On July 3rd, RCA Board member Dick Rogers met with Paul Davis, staffer in charge of transportation issues for Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, to discuss the progress made on the issues identified in RCA’s February white paper “Wiehle Metro Station Acccess: Congestion Ahead.” Dick’s account of the meeting is below.
Summary and comment: Paul confirmed that there is no movement on Wiehle station south side access issue. He said the county was considering approaching VDOT re closure of the VDOT parking .lot along Sunset Hills for safety reasons as well as to eliminate a competitor to the garage. He said he thought some of the points made by Reston citizens on the Soapstone extension will be evident in the final county report. The connection will have “a smaller footprint.”
1. Dick Rogers met with Paul Davis, Supervisor Hudgins transportation officer, on 3 July. Rogers said he was meeting as a representative of RCA. He said RCA has nominated him for membership in the Hunter Mill Transportation Advisory Council. He noted he also is a member of the RA TAC.
2. Wiehle Station: Davis said there was nothing new he could report on south side access to the station. He is concerned about safety issues and realizes more signals and cross walks would be useful. But there are uncertainties about what will be done and when.
He noted that problems with private property owners are one of the things slowing other improvements down. He noted the funded side walk on the north side of Sunset Hills from Wiehle to the Post Office is an example. Some landowners have tried to get an exorbitant price for a walk on their property. Even the Post Office has been difficult.
Regarding using maintenance dollars for some sidewalk improvements, the money simply is not there.
Re the bus ramps on the south side of the station at the DTR exit, he did not know of any plans to use them. What Loudoun will do is uncertain; they may continue to run buses to West Falls Church.
VDOT parking lot: He said the county is considering approaching VDOT to close the parking lot along Sunset Hills just north of the station (VDOT has said it will remain open as a free lot). The county is concerned about safety of people parking there very early in the morning and trying to get to the station across Sunset Hills. Another consideration is that the lot will compete with the county owned garage and the COMSTOCK parking facility.
He said that Heather Diaz has been named by FC DOT as “station manager” (presumably for the county run parking garage and Fairfax Connector issues). He noted that as of 1 July FC DOT is getting additional staff which will relieve the burden somewhat on some of their officers created by the Silver Line.
The county plans a significant public relations campaign about the new station and how to access it. He said it was surprising to him to find some just waking up to the fact the line will not run to Dulles or Loudoun for many years.
3. Soapstone Connector: He said based on discussion with FC DOT that the proposal that will be forthcoming will have a “smaller footprint” than that originally proposed. He said it was important that the road take into account an interchange with proposed Reston Station Blvd and noted the connector will eventually be a major advantage for Plaza America. He said he was also very aware that a link to Soapstone Drive should not create an”express way” and that the county be sensitive to concerns of residents on the south side about the connection. He added that one issue is that the owners along east and west Association Drive need to figure out what they want to do in relationship to the connector.
4. Parking restrictions: He elaborated on the cryptic remark in Hudgins response to the RCA Wiehle station paper that Hudgins’ staff was considering possible changes to parking regulations. They did not directly impact on Reston neighborhood concerns about restricting commuter parking but instead focused on possible broader changes in county regulations and organization. This included possible creation of a Parking Authority with stepped up enforcement powers.
5. Re county coordination: He again elaborated on a point made in the Hudgins response. He said that Rob Stalzer, a deputy county executive, has been charged with coordinating the work of related agencies such as FC DOT, DPZ and Dept of Public Works as they impact on Reston. To this end he has created an informal “Reston team” to act as an internal working group to look at issues such as how to best utilize the county property in North Town Center. It will also look at issues directly related to the three Metro stations
6. Re RA, he noted that better coordination between the RA PBAC and RA TAC would have more impact. RA will have more impact “if it speaks with one voice.”