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West Falls Church development plans will require major Metro parking cuts

A rendering of the proposed development outside the West Falls Church Metro station (via WMATA)

Metro anticipates reducing the parking capacity at its West Falls Church station by over 700 spaces in order to accommodate a planned redevelopment of the property between I-66 and Haycock Road.

Under review by Fairfax County, the project would replace the Metro station’s surface parking lots with 24 acres of mixed-use development, including up to 900 residential units, 110,000 square feet of office, and 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.

Working with private developers known collectively as FGCP-Metro LLC, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has proposed eliminating a south parking lot off of Falls Church Drive and reducing the number of bus bays and Kiss & Ride spots at the station.

“Proposed changes are intended to promote transit-oriented development, increase Metro ridership, enhance bicycle and pedestrian access to the station, and modernize transit facilities,” WMATA says.

Park and Ride

Taking out the south parking lot will reduce the station’s park-and-ride capacity from 2,009 to 1,350 spots, according to an environmental evaluation by the consultant WSP.

The evaluation found that demand had dropped from an average of 1,500 vehicles per day when the Silver Line opened in 2014 to 850 per day in 2017. Prior to the pandemic, the average rebounded to 950 in 2018 and 1,100 in 2019.

The West Falls Church Metro station’s existing parking lots (via Google Maps)

About 1,350 to 1,400 spaces are projected to be sufficient to meet parking demand through 2045, the report says. The station’s existing 1,200 garage will be retained, while construction on the office and multifamily residential buildings planned on the north parking lot won’t begin for another 10 years.

At that time, Metro will “reassess” whether to keep as parking or give the developers permission to redevelop it, on the condition that private garages for the new buildings include 150 to 200 spots for commuters.

“Several factors could affect commuter parking demand, including post-COVID changes in commuter travel patterns, the planned openings of Silver Line phase 2 and the I-66 toll lane project, and efforts by Metro to manage parking demand,” the evaluation says, noting that FGCP-Metro will construct approximately 700 parking spaces.

Kiss and Ride

The West Falls Church station currently has a kiss-and-ride lot with 47 short-term metered spaces, nine accessible spaces, and five spaces designated for pick-ups and drop-offs, but it’s “underutilized” with an existing demand of 14 vehicles before the pandemic, according to the evaluation.

Demand is expected to increase only slightly to 16 to 19 vehicles by 2045.

WMATA’s proposal would relocate the kiss-and-ride facility to a new roadway within the development and shrink it to 20 spaces, including 10 metered spaces, two ADA-compliant spaces, and eight pick-up or drop-off spaces.

Bus Facility and On-Street Parking

The development plan includes at least four bus bays on a new roadway adjacent to the Metro station plaza. The facility will be designed to potentially accommodate a total of eight bus bays, which would match number currently provided.

The report says the revised layout and the new street grid in the development could cut bus travel times down by 10 to 15%.

Proposed plan for new bus and kiss-and-ride facilities at the West Falls Church Metro station (via WMATA)

On its project page, Metro suggests hourly paid parking meters could be reduced or eliminated, but per WSP’s report, the 68 public, metered spaces on Metro Access Road will continue to be paid.

“However, ownership and operations of the paid parking spaces may be transferred to an entity other than Metro, depending on the final ownership and maintenance of the roadway,” the report says.

The road is expected to be redesigned with bicycle lanes and new sidewalks as well as on-street parking.

Metro is accepting comments on the proposed parking and bus changes until 5 p.m. on Oct. 31 through an online survey. A public hearing in person at Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center (7054 Haycock Road) at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 19. Testimony can also be provided by phone or a pre-submitted video.

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