Fairfax County is evaluating options for a possible future crossing of the Dulles Toll Road in Reston, near the Wiehle Avenue Metro Station.
The new crossing, dubbed the “Soapstone Connector” for planning purposes, would provide an additional north-south connection of Sunrise Valley Drive, on the south side of the toll road, and Sunset Hills Road on the north side. It would also provide more of a street grid around the new Metro station, allowing for better traffic circulation.
Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) said completing the current feasibility study will put the project in a better position to receive funding.
“If there are transportation dollars, this is surely a regional priority,” she said. “It helps in terms of traffic and ridership for the Metro station.”
Working with a private consultant, county transportation staff are evaluating five different alignment options from around the Commerce Park area, closer to the existing Wiehle Avenue overpass, to near Indian Ridge Road, which is farther to the west of the Metro station.
The project is complicated by a number of factors, Hudgins said, primarily that virtually any path goes through already developed land, possibly affecting existing office buildings or parking garages.
The amount of private land needed for the project will affect the cost, Hudgins said. It also could affect the timing of construction, if landowners in the area submit redevelopment plans to the county in the near future.
“What they are trying to do is determine what is feasible with the least amount of impact on property owners,” Hudgins said.
There are also some topographical factors, an existing gas pipeline and some environmentally sensitive areas to work around, Hudgins said.
In addition to the location of the bridge, the size of the proposed new road is also still up for debate, Hudgins said.
For the purposes of evaluation, the consultant used a road width that could accommodate two lanes in each direction, a bike lane in each direction and a sidewalk or trail on either side of the road for pedestrian traffic.
However, Hudgins said, some Reston residents have suggested a smaller road or even a bridge designed for bikes and pedestrians only.
“The question we should be thinking about is how many people can we get out of their cars with this,” Hudgins said.
The review of alignments is expected to be complete this summer.