A Fairfax County Board of Supervisors public hearing on Reston transportation projects set for Feb. 28 will address the projects’ funding plan. Questions asked about the project Tuesday prior to the board’s vote to approve the hearing, however, concerned design issues.
Supervisor Pat Herrity (Springfield District) raised a number of questions for Tom Biesiadny, director of the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, regarding concerns he has with the plan itself.
“If you take some of the costs out of the project, the impact on both the citizens and the new businesses would be less,” Herrity said.
The overall project — which includes road widening and upgrades to intersections and interchanges, in addition to construction of new Dulles Toll Road crossings — is estimated to cost in excess of $2.2 billion.
Herrity asked Biesiadny about a proposed Town Center Parkway underpass of the Toll Road, projected to cost $170 million. Herrity inquired why an underpass was determined to be more cost-effective than an overpass.
“Because of the topography, the Toll Road actually sits above the intersection of Town Center Parkway and Sunset Hills,” Biesiadny explained. “You would be starting below the Toll Road and having to go up and over it, as opposed to tunneling under it.”
Herrity also had a number of concerns about the proposed Soapstone Drive overpass of the Toll Road, among them the structure of the lanes in the proposal. The plan calls for two driving lanes on each side of the bridge with a two-lane left-turn area, becoming four lanes of traffic across the overpass.
“The idea is that we would only want to go over the Toll Road once, so you would provide some additional capacity should you ever need it in the future,” Biesiadny said.
The four lanes over the Toll Road would be a total of 36 feet wide. The plan calls for 33 1/2 feet of space for pedestrians and bicyclists, another figure that Herrity questioned.
“So we’re going to have as much room on that bridge for bikes and pedestrians as we are for car traffic,” he said, asking for data to back up the need.
Biesiadny said projections have shown there will be a large amount of foot and pedal traffic across the connector.
“Given its location adjacent to the Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail Station, we do think there is going to be a significant number of people using bikes and pedestrians to access the station, as well as the development that will be occurring around there,” he said.
Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (Hunter Mill District) said the community has decided that increased walkability and access for bicyclists is important to the future of transportation.
“What you will see in this project, and I think what the community has been stressing, is the compactness of the transportation infrastructure. That is, you see fewer turn lanes because, guess what, pedestrians require attention from those on the road in order to safely traverse those areas and make the connectivity. I think the most important part about it is… the value that this returns to the overall community in the way that we build the transportation infrastructure and land owners can actually construct the development. If we make a mistake there, it becomes not well used and thus not a return in value to the community and those who own the land.”
The public hearing on project funding was approved by the board and scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28.
Screen capture of Supervisor Cathy Hudgins speaking at Jan. 24 meeting, via Fairfax County website