The Falls Church Planning Commission, reaffirming a 1985 city decision, voted Monday night in favor of installing raised medians along the western section of Broad Street (Rte. 7) despite opposition from some business owners, who say medians would hinder access to their businesses.
Planning commission members said medians, which would be built along Broad Street about 350 feet in each direction from the West Street intersection, would allow for safer left-hand turns and more efficient traffic flow. Those considerations, they said, outweighed the concerns of business owners.
The recommendation now goes to the City Council.
Planning Commission Chairman Sally Phillips said she was "sympathetic to the impact" medians might have on businesses "but I'm aware of the traffic problems that would occur without them."
The number of places to make left-hand turns along the western section of Broad Street would be reduced from 36 to 24, according to Planning Director Henry Bibber.
The group's recommendation is part of a $16 million plan to reconstruct Broad Street from Haycock Road to Fairfax Street, a mile-long stretch of Rte. 7 that the city and the Virginia Department of Transportation have agreed to rebuild.
In a related action, the Planning Commission voted in favor of hiring a professional landscape architecture firm to oversee implementation of the "streetscape" improvements to Broad Street.
A plan outlining such improvements, which would accompany road reconstruction, was submitted to the city in December by an eight-member citizens advisory group. The group was appointed by the council in 1985 to find ways to improve the appearance of the road and sidewalks.
The plan calls for extensive landscaping, including planting more than 500 trees, and includes recommendations to widen sidewalks, rebuild them with brick, replace traffic lights, add crosswalks and install new benches and trash cans.
"It's a major undertaking by the city, and we want to do it right," said Planning Commission member Michael Volpe.
The commission also approved revisions to the "streetscape" plan, including a plan to substitute brick sidewalks for concrete sidewalks with brick ribbing in most areas.
Bibber said such a measure could save about $1 million.
The project's current price tag of $16 million calls for $10.5 million in city funds. Bibber said the city has set aside $6.9 million for the reconstruction, and could amend its long-range capital improvement program to include more funds once a "streetscape" plan is completed.
The City Council is expected to consider the commission's recommendations Monday and take final action Aug. 10.
Bibber said the reconstruction could begin in late 1988 and be complete by 1992.