The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) is reviewing a study of Envision Route 7’s impact on Falls Church. The study doesn’t make recommendations but provides analysis on how BRT might impact bus and car traffic in Falls Church.
According to the NVTC agenda:
The Commission will be asked to accept the findings of the Envision Route 7 Phase 4-1 Mobility Study, a key element of the fourth phase of planning for a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system designed to connect the Mark Center in Alexandria to Tysons via Bailey’s Crossroads, Seven Corners and Falls Church along the Route 7 corridor.
The study included a variety of scenarios for how the BRT route could run through Falls Church, from a “no-build” option to full transit lanes, along with various “hybrids” inbetween.
Unsurprisingly, the scenarios with the higher number of dedicated bus lanes having the largest travel time decrease for buses, though travel times would also increase for cars and other vehicles.
The study also included feedback from public engagement, which determined 60% of respondents agreed improving bus speed and reliability was a high priority, though there was also concern about how the changes might impact bicyclist safety.
The full report is available online.
NVTC is working with Falls Church throughout this fall to develop a preferred scenario, with the project going to various boards and commissions in Falls Church, Fairfax, Alexandria and Arlington this winter.
Image via NVTC/Twitter
If you find trips on the Capital Beltway into Maryland nightmarish now, imagine what they would be like without any transit options.
That’s the scenario posed by the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) in a new study on the value of the region’s transit network, including Metro, local bus services like Fairfax Connector and the Virginia Railway Express (VRE).
Released today (Thursday), the study found that the American Legion Bridge — the only direct link between Fairfax County and Maryland — would need to carry 24,653 or 8.2% more vehicles per day in 2025 if there was no transit (325,619 vehicles) compared to the projected traffic volume with transit (300,965 vehicles).
The other bridges across the Potomac River would see even bigger differences, led by a 39.2% increase on the Arlington Memorial Bridge.
“These bridges are congested today, and congestion will increase in the future. Without transit, however, the capacity constraint on the bridges would be substantially greater,” the study report says.
The report notes that rush-hour traffic on all of the Potomac crossings is projected to exceed capacity in 2025 regardless of transit availability. The American Legion Bridge would exceed capacity by 3,651 vehicles under the “base” conditions and by 7,379 vehicles under the “no transit” scenario — a 102% difference.
Construction is underway to widen the Capital Beltway (I-495) by adding two toll lanes in each direction from the Dulles Toll Road to just south of the American Legion Bridge. The Virginia Department of Transportation has forecast that the 495 NEXT project will move approximately 2,500 more people per hour in both directions, starting in 2025.
However, Maryland’s plans to replace and expand the bridge remain in limbo following the exit of its private partner. Replacing the American Legion Bridge would allow the Beltway to move 5,400 more people an hour, VDOT has said, but the endeavor will cost an estimated $1 billion.
According to an NVTC spokesperson, the study’s calculations incorporated the 495 NEXT project, but it didn’t include the possibility of future bus service between Tysons and Bethesda, as proposed by both Fairfax Connector and Metro.
“Our study evaluated the difference between what’s currently planned for 2025 and a scenario in which all transit in Northern Virginia is removed,” NVTC said. “That means the proposed future route from Tysons to Bethesda, using the American Legion Bridge, was not included since it won’t be in service by then.” Read More
Thanks to some unanticipated financial wiggle room, Fairfax County’s request for funds to build pedestrian facilities near the Vienna Metro station now has support from the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission.
At a meeting on Thursday (June 2), the regional group of elected officials approved the proposed trail as one of seven projects recommended for I-66 Commuter Choice funding, which comes from toll revenue and supports transit and infrastructure improvements in the corridor.
NVTC staff had recommended in April that the commission leave the trail off its list of projects to submit to the state for consideration. The six projects supported at that time included a continuation of Fairfax Connector’s bus service between the Vienna Metro and the Pentagon.
The projects were seeking $12.4 million in funds, and the group estimated that $14.1 million would be available. Fairfax County is requesting $2.2 million to build a nearly 1-mile I-66 Trail segment between the interstate’s Nutley Street interchange and Blake Lane in Oakton.
NVTC says the project could now be fully funded with $1.4 million that has been freed up by “a pending project closeout” on top of $1 million in “remaining revenue that staff had already identified” for the coming fiscal year 2023-2024, which starts July 1 and ends on June 30, 2023.
“The proposed trail would create a safe, attractive route to Metrorail by bicycle or foot for commuters making their way to destinations in the I-66 Inside the Beltway corridor,” NVTC said in its agenda for yesterday’s meeting.
The trail will consist of 5,000-foot-long cycle track and sidewalk along Country Creek Road/Virginia Center Boulevard and a 10-foot-wide, paved shared-use path along Sutton Road.
According to a staff report, the commission received 17 public comments specifically about the trail from an online survey that was open from April 15 to May 16. All but one expressed support for the project.
“This is the project I’m most supportive of. Anything we can do that makes it easier and more convenient to walk or bike we should do,” one respondent said.
With construction on the cycle track and path not expected to start until late 2024, the Virginia Department of Transportation is planning interim amenities for bicyclists and pedestrians that are scheduled to fall into place this year.
The addition of the Vienna Metro trail brings NVTC’s total funding request up to $15.1 million. The other submitted projects include bus service renewals, bus fare reductions in Prince William, a Virginia Railway Express parking garage in Manassas Park, and a new Ballston Metro entrance in Arlington.
Whenever the planned I-66 Trail is unveiled, it might have some glaring gaps in Fairfax County.
For a second time, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission has opted not to recommend funding for the county’s planned 1-mile segment of trail from the Vienna Metro station near Nutley Street to Blake Lane in Oakton.
The Fairfax County Department of Transportation had requested $2.2 million in funding for the project, which would add a 5,000-foot-long cycle track along Country Creek Road/Virginia Center Boulevard and a 10-foot-wide paved path along Sutton Road.
It was one of four projects that the county submitted for consideration in the next round of the I-66 Commuter Choice program, which allocates I-66 toll revenue to transportation projects throughout the corridor.
NVTC staff recommended moving forward with six of nine projects proposed for fiscal years 2023-2024, which runs from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023. The regional group’s program advisory committee met yesterday (Thursday) to discuss the rankings prior to opening a public comment period today (Friday).
With a score of 69 out of 100 points, the only Fairfax County project to make the cut was a request for $1.2 million to support two more years of bus service between the Vienna Metro station and Pentagon. The funding will cover 10 morning and 10 evening peak direction, express trips.
The Vienna Metro trail project received 57 points based on technical merit, cost-effectiveness, and other factors. The county had previously submitted the project for Commuter Choice funding in 2019.
NVTC staff also did not recommend funding for an I-66 Trail segment along Post Forest Drive in Fairfax to the future Monument Drive commuter parking garage, or to enhance bus service from the Stringfellow Road Park-and-Ride in Centreville to the Pentagon.
Those projects had price tags of nearly $4.4 million and nearly $2.9 million, respectively, and received scores of 40 and 47.
How efficiently a project can move people is the leading factor when calculating scores, said Ben Owen, NVTC’s Commuter Choice senior program manager. The top six projects would involve nearly $12.4 million in funds, with a conservative estimate of $14.1 million expected to be available for this year.
The recommended projects are projected to reduce vehicle usage in the region, cut greenhouse gas emissions by 84%, and save commuters 83,000 hours of delay and $2 million annually in fuel costs, according to a presentation to the committee.
The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission and Commonwealth Transportation Board are slated to approve the project list in June and begin funding in July.
Photo via NVTC/YouTube