Metro board set to approve changes to West Falls Church station parking and bus facilities

The south parking lot at the West Falls Church Metro station could be redeveloped with housing (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 12:10 p.m. on 3/9/2023) A plan to reconfigure the West Falls Church Metro station’s parking and bus facilities in anticipation of redevelopment will soon be finalized.

The finance and capital committee of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Board of Directors is set to vote tomorrow (Thursday) on whether to accept a staff report recommending the proposed changes, which would significantly reduce the number of parking spaces and bus bays at the station in Idylwood.

Based on feedback from an online survey and a public hearing in October, staff concluded that no revisions to Metro’s original plan are needed, according to the report, which was posted on WMATA’s website in February.

“Staff recommends approval of the proposed changes to the West Falls Church Metro Station needed to facilitate joint development adjacent to the Curtis Memorial Parkway (I-66),” the report says. “Staff finds that there should be no revisions to the proposed transit facility changes as a result of the Compact Public Hearing and staff report analysis.”

The developer group FGCP-Metro LLC intends to replace the station parking lots at 7040 Haycock Road with over 1 million square feet of residential, office and retail space, a project that supporters hope will bolster ridership and revitalize the community with new amenities.

To accommodate the development, Metro has proposed:

  • Eliminating the south parking lot, which will drop the park-and-ride capacity from 2,009 to 1,350 spots
  • Replacing the kiss-and-ride lot, reducing its capacity from 64 to about 20 spaces
  • Reducing bus capacity from eight bays to four bays
  • Eliminating 68 paid on-street metered parking spaces

The station’s 1,200-space parking garage will stay. A future phase of development will replace the north parking lot with office and residential buildings, but that construction isn’t expected for another decade.

According to the staff report, WMATA received a total of 170 public comments on the proposal, all but two of them through its online survey or comment portal. Those two comments came at the Oct. 19 public hearing.

Echoing testimony shared at a Fairfax County Planning Commission public hearing on Feb. 8, about half of the comments (51%) were in favor of the redevelopment, saying it will benefit the neighborhood more than the existing, “underutilized” parking lots.

An environmental evaluation commissioned by Metro found that the West Falls Church station has seen a 35% drop in utilization of its park-and-ride facilities since the Silver Line’s first phase opened in 2014.

Other commenters expressed concern about the parking and bus bay reductions. Some opposed eliminating any parking spaces, while others advocated for keeping more kiss-and-ride spots or suggested building a garage so parking can be retained without taking up as much land.

In its response to those comments, Metro staff says the concept plan for the development “allows for flexibility to increase parking capacity in the future if parking demand grows faster than anticipated.”

“Prior to the redevelopment of the north surface parking lot, which is the last and third phase of the project, WMATA will update its Parking Demand Study to determine if more capacity should be accommodated when constructing the replacement parking garage,” staff said.

If the staff report is accepted, WMATA anticipates construction on the parking and bus changes coming in 2024 to 2026, should Fairfax County approve the redevelopment. The planning commission is scheduled to decide tonight (Wednesday) whether to recommend the plan to the Board of Supervisors.

At tomorrow’s meeting, the WMATA board’s finance and capital committee will also vote on a staff report detailing parking changes at the Franconia-Springfield station proposed in conjunction with an extension of Frontier Drive.

Staff recommends approval of the proposal, despite some public opposition to the loss of a drop-off and pick-up area.

“The staff report clarifies the necessity of this action to achieve adequate traffic flow requirements and the safety improvement in reducing vehicular and pedestrian conflicts,” staff said in a memo to the board. “Customers using this facility will be directed to use the Kiss & Ride lot that is less than 300 feet away.”