Fairfax County’s growth has come with deadly and dangerous roads for pedestrians, congestion for drivers, and other consequences that planning leaders hope to reverse.

At a Tysons committee meeting on Thursday (Dec. 9), the Fairfax County Planning Commission cited downtown Falls Church, Merrifield’s Mosaic District, and Reston Town Center as examples of what developers and governments should strive to make: mixed-use communities where people can live, shop, work, and play.

Deputy County Executive Rachel Flynn said the emergence of major thoroughfares, shopping meccas, and other projects have dramatically changed how pedestrians interact with streets, which were increasingly built with the goal of getting vehicles from point A to point B as quickly as possible.

“We shifted how we built…our roads,” she said, noting how 100 years ago, pedestrians shared roads with bicycles, horses, streetcars, and automobiles, and speed limits were about the same pace as pedestrians themselves.

She said streets used to be considered “owned” by everyone, used for everything from a marketplace for businesses to playground for kids.

“Everybody got to use the street equally,” she said.

Is Mixed-Use Development Helping?

Mixed-use projects like Reston Town Center and the Mosaic District present an alternate path forward that more consciously balances the needs of different road users, Flynn said, pointing to The Boro in Tysons, Comstock’s Reston Station, and the upcoming Halley Rise complex in Reston as other examples.

“Whenever you see people just walking in the street, you know you’ve a great street. You know it’s safe,” Flynn said.

Suggesting their walkability is closer to what might be seen in a city, she said these projects have proven successful for developers and the public, creating places where people want to live as well as destinations.

However, with lower parking requirements and other measures aimed at reducing vehicles, such projects haven’t always come with community support. The pending Campus Commons redevelopment caused an uproar over congestion at Wiehle Avenue and ultimately included changes to accommodate concerns.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors also recently approved an expansion of The Boro that some feel lacks sufficient accessibility accommodations and traffic controls, particularly across Westpark and Greensboro drives. Read More

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