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Fairfax will spend $22 million on Silver Line road improvements

A shot of the future Herndon Silver Line Metro station, one of six stations being built as part of the project’s second phase. (Lori Aratani/The Washington Post)
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Fairfax County is spending $22 million on road improvements around the future Silver Line stations to provide the infrastructure for better bike and pedestrian access to the transit hubs.

The county is planning 31 projects, including the addition of new signalized crosswalks, sidewalks, better lighting, bike lanes and bike-share stations near the three Metro stations scheduled to open in the county as part of the second phase of the Silver Line project.  The rail extension, slated for a 2020 opening, will also bring Metro to Dulles International Airport and Loudoun County.

Nearly half of the funding will go toward creating a network of on-road bikeways throughout Herndon and Reston, said Chris Wells, pedestrian program manager with the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.

“It’s not very bike friendly now,” said Wells. But the funding includes as much as $9 million for projects that “will put bikeways on a major network of roadway.”

The largest project is a $5 million reconstruction of four-lane divided Sunrise Valley Drive from Fairfax County Parkway to the new Innovation Metro station to include on-road bike lanes. Bike lanes are also planned for Van Buren Street, New Dominion Parkway and Town Center Parkway.

[Silver Line phase 2: now arriving in 2020]

By improving pedestrian and bike access to the stations in Herndon and Reston Town Center, county officials say they hope to make public transit a more attractive option for residents.

“As more people are looking for ways to walk and bike to work, Fairfax County strives to make the infrastructure available for residents to use,” Sharon Bulova (D), chair of the county Board of Supervisors said in a statement following the board’s vote Tuesday approving the funding.

[Capital Bikeshare is coming to Fairfax. First stop, Reston.]

In addition, the county is setting aside $1 million for the expansion of Capital Bikeshare, which is expected to debut in Reston as early as next year. Officials say they haven’t identified the locations for the new Bikeshare stations, but they expect to put them at the Metro stations and in between to create a larger network of bikes in the area.

The county also plans to spend $2 million for the completion of about a mile-long trail parallel to the south side of Dulles Toll Road to connect Arrowbrook to the Innovations Station.

Because the stations are in the middle of the Toll Road, the county  has to build the infrastructure around it to ensure the future Metro stations will be accessible from the north and south side by bike and on foot.

“We are putting that basic infrastructure in place in advance of the increase of pedestrian and bike traffic,” Wells said. “The Silver Line will build the station, but how people get across the intersection is all on us at this point.”

Transportation officials say they expect the improvements to be completed by the time the rail extension opens.