Dear Dr. Gridlock:
We in Reston are still giddy about the arrival of the Silver Line to our little corner of the metro area. We waited so long for this! Now we can get to the District in about 40 minutes on the weekend — wonderful.
After a recent ride on the train, then driving out of the underground parking to go home, we turned right onto Wiehle, heading south. There is an omission in signage, in that there’s nothing that tells you which exit to use to head west onto the Dulles Toll Road.
There’s one on the right side of Wiehle telling you how to head east to Washington on the toll road.
— Kathleen Elder, Reston
Most comments I get about the new Silver Line stations are similar: a mix of praise for the new service and suggestions for specific improvements.
I’ve heard from many travelers concerned about navigation in the area around the popular new garage on the north side of the Wiehle-Reston East station, so I took another walk around.
One thing about signs for drivers: It’s a lot easier to spot them when you’re walking.
I saw a black-and-white sign for the westbound toll road on the curb near where a driver leaving the garage turns right onto Wiehle Avenue. It’s a little four-decker that says, “267, West, Toll,” with a right-hooking arrow beneath. A driver coming out of the garage area could easily miss it.
I didn’t spot any sign at the toll road ramp itself, where a driver would make the right turn from Wiehle Avenue.
Many sign problems are likely to resolve themselves as regular Metro riders take a few more trips. But just now, as some post-Labor Day commuters have their initial experiences with the Silver Line, they still have orientation problems.
The most common one involves figuring out which garage entrance to use. There are plenty of signs along Reston Station Boulevard, which provides access to the garage. But even when taking a leisurely walk along the boulevard, I sometimes had trouble interpreting them.
Here are a few tips I picked up.
The garage is one big structure, but it contains two parking facilities. One is the 2,300-space Fairfax County facility, and the other is a 1,000-space parking area under the auspices of Comstock Partners, developer of the Reston Station office-residential-retail-hotel complex being built on the site.
Although the two parking facilities share the structure, they have different procedures and rules. The most significant difference, according to the travelers I’ve heard from, is that the Comstock garage’s parking fees are in effect all day, seven days a week, while the county garage is free on weekends and holidays.
The separate parking facilities share entryways off Reston Station Boulevard, but as drivers go through those portals, they need to look sharp for the signs and the pavement arrows that direct them left or right to the areas they are seeking. Seeing the Metro “M” displayed on a sign isn’t the decisive factor in picking a parking area.
Wiehle Avenue drivers seeking the Kiss & Ride area need to go all the way to the end of the garage and make a left at a traffic signal on Reston Station Boulevard. After making the left, they need to be in the right lane and watch the signs.
Both the county and Comstock facilities offer reserved parking. But the rates, rules and sign-up procedures vary.
Clues on where you are: “Park X” signs, with a blue “X,” mark the Comstock parking area. If you take a ticket at a gate, you’re going into the Comstock area. You can use the ticket to pay the parking fee at a pay station before returning to your vehicle. The county Park & Ride works like parking facilities at other Metro stations. Pay with a SmarTrip or credit card when leaving.
The sheltered area for bike parking is reached via a doorway on Reston Station Boulevard between the portals for vehicles. It’s already very popular, but cyclists need to sign up for a membership, at $75 for the first year. On the south side of the Metro station, riders also will find a bike rack and bike lockers.
The Reston Station development is still a busy construction area. This can be distracting for drivers. Watch out for workers who may step out into Reston Station Boulevard. The construction makes it a bit hard to spot and avoid the bus-only entrance, which is between the two main entrances for private vehicles on the boulevard.
If you make a mistake in choosing your parking area, don’t get in a tizzy. The main thing you want to avoid is paying for parking on weekends. But if you should wind up in the Comstock (Park X) portion on a weekday, the daily rate is $4.75, compared with $4.85 a day in the county portion.
Dr. Gridlock also appears Thursday in Local Living. Comments and questions are welcome and may be used in a column, along with the writer’s name and home community. Write Dr. Gridlock at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.