22 May 2014
Notes from the Reston P&Z Committee Meeting: 20 May 2013
Discussion of Wiehle Station Access
Summary: The RPZ came out strongly in favor of improved access to the southside of the station. They apparently are planning to comment on this. County staff said there had been one meeting with Vornado related officials on a pedestrian walkway, but there was no consensus among the various owners. Concerns were expressed about safety of Sunrise Valley crossings.
Bill Penniman and Patti Nicoson were the featured speakers. Dick Rogers also commented based on the RCA Wiehle Station access paper. The County was represented by:
- Chris Wells—pedestrian coordinator
- Eric Titleman
- Mark Canale—FC/DOT Silver Line Coordinator
Chris Wells said there definitely will be a sidewalk linking Wiehle to the southside escalator along the DTR exit. (This comment was triggered by reference to the ongoing bus ramp construction in the area and the current absence of a sidewalk).
Wells said the county has had one meeting with Vornado re pedestrian access through there property. The county has already set aside $ for a walkway through the property. He noted that several owners are involved grouped together in an Association. “There is not unanimous agreement” among them. He commented that he did not think “they will prevent people from walking though the property” even if there is no public sidewalk. They are concerned about liability but if you build a public walkway the county accepts liability.
However, the Association is absolutely against vehicular access. There was speculation at the meeting about how vehicular access via either Commerce Park Drive or the service area road from Association Drive West along the DTR to the garages would be controlled. . Gates were mentioned as a possibility. No one knew who actually owns the garage—Vornado of the Association. (Comment: The buildings are used not only by office workers but by bank customers and customers of a major gastroenterology practice. How the customers’ auto access would be controlled is a question.)
Richard Kennedy of the RPZ strongly argued for vehicular access via the service road. He said he had looked at the site and thought there was plenty of room for a bus and “kiss and ride” turn around. It would take 30-45 parking spaces but additional spaces could be provided on top of the garage. (Comment: In Supervisor Hudgins' response to the RCA Metro access paper the response was somewhat ambiguous about county attitudes toward vehicular access. It did not comment on this directly, but said “the ultimate goal is to develop specific pedestrian facility (sic) when the properties on the south side redevelop.” Emphasis added.)
Sunrise Valley: Safety
RPZ member Steve Cerney, who said he lives along Sunrise Valley (SRV) and takes the bus there, asked about intersection improvements at Commerce Park Drive and Great Meadows. He said SRV was difficult enough now for pedestrians and he is concerned about crossing safety. He is concerned about people jumping off buses and trying to cross to the station to avoid the Wiehle Bridge.
County officials said a signal at Commerce Park Drive is unlikely because VDOT was not likely to approve it. There are plans for some intersection crossing improvements, but they are several years off. The # 1 priority is constructing a new crossing at Wiehle and Sunrise Valley. The idea is to try to create some sort of refuge in the median. (Comment: No mention was made re a “kiss and ride” drop off.)
North Side Issues
VDOT is replacing the signal at the McDonalds intersection. There will be “pedestrian modernization” but it will not involve a median refuge. A crossing of the W&OD is funded—Chris Wells thinks it probably would be an underpass.
Bill Penniman noted that COMSTOCK has constructed a potential exit from the garage directly onto the Dulles Toll Road access ramp (it is now just an opening in the garage wall). Mark Canale said that the county, which will operate the garage, will use a Metro-like system that will operate like other garages in the system.
Chair Michael Romeo said the RPZ will probably comment on the situation since recommendations from the Committee sound like they will be useful.