Greater Greater Washington

DC repurposes lanes, Virginia adds them

DC, Maryland, and Virginia have proposed their latest series of changes to a regional transportation plan. It's amusing to look at the list: DC's new projects are all about reconfiguring roadways to be less like highways, while Virginia's are all about adding or widening highways.


Image from the Transportation Planning Board.

This is part of an annual process where the states and DC update lists of what projects they want to do in coming years. The regional Transportation Planning Board has to ensure that the lists, which form the Constrained Long-Range Plan, fit with expected local and federal revenue, and juggles assumptions until staff can at least claim that all the new roads won't make our air quality too bad.

DC is adding 6 new projects, to construct bus lanes on I Street, make New Jersey Avenue 2-way, add a bike trail, and reduce the number of general travel lanes on 4 streets. Those projects will cost about $20.5 million altogether.

The DC changes also include the median on Pennsylvania Avenue east of the river and 2 cycle tracks which have already happened but weren't in the TPB's plan yet.

Meanwhile, Virginia wants to widen 5 highways, build new ones through Manassas Battlefield and around Dulles Airport, and add highway ramps around Tysons Corner, for a total cost of $750 million to $1.4 billion depending on what they choose for Dulles. All of that money is for car capacity; there are no transit, pedestrian, or bicycle projects being added to Virginia's list this year.

Maryland isn't changing much this round; it's just moving some money from the Corridor Cities Transitway to the Purple Line.

Here is the list of new projects for the District of Columbia (not counting ones DC is adding which are already complete):

  • I St. NW from 13th St. NW to Pennsylvania Ave. NW: Add peak period bus-only lanes
  • New Jersey Ave. NW from H St. NW to N St. NW: Reconstruct from 4 lanes one-way to 2 lanes in each direction
  • 17th St. NE/SE from Benning Rd. NE to Potomac Ave. NE: Reduce from 2 lanes to 1 lane southbound
  • C St. NE from 16th St. NE to Oklahoma Ave. NE: Remove 1 of 2 travel lanes in each direction to calm traffic
  • East Capitol St. from 40th St. to Southern Ave.: Implement pedestrian safety and traffic operations improvements and remove 1 of 3 travel lanes in each direction
  • South Capitol St. from Firth Sterling Ave. SE to Southern Ave. SE: Design and construct a paved bicycle and pedestrian trail and reduce the number of lanes from 5 to 4
Here's the list for Virginia:
  • Widen I-395, Shirley Memorial Highway, Southbound from Duke St. to Edsall Rd.
  • Capital Beltway HOT Lanes: The segment of HOT Lanes between south of the George Washington Pkwy and
    south of Old Dominion Dr. was planned to be 2 lanes wide. VDOT proposes to make this segment 4 lanes wide.
  • Capital Beltway Ramps at Dulles Airport Access Highway and Dulles Toll Road: Construct a new ramp connecting the northbound general purpose lanes on I-495 to the inner lanes of westbound Dulles Airport Access Highway. Widen the ramp connecting eastbound Dulles Toll Road to the northbound general purpose lanes on I-495 from 1 to 2 lanes.
  • Widen US 1, Jefferson Davis Highway from Lorton Rd. to Annapolis Way from 4 to 6 lanes.
  • Widen VA 7, Leesburg Pike from I-495 to I-66 from 4 to 6 lanes.
  • Construct 2-lane collector-distributor roads parallel to Dulles Toll Road between VA 684, Spring Hill Rd. and VA 828, Wiehle Ave.
  • Dulles Toll Road Ramps in Tysons: Construct a ramp to and from the Dulles Toll Rd. to the new Boone Blvd. extension at Ashgrove Lane. Construct a ramp to and from the Dulles Toll Rd. to the new Greensboro Dr. extension at Tyco Rd.
  • Dulles Greenway Ramp: Construct a new egress ramp from the Dulles Greenway to the planned Hawling Farm Blvd.
  • "Improved access" to Dulles Airport: [4 alternatives, a no-build and 3 that involve new 4-lane limited access highways or widening US-50 and VA-606.]
  • VA 28 Manassas Bypass: Study a proposed 4 to 6 lane bypass through Prince William and Fairfax Counties.
And Maryland:
  • Change in project cost of the Corridor Cities Transitway from $1.2 billion to $828 million
  • Change in project cost of the Purple Line from $1.79 billion to $2.245 billion
These changes don't necessarily reflect the mix of projects in the plan overall, just the changes this year. For example, DC is soon going to spend hundreds of millions on a new South Capitol Bridge which will be wider than the old one, while there are major transit and bicycle and pedestrian projects in the plan for various parts of Northern Virginia.

Still, this gives something of a glimpse into what's on the minds of transportation planners in each jurisdiction right now. DC is spending some small dollars to reconstruct roads to better accommodate pedestrians, cyclists, and buses; Viginia is spending big dollars on new road capacity.

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David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

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just to be clear, none of these are in Arlington, or in Alexandria (well except for the widening on I395 which is mostly a result of BRAC). So the most urban parts of NoVA (where there is currently a transitway UC, and a street car awaiting funding) are excluded.

Also several of the NoVa road projects are driven by BRAC, which moved to jobs from the most transit friendly parts of NoVa to relatively autocentric locations in NoVa. Blame DOD for that.

Others are for Tysons, whose heavy rail line is almost complete. Lets PLEASE not reopen the debate about exactly the right amount of additional road capacity to support the new Tysons. It is what it is.

DC has clearly made progress, of course.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 15, 2013 3:07 pm • linkreport

I agree with @AWalker, it's kind of an apples to oranges comparison.

by Scoot on Jul 15, 2013 3:11 pm • linkreport

I wasn't even aware of its planning, but it's sort of a disappointment to see the 9th St. cycle track withdrawn. That'd be a great addition to the other Downtown bike facilities!

by David T. on Jul 15, 2013 3:16 pm • linkreport

I agree (and say in the post) that what's in this round doesn't reflect the full range of priorities, but I don't think it's a totally meaningless comparison. This is the constrained long-range plan, which means jurisdictions can only put as much stuff on there as they have future dollars to spend. The fact that this year Virginia is adding $600 million in projects, plus the Dulles "improvements" which could cost $153-813 million depending on the choice of option, and it's 100% new road capacity, does say something.

I probably should have mentioned that VA is adding $600 million in projects while DC is adding about $20 million in projects. I'll go add that.

by David Alpert on Jul 15, 2013 3:20 pm • linkreport

I actually kind of agree with two of the virginia ones. The 495 HOT lanes should be kept at 4 lanes rather then contracting becuase you know once they built it as two lanes the pressure to widen would begin almost immediately. Same for 395 between duke and edsall. Besides isn't one of those lanes going to be HOT as well? Ramps from 495 directly to the airport lanes make sense as well and reduce the need to make a lot of quick lane changes.

Hopefully by widening route 1 it'll make turning some of that into rail or bus ROW more palatable down the line.

With the silver line coming I wonder if they'll need to expand that part of 7 just yet. Pipedream is that could be row for light rail starting at the Gallows road hospital up through tysons and then out towards 7 corners.

We don't need a new highway from Woodbridge to Dulles. That's a poor use of resources all around considering the great need still in Fairfax/Arlington/Alexandria.

by drumz on Jul 15, 2013 3:20 pm • linkreport

According to Tom Biesiadny, director of Fairfax County DOT, the Table 7 road and bus transit projects will continue to be planned and constructed as proposed, with timing affected only by the rate of growth in Tysons. This information was given at a meeting last week (June 9, 2013) in McLean, where Mr. Biesiadny spoke. Additionally, he indicated that additional road projects for Tysons will likely be proposed periodically, as the County gets a better handle on development.

The County plans to use some of the additional revenues from the higher state taxes to fund the public's share of these road and bus transit improvements.

The Tysons landowners are continuing to work towards consolidating all TDM measures though a single coordinated effort, which most people believe will produce better results than if each landowner were to satisfy the TDM obligations separately.

by tmt on Jul 15, 2013 3:22 pm • linkreport

And I hate myself for saying some of those things.

by drumz on Jul 15, 2013 3:23 pm • linkreport

"With the silver line coming I wonder if they'll need to expand that part of 7 just yet. Pipedream is that could be row for light rail starting at the Gallows road hospital up through tysons and then out towards 7 corners."

I think you are confusing two different corridors. INOVA-Fairfax Hosp is on Gallows Rd which is rte 650. its already been widened north of Rte 50, which means no transit lanes unless and until VDOT changes its policies on rededicating existing general travel lanes to transit only - which means at least until January 2014, but in fact likely many years longer.

Rte 7 widening is southeast towards City of Falls Church. I believe Fairfax County is interested in dedicated transit lanes in general. I do not know if they are pushing to make the new lanes dedicated to transit (bus only at this point). I imagine City of Falls Church would support that as well.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 15, 2013 3:32 pm • linkreport

Yeah, I know the spot. In my mind the train would turn from gallows onto 7 somehow. Like I said, pipedream.

by drumz on Jul 15, 2013 3:33 pm • linkreport

Any details on how the I Street bus lane will work? Will there be some improvement over the 7th Street bus lanes, which seem to be bus lanes in name only?

by Steven Yates on Jul 15, 2013 3:47 pm • linkreport

Steven: No real details yet. I'm trying to find out more.

by David Alpert on Jul 15, 2013 3:54 pm • linkreport

Hey Alpert, what did Arlington ever do you to you? Lumping us in with the rest of Virginia....that hurts man.

by MM on Jul 15, 2013 4:11 pm • linkreport

DC's new projects are all about reconfiguring roadways to be less like highways, while Virginia's are all about adding or widening highways.

It's worth noting that DC can not widen its roads anymore.

DC has to make hard choices to optimize their road usage. Virginia can still (foolishly) squander space and build more roads.

by Jasper on Jul 15, 2013 4:13 pm • linkreport

Virginia can still (foolishly) squander space and build more roads.

Like extra lanes to the beach?

by MLD on Jul 15, 2013 4:28 pm • linkreport

Nope. DC just vastly added-to and widened the 11 St bridge entrances to the SE/SW Freeway and is widening the NY Ave funnel to the Center Leg Freeway. Even though the DC Comp Plan outlaws increasing in-traffic capacity.

by Tom Coumaris on Jul 15, 2013 4:40 pm • linkreport

The Manassas 28 bypass would be huge for eastern Manassas. Those poor souls have to suffer on 28 in order to get to 66 or Braddock. The only other option is VRE.

by m2fc on Jul 15, 2013 4:49 pm • linkreport

Continued ...

Although it is disappointing that they would need to carve up Bull Run park. Otherwise, much of the land is empty right now.

by m2fc on Jul 15, 2013 4:50 pm • linkreport

Virginia's transportation "improvements" are just ridiculous. And they're not likely to get better anytime in the near future, barring sudden demographics changes or (*gasp*) an end to gerrymandering.

Can Arlington, Alexandria, and maybe Falls Church and urban parts of Fairfax just secede, please?

by ImThat1Guy on Jul 15, 2013 4:51 pm • linkreport

I'll have to read through the VA proposed projects in more depth, but most of them appear to be generally reasonable. Even on weekends, Rt. 7 between the Beltway and I-66 can be a bottleneck so widening Rt. 7 there makes sense. Will have to take some property though.

On the other hand, the plans to build new roads to Dulles Airport including the Bi-county parkway and the connector included in this set are certainly questionable. Dulles Airport already has Rt. 28 (from I-66), Dulles Toll/Access/Greenway, a widened Rt. 606. From what I read in the Post, the claim is that by building even more roads to Dulles, they will make the airport attractive for more air freight business. That is the justification for building new, wider roads to or in the direction Dulles? The economic case for that argument is likely very shaky. IMO, clearly a cover story for developers or people who have land they want to sell.

by AlanF on Jul 15, 2013 5:14 pm • linkreport

"Virginia wants to widen 5 highways, build new ones through Manassas Battlefield and around Dulles Airport, and add highway ramps around Tysons Corner, for a total cost of $750 million to $1.4 billion depending on what they choose for Dulles. All of that money is for car capacity; there are no transit, pedestrian, or bicycle projects being added to Virginia's list this year. "
---

You mean the currently under construction $6 billion (and counting) Silver Line, which will eventually take Metro to within spitting distance of Leesburg and which is BTW the largest and costliest transportation project in the region's history doesn't count?

Wow. That's all can I say to that.

by ceefer66 on Jul 15, 2013 5:22 pm • linkreport

"Can Arlington, Alexandria, and maybe Falls Church and urban parts of Fairfax just secede, please?"

They can try, but we all know how well that worked out last time.

by Chris S. on Jul 15, 2013 5:29 pm • linkreport

Ceefer,

This is about projects they want to start. Not ones that are nearly complete

by drumz on Jul 15, 2013 5:48 pm • linkreport

I do not know if they are pushing to make the new lanes dedicated to transit (bus only at this point). I imagine City of Falls Church would support that as well.

Unless those will be dedicated transit lanes, I'll be fighting them to my last breath. 7 is already jist barely tolerable to walk along and cross.The car exhaust is stifling and the noise isn't too great either (pretty hard to talk to someone while walking) but it's tolerable. Adding car lanes would be terrible. Definitely contacting my state reps about this one.

by Falls Church on Jul 15, 2013 5:54 pm • linkreport

Route 7 heading toward the City of Falls Church is planned to be widened only to I-66 at this time. And that point is still in Fairfax County. I've never heard any plans to widen the road farther than that point.

by tmt on Jul 15, 2013 7:13 pm • linkreport

This is a terribly written article, especially if you know anything about Virginia transportation issues. Two of the projects were cancelled (Boonsboro Drive project and the bypass through Manassas). Then, if you click on your map to go to the link, most of the projects are listed as 2035 or later. Really, you are writing an article referencing projects more than 20 years down the road. And, who knows if those dates are accurate given Virginia's history of delaying projects multiple years and multiple times because there is never enough money to back any of their pie in the sky ideas.

by Jon on Jul 15, 2013 8:28 pm • linkreport

@tmt

That's the portion of 7 I live along and I can tell you that walking to whole foods, trader joes, caribou coffee and the other shops in that area (not to mention the metro which is just beyond the 66 interchange) is none too pleasant but tolerable. Adding an extra lane will make it significantly worse. It's not clear where those car lanes will go as the service lane is slated to become a bike lane according to the master plan and I don't see buildings like the Fairfax Towers giving up their front yard. There's really no reason to expand an already large highway through a thoroughly residential area. I know this is not the kind of thing Supervisor Smyth or Del Scott (who is unfortunately retiring) would stand for.

According to the master plan, walkability was supposed to increase along that corridor and this is a step in the opposite direction.

by Falls Church on Jul 16, 2013 12:03 am • linkreport

David is right that the VA project list shows the highway expansion priorities of the current administration in VA. Particularly with the latest piece of their Outer Beltway complex, the Dulles connector road, a highay based on speculative boosterism by Dulles Airport (MWAA) http://wapo.st/13dVEDm, and efforts to revive stalled development.

by Stewart Schwartz on Jul 16, 2013 7:44 am • linkreport

The main problem with the Route 7 and Route 1 projects is that VDOT and the localities won't commit to the new capacity being set aside from the very beginning for dedicated bus/HOV. We oppose these expansions if these lanes aren't dedicated to transit/HOV from the start. And yes, they should be designed to be safer for pedestrians and cyclists. (safe medians, crosswalks, countdown timers, cycle tracks, and 11 foot not 12 foot lanes, except for the bus lane)

As for the Godwin Drive project through Manassas, it's a mixed story. It was part of the eastern option for the "Tri-County Parkway." On its own it would provide a very good internal cross-connection, but it also runs through a stream valley and Bull Run Regional Park, so we would need to know more about the environmental impact. A decade ago, Bob Moler of Prince William showed a lower impact route near the water treatment plant plant. But what the sudden revival of the project shows is that PW has never met a road it didn't like -- they are pressing for both the western Bi-County and eastern Tri-County Routes.

by Stewart Schwartz on Jul 16, 2013 7:47 am • linkreport

@Falls Church & @ Stewart Schwartz

I understand your views. However, the growth in both residential and commercial density at Tysons will result in such major increases in automobile traffic that roads connecting Tysons to the rest of the area need to be increased to handle the growth. It's going to happen, because without the increased road capacity, complete failure happens even sooner. Of course, if Tysons develops more slowly, the need for specific transportation projects slows too.

I agree there will be a major negative impact on many surrounding neighborhoods, including Falls Church. But the debate ended in June 2010. Community groups from Vienna and McLean, as well as the Providence District Council, were very active in the process. AWITC's neighbors simply weren't involved. It's too late now.

The Outer Beltway revival effort is based on very weak arguments and is little more than an attempt to override earlier rejections of rezoning requests.

by tmt on Jul 16, 2013 8:36 am • linkreport

"However, the growth in both residential and commercial density at Tysons will result in such major increases in automobile traffic that roads connecting Tysons to the rest of the area need to be increased to handle the growth."

If we refuse to dedicate new lanes to transit we will surely see increases in auto traffic. Rte 7 already has an important bus line the 28 - give it dedicated lanes and it can be competitive.

" It's going to happen, because without the increased road capacity, complete failure happens even sooner."

Failure where? On Rte 7? Where is that traffic coming from? The neighborhood between City of FC and Tysons wants transit lanes, AFAICT, not auto lanes. I'm sure City of FC would prefer transit lanes. Baileys is planned to become more transit oriented. And Im sure Arlingtona and Alexandria arent pushing to wide Rte7.

Why widen rte 7 SE of Tysons? If you do, where do the cars end up? The failure possibility is on the roads IN Tysons. Adding capacity INTO Tysons doesnt prevent that.

" Of course, if Tysons develops more slowly, the need for specific transportation projects slows too."

The growth in Tysons will provide the volume to justify the transit lane.

"I agree there will be a major negative impact on many surrounding neighborhoods, including Falls Church. But the debate ended in June 2010."

The debate on this widening? Or the debate on growing Tysons. They are not the same issue.

" Community groups from Vienna and McLean, as well as the Providence District Council, were very active in the process. AWITC's neighbors simply weren't involved. It's too late now."

You mean people from Annandale? Why would they have significant input (apart from the use of limited resources on this project) on widening rte 7? Or do you mean on the growth of Tysons? Annandale benefits from the growth of Tysons. Annandale does NOT need widening on Rte 7 for that.

and no, as opponents of Pike Rail, the Silver Line, etc, have taught, its NEVER too late to try to stop something. Not till the concrete is about to be poured.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 16, 2013 9:03 am • linkreport

However, the growth in both residential and commercial density at Tysons will result in such major increases in automobile traffic that roads connecting Tysons to the rest of the area need to be increased to handle the growth.

No, they really do not. This kind of thinking has been discredited time and time again. It is not science, it is just an extrapolation based on some dubious conclusions.

The growth in trips will be handled by modes that can scale well - walking, transit. Car traffic simply does not scale well. Additionally, the constraint of congestion will further encourage use of non-auto modes.

Widening streets is both not going to solve the problem and will actively hurt the goals of turning Tysons into a walkable place.

by Alex B. on Jul 16, 2013 9:06 am • linkreport

Adding 4 new lanes to 495 wasn't enough increased road capacity for Tysons?

Anyway, since an expansion of 7 doesn't go through falls church its short sighted anyway. If you're coming from tysons and trying to get to 66 then just take the beltway or the toll road (which is free at that point).

by drumz on Jul 16, 2013 9:11 am • linkreport

tmt

There are currently 100,000 or so jobs in Tysons, and 17,000 residents.

The plan is for 200,000 jobs, and 100,000 residents. How many of those residents will be children or retirees? I would guess few. How many will pay a premium to live in Tysons, and will commute elsewhere? I guess a minority. That means that somewhere close to 50% of the jobs in Tysons will be held by residents of Tysons. The net increase in jobs of 100,000 is not that much larger than the net increase in residents. How does a model generate a huge number of new auto trips into Tysons? Does that model reflect the real estate market trends that make locating in Tysons and driving elsewhere to work something few will choose?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 16, 2013 9:13 am • linkreport

Plus that increase in jobs and residents is over a long enough horizon to plan and build all sorts of transit options.

by drumz on Jul 16, 2013 9:18 am • linkreport

"Car traffic simply does not scale well. Additionally, the constraint of congestion will further encourage use of non-auto modes."

The constant refrain on this is "widen or the roads hit failure" and "assuming an urban style auto mode share is ideological" Ie the road LOS will fail, but people STILL won't take transit.

Instead, presumably, all the new jobs will move elsewhere. Its not stated where. Presumably not to other transit focused places - like Crystal City, or DC, or the reinvented White Flint. They will all go out to Loudoun and Prince William, I guess is the threat. I am not sure thats realistic.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 16, 2013 9:23 am • linkreport

Folks, with all due respect, you are years too late for the debate. The Tysons Plan revisions, including road improvements, were the result of a major compromise and agreement among all of the stakeholders. This "deal" was agreed to after years of contentious advocacy. In late winter 2010, a compromise proposal was surfaced by then Planning Commissioner Walter Alcorn. The proposal was socialized in private discussions; tweaked modestly; and agreed to by all of the stakeholders. The stakeholders generally supported the compromise before the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors. The Comp Plan was amended on June 22, 2010.

The basic plan and compromise cannot be opened without the risk of unraveling everything. Therefore, there is no interest within the County government or the stakeholders to revisit the compromise. Since the Plan was adopted, landowners have generally been following the Plan with their rezoning applications and community groups have been supporting the applications in general. Everyone is supporting the compromise agreement.

Included in the compromise were: 1) an acceptance of the traffic studies submitted by Fairfax County to VDOT in December 2009, the %@& TIA ; and 2) the resulting list of road and bus transit projects (Table 7). The Comp Plan ties redevelopment to the completion of Table 7.

Subsequently, Fairfax County engaged in additional traffic studies because it approved more density than was studied in connection with the 2009 527 TIA. These studies will result in additional road and bus transit.

by tmt on Jul 16, 2013 9:26 am • linkreport

@ MLD:Like extra lanes to the beach?

Depends on how you define squander. Between Fredericksburg and Richmond, widening I-95 is interfering with nothing because there is nothing there.

In NoVa, there is plenty of competition for space, and plenty of opportunity for transit. And the political will do make transit happen.

Also, as I mentioned yesterday: There is no alternative for travelers down I-95. One train a day that is slower than driving in traffic is not an alternative. Traffic chokes economic activity and is polluting. I am a fan of transit, but it is currently not a feasible option out there in rural VA.

by Jasper on Jul 16, 2013 9:27 am • linkreport

Too late for what?

Just because they agreed to a plan doesn't mean the rest of us can't point out that plan's inherent flaws.

by Alex B. on Jul 16, 2013 9:31 am • linkreport

@ Alan F:Even on weekends, Rt. 7 between the Beltway and I-66 can be a bottleneck so widening Rt. 7 there makes sense.

Or you can build a metro line in the median of VA-7 to Leesburg.

by Jasper on Jul 16, 2013 9:31 am • linkreport

Clearly, the Tysons Comp Plan attempts to maximize the benefits of high-quality, mixed-use development; the Silver Line, improved bus transit, and major improvements in bike and pedestrian facilities. It also imposes very aggressive TDM goals in Table 5. Clearly, there will be many people going to, from and within Tysons, who are not driving an automobile.

But the plan and simple reality is: Tysons will generate major increases in auto traffic, which, in turn, necessitate major road projects. They included the widening of Route 7 in both directions from Tysons. These widening projects are part of the Comp Plan, and are committed to by Fairfax County and VDOT. They will be built.

by tmt on Jul 16, 2013 9:33 am • linkreport

If the County asks for the new lanes on Rte 7 SE of Tysons to be transit dedicated, and VDOT agreed, who will have the right to object under the comprehensive plan? What is their legal recourse?

Alternatively if the County and VDOT decided NOT widen Rte 7 SE of Tysons, who will have legal standing to object, and what will their legal recourse?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 16, 2013 9:37 am • linkreport

"But the plan and simple reality is: Tysons will generate major increases in auto traffic,"

Maybe, but where? This not a discussion of Tysons related road improvements in general, but specifically of Rte 7 between Tysons and I66. That project should stand on its own. If it does not, Im sure there is some legal way all parties can agree to revise the plan by mutual consent.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 16, 2013 9:39 am • linkreport

@ Alex

Of course, you can freely criticize anything in the Comp Plan. My point is simply that, absent agreement from the original stakeholders, the road projects will stay. I know for sure that, if widening of Route 7 in either direction were pulled from the Plan, the community groups that had and continue to have a seat at the table would fight it tooth and nail. And the landowners would likely do so also.

@ Jasper

Putting aside any financial issues, the there would be massive community objections to the construction of a Metrorail line in the median of Route 7 going towards Leesburg. The Great Falls Citizens Association would be up in arms and is strong enough to prevent an urban intrusion into their semi-rural community.

by tmt on Jul 16, 2013 9:41 am • linkreport

" My point is simply that, absent agreement from the original stakeholders, the road projects will stay. I know for sure that, if widening of Route 7 in either direction were pulled from the Plan, the community groups that had and continue to have a seat at the table would fight it tooth and nail."

We are going to widen Rte 7 throught Pimmit Hills because of insistence from community groups in McLean, Reston, etc even if people from Pimmit Hills and adjoining areas object? That makes no sense.

"And the landowners would likely do so also."

Why will the landowners want widening on Rte 7 SE from Tysons, when thats a secondary route for Tysons access (note again, Rte 7 bottlenecks once you get into Falls Church and thats not the ideal route from I66)? I can easily see the landowners A. Prefering a transitway for those lanes B. Accepting no new lanes at all, if those $$ are reprogrammed to a more important corridor feeding into Tysons.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 16, 2013 9:46 am • linkreport

Alex

this is what the plan says in the infamous table 7.

"Widen Leesburg Pike from 4 to 6 lanes between I-495 and the City of Falls Church"

It does not say whether or not those can or should be transit only lanes. It is silent on that.

The widening is scheduled to take place by 2030. Its obvious that conditions can change over 20 years, most of the plan (for example the parking provisions) is explicit that requirements should be reexamined based on changing conditions, and I doubt a Virginia court would treat a Comp Plan promise a property right, regardless of changing conditions.

The entire spirit of the plan is to reduce auto trips - note it even envisions parking MAXIMUMS, a policy too radical for DC or NYC. The expansions in Table 7 were the result of the political balance at the time of the plan. They are inconsistent with the spirit of the rest of the plan, at least if the widenings are to be general travel lanes and not transit lanes.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 16, 2013 9:57 am • linkreport

@ AWalkerInTheCity

In theory, you are correct. If the parties agreed to remove widening of Route 7 heading SE from Tysons because they believed something else was better, the project could likely be removed. But I don't think the original parties would agree that this widening is not necessary. And to be brutally honest, I'm not sure what sway newcomers might have.

As I'm sure you are well aware, one of the reasons community groups supported these road widening projects was to move traffic out of Tysons and avoid cut-through traffic. I don't believe the original stakeholders would support removal of this project because they tend to agree it's needed and for fear more could unravel.

I fully empathize with your concerns. A fully developed Tysons will create considerable havoc with many neighboring communities. The traffic volumes generated will be substantial. And if you live near a major route to and from Tysons, your quality of life will decrease. But much less than if the original vision for Tysons had been approved with density permitted everywhere and not just at the rail stations and without any binding links between development and transportation improvements.

by tmt on Jul 16, 2013 9:58 am • linkreport

"n theory, you are correct. If the parties agreed to remove widening of Route 7 heading SE from Tysons because they believed something else was better, the project could likely be removed. But I don't think the original parties would agree that this widening is not necessary. And to be brutally honest, I'm not sure what sway newcomers might have."

Im not sure what stake any of the parties has in widening rte 7 to 6 lanes SE of Tysons. And Im pretty sure many of the folks who would object, in Pimmit Hills and adjoining, would not be "newcomers" but would be established residents.

"s I'm sure you are well aware, one of the reasons community groups supported these road widening projects was to move traffic out of Tysons and avoid cut-through traffic."

How does widening rte 7 between tysons and FC avoid cut through traffic? if anything, it encourages it.

" don't believe the original stakeholders would support removal of this project because they tend to agree it's needed and for fear more could unravel."

IOW this widening is stupid, but you will fight it to protect the sanctity of Table 7?

" fully empathize with your concerns. A fully developed Tysons will create considerable havoc with many neighboring communities."

A fully developed Rte 7 will be beneficial for the County, and for adjoining areas. The attempt to violate the spirit of the Tysons plan by prioritizing moving autos over walking, biking and transit, is what will harm the quality of life in adjoining areas.

"In theory, you are correct. If the parties agreed to remove widening of Route 7 heading SE from Tysons because they believed something else was better, the project could likely be removed. But I don't think the original parties would agree that this widening is not necessary. And to be brutally honest, I'm not sure what sway newcomers might have.

As I'm sure you are well aware, one of the reasons community groups supported these road widening projects was to move traffic out of Tysons and avoid cut-through traffic. I don't believe the original stakeholders would support removal of this project because they tend to agree it's needed and for fear more could unravel.

I fully empathize with your concerns. A fully developed Tysons will create considerable havoc with many neighboring communities. The traffic volumes generated will be substantial. And if you live near a major route to and from Tysons, your quality of life will decrease. But much less than if the original vision for Tysons had been approved with density permitted everywhere and not just at the rail stations and without any binding links between development and transportation improvements.

The traffic volumes generated will be substantial."

The widening we are discussing is not supposed to happen till 2020 to 2030. We will know more about the traffic volumes then. Why not wait and see?

"The binding links between development and transportation improvements."

The binding links should be to more transit. Binding links to road widening only protects quality of life if Auto LOS is the primary criteria in QOL, and complete streets are not. Why don't we ask the people who actually LIVE along Rte 7 between Tysons and Falls Church what they prefer - and not people who live in OTHER adjoining areas, with other concerns and other values.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 16, 2013 10:06 am • linkreport

pardon - "a fully developed Tysons"

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 16, 2013 10:08 am • linkreport

@ AWalkerInTheCity

For a while, the Pimmit Hills community had representatives working on Tysons. But they stopped attending meetings and, to the best of my recollection, did not testify at any of the major hearings. If your community doesn't show up, no one else will represent their interests. To the best of my knowledge, no one opposed widening Route 7 in your neighborhood. No one proposed a different project. And, in the face of the traffic studies, no one would have accepted an argument transit could handle the volume. Keep in mind that the assumptions for increased auto traffic assume transit use at levels exceeded only by Downtown D.C. Off the record, traffic engineers state traffic will likely be even higher than what is projected.

On the other hand, there were many local HOAs, civic or community associations that did do the hard work and, as a result, have had an impact on the adopted Plan. A good example is the Olney Road association, which worked on Magarity Road issues, but not Route 7.

I suspect Fairfax County and the stakeholders would support using two more lanes on Route 7 for transit. But the traffic studies also show many more vehicles will travel down Route 7 in your direction, with many traveling to I-66. Route 7 will need more capacity.

You could certainly try to fight this proposal. But do you have the $500 K to $1 million in legal fees that would likely be necessary.

by tmt on Jul 16, 2013 10:14 am • linkreport

1. I do not live in Pimmit hills, you are confusing me with Falls Church

2. The make up of the folks who were at the table for the Comp Plan in 2008 - 2010, or their side discussions has no legal, and little politicl relevance. All thats "binding" to the extent it is, is Table 7, which is silent on whether the lanes should be transit only or not - oh and the rest of the Comp Plan, which takes approaches to urban planning at variance with the assumptions of many traffic engineers.

"I suspect Fairfax County and the stakeholders would support using two more lanes on Route 7 for transit.
...

You could certainly try to fight this proposal. But do you have the $500 K to $1 million in legal fees that would likely be necessary."

If Fairfax County wants to put in transit lanes, and the stakeholders support it, then opponents of transit lanes will be the ones who need to raise the legal fees. If VDOT for some reason refuses to designate these as transit lanes, Fairfax County will have to determine its legal and political strategy.

"But the traffic studies also show many more vehicles will travel down Route 7"

By the time this project is ready to go, we will have more actual experience, and will hopefully no longer be relying on traffic studies done before 2010.

"with many traveling to I-66. Route 7 will need more capacity."

If they are going down I66 they are practically parallel to the Silver line. And they are commuters to/from Arlington and DC. Do Arlington and DC support this widening? Are more vehicles on their roads something in keeping with their plans?

As for need, there are no absolute needs in transportation. There are only costs and benefits. If the costs of the widening exceed the benefits, it should not be done. And the needs of residents for complete streets should be counted in estimating the true costs.

"transit use at levels exceeded only by Downtown D.C."

I assume you mean in the region (since NYC has higher levels of transit use). Since Tysons is the most concentrated employment center in the region, and will have urban charecteristics, Im not sure what place in the region other than downtown DC you would expect higher transit mode share.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 16, 2013 10:35 am • linkreport

The Route 28 Manassas Bypass is a much better alternative to relieve congestion then the Bi-County Parkway (Outer Beltway) because the area around the right of way is already developed. It also has the potential to include a regional transit element to connect the outer suburbs with Tysons.

by mcs on Jul 16, 2013 10:42 am • linkreport

On the proposed Rt. 7 widening between I-495 and I-66, the CLRP document has a projected completion year of FY2021, so this is not a long term circa 2035 road widening project. In my experience, Rt. 7 does get heavy traffic between the Beltway and I-66 - both local and through traffic from what I can tell, which is going to get worse as Tysons develops.

I followed the link to the Fairfax planning site for Tysons, but don't see anything on that Rt. 7 segment widening plan. Anyone have a link to a map of the planned changes, if the design process has gotten that far? It would be nice if they were able to leave a wide median strip for a future transit line running SE on Rt. 7 from Tysons, but that would e tough fit with 2 additional lanes and bike/ped lanes of some sort.

by AlanF on Jul 16, 2013 10:58 am • linkreport

alan

the CLRP may have a completion by 2021, but the CLRP is not the "binding agreement" that TMT claims the comp plan is - that lists that widening for 2020 to 2030.

The Table 7 which lists it is here

http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/comprehensiveplan/area2/tysons1.pdf

its on page 68.

If there is going to be dedicated transit ROW on that corridor, it should be part of THIS project.

It looks like that is a strong possibility

http://annandaleva.blogspot.com/2013/07/public-input-sought-on-route-7-transit.html

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 16, 2013 11:10 am • linkreport

The Comp Plan is a plan that can be changed by the Board of Supervisors. But you are ignoring the politics of Tysons. The revised Comp Plan was the result of a huge political compromise. It was hard to obtain, and, as a result, it would not be easily re-opened. The consenting stakeholders have resisted and would likely continue to resist opening the Plan for fear of what else could be changed. Doesn't this seem sensible?

And the Fairfax County BoS wants to see more transit being used. Transit on Route 7 makes sense. I suspect there will be more bus transit on Route 7 in this area. Perhaps, there might be a discussion of light rail. But we also need more road capacity. A bigger Tysons means more traffic, including traffic heading SE from Tysons on Route 7.

The project (widening 7 between Tysons and I-66) is scheduled to begin the planning stage starting in FY22, based on a spreadsheet prepared by FC DOT and distributed to stakeholders a couple years ago. In the event things were to develop differently, Fairfax County and VDOT would likely consider modifying that project and its timing. But to cancel the $114 million widening project, there would need to be evidence from traffic counts and traffic studies that demonstrated the lanes are not needed.

The other issue that would need to be addressed is the cost of transit beyond what has been planned. Funding for Tysons was also heavily contested over many years and the conflict was resolved by another major political compromise. If someone wanted to go beyond planned bus service on Route 7, that person would need to address the financing too. Any type of rail is extremely expensive. The Tysons landowners very much wanted the circulator system within Tysons to be light rail. But it simply was unaffordable.

I also don't think stakeholders would support any major increases in density between Tysons & I-66 on Route 7 that might be needed to get landowners to pay much of the capital costs for light rail in that area. The Tysons landowners wouldn't want the competition. And those community groups involved in Tysons are strongly taking the position that the density must be contained in Tysons and not "leak" outside.

by tmt on Jul 16, 2013 11:59 am • linkreport

"The Comp Plan is a plan that can be changed by the Board of Supervisors. But you are ignoring the politics of Tysons. The revised Comp Plan was the result of a huge political compromise. It was hard to obtain, and, as a result, it would not be easily re-opened. The consenting stakeholders have resisted and would likely continue to resist opening the Plan for fear of what else could be changed. Doesn't this seem sensible? "

political balances are always changing. Im sure the politics of the county will be different in 2020 than it was 2008, especially with more people living in density, more renters (generally unrepresented by community associations) and more minorities. In any case the compromise Table 7 simply says widen Rte 7 to 6 lanes - it does NOT say 6 general travel lanes. I am sure the County did not envision a widening with significant transit, and would be concerned (and would take action) if that were proposed.

"And the Fairfax County BoS wants to see more transit being used. Transit on Route 7 makes sense. I suspect there will be more bus transit on Route 7 in this area. Perhaps, there might be a discussion of light rail."

NVTC is currently doing a study. Option include light rail, but also bus in dedicated lanes.

" But we also need more road capacity.
A bigger Tysons means more traffic, including traffic heading SE from Tysons on Route 7."

It may be your opinion that two additional general travel lanes are need on Rt 7 Se from Tysons - but its NOT written into Table 7 (which is silent on the nature of the lanes) and it would be opposed I think both by the neighbors in the area, and by Fairfax County - not to mention by the City of Falls Church, which would be effected even if the lanes stop short of FC.

"The project (widening 7 between Tysons and I-66) is scheduled to begin the planning stage starting in FY22, based on a spreadsheet prepared by FC DOT and distributed to stakeholders a couple years ago. In the event things were to develop differently, Fairfax County and VDOT would likely consider modifying that project and its timing. But to cancel the $114 million widening project, there would need to be evidence from traffic counts and traffic studies that demonstrated the lanes are not needed."

That may be why the NVTC has decided to conduct their transit corridor study NOW.

"The other issue that would need to be addressed is the cost of transit beyond what has been planned. Funding for Tysons was also heavily contested over many years and the conflict was resolved by another major political compromise. If someone wanted to go beyond planned bus service on Route 7, that person would need to address the financing too. Any type of rail is extremely expensive. The Tysons landowners very much wanted the circulator system within Tysons to be light rail. But it simply was unaffordable."

The likely solution, IMO, at this point, will be dedicated lanes for buses, not rail. But they should certainly look at the alternatives.

"I also don't think stakeholders would support any major increases in density between Tysons & I-66 on Route 7 that might be needed to get landowners to pay much of the capital costs for light rail in that area. The Tysons landowners wouldn't want the competition. And those community groups involved in Tysons are strongly taking the position that the density must be contained in Tysons and not "leak" outside."

The proposed transit corridor runs all the way to King Street Station in Alexandria. It will pass through the City of Falls Church which is seeking density, the Seven Corners area (where FFX county is seeking density) and the baileys Crossroads area (where FFX county is seeking density) Additional density to support light rail on this corridor does not have to come from Pimmit Hills alone.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 16, 2013 12:13 pm • linkreport

pardon " did not envision a widening WITHOUT significant transit"

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 16, 2013 12:14 pm • linkreport

"The project (widening 7 between Tysons and I-66) is scheduled to begin the planning stage starting in FY22, based on a spreadsheet prepared by FC DOT and distributed to stakeholders a couple years ago. In the event things were to develop differently, Fairfax County and VDOT would likely consider modifying that project and its timing. But to cancel the $114 million widening project, there would need to be evidence from traffic counts and traffic studies that demonstrated the lanes are not needed."

If VDOT decides to not implement transit, FFX county would not have to move to cancel the widening project. As we have seen from Pike Rail, the Silver Line, etc, one can delay a project endlessly for a multitude of reasons without ever cancelling it. The 'antis' have taught us much.

And no, a traffic study does not determine "need". The fact that a road has auto LOS of a given level does not prove that the BCA for widening it positive. Not if the costs are high. and in this case the costs would not only be $$, but the enviro and community impacts of the widening. Thats for the people and leaders of FFX county (plus any higher levels of govt they look to for funding) to determine.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 16, 2013 12:20 pm • linkreport

"The consenting stakeholders have resisted and would likely continue to resist opening the Plan for fear of what else could be changed. Doesn't this seem sensible? "

No, it does not.

The US Constitution has been amended on several occasions. The first ten amendments within a few years of passage.

If there are changes to the comprehensive plan, that can help one neighborhood, and that do not harm any of the other stakeholders, the sensible thing to do would be to change the comprehensive plan.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 16, 2013 12:37 pm • linkreport

It's worth noting that Virginia didn't really add lanes to 495, etc. HOT lanes are, in effect, a separate, parallel highway, for those willing to pay for it. They are definitely an inefficient use of space, because they don't get enough traffic to make a real dent in highway congestion.

Having said that, the comparison between what goes on in a central city -- how transportation needs can be addressed there -- versus how suburbs contend with transportation needs just proves too much. It's too glib, and doesn't acknowledge that whole the choices may be different, they may also both be the most reasonable choices, given density and travel requirements.

by Fischy (Ed F.) on Jul 16, 2013 1:15 pm • linkreport

"It's worth noting that Virginia didn't really add lanes to 495, etc. HOT lanes are, in effect, a separate, parallel highway, for those willing to pay for it."

plus for carpoolers and buses. How are they any more a seperate highway than an HOV lane is?

" They are definitely an inefficient use of space, because they don't get enough traffic to make a real dent in highway congestion. "

The fact that something does not solve a problem does not mean its an inefficient use of space. If the benefits exceed the costs (and in the case of the HOT lanes, its likely they will) its an efficient use of space.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 16, 2013 1:22 pm • linkreport

It's worth noting that Virginia didn't really add lanes to 495, etc. HOT lanes are, in effect, a separate, parallel highway, for those willing to pay for it.

A big separate highway pretty much built to get people to and from Tyson's quicker. They added new exits for that purpose.

by drumz on Jul 16, 2013 1:26 pm • linkreport

@ AWalkerInTheCity

I wish you the best of luck. You have a lot of people to persuade and a great deal of stakeholders to overcome. What is your game plan?

by tmt on Jul 16, 2013 1:46 pm • linkreport

If I had a game plan, why would I share it with you?

I don't think I personally have many people to persuade. From what I can gather all the local jurisdictions are very interested in transit in this corridor. Of the five options under study, 3 involve dedicated right of way, and one of the ones that does not is a street car in mixed traffic. Only one would be buses in mixed traffic. Fairfax County is committed to developing Seven Corners and Baileys, and Falls Church is interested in TOD.

If you want two general travel lanes, I would say its you who have the persuading to do.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 16, 2013 2:05 pm • linkreport

I wish you the best of luck. You have a lot of people to persuade and a great deal of stakeholders to overcome. What is your game plan?

The game plan is quite simple. There are only enough transpo money to fund a small fraction of all the projects that are planned (even after the recent tax hike, without which there would be exactly zero money for new projects in a few years because all money would be going to maintenance). All that has to be done is to keep the priority of the widening in the bottom 80% of projects because only the top 20% or so is going to get funding.

by Falls Church on Jul 16, 2013 4:54 pm • linkreport

Also, while I value my privacy, I'll note I live in Idylwood, not pimmit hills.

by Falls Church on Jul 16, 2013 5:07 pm • linkreport

"Widen the ramp connecting eastbound Dulles Toll Road to the northbound general purpose lanes on I-495 from 1 to 2 lanes."

We have to wait 10-15 years for this?! This has been a bottleneck that backs up the Toll Road for as long as I can remember. In peak traffic season, delays can run the entire length of the Toll Road. This also impacts travelers going south on 495 and east on 66. One lane connecting 267E with 495W wasn't sufficient in the 90's.

To make matters worse, the Beltway between the Toll Road and the Legion bridge has quickly become a terrible bottleneck for travelers moving north into MD with the merge of the Express lanes making a bad situation worse.

Every day, I question whether VDOT, state or local leaders ever really get out on our roads during rush hour and attempt to drive them. So much $ spent building the Express lanes southbound from the Toll Road, but what's the point if nobody can access them because they are sitting in a backup caused by a one lane merge going north?

The pace to fix this region's traffic woes is so glacial, it's redonkulous. Combine that with a lack of coherent projects that take a big picture approach to a solution, regions not working together and you've got a perpetuating problem that isn't going away in our lifetimes.

by YodaSyrup on Jul 17, 2013 7:38 am • linkreport

Personally, I think it's good public policy to have advocacy for the transit lanes on Route 7. There are similar advocates for the argument that, since most people drive, money should be spent on additional road capacity. It's good they are in the debate also.

As far as Tysons-area roads are concerned, I believe the planned transit will be constructed as will the planned road capacity additions. The timing will be affected by the pace of development and, to the extent behavior changes, specific projects could be changed or even eliminated. What is not going to happen, however, is a failure to address increases in traffic volumes. Similarly, those stakeholders which have a seat at the table will stay at the table.

The key to getting more transit and less additional road capacity is to change people's behavior. To the extent more people ride transit, walk or bike, more money will go to transit and other non-automobile facilities.

by tmt on Jul 17, 2013 9:22 am • linkreport

What is not going to happen, however, is a failure to address increases in traffic volumes. 

That would be a first for Virginia, although I'd agree that Tysons is a special case.

However, the numbers don't add up. VDOT's budget for new constriction (after the tax hike) is $1.5B plus 0.5B dedicated to NoVA and Hampton Roads. So, let's be generous and say NoVA gets 0.75B of the total 2B budget. What does Tysons get? Say 10-20% of all the NoVA money? Granted, there's also special tax district money for Tysons and private sector contributions but even the optimists think it will take 40 years to get everything done. If 7 isn't widened until 40 years from now, I'm fine with that.

by Falls Church on Jul 17, 2013 10:02 am • linkreport

@ Falls Church

As you said correctly, Tysons is a special case. Fairfax County has planned the financing of the projects and had distributed spreadsheets(which I'm not sure still exist). The spreadsheets show annual spending out to 2030 and beyond. Road projects assume an annual 3% inflation, while transit assumes 4.5% inflation, all based on historic data.

Work is broken into engineering, RoW acquisition and construction over several years. The financing is also planned, using the funds from the new service district, the entire C&I tax for a specified period, historical funding from the feds and VDOT, assumed borrowing, and a couple other sources. The plan is very conservative from a financial perspective. The new tax money was not figured into the equation, but now will be used for some of the public's contribution.

If Tysons grows as assumed in the GMU study, virtually of the infrastructure must be in place by 2030. If things slow, so too will the transportation construction.

There have been many fuzzy things with Tysons over the year, but funding Table 7 is not one of them.

by tmt on Jul 17, 2013 10:53 am • linkreport

"Personally, I think it's good public policy to have advocacy for the transit lanes on Route 7. There are similar advocates for the argument that, since most people drive, money should be spent on additional road capacity. It's good they are in the debate also. "

And its probably good for the DEBATE to have people who advocate no more infrastructure at all. And people who want nothing but bike highways. The more voices in the debate, the better - free speech, yay!

But the question is whats good policy. Adding general travel lanes to rte 7 there is NOT good policy.

"As far as Tysons-area roads are concerned, I believe the planned transit will be constructed as will the planned road capacity additions. The timing will be affected by the pace of development and, to the extent behavior changes, specific projects could be changed or even eliminated. What is not going to happen, however, is a failure to address increases in traffic volumes. Similarly, those stakeholders which have a seat at the table will stay at the table."

Everyone who lives in Fairfax county has a seat at the table, via our elected supervisors. I would like to contest the notion that the civic associations, largely representing older, more affluent, homeowners are the representatives of the people of FFX county.

"The key to getting more transit and less additional road capacity is to change people's behavior. To the extent more people ride transit, walk or bike, more money will go to transit and other non-automobile facilities."

Bit of a circularity problem, though. The more we build Tysons to accommodate the auto, the higher the auto mode share will be. If we accepted that mode share in the future would repeat the past, it would have made no sense to do the Tysons rebuild at all. The whole concept behind it is to CHANGE mode share.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 17, 2013 11:08 am • linkreport

"As far as Tysons-area roads are concerned, I believe the planned transit will be constructed as will the planned road capacity additions."

but for several of the road widenings, including this one, the plan is silent as to whether the addition is a transit lane, or a general travel lane. So the implication that there are planned amounts for transit, and for general travel lanes, is simply not correct. We can have more of one or the other, WITHIN the specifications of table 7.

So the sanctity of table 7 is simply not an argument for general travel lanes in places like Rte 7. And again, given that the NVTC seems interested in improved transit, and that four of the five scenarios involve rail, dedicated transit ROW, or both, I would again say that the case for general travel lanes is the uphill fight.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 17, 2013 11:13 am • linkreport

Last week, while waiting to participate in the hearing on Fairfax Forward, I listened to a zoning hearing on remodeling an elementary school in Reston. One of the proposed changes was the construction of a longer kiss and ride facility, designed to move back-up traffic from a neighborhood street. FCPS testified that, despite school bus service for students living more than one mile, reasonable sidewalks/trails and significant bike parking facilities, 45% of the students are driven to school.

Opponents of the expanded kiss and ride made excellent arguments against expanding the facility and in favor of walking, biking and bus ridership. The response was 45% of the students are driven to school and there was a need to address the traffic. In terms of the facts, policies and logic, the opponents' arguments won hands-down.

The Supervisors voted to approve the FCPS proposal as made. Those speaking said that, while they would like to have adopted a plan that assumed fewer people would drive their children to school, they needed to address reality by handling the increasing auto traffic.

The same will apply to the Tysons auto traffic. The Supervisors will support transit, biking, walking and telecommuting, but they will also address the traffic by increasing road capacity.

And, I agree that everyone can have a seat at the table, but only if: 1) you show up; and 2) address the issues with reasonable solutions. I'd say in the case of the Reston elementary school, the BoS acted to address the concerns of younger residents (parents driving children to school) as well as any neighbors. They voted against the wishes of "older, more affluent, homeowners" who wanted the expanded kiss and ride eliminated from the project.

The Civic Associations do the hard work. They study the plans, engage those who may disagree, work with other stakeholders, present data and analysis. They are listened to simply because they have credibility with the County.

I went to many hearings and meetings on Tysons. I heard a number of articulate people speak against roads and in favor of transit, biking, walking, etc. They were politely received and were told what they supported would be a big part of Tysons, but also that there would be increased auto traffic that must be addressed. They simply could not address the analysis projecting massive increases in auto traffic. They simply were not credible.

"Bit of a circularity problem, though. The more we build Tysons to accommodate the auto, the higher the auto mode share will be. If we accepted that mode share in the future would repeat the past, it would have made no sense to do the Tysons rebuild at all. The whole concept behind it is to CHANGE mode share." Mode share must change, but the County is not going to put Tysons economic success at risk by not having road facilities sufficient to handle what traffic is generated. The mode changes will occur gradually over the next 40 to 50 years. As behavior changes, so too will the nature of transportation investment.

by tmt on Jul 17, 2013 4:11 pm • linkreport

" FCPS testified that, despite school bus service for students living more than one mile, reasonable sidewalks/trails and significant bike parking facilities, 45% of the students are driven to school. "

from personal experience, FCPS views of the quality of their bus service does not always match reality. And school start times can impact the feasibility of walking/biking.

"Mode share must change, but the County is not going to put Tysons economic success at risk by not having road facilities sufficient to handle what traffic is generated. The mode changes will occur gradually over the next 40 to 50 years. As behavior changes, so too will the nature of transportation investment."

1. I do not see how the failure to add general travel lanes to Rte 7 SE of Tysons will endanger the economic success of Tysons.
2. Anticipating mode share change, in order to change it, does not mean providing no accommodation to growth in SOV traffic. As has been stated above, the beltway has been widened, there will be additional lanes for cars within Tysons itself, additional capacity on DTR, etc. The need to provide some additional capacity does not justify each and every project.

"The Civic Associations do the hard work. They study the plans, engage those who may disagree, work with other stakeholders, present data and analysis. They are listened to simply because they have credibility with the County."

I do not believe they have more credibility that the office of planning. They are listened to because they represent interests that have clout.

"They were politely received and were told what they supported would be a big part of Tysons, but also that there would be increased auto traffic that must be addressed. They simply could not address the analysis projecting massive increases in auto traffic. They simply were not credible."

They were told by whom? Not credible to whom? My understanding is that the widening of Rte 123 within Tysons, with its major harm to walkability within Tysons, for the benefit of through traffic was done at the insistence of VDOT and the Commonwealth, not Fairfax County. Ditto for some other widenings in the County, and for the policy of not repurposing existing travel lanes to transit. The results so far in Tysons are not a product solely of the position of the Fairfax BOS, whether under Bulova or Connolly, but are heavily constrained by VDOT policies.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 17, 2013 4:23 pm • linkreport

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