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Reston 2020: Developers Should Pay For Wider Roads

by Karen Goff — October 1, 2014 at 9:30 am 8 Comments

Lights on Reston ParkwayDevelopment-watcher group Reston 2020 says it is concerned about planned improvements for connectivity in Reston — at the expense of motorists.

In a letter to Richard Lambert of Fairfax County’s Department of Planning and Zoning, Reston 2020 says that autos will still rule in Reston. So whether we are transit-oriented in the future, we still need to accommodate more cars on the road.

The county should start by ensuring that developer proffers should help pay for widening of Reston Parkway to ease future traffic flow, Reston 2020 says.

The lengthy letter comes in response to the Reston Master Plan Phase II “Strawman Draft” released by the county a few weeks ago. The county is taking feedback from citizens and citizen groups as it organized the comprehensive plan for Reston’s village centers and neighborhoods.

Says Reston 2020:

We are enthusiastic about improved connectivity in Reston, especially for pedestrians and bicyclists, but not at the expense of vehicular traffic.

Automobiles will remain the predominant mode of transportation in Reston, especially in its suburban areas, and even the plans for expanded bus service will mean the greater use of Reston’s roadways.

Moreover, the planned addition of some 50,000 people to the TSAs [transit station areas] and the potential addition of several thousand new residents to the village centers means there will be more vehicular traffic.

We would put special emphasis on key north-south roadways that, in our view, received short shrift in the Phase 1 effort. Much of the traffic generated in Reston, including some commuting traffic, involves people moving from the north to south or vice versa suburban (Phase 2) areas of our community.

In particular, as part of the proffer process,we would ask again that Reston Parkway (including the corridor overpass) be expanded to three through lanes all the way north to Baron Cameron Avenue and south to Glade, about one-mile from the Town Center Metro station in each direction, to facilitate the movement of traffic to, from, and through the Town Center TSA.

The standing County approvals for the 23-story Town Center Office Building and the 10-12-story mixed-use Spectrum Center, both outside the half-mile walkability circle, highlight the relatively urgent need for the road’s expansion north of the corridor.

The choking of suburban traffic will only hurt the development of both the TSA and suburban Reston. In addition to ensuring that connectivity does not come at the expense of vehicular traffic, we have proposed stronger language to help ensure that any traffic impacts caused by redevelopment are mitigated by developers.

The plan must at least sustain the existing level of service (LOS) for Restoniansin the Phase 2 study area, including accommodations for TSA residents to drive in the suburban areas of Reston to a school, park, preferred supermarket or other retail outlet, and even their place of work beyond suburban Reston.

See the entire letter and markup of the Master Plan draft text on Reston 2020’s website.

Photo: Traffic on Reston Parkway/File photo

  • Mike M

    I am very skeptical that the County would get, or even ask, developers to pay for this. Too bad it’s not the thought that counts.

    My questions is how do you reconcile greater pedestrian connectivity with our busy road now, never mind after they might be widened? I see no answers that would ever be implemented. Bridges are too expensive. Cross walks over four lane roads are pretty dangerous now. With six lanes? Forget it.

    • Terry Maynard

      Speaking from a Reston 2020 perspective, experience shows your skepticism is well deserved, Mike, but we believe these transportation considerations are essential and there is certainly no harm in seeking them, over & over again if necessary.

      FYI, the three trans-corridor bridges (tunnel in the Town Center Drive case) we proposed are all in the County’s 6-year plan, more or less meaning they will get done although not necessarily in six years. (The 2009 RMAG report recommended the Soapstone overpass five years ago–and the BOS accepted their report then–and the County is still in the planning stages there.) The bridges will probably be built as new development (& new proffer funds) warrants.

      We have also proposed, but haven’t gotten much transaction, on “grade-separated crossings,” which–in plain English–are pedestrian bridges, across the major intersections near the several Metro stations. One for the W&OD trail across Wiehle is all that has made it so far. We will press for more.

      And, so far, none of the three major Reston north-south roads–Fairfax County Parkway, Reston Parkway, nor Wiehle Avenue–are planned to be widened in any plan we are aware of. By the County’s calculation, that could mean 4-5 minute delays at EACH traffic light on these roads during the peak hour when development has filled out. As you can see in the article, we would like to see Reston Pkwy widened in the Town Center station area. There is little that can be done with Wiehle and, on the Fairfax County Parkway, the longer term issue will be direct access to the station area vice using Sunrise Valley Dr.

      There are a number of bike/pedestrian extensions planned throughout the Metro station areas, a key part of the improved pedestrian connectivity, but we could also use more in “suburban” (Phase 2) Reston. Most of these were proposed in the RMAG report and an RA report that preceded even that! Still, all we got before Wiehle station opened was 500′ of sidewalk along Sunrise Valley Dr. & Wiehle to the south side of the station access.

      So you see what I mean about waiting a long, long time.

      Still, we will keep on trying to push these topics and sooner rather than later. If we don’t, who will? And then what?

      • Mike M

        Thanks for the update. Good luck to you.

  • JLake

    Reston Parkway is horrible. But there are at least 2 other options to help alleviate that without widening it. 1) complete an additional Toll Road crossing, preferably one that goes under the toll road and does not have access to it so it is like an express lane north/south. Maybe extend 2) fix the lane alignment on Fairfax County Parkway South overpass at the toll road. The way the lanes are lined up, you end up only having one lane that is truly a through lane from Spring St to Sunrise Valley.

  • Paddy M

    No, I don’t want Reston Parkway widened and neither do the people who voted against the recent Virginia senate candidate who had that as part of his platform. Also, who are these Reston “citizens associations”? How many people “vote” for them? I didn’t and you don’t represent me.

  • Carolyn

    Arlington has few 6 lane roadways (none in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor) and they’re doing just fine. So forget about widening roads get out and walk around more. It will do wonders for your waistline.

    • Mike M

      But, careful crossing those roads. It is exceedingly dangerous. The laws of physics don;t care if you are saving the world or your waistline.

      • Peter

        I walk across Reston Parkway daily. VDOT has made some real improvements with upgraded markings, lamb chops and timed walk signals, but I agree that additional lanes would make it more difficult.

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