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Big Changes Coming to Ballston Metro Plaza

Changes are coming to the plaza surrounding the Ballston Metro station.

Arlington County is in the process of designing improvements to the plaza and gathering public input. The improvements are intended to reduce bus congestion, enhance pedestrian safety, prepare for future population growth and make the plaza more functional and aesthetically attractive.

Metrorail ridership is expected to increase by nearly 50 percent at the station between 2010 and 2020, while bus ridership is expected to increase 20 percent. Cyclist use of the plaza, currently a relatively small percentage of transportation uses, is expected to rise by 200 percent during that time period.

Plans so far include increased bike parking, new bus stops and new sidewalk cafes. The plans call for moving tree planters closer to the curb to improve pedestrian circulation and enhance retail viability.

A public meeting about the changes was held at Arlington Public Library earlier this week. Residents were generally supportive, but objected to a proposal to narrow a side street that’s currently clogged with bus and taxi traffic.

Project engineering is expected to wrap up next fall, with construction beginning in early 2016, according to Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet. Separately, the county also has a long-range plan for a second Ballston Metro station entrance.

After the jump, a list of goals for the project, from the county’s public presentation.

Goal 1: Increase traffic safety, particularly for vulnerable users
– Decrease conflicts between buses and pedestrians
– Improve bicyclist safety

Goal 2: Improve transit circulation around the station
– Decrease the number of buses parked in non-bus spaces
– Improve the management of curbside operations

Goal 3: Improve access and facilities for all users
– Enhance bus passenger amenities

Goal 4: Enhance the design and increase the use of public spaces
– Increase the viability of retail
– Maximize green space
– Increase user comfort

Goal 5: Provide sustainable infrastructure
– Enhance the attractiveness of transportation choices
– Provide low impact development, where possible

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