We have previously discussed new connections across 495 (the biggest pedestrian barrier in Tysons) in light of the County’s progress at the Jones Branch Connector. A previous concept considered how to further connect central Tysons to East Tysons via a parallel route of the Jones Branch Connector. Thanks to some insightful comments from our readers we, reviewed Fairfax County’s plans for a similar connection between the Tysons Corner Center and the Pimmit Hills region of Tysons.
Similar to the connection at the Jones Branch Connector, a connection between the mall at One Tysons Boulevard, and Pimmit Hills would utilize the existing overpass bridge constructed as part of the 495 HOT lanes project. Similar to the Jones Branch Connector, such a bridge would need to be upgraded from its current vehicle focused function to include cycling and pedestrian facilities to enable internal movements within the city without a car. The cost of such a project would be significantly reduced given this existing infrastructure. Also similar to the Jones Branch Connector, a local road already exists into a growing portion of town that serves as the natural connection, at Old Meadow Lane.
While Old Meadow Lane currently is surrounded by mostly aging office buildings, several projects have proposed new high density housing and mixed use. Such projects would want to have close access to the mall and developments in the central corridor by foot, and would be a natural trigger for a bridge crossing the same way the Capital One project was a rational trigger for the Jones Branch Connector.
In the first phase of such a connection the road would likely connect to Old Meadow Lane, and terminate at a T-intersection at Old Meadow Road, as it does today. However, given the ongoing redevelopment surrounding Scotts Run (not in the stream valley itself) it would make sense for this road to continue as a full grid until it could connect to the well used Magarity Road which defines the southeastern boundary of Tysons. This would alleviate traffic by allowing some users to avoid Route 7 to points southeast that may otherwise be caught in the traffic backups to 495. Such a connection would need to avoid existing housing and likely tie in near the Westgate Elementary School. Of course, with such a path, the road would have to be right sized for safety, pedestrian considerations, and avoid becoming a major thoroughfare. The benefits of this alignment would be the improvements for connectivity for the recreational parks and school, giving children a safe means of travel to the school. A spur of this line could also split to intersection with Colshire Meadow Drive, which already has plans to connect through to Old Chain Bridge Road heading into McLean.
These additional street grid connections would provide parallel routes to over congested roads, help better integrate the street grid, and provide new pedestrian and cycling paths that avoid Route 123. With some vehicles removed from Route 123, it may even justify a road diet to the over sized stroad which could promote the type of development and walkability Fairfax is seeking in the corridor.