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New study analyzes potential Tysons-Maryland transit connections on Beltway’s south side

The Fairfax Board of Supervisors recently got a preview of what future transit connections between Tysons and Maryland could look like.

At a transportation committee meeting on Tuesday (Jan. 31), Todd Horsley, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation’s director of  Northern Virginia Transit Programs, presented a study of how transit could make use of the I-495 Express Lanes being extended from Springfield across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

Horsley pointed out, repeatedly, that the designs presented were not a plan, but part of a study that could be used in case those transit plans came along later.

“The VDOT study…[is] to extend I-495 Express Lanes across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge into Maryland,” Horsley said. “The document we will produce is a study, not a plan. We believe it will provide a solid foundation for a future planning effort if or when there is a funded capital project in the corridor to plan for.”

Currently, there is limited bus service along I-495 and across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. But if new I-495 toll lanes are built, Horsley said the department wanted to provide a look at what future transit connectivity on those lanes could look like.

The short-term plans — which Horsley said could be implemented almost immediately using the express lanes — could include an express route that would run from Tysons down to Alexandria. The other route could connect Tysons to locations in Maryland.

The mid-term plans doubled down on that Maryland connection with bus routes connecting Tysons to Oxon Hill, Clinton, National Harbor, and even up into Navy Yard in D.C. Those routes, Horsley said, could be implemented sometime between this year and 2045.

The longer-term connections beyond 2045 would include both more extensive bus coverage connecting Fairfax County and parts of Alexandria, and curling that cross-Woodrow Wilson Bridge connection up into The Wharf.

The study also included a model of a rail connection from Huntington into Maryland, but Horsley said it didn’t show a huge benefit in the short term for ridership compared to buses on express routes.

Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck said despite the lack of short-term benefits in the modeling, the proposal would be worth keeping an eye on.

“I recognize the first stage of that could be using bus transportation and etcetera,” Storck said, “but if we’re looking at 2040 and 2045 and we’re not looking at what fits in after that, I think we’re making a big mistake.”

Public comments on the I-495 Southside transit study will be accepted via e-mail to drptpr@drpt.virginia.gov through Wednesday, Feb. 22.

Photo via Google Maps