The director of the Fairfax County Department of Transportation said the department is aware that travelers need more help finding their way into and around the new garage at the Metro Silver Line’s Wiehle-Reston East station.
“We recognize that we need more signage to facilitate way-finding around the site,” transportation director Tom Biesiadny said via e-mail.
The comments I’ve been getting from travelers since the Silver Line opened July 26 have two main themes: People on the west side of the D.C. region welcome the new access to rail service, but they have some specific suggestions for improvements.
Many of those suggestions focus on the big new garage on the north side of the station off Wiehle Avenue. The garage has 2,300 county spaces and 1,000 more available to the public in the Comstock Partners Co. portion of the parking facility. Drivers have told me about their confusion finding the entry and exit points for the regular, reserved and Kiss & Ride parking.
So after walking around the garage and station Wednesday to check their observations, I sent an e-mail to Biesiadny asking if the county was studying these issues, since it had a little experience with the garage operations.
“Yes,” he said, “we have been closely monitoring the county and Comstock parking garages,” and some changes have been made over the summer.
“We have already added a significant number of temporary signs, and some of the original signage was repainted to make it clearer,” Biesiadny said. “However, we aren’t finished.”
There are several spots near the garage entries where multiple signs have been placed to guide drivers. Some are of the sandwich board style, and appear to be temporary.
Transportation planners are always looking for the ideal array of signs to guide drivers and transit users. Travelers who write to me generally ask for more signs, but planners say that isn’t necessarily the solution. Adding signs can add to the distractions that drivers already face. They’re looking all around and trying to process the information on a bunch of signs. It’s better to place a clear, easy to absorb sign at precisely the point where the information is most useful. That seems to be the direction in which the county’s planners are moving.
“Additional permanent signs will be installed in the next 60 days,” Biesiadny said. “As you noted, there is still a lot of construction going on at the site and will be for some time. This is adding some confusion as well, but we believe the additional permanent signs will address most of the current challenges. If not, we’ll keep working at it, until things are as clear as they need to be. We are planning additional signage in the kiss-and-ride area as well.”
The garage already is proving to be a popular destination, though there’s still plenty of room for newcomers who will need help navigating. “At this point,” Biesiadny said, “the county’s Metro garage is about 59 percent full.”
More about travelers’ responses to the Silver Line in my Sunday column in The Post’s Metro section.