Planners in the Town of Herndon are working to convert the town’s side of the future Herndon-Monroe Metro station into a more urban-style neighborhood that is oriented to pedestrians and cyclists, as well as drivers.
The section of Herndon that is adjacent to the future Metro station is primarily one-story office buildings, and there is no firm plan yet for direct access to that side of the station. The Silver Line is not expected to begin running to Herndon until at least the end of 2016.
As Fairfax County has been doing in its station areas, Herndon plans to allow developers to rebuild the area as a more dense, more urban community that offers places to live, work, shop and dine, all within walking distance of the Metro station.
The development levels planned for the station area, from the south side of Herndon Parkway to the Metro station area near Monroe and Van Buren streets, will be “quite a bit more substantial than anything we have in Herndon,” said Kay Robertson, a senior project planner for the town’s Department of Community Development.
Fulfilling this vision does not just mean building larger buildings. It also entails making it easier and more attractive for people to travel by foot and by bike in that part of Herndon.
At a Herndon Planning Commission meeting Monday, town planners began walking through some various transportation options, in preparation for public hearings on the rail station area plan anticipated this fall.
For the south side of Herndon Parkway, the town is considering adding a two-way “cycle track,” in lieu of on-street bike lanes, between the lanes of car traffic and new, wider sidewalks for people traveling on foot. Trees and other plantings would liven up the street and be used as a buffer between cyclists and pedestrians.
“There are a lot of people who really aren’t comfortable biking in the street,” said Elizabeth Gilleran, director of Community Development. “Having the separate cycle track actually affords that sense of comfort,” she said, encouraging more people to travel by bike.
The north side of Herndon Parkway is not expected to redevelop for decades, so the town is not counting on many pedestrian or bicycle improvements there on that side of the road.
Even the revamping of the south side is a longer-term proposition. In the near term, when the new Metro service begins, cyclists and pedestrians will likely use existing sidewalks and trails, like the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, to access the rail station, Robertson said.
Planners also are considering if and where they might include on-street parking in the redevelopment area, including on Herndon Parkway. This ultimately could lead the town to install its first ever parking meters, Gilleran noted.
The Planning Commission is expected to continue its focus on planning the station area over the next month, with the next public hearings on the plan, including new language for the town’s comprehensive plan, tentatively set for October.