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Falls Church aims to make a central park into more accessible pedestrian corridor

(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) If your reaction to Falls Church’s Berman Park is “what’s that?,” you’re probably not alone.

Even City of Falls Church Planning Commission members said they were only vaguely familiar with the linear park when presented with project details last week, but a new plan aims to make the park a more memorable part of the city’s green infrastructure.

The park is in the center of the city and connects several commercial properties and residential areas, but it is broken up by several street crossings that the city says lack adequate pedestrian facilities and signage.

In a presentation to the Planning Commission, staff said the goal of the project is to make those crossings more pedestrian-friendly by increasing visibility for all users and decreasing vehicle speeds.

“I agree with staff’s recommendations, they seem to be the most bang for the buck for those types of improvements,” Planning Commission Chair Brent Krasner said. “Berman Park is kind of like — I’ve ridden my bike through there…but the first time I even found it existed, I was like ‘okay, I didn’t even know this was here.'”

At the meeting, city staff went through each of the four intersections connecting the project and shared plans how the streetscape could be modified. Every proposal included some level of curb extension to make the sidewalks more walkable, and nearly every project also included new street signs.

“The goal of the project is to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists using the trail,” staff said in the project description. “The proposed trail crossings will greatly enhance the trail for users traveling through the City and could set a precedent for further improvements trail-wide.”

Preliminary engineering for the project is scheduled to be completed next January, with construction starting a year later in January 2023 and finishing that July.

The project is being funded by a $600,000 award from the Highway Safety Improvement Program/Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Program (HSIP/BPSP) and an additional 30% local funding.

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