Yikes. Just the thought of an area named "Seven Corners" makes me not want to drive there. Wilson Boulevard, Roosevelt Boulevard, Arlington Boulevard, Leesburg Pike, Broad Street, Sleepy Hollow Road, and Hillwood Avenue all converge in nearly the same place at the southern tip of Falls Church. I have only driven through this area a select few times, always on weekends, and only once on purpose. It is a nightmare. No doubt that in an area named after it's intersection, the intersection would be the most dominant feature of the landscape.
Michael Perkins over at GGW suggested that I use this area to start my New Year's resolution to write more on Virginia... and it couldn't be a more desperate region for a street grid. Serving mostly strip malls and car-dependent medium-density apartments, the roads through this area operate with a series of frontage roads, bridges, and quasi-interchanges. One might argue that this area is too sparse to merit much investment in the road system. But I believe a better working street grid could reduce the painful traffic jams while at the same time accommodating pedestrians and transit, perhaps even catalyzing further growth. Here's what that part of town might look like if it had a better street grid:
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The region could start by improving pedestrian facilities from the East Falls Church Metro station, located just under a mile north of the intersection at Wilson and Roosevelt. Keeping Arlington Boulevard up to its current semi-freeway standard would be possible with lots of overpasses, but of course this would be far more costly. A sunken freeway, however, has far less impact on connectivity than an at-grade route.
Traffic will of course be relieved by the addition of new roads, guiding cars around the disastrous intersection for which the area is named. This approach is known to work better than widening roads, as it cuts down on the number of vehicle miles required for a particular car travel, reduces traffic (particularly if there is an emergency situation blocking one of the roads), and induces more pedestrian travel. The added capacity allows some reduction of automobile capacity on the existing major roads to make way for transit and/or streetscape improvements. In the end, cars, pedestrians, transit riders, residents, and business owners tend to benefit more from well connected streets. Seven Corners would no doubt benefit immediately from reduced traffic jams, before any other changes are made.
Centralized locations such as Seven Corners shouldn't be unsavory destinations because of traffic. With attractions such as the unique Eden Center, a predominantly Vietnamese shopping district on Wilson Boulevard, Seven Corners could be a great destination, not just a clogged interchange out in the burbs. I have limited experience with this location, so strongly encourage comments with suggestions or further information.