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County to launch West Falls church transportation needs study tonight

The proposed active transportation study area at West Falls Church. Green covers areas within a mile of the metro station (via FCDOT)

With plans to develop the West Falls Church subway station area now in place, Fairfax County decided to assess how to improve the surrounding transportation network so that it can actually accommodate the anticipated growth.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation will launch an active transportation study at West Falls Church at 7 p.m. today (Monday) with the first meeting of a new citizens’ advisory group.

The study will focus on the pedestrian and cycling infrastructure in and around the West Falls Church transit station area, which is bounded by I-66, the Dulles Toll Road, the Haycock Road and the Falls Church City border near Highway 7.

“The ultimate goal of the study effort will be to improve pedestrian and bicycle access and safety around the subway station,” Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said via email. . “As they are located in the study area, safe access to several schools, including Lemon Road and Haycock [elementary schools] in the Dranesville district will also be considered.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors asked staff to create an active transportation plan in July after approving an amendment to the county’s comprehensive plan that allows for more mixed-use development in the West Falls Church TSA.

While Virginia Tech halted its plan to redevelop its West Falls Church campus earlier this year, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority officially signed an agreement with the developers in August to bring in more than one million square feet of residential, commercial and office spaces at TSA.

Coupled with Falls Church City’s impending West Falls project, the development could attract an influx of residents and traffic that would force community members to push the county to address existing safety challenges and improve streets and sidewalks not. built to withstand the increased density.

The West Falls Church Active Transportation Study will identify possible projects to improve safety, accessibility, comfort and connectivity for cyclists, pedestrians and other non-motorized travelers, according to a scope of work project.

In addition to providing “multiple opportunities to contribute to the community,” county staff will conduct a gap assessment of existing facilities and barriers to access in conjunction with the 13-person advisory group, which will include:

  • Three representatives each from the districts of Dranesville and Providence
  • Two representatives each of the PTAs of the Dranesville and Providence schools in the study area
  • One representative each from the McLean Citizens Association, Providence District Council, Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling and Fairfax Families for Safer Streets

The citizens’ group will be assisted by a technical advisory group made up of representatives from local and national transportation, schools, parks and law enforcement, as well as a representative from Metro, City of Falls Church and Virginia Tech. .

Noting that the study will encompass both sides of Route 7, Foust points to Haycock Road between Great Falls Street and the tube station, as he predicts that one area will get a lot of attention.

“The sidewalk is very narrow and needs to be improved,” he said. “I am also waiting [the advisory group] will identify many intersections where we need to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety.

A tentative schedule for the study calls for a first public meeting to be held this winter, followed by the completion of the assessment of existing conditions in late winter or early spring. A final report with recommendations is expected to be presented to the supervisory board in the summer of 2022.

Foust says the study will prioritize among the identified projects, which could be privately funded through the county’s rezoning process or compete for public funds.