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McLean group urges county to fund West Falls Church Metro pedestrian upgrades

Haycock Road bridge over I-66 (via Google Maps)

A proposed shared-use path on Haycock Road over I-66 is among several pedestrian and bicycle projects in the West Falls Church Metro station area that the McLean Citizens Association believes Fairfax County should prioritize for funding.

The organization, which routinely weighs in on issues affecting the greater McLean area, approved a resolution on Wednesday (Jan. 4) endorsing 19 projects recommended by an advisory group that the county convened to study the West Falls Church Transit Station Area’s (TSA) active transportation infrastructure.

“We believe these projects will improve access to the West Falls Church Metro station and area schools, and will likely be cost effective,” Glenn Harris, who chairs the association’s transportation committee, said.

Released in November, the advisory group’s final report backed community complaints that the area is congested and unsafe to travel for those not in cars, proposing 20 projects that could help address those issues in anticipation of future development.

In its resolution, the MCA board of directors highlighted seven pedestrian projects that it says deserve “rapid identification and allocation of funding for placement” on the county’s Transportation Priorities Plan:

  • Pathway improvements along Haycock Road from Great Falls Street to the Metro Access Road
  • A sidewalk along Redd Road to Idylwood Road and related improvements, including a crosswalk, to provide safe access to Lemon Road Elementary School
  • A pedestrian refuge on Idylwood Road near Lemon Road Elementary
  • High-visibility crosswalks at the Pimmit Drive and Leesburg Pike intersection
  • A mid-block crossing on Haycock Road near Casemont Drive with flashing beacons
  • Pedestrian improvements at the Westmoreland Street and Haycock Road intersection
  • A crosswalk on Great Falls Street at Moly Drive

The Haycock pathway improvements would consist of a new shared-use path that’s at least 8 feet wide. To make room where it passes over I-66, the road could be reduced from two southwest travel lanes to one, according to MCA board member Bruce Jones.

“The pedestrian walkways along the bridge are woefully deficient and dangerous, in our opinion,” Harris said. “But as I understand it, there’s some consideration to narrow the lanes on the bridge to allow for a wider pedestrian infrastructure without the need to actually rebuild the bridge.”

Though estimated to be one of the more expensive proposals in the report, the project is one of two that MCA has advocated for in the past, along with the Redd Road sidewalk.

While the board gave its support to all four proposed bicycle projects, it didn’t endorse one pedestrian project that would add a pathway from Idylwood Road to the Metro station through or along the railyard.

According to Harris, county staff told the advisory group that the project could cost over $10 million, and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority had “expressed considerable concern” about the path as a potential security risk for its railyard.

“Given the limited amount of funds that are currently allocated, we don’t think that it makes sense to be funding this particular project, particularly when WMATA has expressed concerns, if not outright opposition to the project,” Harris said. “The available funds should be used for the other projects.”

Launched in late 2021, the West Falls Church Active Transportation Study served as a follow-up to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ approval of a plan allowing more mixed-use development around the Metro station.

The West Falls development in Falls Church City is under construction. Plans for over 1.8 million square feet of development on the Metro station property and Virginia Tech’s nearby Northern Virginia Center are being reviewed by county staff.

The Board of Supervisors accepted the study report on Dec. 6 and directed staff to incorporate its recommendations into the county’s active transportation plan.

Image via Google Maps