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Pedestrian improvements for Elden Street, Fairfax County schools get federal funding boost

Elden Street in downtown Herndon (staff photo by James Jarvis)

(Updated at 9:40 a.m. on 3/26/2024) A federal funding boost is coming to help improve pedestrian and bicycle facilities on the Town of Herndon’s main through street and more than a dozen other sites around Northern Virginia.

At its meeting last Thursday (March 21), the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) approved $19.5 million through the federal Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Program for 15 non-highway transportation projects in the state.

Five of the projects to receive funds are in Fairfax County or its towns, led by $2.5 million for a plan to improve the safety, accessibility and walkability of Elden Street.

According to a Town of Herndon presentation, the project includes new ADA ramps and crosswalks, a widened sidewalk that moves around existing barriers, and a grass buffer. Spanning 0.3 miles between Center Street and Ferndale Avenue, the improvements will be in close proximity to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, Herndon Middle School and St. Joseph’s School.

Over in the Town of Vienna, the Locust Street Trail project will get $1.3 million to facilitate the replacement of an existing sidewalk within a 10-foot-wide shared-use path. The project will also address drainage issues that “frequently make the existing path unusable for extended periods,” per a news release from the TPB.

The funding approved for Fairfax County will go to three different Safe Routes to Schools projects, including $140,000 for Shrevewood Elementary School in Idylwood. Developed in response to a fatal crash in 2019, the project will add three new crosswalks with a sidewalk or a shared use path connection.

“In addition to making it safer to walk or bike to school, this project will expand safe access for kids to the W&OD Trail, a key link in the National Capital Trail Network,” the TPB’s summary said.

The project has received another $1 million through other Transporation Alternatives Set-Aside funding, fulfilling the county’s full request, according to the board.

A Safe Routes to Schools program for Lake Braddock Elementary School in Annandale got around $356,000 to improve pedestrian safety and connectivity across the road and school entrance. It includes ADA ramps, new crosswalks and new pedestrian refuge islands.

More broadly, the school system’s overall SRTS program will get $276,000 to educate students on safe walking and bicycling.

“The project will develop maps with suggested safe routes, safety education, bike rodeos, walk and bike to school days, monthly challenges with rewards, build a bike give a bike programs, and the development of park and walk programs for students who live beyond the walking zone,” the press release said.

Two projects in Fairfax City also got funding from the Federal Highway Administration program:

Fern Street Neighborhood Connection, City of Fairfax: $285,119

Utilizing city property, this project will connect commercial and residential areas lacking a paved ADA-accessible pathway. The project prioritizes bikes and pedestrians by building a trail instead of a road extension and supports small area plan recommendations by initiating a pedestrian priority corridor and providing links to potential mixed-use redevelopments.

Chain Bridge Road Shared Use Path, City of Fairfax: $2,098,314

This project will provide a safer and higher quality bike and pedestrian facility along Chain Bridge Road, a busy arterial that feeds into I-66. The project will build a shared-use path between existing trails, including a connection to the National Capital Trail Network’s Custis/I-66 Trail. The project serves an Equity Emphasis area.

The total amount of approved funding from the Transportation Alternatives set-aside program has been corrected from $195 million to $19.5 million.

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