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Route 7 Bus Rapid Transit study now fully funded, thanks to Congress

The proposed route and stations for Route 7 bus rapid transit service from Tysons to Alexandria (via NVTC/Twitter)

(Updated at 4:25 p.m. on 1/3/2023) An ongoing study of the possibility of having bus rapid transit (BRT) service from Tysons to Alexandria can now proceed confident that the planning will be seen through to completion.

The $1.7 trillion federal spending bill that Congress approved on Friday (Dec. 23), just in time to avert a potential government shutdown, included $2 million to complete all planning and environmental studies needed for the project, known as Envision Route 7.

The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission — the recipient of the funds — has been studying whether and how to bring dedicated bus service to Route 7 between the Spring Hill Metro station in Tysons and the Mark Center in Alexandria since 2013.

The fourth and latest phase of the study — a mobility analysis evaluating the benefits and impacts of BRT — got underway in October 2021. Expected to finish in April, it will be followed by environmental and preliminary engineering design work.

Reps. Gerry Connolly and Don Beyer requested that funds for the project be included in the omnibus bill so it can “complete the planning and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis to prepare…for design and construction,” according to a press release from Beyer’s office.

The proposed BRT will provide “high-quality, frequent” bus service along a corridor that’s already the second busiest for buses in Virginia, Connolly said in a separate release:

This BRT project will provide a reliable and affordable transportation option for communities along this corridor; provide a green transportation option that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help in the battle against climate change; reduce congestion along a key transportation corridor in Northern Virginia already benefitting from significant economic development and investment; leverage a range of federal, Commonwealth, regional, and local transportation funds; connect major employment centers (U.S. Department of Defense Mark Center, Bailey’s Crossroads, Seven Corners, West Falls Church and Tysons); and further enhance a robust and growing transit system in Northern Virginia.

“The #EnvisionRoute7 BRT will provide as many as 42,000 daily transit trips giving people access to opportunities throughout our region with direct transit connections to Metro at Tysons and East Falls Church, as well as to the new Alexandria West End Transitway,” NVTC said on Twitter, thanking Connolly and Beyer for securing the funds.

The Tysons segment of the BRT will include six stops, traveling up International Drive and looping around the Spring Hill Metro before taking International back down to Route 7 (Leesburg Pike).

The service will use two transit-only lanes that Fairfax County plans to build by widening Route 7 from Route 123 to the Capital Beltway.

From Tysons, the route continues through Falls Church City, into the Seven Corners and Bailey’s Crossroads area, and down to Alexandria. NVTC held a community meeting to discuss the Falls Church portion in October.

Other Fairfax County projects that got funding from the federal spending package include a cycle track on Sunrise Valley Drive to the Innovation Center Metro station, pedestrian and bicycle upgrades near the Vienna Metro station, and a renovation of the Little River Glen Senior Center near Fairfax City.

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