Falls Church leaders, developers and transportation officials on Aug. 26 broke ground at George Mason High School for the West Falls Church and Joint Campus Revitalization District Multimodal Transportation Improvement Project, which will provide a host of transportation upgrades in the vicinity.
The project, to be financed using $15.7 million from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA), is intended to reduce congestion, bolster pedestrian and bicyclist safety, and improve access to George Mason High School, the West Falls Church Metro station and an economic-development project planned near the transit station.
“This is a classic example of infrastructure work made possible by the funding and support of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority,” said Falls Church City Council member David Snyder, who also serves on the NVTA. “Twenty years ago, this project would not have occurred.”
Project contractor FCGP (Falls Church Gateway Partners) Public Infrastructure LLC will:
• Install or replace, then synchronize, traffic signals at Chestnut Street and West Broad Street (Route 7); Haycock Road and West Broad Street; and Haycock Road and Schools’ Access Road.
• Enhance bus stops at the above intersections.
• Install a high-intensity pedestrian-activated crosswalk on Haycock Road to improve access to the school’s campus.
• Widen sidewalks at the above intersections and along West Broad Street between the West Falls Church Metro station and Haycock Road.
• Improve bicycle access near the Capital Bikeshare stations near the George Mason High School campus.
• Underground and relocate utilities.
“It’s just been fantastic to work in a jurisdiction that has the foresight to go and think about these infrastructure issues in advance,” said Evan Goldman, executive vice president of FCGP Public Infrastructure LLC. “So often, it follows development instead of being up front.”
Construction for the utility-undergrounding part of the project already has begun. Those who attended the ceremony had to strain to hear speakers’ remarks above the constant pounding of jackhammers. Design, engineering and environmental efforts should be completed in fiscal 2021, and Falls Church officials expect the project will be finished in fiscal 2023.
The multi-modal project will be implemented hand-in-hand with the development project near the Metro station, Snyder said. Those developers also will make room in their plans for a future bus-rapid-transit station that will serve a line running between the Spring Hill Metro Station in Tysons and the Mark Center area in Alexandria. That corridor is decidedly under-served by transit, he said.
The project “truly is an example of converting a problem to a solution and of going from vision to reality,” Snyder said.
“There is no one mode that fits all of our transportation needs here in this region,” said NVTA executive director Monica Backmon. “We can address these first- and last-mile connections. We can provide better multi-modal access. That is really what we’re here for . . . It does have an impact on the quality of life.”