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FairfaxTransportationMason consultant downbeat on pedestrian overpasses near campus

Mason consultant downbeat on pedestrian overpasses near campus

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Improving safety for pedestrians at Braddock Route and Route 123 (Ox Road/Chain Bridge Road) adjacent to the Fairfax campus of George Mason University probably will not include pedestrian bridges above those two thoroughfares, a consultant leading the effort on facilities planning at the university believes.

Such over-the-roadway pedestrian crossings “rarely work,” consultant Gregory Janks said during an Aug. 19 update on the university’s master-planning effort for facilities.

Janks said human nature dictates that pedestrian bridges, except in very specific circumstances (such as connecting two buildings mid-way up), are seldom successful.

“People do not want to go up,” he said. “The better solution is, how do you think about making the at-grade crossings [on the two roads] more safe?”
University officials for more than 18 months have been leading an effort focused on future facilities at the university’s landholdings in Fairfax, Arlington and Prince William counties. At the Fairfax campus, there seems to be a push to move significant chunks of existing parking facilities away from the academic core area so those central areas would be more pedestrian-friendly than they currently are. Shuttle service would be used to get drivers from their vehicles to the destinations on campus and back.

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That idea drew concerns from at least one participant.

“Parking already is at a premium, but it seems like in these near-term and long-term plans, we just keep losing parking spaces,” the respondent noted during the meeting.

Not so, Janks responded.

“We are not losing any parking, not a single space,” he said. “It is a redistribution of parking, not a loss of parking.”

Longer-term, the amount of parking will be dependent on transportation trends and to what degree the Fairfax campus evolves from its current, mainly commuter-centric focus.

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