Sneak Peek: Reston Town Center Metro Station

by Karen Goff January 5, 2016 at 4:30 pm 36 Comments

RTC Metro location/Fairfax County

The plans for the Reston Town Center Metro station will have a Fairfax County Planning Commission hearing on Jan. 13, and the planners are expected to recommend for approval the plans that will bring another Silver Line stop to Reston.

While the basic entrance pavilions will look similar to those at the existing Wiehle-Reston East station, the Town Center stop, part of the Silver Line Phase 2 that is expected to open in early 2020, will have a very different character than Wiehle-Reston East.

The Wiehle-Reston East station was built adjacent to a large parking garage, a joint project by Fairfax County and Comstock. Comstock is also building apartments, a hotel, offices, retail and restaurants as part of its Reston Station project that is under construction at was previously a suburban vacant lot.

The Reston Town Center stop — which, like most other Silver Line stations will have virtually no parking — will be built close to Reston’s urban core. It still won’t be “at” Reston Town Center, though.

The station will be in the middle of the Dulles Toll Road near Sunset Hills and Reston Parkway. There will be elevated pedestrian bridges offering access both south and north of the toll road, but it is still more than a half mile from the station to the offices, stores and restaurants within the town center, though more development will likely be planned for the area in which pedestrians will travel to get to the town center.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) said in a letter to the Department of Planning and Zoning included in the staff report for the project that there are a number of challenges with the plans.

Wrote Michael A. Davis of FCDOT:

“Generally speaking, there are a number of design elements that are considered less than ideal on the proposed site. However, we understand that this is a severely constrained site and that it needs to serve a required number of functions conditioned with project approval. FCDOT considers the proposed layout to be interim. Site modifications to address safety, facility redesign, or modifications to operations within or proximate to the site may occur after the Silver Line Phase II project is open.”

Davis also said some of the proposed facilities and operations at the site may be able to be shifted to future streets and properties with future land redevelopment proposals.

The County Comprehensive Plan and the Bicycle Master Plan recommend that Sunset Hills Road become a six-lane divided roadway with bicycle lanes in order to accommodate traffic to the station.

Other plans for the station, according to the county staff report:

20 short-term parking spaces

Six bike lockers

Plantings including shrubs, perennials and more than 20 trees.

A stormwater facility will be relocated to an adjacent parcel to the east.

Buses will enter the site through a buses-only entrance in the northeastern portion of the site, off Sunset Hills Road, and exit through a shared bus and vehicular exit in the western area of the site, which consists of dual left lanes and a right turn lane.

Three bus bays will be located between the south side of the entrance pavilion and the pick-up/drop-off area and short-term parking area. An off-site bus layover area is located along the site’s Sunset Hills Road frontage. A pick-up/drop-off area, short-term parking, motorcycle parking, and taxi spaces are provided in the southeast area of the site.

Bicycle lockers are located adjacent to the bus entrance and bicycle racks will be provided under the elevated pedestrian bridge, adjacent to the entrance pavilion.

The Comprehensive Plan envisions a mix of uses within a one-quarter mile walk of the transit station with less intense development planned between one-quarter mile and one-half mile from the transit station.  Such development is envisioned to “consist of a balanced mix of uses that includes new office uses, destination retail uses and restaurants, a hotel with convention facilities, a significant residential component, civic uses, and ground floor uses to foster a varied and interesting pedestrian experience,” says the Comprehensive Plan.

  • Terry Maynard

    Good to see this progress being made.

    Just wondering if the construction of pedestrian pathways from this station landing area to Reston Town Center core, including W&OD ped bridges, will be completed by the time the station opens (2020?). That would considerably shorten the walk for workers to RTC core from Metro–by about half, especially given currently closed W&OD ped bridge. It would certainly help spur development north of the W&OD trail.

    One thing just always leads to another….

  • jmsullivan

    Wow, used to work in one of the buildings at the right of that photo, and wondered why they suddenly closed off that parking lot that’s marked off there. Never occurred to me that it was because THAT was where the Town Center metro station was meant to go.

    Mainly because that’s such a horrible location for it. “Severely constrained site” doesn’t even start to cover it. Just… wow. They have really insisted on shooting themselves in the foot over and over again on this project. Is it too late to just tear up the tracks back out to the Orange Line at Falls Church and start over?

    • I work in one of those JBG buildings at the corner of Sunset Hills and Town Center. JBG will be redesigning the three buildings and two parking garages. They have already started preliminary work. Wonder if the guys with M16’s will still come out when people trespass at the buildings across the street from us?

      • Karen Goff

        Yep. RTC West, which we have written about several times, will be the start of the expansion towards the toll road and metro station. Basically, development will expand that way. Won’t make the walk to Fountain Square any shorter, but will bring other retail closer.

  • Paulette Lincoln-Baker

    Seriously?? What is the point of having a subway stop you have to walk half a mile to? Good way to be late for work unless you are a jogger or fast worker. As things are planned right now, I don’t see how this stop is going to benefit Reston businesses. And having no parking is just plain foolish. I would still drive into that part of Reston instead of vying for the piddly 20 parking spaces they are planning on. Talk about a commuter-unfriendly plan. Thumbs down!

    • tattler

      I completely agree with Paulette. A 1/2 mile is a bit excessive. It’s obvious developers and planners have given no thought to the minority of people who cannot spare the 10 minutes to walk this distance. Personally, I don’t want big brother giving me no option about how, when and where I get my exercise. Let’s just take the ‘public’ out of public transportation and really focus on the real reason this metro stop is being developed – to exclusively serve the shops and restaurants, and the handful of homes, at the RTC’s core.

      I hope the developers and planners are listening. We are Reston’s 1% and we will not be silenced. If you do not listen, and will not provide us personalized home-to-metro service, or at least somebody to hold my umbrella if forced to walk the 1/2 mile to the metro, we will….do something that requires little to no calorie expenditure.

      I know some of you may consider me a bit of an entitled snowflake, but you can witness similar failures of public transportation for yourself. The Tysons Corner metro was as poorly planned as Reston’s will be. There is also a staggering distance to walk from train to the mall (1/4 mile), and then you’re expected to walk an additional mile or more once inside!!!! This is why you will see nobody using this train…except for the poor, young, fit and/or environmentally friendly people. No thank you, developers! I’m opting out. You can keep your ‘public’ transportation just that – public. You won’t be seeing me any time soon.

      • Michael C

        Sorry what circumstance would ever result in you being unable to spare 10 minutes for walking? Unwilling does not equate to unable.

        • Mike M

          See you on the 2016 list of Reston pedestrian strikes.

    • Terry Maynard

      If you think this is bad, just read the County’s 2015 strategy for economic success. (http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/success/strategic-plan-facilitate-economic-success-2015.pdf) It doubles the radii for high-density development from <1/4 mile to "at least" 1/2 mile (p. 28)–a 10-minute walk–and doubles the overall "walking distance" to the edge of the TOD area from 1/2 to ONE mile or–as it puts it–"Explore creation of 20 Minute Neighborhoods (p.27)", that's a one-mile walk to/from Metro–with crossings of the W&OD trail available.

      This "strategy" was brought to you by another BOS-appointed, developer-dominated commission last summer. Those would be the same developers who can't fill the office and other commercial spaces they already have.

    • Rational Reston

      Maybe a way to think about is that the Reston Town Center Metro is a way for people who work at RTC to get to RTC without driving. Leaving more road space for those of us who do live in Reston. It also gives access to a large portion of the area from RTC for those who live there without using their cars. Also, visitors to the DC region can use the Hyatt as a hotel and still visit the city.

      If you’re going to drive to Metro, you still have Whiele or Herndon.

    • turtwigs

      Really? Half a mile is THAT great an inconvenience? Reston, VA is a longshot from the Manhattan wetdream you’re envisoning. I walk 1.1 miles to AND from my metro station each day and it is easily the most enjoyable part of my commute. If your suburban legs can’t handle it, get a bike.

      • Greg

        But there are only six bike lockers.

        • turtwigs

          The station is at LEAST four years out from now. The county is quite literally just entering the planning phases. Parking minimums and planned facilities will be adjusted, rezoned and reconsidered several more times between now and then. Does anybody here know how civic planning works at all? Sheesh.

  • Chuck Morningwood

    We could all save ourselves a ton of money if they were to abandon this mis-placed station and run Metro INTO the airport.

  • Rational Reston

    This is the part I love, we say we want walkable communities……but complain about walking.

    Having worked in one of those buildings between Sunset Hills and the Toll Road, the walk to RTC is all of 5 minutes if you have a long wait at the cross walk (though that is dependent on the currently out of commission pedestrian bridge was available).

    • Terry Maynard

      Actually, that’s as it should be–a quarter-mile walk is 5 minutes. The key point being the W&OD bridge (& maybe one or two others like it between the office bldgs) is open. Without a bridge, the walk is 2X or 3X times a long via either Reston Pkwy or Town Center Pkwy.

  • Ming the Merciless

    20 parking spaces and 6 bike lockers…. LMAO, what a joke!

    • tattler

      My uneducated guess is that the 20 parking spaces and 6 bike lockers at the metro station will be reserved for metro workers and service people, and the hundreds of other planned commuter parking spaces to be built at the corner of Town Center Parkway and Sunset Hills (where an empty lot currently resides) are for, well, ummm, commuters. Like most other metro stations outside of downtown DC, additional parking has been planned for, and don’t expect thousands of park-and-riders vying for just 20 parking spaces. Just sayin’.

      But let’s talk about that 1/2 mile/10 minute walk from the RTC to the train! That’s the true horror. I only have four years left to condition myself for what will amount to a 50 calories expenditure [each way]. #RestonPeopleProblems

      • Objective Observer

        I am going to start training by adding a lap around the kitchen table when I walk from the couch to the refrigerator. I’m getting tired just thinking about it!

    • Sam

      The Spring Hill Station in Tysons is designed just like this and it works fine. The point is to keep cars off the road, not create a concrete parking monstrosity at each stop.

      • Ming the Merciless

        If people don’t use it because they can’t park there, then it won’t keep cars off the road.

  • Rob

    What do we need to make this project complete? What do we need to bring the Metro and the Town Center together in harmony?

    A Monorail!

    • Lyle Lanley

      Yes, sir. There’s nothing on earth like a genuine, bona fide, electrified, six-car monorail!

  • Robert Pew

    These are the plans for the station on the north side of the Dulles Toll Road. There is no mention of the plans for the south side. Shouldn’t the plans for the north side be presented to the public before a presentation to the planning commission?

    • Guest

      What? and get public input? Unthinkable!

  • RTCRunner

    I work in the building next to the future station and live in RTC. I walk to work and even without the bridge it is not a far walk. The bridge however, is back open for anyone who was wondering.

  • VikingMonkey

    This is what they should have done when they had the chance (utilizing the W&OD right of way for a stretch) but now it is way too late.


    • turtwigs

      The station was ultimately left in the median of 267 because, unfortunately, our conservative legislature would be damned to put another dollar towards a more pragmatic and convenient transit systems. Instead we must build highways to nowhere in the southern portion of the state! Yay gerrymandering!

  • Greg

    Wow. 20 trees! Aren’t we blessed.

  • Steve

    If I had to pick a career again, I would choose to be a dermatologist in Southern California or a podiatrist in Northern Virginia. Imagine the very real scenario of a visitor arriving at Dulles Airport and staying at, say, the Reston Hyatt. Upon landing they face a 10-15 minute walk from the jetway to the terminal shuttle or subway, then another 10 minutes walking to baggage claim. From there, it’s another 15 minute schlep to an above-ground Silver Line station built near the parking garage instead of adjacent to baggage claim. Upon arriving in Reston, they haul that luggage from the “town center station” another 10-15 minutes to the actual town center. Taken together with the walker-unfriendly Silver Line through Tysons Corner, plenty of folks will someday be asking: Who designed and approved Northern Virginia’s transportation system?

    • Greg

      This silver line mess, way over budget and far behind schedule, is owned by to Ken Plum. The original airport station was planned to be inside the terminal and, in fact, was planned at the time the main terminal was expanded 20 years ago. Much of the Dulles silver-line station was built, but it was later repurposed when it became evident the station would be far from a desirable location. Another nail in Dulles’ coffin.

    • Objective Observer

      Those are reasonable commute times compared to the time and expense of using taxis or rental cars, and the byproduct is a modest amount of exercise.

      • Steve

        The commute times may be reasonable for able-bodied folks like you and me; I would welcome such exercise if I had the time. The point is, you don’t do transportation planning for only able-bodied people. You have to take into consideration the folks like my wife, who through no fault of hers, has severe arthritis in her knee and ankle and would not even attempt such a long journey on foot. I travel a lot; Dulles is one of the least friendly, walkable airports in the U.S. Now Metro is adding to folks’ misery by failing to connect its Northern Virginia stations like Reston Town Center in a logical way to the development near it.

  • Mark Twain

    So, where’s the walkway to connect with the Town Center?


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