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Reston Roadways Apparently Not Studied, and Thus Not Modelled

in Reston Network Analysis: Final Report (FCDOT, March 28 2018)
John Mooney, Revision of October 17, 2018

In previous analyses, I have detailed my concerns about three key elements in the Reston Network
Analysis: Final Report (RNAFR).1 The first is the possible underestimation of the total development that
could occur in the Transit Station Areas (TSAs) and the non-TSA Reston areas zoned Planned Residential
Community (PRC) by full build-out in about 2050. Inaccuracy here is dangerous, because that
development will drive all new origination/destination traffic in Reston. To underestimate development
is to underestimate traffic.

The second is the uncertainty about the pass-through traffic in Reston likely at full build-out, since any
projections done before 2019 would be using the National Capital Region’s Transportation Planning
Board’s (TPB’s) old data based its 2007 decennial Regional Traffic Study. 2 Much of that pass-through
traffic would likely come from the large growth in Tysons Corner, Herndon, and Rte. 28 areas.

The third is RNAFR’s very optimistic projection of “trip reductions” (up to 52%) from the standard
baseline projections, based on claims of both traffic-demand management and technology-based
improvements in efficient use of roadways. Using the Institute of Traffic Engineers’ standard
methodology, both FCDOT and I independently estimated those baseline projections as between 80,000
and 90,000 new private-occupancy vehicle trips in both the morning and the evening peak-hour by
2050, in addition to actual 2010 traffic levels. FCDOT and I disagree, however, on the size of the “trip

This present analysis focuses on a critical missing element in RNAFR, an omission that could prove as
harmful to Reston as the above-mentioned three elements. That missing element is the apparent failure
of RNAFR to collect data on virtually all Reston roadways outside the TSAs, and absent data collection,
failure to model the traffic impact of TSA development on the non-TSA parts of Reston.

Primary and Broader Study Areas. RNAFR identifies its “primary study area,” for which alone FCDOT
did the data collection and modelling, as 1) the three Reston TSAs (Wiehle, Reston Town Center, and
Herndon) and unspecified segments of the “seven (7) primary corridors” serving those TSAs:3

1. VA 267-Dulles Toll Road (DTR)
2. VA 286-Fairfax County Parkway
3. Sunrise Valley Drive
4. Sunset Hills Road
5. Wiehle Avenue
6. Reston Parkway
7. Centerville Road/(Elden Street)

The RNAFR also had to take into account “a broader geographic area” to do their traffic modeling of the
“primary study area.” This is because the pass-through traffic to/from the broader area has an obvious
impact on the “primary study area.” This broader area extends to Arlington County to the E, Rte. 28 and
Loudoun County (including Dulles) to the W, Beach Mill Rd. and Potomac River to the N, south of Rte. 50
to the S. It includes the three Reston TSAs, Innovation TSA, Tyson’s Corner Urban Center and four
additional major roadways--: I-66, I-495, Rte. 28, Rte. 7.4

FCDOT’S Data Collection and Traffic Impact Modelling for the “Primary Study Area” and the “Broader
Geographical Area.” Since RNAFR mentions no data collection of its own for the “broader geographic
area,” it presumably used old but updated 2007 TPB data about that broader area to model 2030 and
2050 traffic impact in the “primary study area” generated by the broader area.5 And, since there is no
suggestion to the contrary, FCDOT’s impact modeling was solely for the “primary study area,” that is,
the Reston TSAs.

The Crucial Question of Which Roadway Segments FCDOT Collected Data For. FCDOT has not yet
responded to my requests about which segments it studied of the “seven primary corridors” serving the
“primary study area.” However, I believe that can be determined by close examination of pp. 14-18 of
the RNAFR, best visualized in Figures 4.1 and especially 4.2.6

Figure 4.2 is a map showing that FCDOT collected data on turning movements (and sometimes also
traffic-queue measurements) at 42 intersections. All those 42 intersections lie within or immediately
adjacent to one of the three Reston TSAs, with just 7 exceptions. 7 Of those 7 exceptions, 6 lie on or
south of Reston’s southern border. The only one of the 7 intersections that lies significantly inside
Reston is Reston Parkway & Glade Rd.

Conclusion: Which Reston Roadway Segments Were and Were Not Modelled for 2030 and 2050 Traffic
Impacts? If it is an accurate assumption that FCDOT modelled 2030 and 2050 traffic forecasts (including
Levels of Service, or LOS) for only those 42 intersections for which it did turning-movement counts, that
means that 2030 and 2050 traffic forecasts were done for only those 42 intersections. And only one of
those 42 intersections (Reston Parkway & Glade Rd.) was both outside the three TSAs and significantly
inside Reston. That means that we have no 2030 and 2040 forecasts of traffic and LOS for any other
intersections in the “rest of Reston.”

Those non-modelled roadways in the “rest of Reston” should be a matter of serious concern. As
development continues (especially in Reston, Herndon, Rte. 28, and Tysons Corner) between now and
full build-out (~2050), traffic and its accompanying congestion will increase apace. When roadways
become highly congested, motorists (especially those with local experience) abandon primary roadways
and create alternative routes to their destination, known “neighborhood cut-through traffic.”
Neighborhood cut-through traffic creates, among other bad effects, dangerous conditions for bicycle
and pedestrian travelers. As congestion increases further on these segments, pressure will mount to
widen them, threatening Reston’s careful harmony between roadways, bicycle paths, woods-lines roads.

Table 1 below lists some of the presumably unmodelled roadways in the “rest of Reston” that could
likely be affected by neighborhood cut-through traffic due to TSA development. I created Table 1 with
important input from Reston’s Multimodal Transportation Advisory Committee. For each roadway, I’ve
suggested the destination/origination points that make each roadway a likely candidate for such cut-
through traffic. In this connection, the $300 million project to widen Rte. 7 (from four to six lanes, a 50%

capacity increase) from Reston Avenue to the Dulles Toll Road, to be completed by 2024, will almost
certainly exacerbate the impact of increased TSA traffic (and increased pass-through traffic, especially
from Tysons Corner and from Herndon and the Rte. 28 corridor) on the northern half of the rest of
Reston.8 As congestion increases on the seven roads serving the TSAs, east- and west-bound regular
commuters into and out of the TSAs will likely cut through North Reston to and from Rte. 7 as Rte. 7
becomes an attractive alternate east-west travel route.

Table 1: Reston Roadways Outside the TSAs and Not Modelled by FCDOT for 2030 and 2050 Traffic
Impacts, With Significant Potential for Neighborhood Cut-Through Traffic. Revised 10/10/2018

Roadway Terminus 1 Terminus 2 Destination/Origination
Baron Cameron Ave. Reston Parkway Wiehe Ave. or Hunter Mill Rd. Rte. 7
Wiehle Ave. Sunset Hills Rd. Baron Cameron Ave. or Rte. 7 Rte. 7
Hunter Mill Rd. Sunset Hills Rd Baron Cameron Ave. Rte. 7, Fairfax Co. Pkwy.
Town Center Pkwy./ Baron Cameron Ave. or Reston
Bennington Woods Sunset Hills Rd. Pkwy. Rte. 7, Fairfax Co. Pkwy.
Center Harbor Rd. or Whiele
N. Village Rd. Baron Cameron Ave. Ave Rte. 7
Center Harbor Rd. Reston Pkwy. Wiehle Ave Rte. 7

Lake Newport Rd. Fairfax County Pkwy. N. Village Rd. Reston Pkwy., Rte. 7
Fairfax Co. Pkwy./Reston Pkwy./
N. Shore Dr./Village Rd. Wiehle Ave. Baron Cameron Ave. Rte. 7

Soapstone Dr Sunrise Valley Dr. Lawyers Rd. Sunrise Valley Dr., Lawyers Rd.
Sunrise Valley Dr., Reston Pkwy., Sunrise Valley Dr.,
South Lakes Dr. Reston Pkwy. Twin Branches Rd. Twin Branches Rd.
Twin Branches Rd. South Lakes Rd. Lawyers Rd., Rte. 673 Sunrise Valley Dr., Dulles Toll Rd.
Glade Rd. Reston Pkwy. Twin Branches Rd. Sunrise Valley Dr., Rte. 673
Lawyers Rd. Reston Pkwy. Rte. 673 Hunter Mill Rd. toward Vienna
USGS Services Dr. Sunrise Valley Dr. Reston Pkwy. Sunrise Valley Dr., Reston Pkwy.
Sunset Valley Dr. (and beyond,
Dulles Toll Rd.), Glade Rd. (and
Colt’s Neck Sunrise Valley Dr. Glade Rd. beyond, Reston Pkwy.)


1A detailed summary of my analyses can be found on the Reston Association’s website at
abbreviated%20July%2012%202018.pdf. My analyses appear on pp. 3-4 and 49-56 of that webpage PDF.

Those analyses of mine require three updates.

1) Fairfax County Director of Planning and Zoning Fred Selden has since pointed out that, contrary to my Footnote 4.a, both
affordable-housing and workforce-housing units were included in the Comprehensive Plan’s projected development for the
Reston Station Areas.

2) On the other side of the ledger, my initial analyses failed to note, but Fred Selden later confirmed, that a) bonus density (up
to 20%) was not counted in the projected development and b) the County, in its “impact analysis” (Reston Master Plan, p. 102),
assumed that only 80% of the legally permitted development would actually occur. Theoretically, these two factors could
increase the total number of residential units by as much as 40%, with corresponding increases in traffic. Fred Selden
countered that he doubts that bonus density would ever reach 20% and that past experience makes him confident of the 80%
impact-analysis projection.

3) As partial justification for its very hopeful trip-reduction projections, Fairfax County presented me with data in July 2017 from
6 developments near Metro stops in Fairfax, all claiming very high trip reductions. I indicated that those data were too few and
too lacking in detail to justify the resulting trip-reduction assumptions. At the County-RA-CPR public Planning Work Session on
July 30, 2018, Fairfax County Planning staff showed slide a claiming many more developments near Metro stations with high
trip reductions. I have requested, but not yet been invited, to review the data from those developments.

The RNAFR itself can be found on the Fairfax County website at,%2

The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board’s last completed decennial Regional Traffic Study was done in 2007
and serves as the basis for all the “Version 2.3 Travel Demand Models.” The Version 2.3 Travel Demand Model was last
validated to 2010 conditions, though the model is also updated annually. The most current update is Travel Demand Model
2.3.70, adopted on October 18, 2017. The next decennial Regional Traffic Study is due to completed in 2019 and will provide
input for the TPB’s Travel Demand Model-Version 2.5, due in FY 2019. See

RNAFR, p. 4 and Figure 2.1 on p. 5.

RNAFR, p. 4; Figure 2.2 on p. 6.

See Footnote 2 on TPB data collection, models, validations, and updates.

Figure 4.1 (RNAFR, p. 16) lists the study’s 41 Automatic Traffic Recorder data-collection points, all of which are on or
immediately adjacent to the Dulles Toll Road.

Figure 4.2 (RNAFR, p. 18) lists the 42 roadway intersections at which manually done Turning Movement Counts (and sometimes
also traffic-queue measurements) were made. As discussed above: with 7 exceptions, all 42 road intersections data-counted
(and thus presumably modelled) are in, or immediately adjacent to, the three Reston TSAs.

7 The 7 intersections that lie outside the three Reston TSAs are:
1) Centerville Rd. & Coppermine Rd.
2) Centerville Rd. & Frying Pan Rd.
3) Sunrise Valley Dr. & Frying Pan Rd.
4) Fairfax Count Pkwy. & Fox Mill Rd.
5) Reston Pkwy. & Glade Rd. (the only one that is not on or south of Reston’s southern border)
6) Reston Pkwy. & Fox Mill Rd.
7) Reston Pkwy. & McLearen Rd./Lawyers Rd.

See “Reston Transportation Strategy” (Fairfax County: July 9, 2018), p. 4. Available on the RA website at