When you get off the northbound bus at Route 355 and Shady Grove Road in Rockville, it takes 8½ minutes to cross legally to the other side of the street. Along the way, you traverse 28 traffic lanes.Just last week, two pedestrians were severely injured crossing the street at this intersection. I went there Saturday to look around. When I explained what I was interested in, people waiting for the southbound bus immediately pointed me to the bus stop on the other side.
I walked there, taking care to obey the law, and timed the return trip. It took 8½ minutes one way. . . .
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The same may well become true at the Wiehle Metrorail station--delays and injuries--if the County does not move forward immediately with an aggressive plan of action for pedestrian access to the Silver Line station.
The County has had--and the Board of Supervisors accepted--the report of the Reston Metrorail Access Group (RMAG) in 2008. The report, entitled, Wiehle Ave/Reston Pkwy Station Access Management Study, provided a large number of simple, relatively inexpensive pedestrian and bicyclist improvements that needed to be made before the Wiehle stationed open, then scheduled for 2011. To date, little has been done to improve the pedestrian experience in accessing the Metro station. As this image from the RMAG report shows, most of the pedestrian/bicyclist work recommended in the highlighted circles involved better intersection markings, some curb improvements, a few walks, and a path (in magenta) from Sunrise Valley Drive to the southside Wiehle station access bridge.
In its report to the Reston Task Force (RTF), Reston Transportation: Meeting the Needs of a 21st Century Planned Community, Reston 2020's Transportation Work Group endorsed these recommendations and added several of its own. Most important among these was the construction of grade-separated crossings at key nearby intersections--the only safe way to ensure timely pedestrian access to Metrorail.
More recently, the Wiehle Sub-Committee of the RTF has recommended a bus stop and a kiss-and-ride stop on the south side of the Wiehle station in addition to the walkway proposed by RMAG. The sub-committee also proposed a grade-separated crossing for the W&OD trail across Wiehle near Sunset Hills Drive.
With the station scheduled to open for business in December, here is the status of improvements as we understand them:
- None of the intersection improvements are identified on the County's Department of Transportation design plan.
- The walkway proposed by RMAG and the bus stop and kiss-&-ride proposed by the RTF are not in any plan we can identify.
- A sidewalk along the west side of Wiehle from Sunrise Valley Drive to the southside station access bridge is scheduled for completion in October. The 500' walk is estimated to cost $250,000.
- A signalized pedestrian crossing at Wiehle and Isaac Newton Square South is in "TBD" (to be determined" status.
- There is no information suggesting any of the grade-separated crossings are being considered.
Pedestrians/Bicyclists: Be extremely careful and allow extra time to reach the Metrorail station. Your health may depend upon it.