Traffic, back-up concerns dominate proposal to demolish Reston Taco Bell

Taco Bell in Reston could see a facelift as part of a demolition proposal (via Fairfax County)

A plan to rebuild Taco Bell at Roger Bacon Drive in Reston has drawn some concerns about traffic increases and back-up in drive-thru lanes.

Reston Commerce, which is owned by family-owned company Summerwood, plans to demolish the fast-food eatery at 11257 Roger Bacon Drive and replace it with a modern restaurant and an additional drive-thru lane.

At a recent Reston Planning and Zoning committee meeting, members expressed concerns about traffic increasing with the jump from one to two drive-thru lanes. But most of the backup appears to be caused by traffic from the adjacent McDonalds, committee chairman Rob Walker acknowledged.

Walker suggested converting a second access point into a two-way-in option to force the McDonalds traffic immediately into the property with two sharp right turns. He said the access point was initially set up that way before being converted into a one-way-out option.

Committee members also encouraged Taco Bell to consider establish a green-friendly roof as a commitment to the environment.

Matt Roberts, Reston Commerce’s representative, said the new location will be roughly 2,300 square feet in size and embraces a more modern look.

“This is a design you’ve probably seen once or twice before,” Roberts said.

The decision to add another drive-thru lane was driven by demand, according to Roberts.

“Probably not surprisingly that was trending upward and ultimately increased significantly during the pandemic,” he said.

While Reston Commerce provided traffic data based on national standards and studied some on-site data for parking need calculations, the application submitted to Fairfax County lacks a formal traffic study. The applicant chose to seek a waiver for the study.

“I have a problem providing another drive-thru, another lane in an area that has already got issues,” committee member Mike Jennings said.

Some committee members encouraged Reston Commerce to consider enlisting a more in-depth study to determine the best path moving forward. Others like William Penniman said they were concerned about intensifying a drive-thru use in a transit station area where the county is trying to actively limit car usage.

Board member Tammi Petrine encouraged the applicant to look into including a public art component on the site, contributing some funds to Reston’s athletic field fund, and incorporating evergreen native plants into the design.

The project heads to the county’s other land use boards next. It’s currently in review and has a planning commission public hearing scheduled for Sept. 21.