Members of a Fairfax County Task Force for the redesign and reconfiguration of the 7 Corners section of the county right on the border of the City of Falls Church told the Falls Church Planning Commission Monday night that two years of its studies have involved plans that cut deep into the City’s boundaries, especially in the plan to build a “ring road” around the infamous 7 Corners intersection itself. The transportation component of the plan is in conjunction with a comprehensive revitalization of the 7 Corners area composed of 600 acres and with a median income of only $41,000 per household, less than half the county-wide average of $107,000.
Two members of the Falls Church City staff have been involved in numerous visioning and planning sessions to date, some of which have drawn upwards of 150 people, but the whole project came as a big surprise to members of the Planning Commission and Citizens Advisory Committee on Transportation (CACT) present for Monday’s briefing. The plan was to bring the proposal before the Falls Church City Council in mid-September and advance of a final approval by the Fairfax County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors by late November.
Current plans are mere drafts, however. They involve breaking up, conceptually, the 600 acres of the target area into three “opportunity zones,” the Willston Village, the 7 Corners Town Center and the Leesburg Pike Village, all susceptible to dense commercial and business development.
Clearly, however, the biggest hurdle to redevelopment in the area is the transportation bottleneck that is the 7 Corners intersection itself, named 7 Corners for a reason. The backup of cars coming into that narrow but many-pronged intersection is legendary to anyone living in Falls Church, already. Bernie Fitzgerald of the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning presented a solution that is being seriously considered now that eliminates off and on ramps linking the intersection to Route 50, and instead building a “ring road” around the intersection where cars coming from Route 50 or through the area from Sleepy Hollow or other contiguous places would make their turns to get into the area, including in and out of Falls Church, without encountering the main intersection at all.
Some Planning Commissions didn’t warm to the idea right away, seeing it for the first time and wondering how such a “ring road” would navigate through areas of the City. But with Monday night’s briefing, the City Council and the wider Falls Church community will be far better equipped to ask the right questions when the matter comes before the City Council on Sept. 15.