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Circuitous Reston pedestrian refuge redesigned after community pressure

VDOT has redesigned a circuitous Village Road pedestrian median in Reston (photo by Colin Mills/Reston Accessibility Committee)

(Updated at 6:10 p.m.) Community pressure about a circuitous and convoluted pedestrian refuge at Village Road in Reston has prompted a redesign.

Reston Association voiced its concerns about the “horrible initial design” of the refuge island in a letter to state and local transportation officials, according to RA spokesperson Mike Leone. The letter, along with community pressure, led to the rebuild and redesign effort.

VDOT has added a new access point and sidewalk.

“It is RA’s position that the changes/redesign are much better than the original design,” Leone wrote in a statement to FFXnow.

Construction crews are “almost finished with reconstruction, but it’s not yet turned over to us for inspection and acceptance,” VDOT spokesperson Ellen Kamilakis told FFXnow.

After FFXnow’s sister site, Reston Now, reported on the issues with the refuge in January, the Reston Accessibility Committee — a working group created by the Reston Citizens Association — submitted an assessment of the site to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn in February.

“In addition to the poor sidewalk design, our assessment cited the narrow ramps, the misalignment of the crosswalk buttons, and the fact that the Village Road crosswalk was behind the stop line for the traffic signal,” the committee said in its summer newsletter, released on Saturday (July 30).

RA’s Multimodal Transportation Advisory Committee, a citizen advisory committee that reports to RA, also flagged concerns about the refuge.

“Pedestrian navigability and safety were our chief concerns especially with the near proximity of the new Lake Anne House,” the committee said. “The Board agreed and sent a letter to  VDOT strongly urging redesign.”

While the redesign is a significant improvement over the previous iteration, MTAC’s chair Mike McDermott said that some issues still remain.

“While we are glad that corrections have been made, we do feel that pedestrian facilities should be present on all four legs of this signalized intersection,” McDermott wrote in a statement to FFXnow.

The previous design was so flawed that some pedestrians cut through the middle or skipped over the refuge entirely. Other concerns included narrow ramps and misalignment of crosswalk buttons.

The new design completes the sidewalk by turning into a loop and realigns the crosswalk  buttons. The vehicle stop line for the Village Road signal was also moved back behind the crosswalk.

“RAC supports the attempt to remediate the design and make the design safer and more accessible for everyone,” the Reston Accessibility Committee said in its newsletter. “There is still room for improvement, however, and we encourage all parties to continue exploring design changes to make it even better.”