Silver Line: Fairfax Co. neighborhood wants to keep buses out

Construction of the new Silver Line. Photo: WMATA

A battle is brewing in one Fairfax County neighborhood to keep buses out once service starts on Metro's Silver Line next winter.

While many routes may be added, others routes will be restructured or eliminated. The goal is to shuttle residents to and from the new Silver Line safely and effectively, but not everyone likes the idea.

“We already have close to 13,000 cars that come through here on a daily basis,” says Cris Janowski.

Janowski and her Old Courthouse Road neighbors hate seeing streets choked with traffic.

“It used to have this small town feel and we want for it to stay that way,” she says.

She says plans for a Fairfax County Connector bus threatens the small town feel of her neighborhood. It would take residents to the future Spring Hill Metro station where there’s no parking. The plan consists of six to seven bus trips in the morning and evening.

“My biggest concern is safety,” says Donna Smith, who also lives on Old Courthouse Road.

Smith has a 10-year-old daughter and has lived in the area for nearly 30 years.

“The issue of buses comes up periodically. Once the public officials take a look at the road, they see how dangerous the conditions are not just for pedestrians, but people trying to get in and out of their driveways,” she says.

Twenty-year resident Bob Russell fears the county won’t have a change of heart this time now that the Silver Line is in the mix. He lives by Westbriar Elementary School and worries about the kids.

“Old Courthouse Road is two lanes, just two lanes. Once a bus stops, everything behind it stops, which aggravates the commuters, which means they rush even faster in their vehicles or they go around the stopped buses,” he says.

County leaders are hearing the concerns. Christy Wegener, the Connector bus system operations manager, reached out via email:

“We have received both support and opposition to proposed Route 432. FCDOT staff have already begun the process of evaluating routing alternatives for Route 432 that have been suggested by the community, in order to ensure transit access for residents to the new Silver Line.”

County Supervisor Catherine Hudgins echoed that.

“The connector provides service in many neighborhoods and safety will always be their top priority.”

“It would be terrific if there was a huge cry for people to ride the bus, but there just doesn’t seem to be that kind of cry," says Russell.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation is currently wrapping up a first round of public comment and will spend all of next month reviewing feedback. A final plan will then be presented to the public in early April. If there is no substantial opposition to any of the routes or changes, the plan will head to the county’s Board of Supervisors for approval in May.