News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Wiehle Avenue of the Future: More Walking, Less Parking, and a W&OD 'Pedestrian Highway'

Wiehle Bridge map.jpg
Another one of our fancy annotated maps can only mean one thing: The Acronym-Happy Fancy Reston Master Plan Task Force Previously Known as the RMPTF (TAHRMPTFPKARMPTF) has received a draft of its subcommittee's proposals for Wiehle Avenue, which calls for "a viable pedestrian and transit oriented place in which residents and workers can live, work, learn, shop and play with minimal need to drive a car." Which is good, since that fancy county parking garage is going to be filled with people commuting in from Loudoun's particleboard wastelands for the foreseeable future.

The document suggests that anything within a half-mile of the Metro station -- up to Sunrise Valley Drive on the south side of the Toll Road -- should be developed as "mixed-use, transit-oriented development" (translation: Cheesecake Factories on the ground floor, fancypants condos above). The subcommittee left some room open for development beyond that half-mile radius if it's part of a coordinated plan, such as redeveloping Plaza America, or if the developer promises shuttle service to the Metro or parks or a shiny bauble like an indoor rec center or something (cough cough bribe cough cough). Otherwise, the committee argues that development beyond that point should wait until there's another bridge or two across the Toll Road, presumably connecting Sunrise Valley and Sunset Hills at Soapstone and South Lakes (see the fancy map above).

The committee would like to see "educational and cultural institutions in urban-type campuses" (The 'Hervard' Correspondence Institute of Diesel Truck Repair and Gun Cleaning, or maybe a rollerdrome?) and stresses the importance of developing residential properties, particularly given the fact that existing Reston rules prohibit them along the Toll Road.

Then there's parking: The committee recommends reducing minimum parking requirements in this development area, both immediately and over time. Which is good, because until those additional bridges are built over the Toll Road, no one's going anywhere for a good chunk of the day. And then there's this:
The W&OD should be utilized as a bicycle and pedestrian "highway" to get people to and from the Wiehle station.
Those distance cyclists who zip past joggers and strollers at 30 mph are gonna love that!

The committee also repeats the need for a more urban grid of streets and ample accommodations for cyclists and pedestrians (i.e., fanciful concrete bollards to protect them from Grand Theft Auto-like drivers hopping curbs to try to make the 9:01 train into DC).

The committee is also pushing for a 20-25 percent open space requirement, with each developer expected to offer some space. The report also calls for an indoor recreation facility and "large athletic fields" in or near the development area.

Overall, the committee sees Wiehle as having lower development levels than the Reston Town Center, but a higher ratio of residential-to-office development. However, the committee deferred making a recommendation on what that ratio should be.

All in all, much of this sounds reasonable, especially since development is coming whether we like it or not. Of course, it's important to remember that all of these are merely proposals, guidelines, and nice-to-haves. The rubber hits the road when the county votes to approve specific development proposals, such as the Comstock Wiehle Metro development -- currently the only project on the books around the new metro station. It's safe to say that the Comstock proposal compromised on some of these principles for expediency, so it'll be important to keep an eye on every new project that comes down the pike as development inches forward.

Also, where's our Cheesecake Factory?

8 comments:

  1. Fair's fair. They've set up Bicycle Frogger on Lawyer's Road so that cars can splat bikers. It's only reasonable to direct pedestrians onto the WO&D so that bikers can get their licks in.

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  2. Some bicyclists can be obnoxiously dangerous especially the racing ones. Some certainly don't belong on the pathways with pedestrians or normal bicyclists and maybe with motorists. It's as if they've taken the madness which exists with motorists and transferred and intensified it to bicks. I sort of would of hoped they would of been somehow more mellow.

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  3. Until the Wiehle Metro opens; how will people who park at the soon to be closing (I assume for the development) Wiehle park and ride get to West Falls Church? Will Fairfax Connector be modifying service on all those buses that go in and out of the lot?

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  4. It doesn't really matter how close something is built to the transit stations, it all means more traffic on Sunset Hills and Wiehle.

    The spoken solution is to widen Wiehle . . . sure, except that Fairfax County Parkway is only a four lane, Reston Parkway is a four lane . . . why should Wiehle that curves around residential housing be wider?

    The real solution is to prohibit any development that overwhelms local infrastructure until the infrastructure can be improved to support it.

    Fairfax County is trying to build itself out of it's budget woes, it is just building itself into more woes for the future.

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  5. On a rainy day, it is easy to ponder "I wonder how many would really walk?"

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  6. From the Uplands of RestonSeptember 30, 2010 at 1:30 PM

    Who is going to pat for the Silver line maintenance if the Toll Road money is used for Phase II? Can we have a life-cycle engineer speak up please?

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  7. yeah..what IS the plan when the Wiehle Park & Ride closes in December?

    Some of us wouldn't need to ask this question if Fairfax County hadn't cut the south bus service to once in a blue moon....but since that ship has already sailed and we now drive to the Park & Ride, what fresh hell awaits in December? Anyone?

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  8. 20-25% open space is totally incompatible with an urban setting. That's the open space ratio of suburban office parks that encourages/demands using a car for every errand.

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