is a drop down menu where you can enter your station origin and station destination. It will tell you both the fare for your ride and the amount of time the trip will take.

With all of the quick changes in weather that occur throughout Fairfax County, you and your family should be aware of the most up-to-date storm information available that may impact your lives. Likewise traffic delays can cause trouble with schedules. The more time you have to prepare for flash flooding or violent thunderstorms, the better you can adjust your schedule and take shelter or change travel plans and routes to avoid a major accident.

Fairfax County has recently launched a new alerting system, Fairfax Alerts, which is designed to deliver timely information on changing weather conditions and significant traffic tie-ups. The new service includes the ability to deliver alerts to any landline, Blackberry, SMS, pager, or email device. Features include a smart weather module that will customize weather alerts and times they are received, a mobile app for receiving alerts, and select two-way communication between you and the county’s emergency managers.

The system is available to Fairfax County residents and an account can be set up in just a few minutes. Each individual determines which alerts are needed. You can ask for alerts for more than one location such as your home address in Herndon and your daughter’s work location in Springfield. Go to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts to learn more and to sign up.

Dear Champions,

On today’s news briefing call for media, we confirmed that the July 26th opening of the Silver Line remains a go, despite incomplete work from the Bechtel-led Dulles Transit Partners, which is building the line under contract to the Airports Authority.

Today, our online trip planner been updated to include Silver Line schedule data. What this means is that customers can now plan a trip and get fares using real schedule data. The trip planner is on the homepage of wmata.com, and you’ll need to enter a travel date on or after noon on July 26 to see a Silver Line result. Also today, the MetroAlerts system has been updated with the new line and the five new stations. As many of you know, MetroAlerts are sent based on your account preferences; on the rail side, riders tell us the line or lines, and the stations they want to be informed about. Now Silver Line is presented as an option. We are encouraging all MetroAlerts subscribers whose trip might include the Silver Line to take a moment to logon to their account and update their settings.

Outreach and promotion of the Silver Line continues. Many of you have probably seen the TV ads on various channels, as well as heard radio tags. There will also be print advertising to come. And we have distributed hundreds of thousands of brochures at stations and community events throughout the region, as well as participated in many community events; including the International Festival in Largo over the weekend.

Also, the final step in Metro’s preparations begins Sunday, July 20th with simulated service on the Silver Line. The simulation trains will not carry passengers to or from the five new stations in Virginia; but they will be in service for passengers between East Falls Church and Largo Town Center.

As always, thank you for your continued support of Metro.

Sincerely,
Barbara Richardson
Chief of Staff, Metro

For those of you who were able to attend the June 25 and 26 stakeholder outreach sessions, we sincerely thank you for your time. Your feedback is invaluable as we move forward with the process of updating Fairfax County’s vision for creating an environment conducive to continued economic success. As promised, attached are the preliminary summary input notes from the four sessions; the full comments from all sessions are also posted on our website.

Over the next several months, we will be finalizing the vision/policy document and formulating action steps for the next 3-5 years. To help us accomplish this, we will be scheduling a series of outreach sessions in the fall, including opportunities during the workday and in the evening.
 
In the interim, we are continuing our stakeholder outreach by leveraging County social media. A survey is now posted, that is similar to the stakeholder sessions we recently held. Please feel free to send this survey information to those who you feel would be interested in giving us their comments and opinions.

Thank you again for your engagement and collaboration.

Rob

Robert A. Stalzer
Deputy County Executive
Fairfax County, VA
703-324-3440


Outreach Priority Summary

The purpose of the Scorecard is to help Northern Virginia’s business leaders recognize those legislators who support the Partnership’s efforts to improve the business climate and quality of life in Northern Virginia and to promote a dialogue with those legislators whose votes don’t align with Partnership priorities.

To view the complete Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership 2014 Scorecard, please click here.

To view the Scorecard criteria, please click here.

Currently Fairfax County does not have a meals tax and it appears that there won’t be such a tax for the foreseeable future. Cities and towns in Virginia have the authority to enact a meals tax by vote of the jurisdiction’s governing body. However, counties in the Commonwealth, including Fairfax County, can only establish a meals tax if a referendum is approved by voters.

A task force met over several months in Fairfax County to determine the advisability of placing such a referendum on the ballot for voter consideration. The report was delivered to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in June.

Dulles Regional Chamber President Eileen Curtis and Advocacy Chair Dave Cordingley from MainStreet Bank participated in the meals tax task force along with close to fifty representatives of interested groups around the county. Headed by Kate Hanley, former chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, and former U.S. Congressman Tom Davis, the task force recognized that there were numerous issues in support of or in opposition to a meals tax. The Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce steadfastly opposes the imposition of any single industry tax such as a meals tax.

Those favoring the proposed tax said that it would allow the county to provide a new revenue stream for a budget that is stretched by the needs of infrastructure improvements, education demands and other county services. On the con side, a meals tax sends an anti-business message and impacts the already-fragile restaurant industry, which ultimately could negatively impact jobs in the county.

There were further concerns about the best time to place the question on the ballot. Each of the next three years posed unique problems. If presented in 2014, there would be little time to educate the public on the pros and cons of the issue. In 2015, proponents would face an off-year election, historically yielding low voter turnout. Also the potential revenue from 2014 would be lost. If presented in 2016, two years of potential revenue would be lost and the current board could not bind the future board to such a move.

Ultimately the task force did not make a recommendation regarding the meals tax but did forward a document outlining the positions, nearly equal pro and con, for having a meals tax; the timing in which such an issue might appear as a referendum; and the dedication the new potential revenues could address. Without a firm recommendation there seems to be little interest in presenting a referendum to the voters. According to The Washington Post, Board Chairman Sharon Bulova believes that any meals tax referendum would happen after the 2016 elections at the earliest.

With all of the quick changes in weather that occur throughout Fairfax County, you and your family should be aware of the most up-to-date storm information available that may impact your lives. Likewise traffic delays can cause trouble with schedules. The more time you have to prepare for flash flooding or violent thunderstorms, the better you can adjust your schedule and take shelter or change travel plans and routes to avoid a major accident.

Fairfax County has recently launched a new alerting system, Fairfax Alerts, which is designed to deliver timely information on changing weather conditions and significant traffic tie-ups.  The new service includes the ability to deliver alerts to any landline, Blackberry, SMS, pager, or email device. Features include a smart weather module that will customize weather alerts and times they are received, a mobile app for receiving alerts, and select two-way communication between you and the county’s emergency managers.

The system is available to Fairfax County residents and an account can be set up in just a few minutes. Each individual determines which alerts are needed. You can ask for alerts for more than one location such as your home address in Herndon and your daughter’s work location in Springfield. Go to our website to learn more and to sign up.

One group’s growing need may well be addressed by another group’s growing need. The healthcare IT field is expected to grow jobs by over 20 percent in the next six years. At the same time, our returning military need to find meaningful careers as they transition back to civilian life. With a quarter-million troops currently seeking employment, a natural opportunity is evolving.

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) is working with other groups to offer the Veterans Career Services Initiative in order to bring military veterans into the healthcare IT field.

This is the type of program that the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce supports through the T3 (Training, Transitioning, and Teaming for Veterans) Committee. “We are delighted to hear of such a strong push to bring employment opportunities to our veterans,” says DRCC President Eileen Curtis. “Through the T3 and the GovCON committees we always are looking for all avenues to assist our returning military.

“This year, InNOVAte, the chamber’s annual conference on cutting-edge technologies, will focus on healthcare innovation and we see this initiative as a model for a way in which those technologies will help the community.” The chamber will be offering its own T3 programs this winter to bring together veterans and those organizations around the DC Metro area that need qualified workers.

THE SILVER LINE AND SMARTBENEFITS MAKE YOUR WORKPLACE THE PLACE TO BE The Silver Line is the newest partner in the business community. Businesses of all sizes can partner with Metro to encourage Silver Line travel for their employees through the SmartBenefits® program. Employers in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region understand the competitive nature of attracting and retaining the best employees. That’s why nearly 4,000 organizations already provide the SmartBenefits® commuting benefit to 250,000 workers in the region. Metro hosts SmartBenefits® Seminars for employers to learn how to offer employees a better way to get to work, save money, and take advantage of the most recent enhancements to SmarTrip® and the Silver Line. Register now for one of the two upcoming seminars targeted for businesses along the Silver Line: Read more

Teach for America, Opportunity Educational Institution and A-F School Grading Legislation Becomes Law Today

RICHMOND - Surrounded by legislators and education policy leaders, Governor Bob McDonnell ceremonially signed today landmark K-12 education reform legislation. Governor McDonnell signed HB2084/SB1175: The Teach for America Act (Cox/Ruff), SB1324: Opportunity Educational Institution (McDougle) and HB1999/SB1207: A-F School Grading (Greason/Stanley).

Speaking today about the bill signings, Governor McDonnell remarked, “The legislation signed into law today establishes Virginia’s position as a national leader in innovative education reform. HB2084 and SB1175 will allow divisions in northern, southwest and central Virginia the opportunity to partner with Teach for America as an additional source for high-quality and diverse educators trained and supported to teach in our schools with the greatest needs. Since 1990, corps members have impacted the lives of more than 3 million children in low-income communities across the country. Teach For America has trained more teachers for low-income communities than any other organization or institution in the nation. Today, we are honored to welcome Teach For America to the Commonwealth.

“Because we believe that all children deserve access to an excellent education the Opportunity Educational Institution (OEI) will also become law today. In the year ahead the OEI will begin to develop relationships with school and community leaders in anticipation of eligible schools transferring to the institution in the fall of 2014. Today, I am pleased to announce that we will begin recruiting for the institution’s executive director. The OEI will transform our approach to failing schools.

“A-F school grading will allow parents to clearly understand how their local school is actually performing. A-F school grading will be a catalyst for parents and community leaders to get more involved in the success of their schools. I applaud the leadership of Delegate Greason, Senator Stanley and the General Assembly in making A-F school grading available to all parents and community members.”

Delegate Kirk Cox, former public school teacher and ALL STUDENTS co-chair, commented, “The ALL STUDENTS agenda passed with broad bi-partisan support during the 2013 General Assembly session. The Teach for America Act, Opportunity Educational Institution and A-F School Grading will ensure that regardless of ZIP code, Virginia’s children are provided an excellent education. I applaud Governor McDonnell and my colleagues in the General Assembly for their leadership.”

Former Virginia Secretary of Education Jim Dyke said, “It is time for Virginia’s business, education and community leaders to drive the reform effort and enhance the global competitiveness of our future workforce. It is simply not enough for Virginia to be ranked 4th in a nation that is at the bottom of international rankings. As Will Rogers said, being on the right track is not enough. If you’re not moving forward aggressively youvll still get run over. I applaud Governor McDonnell and the bipartisan cooperation in the General Assembly for taking action. If we build on and continue these reforms I am confident Virginia can lead the world in the quality and skills of our workforce.”

Eva Colen, Teach for America’s Virginia Community Engagement Director, adds that “As a native Virginian having led recruitment efforts for Teach For America in the Commonwealth for the last three years, I’m thrilled and honored to begin conversations with community leaders, school divisions, and philanthropists across the state to explore the possibility of joining ongoing efforts to help ensure that all students in our state have access to an excellent education.

The Airports Authority is announcing today that the expected substantial completion of Phase 1 of the Metrorail Silver Line Project could be delayed by approximately eight weeks. The additional time is needed for further testing to assure safety and performance prior to transferring the rail line to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). The delay in substantial completion is expected to have an impact on the start of revenue service, the date of which will be set by WMATA.

During this time of confusion and concern over the ongoing government shutdown, we wanted to share some resources that may be helpful to your business or nonprofit - many of these sites are being updated as more information becomes available:

  • George Mason University’s Office of Sponsored Programs has provided a list of government shutdown resources including links to contingency plans;
  • The Professional Services Council’s Government Shutdown Resource Center with up-to-date news and guidance for selected agencies;
  • The Chronicle of Philanthropy shares some information on how the shutdown is impacting nonprofit organizations;
  • The Center for Association Leadership (ASAE) has links to several current articles on the shutdown;
  • The Fairfax Times interviewed county officials on the impact that the shutdown may have on local business.

HuffPost’s blog called "Shut Down, Not Shut Off" asks what we can learn from the shutdown’s impasse.