Updates from Letty – February 23, 2018

Blog posts are the personal views of Letty Hardi and not official statements or records on behalf of the Falls Church City Council

Dear Friends,

We had a really interesting work session this week (ok, not “really interesting” for everyone – but different enough from the topics that consume much of our typical agendas). Read on to see what could be the future of Route 7/Broad Street, learn about Falls Church history, and of course more updates on the GMHS/WFC project.

The first meeting of the Campus Coordinating Committee will be convening bright and early this morning at 730 am for early birds who would like to join us. Again, the group’s charter is to coordinate work and shared issues across the new high school and economic development projects, with ultimate decision making authority still resting with the two elected bodies. We’ll cover topics like schedules, shared infrastructure, design decisions impacting both projects, etc. Finally, the second “Sunday Series” joint town hall is this Sunday at 2 pm. City Council is scheduled to vote on the conceptual RFP for development of the 10 acres next Monday with a release date of March 1, so this will be a good opportunity to provide your input before then.



What Happened This Week:

(1) Envision Route 7 Project / Bus Rapid Transit

In advance of an agreement to provide the city’s share of funding for the next phase of the regional Envision Route 7 project, we discussed more specifics of how Route 7 may change to improve throughput along the corridor. The leading proposal is implementation of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) from Tysons to Alexandria. BRT is an enhanced bus service, which typically includes dedicated lanes where possible, station spacing that is farther apart to reduce boarding delays, and more frequent service. In combination, these features dramatically reduce travel times for transit users. For Falls Church, a common desire I hear is an option that connects West and East Falls Church metro stations with stops in the city’s commercial areas, so a Route 7 BRT could help address that need. However, the system is at least 10 years away. The next phase of study is for engineering and cost estimates, and funding sources would still need to be identified once that’s complete. The staff report has more information on BRT and other transit alternatives that were considered in earlier phases.

Given the growth expected in the region and especially Tysons, Bus Rapid Transit is a transit option we should keep an eye on – and in general, another good way local jurisdictions can partner to work on congestion alleviation and provide an alternative to cars.



(2) South Washington Transit Panels / Falls Church History 101

You may have seen earlier calls for input on “history panels” and likely have seen the construction work underway on S. Washington. As a recap, the undergrounding work happening on S. Washington is part of a long discussed project to improve S. Washington and to add an transit plaza to help pedestrian accessibility and encourage multi-modal transportation use. As a transportation hub for both residents and non-residents, the transit plaza will be a great place to highlight our city’s history via glass panels etched with our history and select images. We reviewed the draft language to be used on the panels this week, which was the work of a committee of residents, staff, and local history buffs.

If you haven’t read it and/or have kids who might want to learn about the City of Falls Church, check out “The Story of Falls Church” and conceptual drawings of the transit plaza. I found it fascinating, and especially appreciated the conscious effort to highlight the contributions of women and minorities. This will be part of my kids’ bedtime reading this weekend (only half joking)!

The majority of Council’s feedback was on the 1960+ panel, so I would also love to hear your feedback to pass along to staff.

transit plaza


(3) WFC Request for Conceptual Proposals – Draft Review

We continued our discussion on the draft of the conceptual RFP for the development of the 10 acres at the West Falls Church project. Again, we are scheduled to vote next Monday to adopt the final version with a release date to the development community on March 1. The majority of our discussion was focused on whether to include language with lots of specifics of how we’d like the site to develop. As the Council member who regularly advocates for transparency and input, I’d like to be able to include as much of the feedback from boards and commissions and the community as possible. However, I also recognize the need to prevent the process and document from being cumbersome, at the risk of deterring responders to bring us their best proposals – so it will be important to keep that balance as we finalize the RFP before issuance next week.


(4) School Board Adopts FY19 Budget – our role on the FY19 budget doesn’t start in earnest until the City Manager presents the full budget for the entire city on March 12, but for those interested, the School Board adopted the Superintendent’s budget this week. For more information on the school budget, see here.


What’s Coming Up: 

FY19 budget items in blue

Looking Ahead

  • April 1 – Letty’s Office Hours (9 am) *may be cancelled due to Easter holiday
  • April 8 – “Sunday Series” Town Hall Meeting (GMHS/WFC + FY19 Budget)
  • April 16 – Letty’s Office Hours (9 am)
  • April 23 – City Council Meeting (FY19 Budget Adoption)