At the request of the Falls Church Preservation and Improvement Society, the city council last week voted to restudy its controversial decision to widen the city's main street West Broad Street, otherwise known as Rte. 7.
The civic group contends widening even western sections of the four-lane road to five lanes will bring more through traffic into Falls Church, clear the way for eventually widening the entire street and end up destroying the small-town character of Virginia's tiniest city.
"We think traffic studies will show the opening of I-66 has reduced traffic and the need for widening Broad Street, and we are concerned that making it a divided highway will mean we could get the giant double-trailer trucks coming into the city in the future," society member Sue Bachtel said this week.
The Falls Church City Council apparently does not want a major widening of Broad Street and last year approved adding a fifth "turning" lane to western sections near I-66 as part of its appeal for $2.3 million in state highway funds. Besides adding a center turning lane and medians, the money would be used to synchronize traffic lights, put utility wires underground and improve sidewalks and intersections along the city's West Broad Street commercial strip.
Virginia highway officials, however, insist they will not spend state funds on what they describe as a "beautification" project for Falls Church. Highway money will come to the city only for sections that are to be widened, such as the section between I-66 and West Street, state officials predicted this spring. The city has agreed to that widening and state highway engineers are now drawing up plans for it.
The council has put the widening on its agenda for next Monday night's meeting and has asked all city agencies to restudy the issue and make new recommendations by next spring.