West Falls Church transportation project aims to improve traffic, safety

A boom of construction and development soon to begin in West Falls Church will include efforts to ease congestion and improve safety.

Ground was broken Monday on a West Falls Church transportation project near the intersection of Haycock Road and West Broad Street/Virginia Route 7.

That intersection, which is about two blocks from the West Falls Church Metro station, will be getting the most immediate attention. It’s car-centric; the area is growing; and there are plans for significant mixed-use development that will bring pedestrians and bicyclists among others.

“The plan is to actually implement significant transportation improvements even while development is occurring, as opposed to what’s happened all too often in this region, which is the development occurs and then folks think about the transportation later,” said David Snyder, a member of both the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority and the Falls Church City Council.

Immediate improvements will include installing Falls Church’s first high-intensity pedestrian activated crosswalk on Haycock Road to improve access to and from the George Mason High School campus. In addition, the project will create medians, widen sidewalks, install lighting and improve bus stops and bicycle access near the school.

Traffic signals will be installed or replaced and synchronized at or near the Chestnut Street and West Broad/Route 7 intersection; the Haycock and West Broad/Route 7 intersection; and the intersection of Haycock and the schools’ access road.

The project is being done in close coordination with other entities, including Fairfax County.

“The West Falls Church Metro property, the [Virginia Tech and Virginia] universities’ property and the city’s 9 1/2 acres are all stated for coordination and development in the near future,” Snyder said.

The $15.7 million project is being fully funded by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority’s regional revenues.

“This is a major new project, which is in the intermediate transportation planning stage,” Snyder said.

Part of the longer-term plan involves building a new high school and tearing down the old high school to make room for developing businesses and hundreds of housing units. The new high school is expected to be ready in 2021.

There also are plans to include a bus rapid transit (BRT) station in the area.

Now in the planning process and undergoing engineering studies, a BRT system will hopefully, Snyder said, extend between Alexandria and Tysons Corner — following Route 7 through the city of Falls Church — and serve the West and East Falls Church Metro stations.

Route 7 is one of the most historic transportation corridors in the country. It was used to move troops during Colonial times and was a critical part of D.C.’s defenses during the Civil War. But it now is an area that’s often avoided, Snyder said, because it lacks transit, isn’t friendly to pedestrians and experiences heavy traffic congestion.

This story has been corrected to reflect that the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority’s regional revenues are funding the project.

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