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Transportation on Restonians' Minds

Issue once again headlines new year.

As Reston turns its calendar page to 2007, the same old question of how to fix transportation congestion looms over its residents' heads. Restonians may be even less encouraged a solution will be found this year, after the 2006 session of the General Assembly failed to provide a transportation plan.

"That was the worst possible news for the whole year," said Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce chairman Marion Myers. "Nobody was happy."

The current proposals bouncing between Gov. Timothy Kaine (D) and the General Assembly do not offer an answer, said Myers. "We need a sustainable source of funding," instead of a one-time appropriation of funds, added Myers. President of Reston Association Board of Directors, Jennifer Blackwell, said she testified for a transportation funding bill in front of the General Assembly in September of 2006.

Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) said transportation would once again be the most important issue of the year for Restonians. According to Hudgins, one way to tackle future transportation problems in the area is for Reston to plan transit-oriented development that is pedestrian friendly. "Wouldn't it be nice to wake up one day and have Reston Parkway not be a parkway but a boulevard," said Hudgins. She added that planning for more urban building with more urban transportation systems would suit a densely populated area such as Reston.

Not finding a transportation solution, according to Hudgins, would only punish the Reston community, which she said developed the right way. "Other places don't have good numbers of jobs and housing," said Hudgins. "Reston is an example of how [an area] should develop. Its environmentally savvy village centers contribute a lot to reducing transportation."

Hudgins said local businesses could help relieve traffic congestion by allowing their employees to work from home. "Telework has one of the most significant impacts on reducing traffic congestion," she said. Hudgins added that teleworking is a technologically innovative way to utilize employees and it allows businesses to get used to their employees working from home. Hudgins said teleworking could help employees learn the habits of working from home before it becomes essential they do so. With many businesses centered in and about Reston, she said teleworking could make a considerable difference in traffic congestion. "The [Dulles] Corridor has a whole lot of businesses and a whole lot of jobs. Even if you [telework] one or two days a week, it could make a difference," said Hudgins.

WHILE TRANSPORTATION sits high on the list of priorities for 2007, many other issues will affect Reston in the upcoming year. Blackwell said the RA staff would present the association's Board of Directors with a report highlighting the problems with Reston's aging infrastructure within the next two months. "We have to take a good look at our aging infrastructure. The report will guide our budget in the following years," said Blackwell.

While the RA looks at its infrastructure, Fairfax County is looking to help revitalize the Lake Anne Village Center with the help of the community. Progress has been slow on the issue, but the community may be presented with a detailed plan of how to revitalize Lake Anne in 2007. Myers said Lake Anne needs to see some action, in order for Reston's historic center to operate at its potential.

The area, according to Reston founder Bob Simon, needs to develop to the density as it was originally planned. "[Lake Anne] needs more retail so people won't have to leave the [village] center," added Simon.

Reston's small businesses will have something to celebrate in 2007 as well, as the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce — most of the members are small businesses — will celebrate its 25th anniversary. The celebration will take place on Jan. 11, with a luncheon honoring the Best of Reston Award recipients. Penny Pompei, the chamber's new president, will take over her duties at the beginning of the year.