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Public's Turn

Community input sought on future Reston stations.

Members of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce public policy committee heard on Thursday morning last week from county-hired consultants who are working on access management and traffic improvement issues around the future metro stations in Reston. Fairfax County hired Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. last October to develop those plans.

Frank Spielberg, VHB's program manager for the future Wiehle Avenue and Reston Parkway stations, said the company is studying the activity in the immediate vicinity of the stations. He said the firm is looking into how commuters will access the stations, what facilities are there now and what facilities needed to be built or improved. Spielberg said the stations would serve markets of people who are planning to walk to the stations. "This is particularly important with [the currently planned] redevelopment," he said.

Traffic models and gaps in bike systems and walking pathways are some of the factors VHB is considering. The firm will hold four public meetings through March 2008 on the subject, and is seeking Restonians' input. "We're still identifying problems," said Spielberg about the projects. He added that the Wiehle Avenue station is unique because it will change its role between the two phases of building the rail to Dulles and beyond. At the end of Phase 1, Wiehle will be a terminal station. "Access will be fairly different when rail is extended [to Reston Parkway and beyond]," said Spielberg.

THE PERSPECTIVES GROUP will coordinate public involvement throughout the planning process. Paul LeValley of the Perspectives Group said Fairfax County is very supportive of the idea to hold regular public meetings for citizen input. "[The meetings] are not the only way we will involve the public. We will also identify [and meet with] small groups of people affected" by metro rail extension, said LeValley. He added that the Reston Metrorail Access Group — appointed by Supervisor Catherine Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) in the spring of 2006 — meets regularly on the last Tuesday of each month.

"Let us know your opinions, let us know who else we should be talking to," said LeValley. "Help us identify the stakeholders." He added that the public would not vote on the final decisions VHB would offer, but that the firm would take into consideration the public comments as its plans are developed.

Reston resident Marion Stillson asked if the 2,300 planned parking spaces for the Wiehle Avenue station would get torn down once the rail extended past the station. "I shouldn't think so," said Spielberg. He added there are residential and commercial proposals from developers at the site that incorporate the parking for the station into their designs. "I'm fairly certain there would be parking there for the foreseeable future," said Spielberg.

The first of the four public meetings will be held at Langston Hughes Middle School on Tuesday, March 27, at 7 p.m. The school is located at 11401 Ridge Heights Road in Reston.