Getting Around in Vienna: Under the Microscope

Getting Around in Vienna: Under the Microscope

Officials are seeking public input and evaluating before making a move.

Maple Avenue sees its share of congestion.

Maple Avenue sees its share of congestion. Photo by Mike Salmon.

A drive through Vienna almost always includes a block or two on Maple Avenue where the hodgepodge of businesses, traffic signals, driveways and pedestrians slow things down. The Town of Vienna officials are looking for solutions to reduce this congestion, reaching out to the users of this main road to come up with ideas that create a safer traveling environment in Vienna.

The Town of Vienna has commissioned Kimley-Horn engineering to conduct the “Multimodal Transportation and Land Use Study,” of the Maple Avenue corridor. Planners are discussing active transportation needs and how development might impact mobility.

THE STUDY AREA encompasses Maple Avenue from James Madison Drive to Follin Lane, and includes Church Street from Lawyers Road to East Street as well as Courthouse Road and Locust Street. It is divided into three phases that include existing transportation conditions, the impact of future development and finally the identification of potential transportation strategies. In September, transportation officials will present the findings and a set of recommendations to put into play and enhance the travel experience along this busy thoroughfare. “Walkability is very important,” said Cindy Petkac, the Vienna Planning and Zoning Director.

The initial presentation in April highlighted problems, like traffic volumes, bus stop complexities, crash rates, narrow sidewalks and bike traffic. Some of the issues: 16 out of 31 bus stops lack passenger amenities; many of the surface parking lots are unconnected, forcing cars to go out on Maple to get between lots; and reducing the interactions between bikes and cars.

The parking lots are privately owned said Lynne Coan, Vienna communications and marketing manager. “That was identified as a challenge by Kimley Horn,” she said.

When the group met again in June, they came up with other points of attention, including sidewalks that need work, transit frequency, turning delays, and high traffic volumes. According to the Virginia Department of Transportation average daily traffic counts, there are 30,000 to 31,000 vehicles per day on Maple Avenue and 4,600 to 6,000 on Church Street.

As far as bicycle concerns, the streets were allocated according to stress level, and Follin Lane and the W&OD Trail were the only places that were listed as green, “most comfortable.” All of Maple Avenue was colored red, for least comfortable. Vienna does have a Bicycle Advisory Committee that follows any developments impacting bike travel in the town.

IN THE END, planners hope to develop near- and mid-term recommendations along Maple Avenue for all modes of transportation in coordination with existing and future land uses. There have been three mixed-use projects recently approved that will add more commercial entities to the area, and funding for the recommendations from this study is a factor too.

Over the summer, the safety consultants are working on a list of recommendations that will be examined at a community meeting scheduled for Sept. 4. Then the recommendations will go through the official process. “Council will ultimately decide which to adopt,” Coan said.