Currently, the Fairfax County Department of
Transportation is conducting a Countywide Dialogue on Transportation, which is
designed to assist the Board of Supervisors in identifying transportation
priorities among currently unfunded projects that can be addressed through
Fiscal Year 2020.  The following
analysis, submitted by RCA Board member Dick Rogers to the Reston Association’s
Transportation Advisory Committee, makes recommendations regarding Reston’s
transportation priorities.

Summary: I think that in order to keep public confidence
in the redevelopment process in Reston, the county should commit itself to
completing at least one major project in Reston by 2020 (Soapstone Crossing)
and get a good start on a second (Town Center tunnel crossing).  The Fairfax
County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) has to think in somewhat different
terms regarding Reston than the “cost-benefit” criteria it seems to
be using, which gives priority to current rather than anticipated problems.

Ongoing process.  The mid-October handouts from FCDOT at the
Hunter Mill TAC meeting spoke of a fairly crisp process, with a target of 4 Dec
to distribute a summary of recommendations to the Board of Supervisors, a 10
Dec review by the Board of the priority lists, and a Jan 2014 Board adoption of
the priorities.  It appears that the meeting of the BOS Transportation
committee this week was cancelled, so presumably there is still plenty of time
to comment.
specific projects
: Of the 65
potential roadway/public transit projects identified, a number are high-dollar
projects specific to Reston.  In particular, these are:
  • the Soapstone Crossing
  • the Town Center Drive/Dulles Toll Road underpass
  • a South Lakes/DTR crossing
  • the Fairfax County Pkwy/Sunrise Valley overpass/intersection.

These are all priorities in the new Master Plan.

In addition, other projects relative to Reston are identified, particularly the
widening of Fairfax County Parkway from Route 50 north.

Some potential projects are not included, such as the Route 7 widening from
Reston Avenue to the DTR, an extension of Pinecrest Drive across USGS to the Town
Center station (identified as particularly useful for relieving Reston Parkway
traffic, according to the DOT staff), and widening Reston Parkway.

Evaluation criteria.  FCDOT has made plain that the likely
available money ($1.2 billion) will cover only part of the extensive
list.   It has proposed a variety of evaluation criteria.  These
include support for redevelopment and revitalization.  However, the
specific quantitative criteria they are using do not necessarily favor
Reston.  These are reduction in travel times, reduction in congestion, and
improved air quality.

Under these criteria, the Reston projects score low.  For example, the Town
Center underpass gets a cost-to-benefit rating of 2.7.  However, many of
the Fairfax County Parkway/Route 28 widening projects are rated at 10-12. 
I think the reason for this is that the criteria rate current traffic levels
rather than those anticipated when Metro opens (Soapstone Crossing) and when
additional development occurs.

The saving grace is that FCDOT Director Tom Biesiadny made the point at both
the Hunter Mill TAC and the November public meeting that “spread the
wealth” is an important consideration.  For sound political reasons,
all sections of the county will get a slice of the pie.

Recommendation: Given this background, I think RA or RA TAC should offer
an opinion.  We should support the idea of FCDOT undertaking at least one,
if not two, major projects in Reston by 2020.  My first choice would be
the Soapstone Crossing, because design work is ongoing and it is unfunded at
this point.  In addition to helping relieve congestion at the Wiehle station,
it would provide a major alternative to both Wiehle Avenue and Reston Parkway,
now very congested.
A second priority would
be to begin design work and construction of the Town Center Drive
underpass.  This will benefit access to Town Center station and enhance
development potential in Town Center and south Town Center station areas.
Other major projects
could wait till Reston redevelopment advances and be addressed in the next five
year planning cycle.

The reason I support
these two projects is that they would provide a county commitment to support
the redevelopment of Reston.  There is considerable public comment about the
impact of redevelopment on transportation in Reston and a lack of public
conviction that the country will follow through with the promises in the master
Plan.  RA has a particular interest in ensuring the connectivity between
North and south Reston be, at a minimum, not further impaired.