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Virginia Tech part of drone testing program

Researchers at Virginia Tech are partnering with counterparts at the University of Maryland College Park and New Jersey’s Rutgers University to develop a wide-ranging test program for unmanned aircraft, commonly referred to as “drones.”

Virginia Tech and Rutgers, with funding and support from their respective states and private sector partners in the industry, formed the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership. This week, the Federal Aviation Administration approved the partnership’s application to begin testing drones.

University of Maryland was the lead applicant on a similar proposal in Maryland and, in September, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) said that Maryland would work cooperatively with Virginia and New Jersey.

Virginia has provided $1 million in funding for the program so far, and Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s (R) proposed budget for the next two fiscal years includes an additional $1.6 million over the biennium.

“We expect unmanned aircraft systems will be extremely useful for agriculture, utilities, search-and-rescue missions, disaster response and a number of applications that will generate jobs, industry and add millions of dollars in revenue to state economies,” McDonnell said in a released statement.

Langley Fork Park public meeting

The National Park Service will hold a public meeting Jan. 14 regarding the environmental assessment process for Langley Fork Park in McLean.

Langley Fork Park is on federally owned land but managed and maintained by the Fairfax County Park Authority. The Park Authority and the National Park Service have proposed a land swap that would transfer Langley Fork Park to the Park Authority in exchange for an equally valued portion of Langley Oaks Park.

The environmental assessment is a necessary precursor to the land swap.

Concurrently to the land swap process, the Fairfax County Park Authority is conducting a master plan revision for Langley Fork Park. The park is currently developed with two diamond fields, two rectangle fields, basketball courts, fitness trails and parking, but much of the park remains wooded.

The Park Authority released a draft master plan in June, collected public comment and is now developing the final master plan.

The meeting regarding the environmental assessment will be held at Franklin Sherman Elementary School, at 6633 Brawner Street in McLean.

Va. 123 bridge replacement will close lanes in Fairfax

The city of Fairfax will begin construction this month to replace a bridge on Va. 123 at Kenmore Drive. The bridge carries the key artery over Accotink Creek.

Beginning in late January, northbound Chain Bridge Road traffic will be detoured to Whitehead Street, University

Drive, Kenmore Drive and back to Chain Bridge Road. Southbound traffic will not be detoured, but lanes will shift in the work zone.

Sidewalks in the work zone will be closed; pedestrians should follow the Chain Bridge Road detour.

The detour will be in place for most of the duration of the construction project, which is expected to take up to

six months. City transportation officials suggest that University Drive can be used as an alternate north-south route to avoid the work zone.

A map of the area and detour route will be posted on the city’s website, fairfaxva.gov.

Reston Community Center seeks prom dress donations

The Reston Community Center is collecting gently used formal dresses, shoes, handbags, scarves and shawls and other accessories for its annual Diva Central prom dress giveaway.

The program allows high school girls in need to “shop” for free dresses and accessories in order to attend prom.

The program coordinators ask that donated items are in good condition, no more than five years old and that dresses and accessories have been dry cleaned. Donations are tax deductible.

Drop off items at the Reston Community Center Hunters Woods, 2310 Colts Neck Road in Reston, through Feb. 7. The Diva Central event is March 8.