County narrows project list for $25 million to improve pedestrian safety and access

The intersection of Gallows Road and Cottage Street in the Dunn Loring area (via Fairfax County)

(Updated at 1:30 p.m. on 3/20/2023) Fairfax County is in the midst of deciding where nearly $25 million in funding for pedestrian and bicyclists improvements will be allocated.

After combing through more than 2,000 possible projects, staff have develop a draft list of prioritized projects, according to Michael Guarino, head of the Fairfax County Department of Transportation’s capital projects division.

At a Board of Supervisors transportation committee meeting on Tuesday (March 14), Guarino said the county is using spatial analysis tools to help sift through roughly 2,800 unfunded projects and project requests. The list was then further pared down by examining network connectivity and trip generators.

“We’re using technology as best as we can. I think are areas where we can do it more. Overall, the process is working the way we want it to, it’s just taking longer than we want it to,” Guarino said.

The decision is part of the county’s $100 million commitment to support active or non-motorized transportation access and safety improvements.

The first $5 million in funding, approved in November 2022, included $2 million for trail maintenance, $2.7 million for crosswalk projects, and $200,000 for a safe routes project near Bush Hill Elementary School. An additional $100,000 was allocated to speed feedback signs for the Fairfax County Police Department.

As part of the next cycle, $2.3 million for crosswalk projects has already been approved, along with $400,000 to repair and replace existing rapid flashing beacons through fiscal year 2028.

Board members lauded staff for the methodology used to create the draft list.

“It was very well done the way you pulled this all together,” Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said.

The county plans to seek additional money for pedestrian intersection improvements at Blake Lane and Bushman Drive in Oakton as well as Beverly Road at Old Dominion Drive and Elm Street at Old Dominion Drive in McLean after missing out on a federal grant.

The county did not receive the Safe Streets and Roads for All grant due to a lack of needed data to back up claims for the need for the projects, along with the projects not being ready to build yet, Guarino said.

Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross noted that some projects can take years to come to fruition. She said it took nearly 37 years to install sidewalks on Sleepy Hollow Road — a project that is currently under construction.

“It wasn’t all the county’s fault,” Gross said, adding that an iterative process will ensure that projects are shovel-ready.

The proposed list of active transportation projects includes:

  • Curb ramps and marked crosswalks at Sunset Hills Road and Reston Station Blvd
  • Improvements at Lockheed Blvd from Hybla Valley Elementary School to Huntley Meadows Park
  • Gum Springs Trail
  • A sidewalk on westbound Route 7 from Magnolia Avenue in front of 5930 Leesburg Pike
  • Vale Road and Flint Hill Road crosswalk improvements near Flint Hill Elementary School
  • Crosswalk improvements at Columbia Pike and Tyler Street
  • Lorton Station Blvd and Potomac Bend crosswalk improvements
  • Preliminary design for a Tuttle Road trail connection to Hillside Road
  • Rolling Road and Grigsby Drive crosswalk improvements
  • Fair Lakes Blvd and Sedghurst Drive crosswalk improvements
  • Projects from the West Falls Church and Huntington Metro area active transportation studies
  • Saint Germain Drive and Machen Road intersection improvements
  • Eskridge Road crosswalk improvements
  • Roughly $400,000 for additional Fairfax County Park Authority trail maintenance

Staff also proposed reserving funds to cover consultant fees for assistance in prioritizing projects and creating a contingency fund for cost overruns and other considerations.

The county expects to finalize the list of allocations for board consideration at a April 11 meeting. The prioritization process would continue in the fall to determine how any carryover money from the current fiscal year 2023 cycle will be allocated.