Dear Fred (Selden, C/DPZ):
In our recent meeting on Parks, Open Space and Athletic Fields, the issue of not-at-grade pedestrian and bike crossings was discussed. As you are aware, both the Reston Master Plan and County policy place a high priority on facilitating bike and pedestrian traffic. In addition to increased connectivity, improved traffic flow and a healthy alternative to vehicular travel, tunnels and bridges protect our citizens and their children. Although some actually state that mixing pedestrians and automobiles is a good thing, the reality is very different. No pedestrian has been killed by a car or truck while crossing through a tunnel or over a bridge.
Reston has suffered from a failure to adhere to its founding principles about connectivity in recent decades, and we realize it is difficult to retro design needed tunnels and bridges in established and stable neighborhoods. New development or redevelopment, however, is very different and a return to long established guidelines is both necessary and in everyone's interest. There are multiple examples all over Reston as to how tunnels and bridges can fit seamlessly into our neighborhoods and along our pathways. We are confident the County and developers are as safety-minded and creative as their predecessors of 40 and 50 years ago.
The following non-exhaustive list identifies a number of priority locations for not-at-grade crossings. All of these provide significantly safer crossings over major, high speed roadways. The time to institute a comprehensive policy of requiring not-at-grade crossings is now, not after disaster strikes.
Wiehle at Sunrise Valley: A tunnel from the lower elevation of the USAA campus on the east side of Wiehle could connect with the lower elevation of the Vornado property on the west side.
Wiehle at Entrance to Metro: It is difficult to understand why this wasn't put in place with the initial development, but it must be included in any further development of area. Once built, the lengthy walk signal can be eliminated.
Sunset Hills at Wiehle: The need for this is obvious and also should have been included in the initial development of the Metro Station. This could tie in with the already approved bridge over Wiehle on the W&OD.
Reston Parkway at Sunrise Valley: As part of Reston Crescent development. Crossings of Sunrise Valley and perhaps just south of the Toll Road are also needed.
Reston Parkway at Sunset Hills: This intersection is extremely dangerous and difficult to cross. There are multiple lanes in all directions and dedicated right turn lanes at all four corners make pedestrian crossings a life threatening experience.
Baron Cameron at Bennington Woods/Town Center Parkway: Must be part of any development of Reston Town Center North
Baron Cameron at Village Road: As part of any Lake Anne redevelopment. The nearby tunnel under Baron Cameron doesn't serve Lake Anne.
Dulles Toll Road at Town Center Metro Station: A dedicated bike/pedestrian lane separate from Metro commuter traffic.
Wiehle at Isaac Newton Square: As part of any redevelopment of Isaac Newton.
If you would like to experience crossing any of these intersections on foot at rush hour to get a sense of the need for non-at-grade crossings, please let me know.
The County plans to permit a massive increase in population in the TSA zones. County officials also have repeatedly stated they believe this population will be predominantly disposed to travel on foot or bike or use mass transit. It is thus imperative a network of safe pathways be developed, including not at grade crossings of major roads. Anything less violates the County's own directives.
Many thanks, we greatly appreciate your work on these issues and your dedication to keeping Reston a unique and valued part of Fairfax County.
Best regards, Dennis
Parks, Open Space & Athletic Fields
CPR Discussion Leader
Supervisor Cathy Hudgins
Goldie Harrison, Hunter Mill District Staff
Leslie Johnson, DC/DPZ, Zoning
John Carter, Fairfax County Planning Commission