Posts about Loudoun
Loudoun County wants your help in picking names for new Metro stations on the Silver Line.
Route 606 and Route 772 have been the placeholder names for the two stations west of Dulles Airport, but they're not going to be the permanent ones. Loudoun wants names that are "relevant, brief, unique, and evocative." Officials have presented some possibilities.
For Route 606, the suggestions include "Broad Run," "Dulles Gateway," and three that all have "Loudoun" in the name ("Loudoun East," "Loudoun Gateway," and "Loudoun Dulles North").
Route 772 just has three options: "Ashburn," "Loudoun," and "Loudoun Gateway West."
Station names are important. They can easily identify an area and even change its identity in some ways, like "Van Ness," which has become the name for the whole area around a station just named for a street nearby.
There was a lot of outcry over the the orginal boring station name proposals for the first phase of the Silver Line ("Tysons-McLean," "Tysons I&II," "Tysons Central," "Tysons-Spring Hill Road," "Reston-Wiehle Avenue," "Reston Town Center," "Herndon-Reston West," and "Herndon-Dulles East.") All four Tysons stations were variants on the word "Tysons," while two contained "Reston" and two "Herndon."
Fairfax changed them to more descriptive, unique names that will eventually help the surrounding areas develop distinct identities.
Loudoun might miss that opportunity if both stations end up the word "Loudoun" in the station names as well, or if there are two stations with the word "Dulles." Also, a name that just refers to a large area (Loudoun) with a word like "East" or "West" also doesn't create a neighborhood-level identity the way a unique name can.
Matt Johnson and David Alpert made this map of what the Metro system might look like if every station had a name that sounded like the now-rejected Fairfax options or some of the more boring Loudoun suggestions:
WMATA has also struggled with keeping names short, and now has a policy of limiting them to 19 characters. Some of the names are longer.
You can give your opinions at Loudoun's survey, picking from these or adding your own suggestions. And tell us what you like in the comments.
The US Census' newest county-level population estimates show that between 2012 and 2013, the District of Columbia added more residents than any other metro area county.
Loudoun County grew slightly faster by percentage. But even according to that measure, DC is second.
|District of Columbia||633,427||646,449||13,022||2.1|
|Prince George's (MD)||881,419||890,081||8,662||1.0|
|Prince William (VA)||430,100||438,580||8,480||2.0|
|Anne Arundel (MD)||550,175||555,743||5,568||1.0|
|Baltimore County (MD)||817,682||823,015||5,333||0.7|
|Baltimore City (MD)||622,417||622,104||-313||-0.1|
Cross-posted at BeyondDC.
Virginia legislators are considering a bill that would repair preserve nearly 300 miles of unpaved roads in western Loudoun County. While it may not seem relevant to the state's urban areas, it would make the state consider more than cars in assessing the needs of a street.
HB 416, sponsored by Delegate Randy Minchew (R-Leesburg), requires the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to maintain Loudoun's unpaved road network, many of which date to before the Civil War. The roads are narrow and some feature old stone walls or are steeply banked. But some are still heavily used and have become badly rutted, frustrating residents who otherwise prefer unpaved roads.
If passed, it means VDOT would have to consider more than just the movement of cars when assessing the needs of these roads. Notably, the bill also asks that VDOT maintain the roads as is "whenever practicable," rather than paving, straightening, or widening the road.
Unpaved roads in Loudoun County.
In this case, the bill is aimed at keeping roads that already demand careful driving the way they are. But the unpaved road network also adds to the value of rural communities. People enjoy the aesthetics of the road and don't want to give that up in exchange for pavement and a slightly faster commute.
This supports Loudoun County's policy as well, since officials want most of development to go to the eastern half of the county closer to Dulles Airport, allowing the rest to remain rural. It also helps the county support its growing agritourism industry.
Recreational cyclists appreciate the gravel roads as well. "Gravel Grinders" are cycling enthusiasts who like riding on unpaved roads. Blogger DKEG has a self-made map of many of Loudoun's unpaved roads that any cyclist in the DC area could enjoy.
The proposed new standards are a tacit acknowledgement that people in rural and more car-dependent areas also appreciate calmer streets, and that wider or faster isn't always better. Communities can make drivers more mindful of their surroundings by narrowing or removing lanes, but in this case the roads are already narrow. It's great that Virginia and Loudoun County want to keep it that way.
Virginia's 2014 General Assembly is officially in session. As usual, there are plenty of proposed bills that could affect urban areas. Here are some of the key ones to follow.
Virginia flag image from Shutterstock.com.
Bills that look promising:
- SB97, requiring car drivers to leave three feet of clearance when passing a bicyclist.
- HB761, allowing local governments to hire transit fare inspectors and to collect fines from fare violators. This will be necessary for any future streetcars that use a proof of payment fare structure.
- HB626, changing the formula used to distribute transportation funds around the state, eliminating a provision that took $500 million off the top and allocated it to highways.
- SB320, sponsored by Adam Ebbin (D-Arlington), allowing jurisdictions in Northern Virginia to implement plastic bag fees.
- HB212, prohibiting drivers from holding pets while driving.
- HB482, making failing to wear a seatbelt a primary offense, allowing police to stop and ticket people for that alone.
- HB2, limiting transportation funding going to the Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads construction districts to only projects that reduce highway congestion. Safety projects, maintenance projects, many transit and bike/ped projects, and just about everything else would be excluded.
- HB40, HB41, HB425, HB635, and several others that all seek to reduce Northern Virginia's authority to build its own transportation projects, especially transit.
- HB426, requiring VDOT to widen I-66 in Arlington.
- HB281, restricting Northern Virginia from partnering with DC or Maryland on transportation projects, unless the costs are born exactly equally.
- HB160, giving courts authority to reduce charges currently defined as "reckless driving" to merely "speeding."
- HB792, requiring Northern Virginia communities to rewrite their zoning ordinances to restrict the number of housing units smaller than 500 square feet.
- HB908, defining Uber as a "contract passenger carrier" rather than a taxicab, effectively removing any ability of localities to regulate it.
- HB870, providing a tax credit to companies that build their own infrastructure, including new roads.
- SB505, a huge bill enacting a broad range of incentives for the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel.
- HB560, allowing VDOT to grant Right of Way (ROW) permits to certain types of private companies, instead of only to public utilities.
- HB691, creating a "Prince William Metrorail Improvement District," to begin the process to extend Metro into Prince William County.
- SB156, requiring that either toll rates for E-ZPass users and non-E-ZPass users be set the same, or requiring the operator of a toll road to pay the annual fee for all E-ZPass users living within 50 miles of a toll road. This bill comes from Senator John Miller of the Hampton Roads area, where they are debating controversial proposals to let private operators collect tolls in exchange for rebuilding tunnels. But if the law passes it would also include much of Northern Virginia.
- SB1, from Adam Ebbin again, that would repeal a higher tax on hybrid-electric cars. The tax was originally imposed to make up for such cars contributing less to the gas tax. Ebbin questions whether taxing more efficient vehicles is the best way to solve that issue.
- HB122, defining three-wheeled mini cars that kind of look like hardcore golf carts with bigger engines as "autocycles" and regulating them in various ways. It's not a coincidence that this bill comes from Edward T. Scott, delegate from the very district that's home to the first autocycle manufacturing plant in the US.
- HB475, legalizing pedestrians stepping into the roadway to solicit charitable contributions.
- HB255, requiring red light cameras to have yellow light phases lasting at least three seconds.
For years, leaders in Northern Virginia have been asking Richmond to let Northern Virginia raise its own money to spend on its own transportation priorities. They are finally getting the chance.
When the Virginia General Assembly passed a broad new transportation funding bill earlier this year, it included a section letting Northern Virginia raise and allocate hundreds of millions per year. Those new taxes began rolling in on July 1, with the beginning of Virginia fiscal year 2014.
On Wednesday night, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) officially approved its first set of projects. The authority allocated about $210 million, split roughly evenly between transit and roads.
The largest projects include the Silver Line's Innovation Center Metro station, new VRE railcars, and widenings along Route 28.
NVTA also approved a bond validation lawsuit that will preemptively ask Virginia courts to rule on NVTA's legality. That process should take 6-9 months, and NVTA will have to wait until it's over to actually start spending money. Taking the issue to court now means NVTA won't have to spend years fending off other court challenges.
The project list is below. For more details, see the project description sheets on NVTA's website.
|Transit and multimodal projects|
|Innovation Center Metro station||$41||Fairfax Co.|
|VRE Lorton station 2nd platform||$7.9||Fairfax Co.|
|WMATA Orange Line traction power upgrades for 8-car trains||$5||Regional|
|Potomac Yard Metro station environmental study||$2||Alexandria|
|Crystal City multimodal center bus bays||$1.5||Arlington|
|VRE Gainesville extension planning||$1.5||Regional|
|VRE Alexandria station pedestrian tunnel & platform improvements||$1.3||Alexandria|
|Herndon Metro station access improvements (road, bus, bike/ped)||$1.1||Fairfax Co.|
|Leesburg park and ride||$1||Loudoun|
|Loudoun County Transit buses||$0.9||Loudoun|
|Route 7 Tysons-to-Alexandria transit alternatives analysis (phase 2)||$0.8||Regional|
|Falls Church pedestrian access to transit||$0.7||Falls Church|
|Duke Street transit signal priority||$0.7||Alexandria|
|PRTC bus||$0.6||Prince William|
|Alexandria bus shelters & real-time information||$0.5||Alexandria|
|Van Buren pedestrian bridge||$0.3||Falls Church|
|Falls Church bus shelters||$0.2||Falls Church|
|Rt 28 - Linton Hall to Fitzwater Dr||$28||Prince William|
|Rt 28 - Dulles to Rt 50||$20||Fairfax Co.|
|Belmont Ridge Road north of Dulles Greenway||$20||Loudoun|
|Columbia Pike multimodal improvements (roadway, sidewalk, utilities)||$12||Arlington|
|Rt 28 - McLearen to Dulles||$11.1||Fairfax Co.|
|Rt 28 - Loudoun "hot spots"||$6.4||Loudoun|
|Chain Bridge Road widening||$5||Fairfax City|
|Boundary Channel Dr interchange||$4.3||Arlington|
|Rt 1 - Featherstone Rd to Mary's Way||$3||Prince William|
|Edwards Ferry Rd interchange||$1||Loudoun|
|Herndon Parkway intersection with Van Buren St||$0.5||Fairfax Co.|
|Herndon Parkway intersection with Sterling Rd||$0.5||Fairfax Co.|
Cross-posted at BeyondDC.
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