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A new crossing of the Dulles Toll Road in Reston is a step closer to becoming reality.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a plan Tuesday that would extend Soapstone Drive between Sunset Hills Road and Sunrise Valley Drive, creating a new north-south connection.

The connection is an important component of the planned street grid around the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, which will open later this year, according to Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill).

The areas on either side of the toll road are already developed with office buildings and other commercial space, making it challenging to develop an alignment for the new road. The route approved by the Board of Supervisors, which also had the support of the community, would affect at least one existing office building on Association Drive, just off of Sunset Hills Road.

The board previously approved $2.5 million in funding for preliminary design of the new bridge. This design phase will look at issues affecting the environment, private property and utilities.

Pedestrian and bicycle facilities will be a significant component of the extension of Soapstone. It will include bike lanes as well as a wide paved path that can accommodate both cyclists and pedestrians.

Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) raised concerns about the amount of space being dedicated to people traveling on bike and on foot.

“Every foot of a bridge is a pretty expensive piece of real estate, and every foot of right of way we have to buy in Reston is pretty expensive,” he said.

Hudgins said that the design reflects the needs of the community, as it will connect nearby residential neighborhoods to the Metro station.

“It is a connection that is going to be needed to bring people out of the neighborhoods,” she said. “This is the consensus of the community.”

kschumitz@fairfaxtimes.com