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Revised Garage Plan Approved

A citizens task force approves a smaller version of the Burke Centre commuter train garage on Roberts Road.

A revised design plan for the Virginia Railway Express garage in Burke Centre has met with approval from the citizens task force that helped put the plan together.

At a follow-up meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 9, members of the task force viewed a slimmed-down version of the plan for the garage, to be located off Roberts Road in Burke Centre.

"We’re much happier that they cut down the number of spaces, and I think it’s more in line with what we’re anticipating," said Sam DiBartolo, a Burke Centre Conservancy trustee and member of the citizens task force.

At the request of Supervisor Sharon Bulova (D-Braddock), architects from the firm of Wisnewski Blair and Associates in Alexandria cut the number of parking spaces in the garage by 150 and shortened the garage by 48 feet. The reduction in space removed one "column bay" and means the garage will be roughly 450 feet long, while still 180 feet wide and four stories high.

"It improves the aesthetics and removes the number of spaces, but not so much that we won't have adequate space for the next 20 years," said Bulova.

THE PLANS were presented to the community for the first time at a meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 16, at Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax.

The major concern of members of the task force at the late-January meeting when they first viewed plans for the garage was creating a larger building than was necessitated by the current volume of traffic.

"Putting in that many extra spaces draws that many more cars, and we were concerned that the traffic is pretty bad there. We just didn’t want to be overwhelmed with traffic by making this too big of a facility," said DiBartolo.

The revised plan calls for the garage to have 1,300 spaces in the garage and an additional 241 in surface parking on the east and west side. This number is larger than the 1,100 spaces that the task force recommended, but Bulova said shortening the garage leaves open the possibility of adding an extension should the need arise.

"You can't expect Burke Centre to be the hub for the world," said Bulova. "It provides sufficient space … but should we need to come back in, there is additional space."

Shortening the garage also freed up more space on the building's west side, where 127 spaces of surface parking will be available. No additional spaces were added to the west lot, but the architects reconfigured the area to take advantage of the additional space.

"It reduces the footprint of the garage, and therefore gives more green space," said Jim Polhamus, an architect with Wisnewski Blair.

Bulova said Fairfax County staff is currently scheduling a public hearing about the garage before the Fairfax County Planning Commission. Should the Planning Commission approve the garage, based on its compatibility with the county's Comprehensive Plan, the 18- to 24-month construction project would begin in late 2005 or