Email signup
Traffic fills Richmond Highway (via Fairfax County)

The clock is ticking for Fairfax County and the D.C. region to adopt a new transportation plan aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

This past June, the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) approved Visualize 2045 — a regional transportation plan that runs through 2045 and must be updated every four years, as mandated by the federal government.

At the same meeting, it voted to include greenhouse gas emission goals in the next plan, targeting cuts of 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.

Now, six months later, Fairfax County is already preparing to submit its segment of that plan with those emission goals in mind, but the process will be slightly different from previous years.

Presented at the Board of Supervisors transportation committee meeting on Tuesday (Jan. 31), Visualize 2050 will include “zero-based budgeting,” meaning all localities have to resubmit their transportation projects for consideration to ensure they adhere to the new emission reduction goals.

Before, most projects automatically carried over from one plan to the next, though projects could be added or taken out if needed, Fairfax County Department of Transportation planner Malcolm Watson explained to the supervisors.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn, who’s on the TPB with Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw, noted that the board has had a “lively discussion” over the last few years regarding the emission goals.

“There’s been…quite a difference of opinion on the climate change stuff, particularly between the inner jurisdictions and the outer jurisdictions,” Alcorn said. “We are kind of right in between.”

County staff have identified 33 projects they expect to be part of the transportation plan and will need to be resubmitted under the new standards. Projects currently “in development” include Reston Parkway improvements, a new Dulles Airport Access road from Chain Bridge Road, and a widening of Frying Pan Road from Sully to Centreville roads.

Most of those projects are expected to be completed between 2025 and 2040.

There are 25 projects that could be exempted from the emission standards because they are already funded or under construction. Those include the Richmond Highway Bus Rapid Transit system, an I-495 overpass at Tysons Corner Center, and the $237 million Soapstone Connector.

Watson cautioned that the lists may change as projects get taken off and added, depending on priorities, the new emission goals, and other factors.

Next month, the TPB will issue a “call for projects,” and the lists will be officially published for public review.

“This will officially kick off Visualize 2050,” Watson said.

The county board ultimately will have to vote to approve the project lists over the summer before they get submitted to the TPB.

The hope is that by December 2024, the TPB will approve Visualize 2050, and the new emission goals will become the norm, making Visualize 2055 perhaps a bit less labor-intensive.

Photo via Fairfax County

0 Comments

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

0 Comments

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is looking for public feedback on some planned improvements — including a potential widening — for a stretch of Telegraph Road in Franconia.

The goal of the project is to cut down on congestion along the busy road as well as improve pedestrian mobility.

In a presentation last week, VDOT said the most basic upgrade would be adding an “auxiliary through lane” for northbound traffic on the east side of Telegraph Road, which could hopefully help cut down on congestion.

Per VDOT, Telegraph Road averages about 20,000 vehicles a day, and Hayfield Road averages about 7,900 vehicles daily.

There are two additional concepts connected to that widening. They involve adding sidewalks to the east side of Telegraph Road or adding sidewalks on one or both sides of the street.

According to a release from VDOT:

  • Baseline concept: Adding a northbound auxiliary through lane on Telegraph Road through the Hayfield Road intersection and upgrading curb ramps on the east side of Telegraph Road
  • Widening to east concept: Adding a northbound auxiliary through lane on Telegraph Road through the Hayfield Road intersection, and upgrading curb ramps and providing an eight-foot-wide sidewalk on the east side of Telegraph Road
  • Widening to west concept: Adding a northbound auxiliary through lane on Telegraph Road through the Hayfield Road intersection, reducing crosswalk lengths, upgrading curb ramps, and providing an eight-foot-wide sidewalk on the east side of Telegraph Road and a six-foot-wide sidewalk on the west side

There are two additional alternatives that focus just on pedestrian improvements with no road widening. According to the release, they are:

  • Reducing crosswalk lengths and upgrading curb ramps at the Telegraph Road/Hayfield Road intersection
  • Reducing crosswalk lengths, upgrading curb ramps, and providing a six-foot-wide sidewalk on the west side and an eight-foot-wide sidewalk on the east side of Telegraph Road

The survey will be available online through Feb. 13.

Image via Google Maps

0 Comments
A proposed redevelopment of the West Falls Church Metro station property (via Fairfax County)

The nearly 24-acre, mixed-use development planned for the West Falls Church Metro station will come with at least a few upgrades to the surrounding transportation network in Idylwood, if it’s approved.

Developers EYA, Rushmark Properties, and Hoffman & Associates — known collectively as FGCP-Metro LLC — have agreed to construct a shared-use trail along the north side of Haycock Road over I-66, according to a draft proffer agreement in Fairfax County’s Jan. 24 staff report on the development plans.

The proposed trail would replace the road’s existing asphalt sidewalk and one of its westbound lanes. It would be at least 10 feet wide — exceeding the 8 feet recommended by a county study of the area’s pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.

A concept plan shows the trail being separated from the road by a 3-foot-wide jersey barrier on the I-66 bridge and a guardrail and buffer strip to the east of the bridge. With the trail, the developers would also add a crosswalk across Turner Avenue, where the trail would begin.

Under the proffers, which are conditions tied to the development, the Haycock Metrorail Connector Trail must open before the county issues a 40th residential-use permit for the townhouses planned on the Metro station site, though the deadline can be deferred if needed to get required approvals and easements.

Other improvements that the developers say they’ll provide include:

  • Falls Church Drive: pedestrian crosswalks, installation of pedestrian-actuated signalization, and modifications to the existing median, including an eastbound left turn lane
  • Haycock and Great Falls Street intersection: an exclusive left-turn lane and a single shared through/right-turn lane in each direction along Haycock
  • A right-turn lane along Grove Avenue at its intersection with Haycock Road
  • An extension of West Falls Station Blvd through the Metro property, with $2 million offered to help pay for the new road’s construction in Falls Church City’s nearby West Falls development
  • On-road bicycle lanes on both sides of West Falls Station Blvd
  • Up to four bus shelters
  • A concrete pad for a future Capital Bikeshare station

The developers have also agreed to conduct a traffic signal timing analysis and contribute $20,000 that the county can use to install traffic signal preemption devices on traffic lights within a 5-mile radius of the development site.

The development’s traffic impacts have been a top concern for many in the community, who argue that the existing infrastructure is insufficient even without the over 1 million square feet of residential, office and retail space that FGCP-Metro hopes to build on the Metro station’s parking lots at 7040 Haycock Road.

Another 820,000 square feet of development has been proposed on Virginia Tech’s adjacent Northern Virginia Center campus.

Metro’s West Falls Church redevelopment will bring up to 810 multifamily units, 90 townhomes, and a 110,000 square feet office building with up to 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.

The developers intend to build the project’s eight blocks in four phases. Individual plans have been submitted for the grid of streets, townhouses, the office building and one multifamily building, along with two proposed parks, but the blocks could be completed in any order under the proffer agreement.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust’s office will hold a virtual community meeting on the project at 7 p.m. today (Tuesday). The application is set to go to the Fairfax County Planning Commission for a public hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 8.

0 Comments
Fairfax County will evaluate the cost of removing hills on Lee Chapel Road after multiple fatal crashes (via Pat Herrity/Twitter)

With its lone survivor still hospitalized, this month’s crash that killed two teens on Lee Chapel Road has spurred Fairfax County to step up its efforts to address long-standing concerns about the safety of the key Fairfax Station th0roughfare.

During its meeting yesterday (Tuesday), the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors directed transportation staff to develop a cost estimate for a project that would widen the two-lane road to four lanes and eliminate hills that limit driver visibility along a roughly 1-mile segment between Ox Road (Route 123) and Fairfax County Parkway.

Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity originally proposed the project in 2017 after a 19-year-old died in a crash at the same intersection with Fairfax County Parkway in 2015. However, no funding has been identified yet.

A petition calling for safety improvements on Lee Chapel Road now has over 13,500 signatures. Herrity met the two South County High School students behind the campaign on Monday (Jan. 23), he told the board.

“There’s a lot of community support for doing something,” he said. “Unfortunately it takes a tragedy.”

Unanimously approved, Herrity’s board matter also asks staff to look at more immediate ways to improve the roadway’s safety, such as adding streetlights and clearing shoulders on the adjacent parkland.

According to preliminary state data, there have been 245 crashes and 149 injuries on Lee Chapel Road since 2010, including the fatal crashes in 2015 and this past Jan. 10. Also the site of a 2005 crash that killed an 18-year-old who had just graduated from Hayfield Secondary School, the road has proven especially dangerous for young, inexperienced drivers.

The victims of the fatal crash on Jan. 10 were all South County High School students. Ariana Haftsavar and Ashlyn Brotemarkle, the two teens who were killed, were 16.

Detectives have determined that the 2019 Lexus IS350 was traveling at 100.7 mph when it veered off the road, becoming airborne for about 130 feet before landing on its roof, the Fairfax County Police Department reported last night.

“Fire and rescue personnel extricated one victim, who was taken to a nearby hospital; she remains hospitalized,” the FCPD said. “The driver and the rear passenger, of the Lexus were declared deceased at the scene. The passenger in the backseat was not wearing a seatbelt.”

In the wake of the crash, Del. Kathy Tran (D-42) will host a virtual town hall on road safety at 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 30. Read More

0 Comments
Columbia Pike between Backlick Road and Tom Davis Drive (via Google Maps)

A stretch of roadside along Columbia Pike referred to as a “disaster” in a recent meeting — near where four people were struck by a driver last year — could be getting some safety-focused upgrades.

On Monday (Jan. 23), Fairfax County presented plans for a “Complete Streets” overhaul for a section of Columbia Pike from Backlick Run to Tom Davis Drive. The project involves the construction of a new 6-foot-wide sidewalk and a high-visibility crosswalk at Tom Davis Drive, along with ADA-compliant curb ramps and a 6-foot-wide strip of landscaping.

In terms of “Complete Streets” projects, the Columbia Pike one is fairly limited in scope: it only affects the southern side of the street and doesn’t include any bicycle upgrades. Staff emphasized that what was presented was just the first phase.

Area of improvements planned for Columbia Pike (via Fairfax County)

“[This project] has been discussed for a long time,” said Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross. “It looks simple on paper, but when you look at the various land use parcels that need to be included it becomes a much broader kind of proposal. I am anxious to learn what the design is going to look like now…Now we’re really getting down to the nitty gritty so some decisions can be made.”

The Complete Streets project will also cut down on the number of curb cuts — areas where vehicles cross over the sidewalk to get in and out of parking. While limiting vehicle access can be frustrating for retail along a street, Gross said the reduction in curb cuts shouldn’t impact businesses too severely.

“Right now it is chaotic for pedestrians and vehicles alike in that section,” Gross said. “There are too many curb cuts. It really shouldn’t affect access to businesses because there will be other curb cuts available. The basic idea is much safer for everyone.”

James Albright, a member of the county’s Trails, Sidewalks and Bikeways Committee, said he was excited to see improvements coming to Columbia Pike.

“I appreciate this project because this sidewalk is a disaster. It’s not safe,” Albright said. “This has been an area of concern.”

But Albright also expressed concern that the county was doing nothing for cycling along Columbia Pike, with no additional bicycle facilities planned as part of the overhaul.

Turner acknowledged that bicycle lanes were not proposed as part of the phase 1 improvement. Transportation Planner Nicole Wynands said Columbia Pike is a relatively narrow, four-lane road without much wiggle room to include bicycle lanes.

The project is currently scheduled to continue design through summer 2025, with construction running from 2026-2027.

Photo via Google Maps

0 Comments
An impromptu memorial on Blake Lane for the two Oakton High School students killed in a crash last June (photo by Amy Woolsey)

A new report from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) found a “startling increase” in the number of pedestrian fatalities in Northern Virginia last year.

Along with the increase in pedestrian fatalities, DMV found a smaller increase in overall traffic-related fatalities in the region.

“In 2022, 56 pedestrians were killed as a result of crashes in the Fairfax region, compared to 37 in 2021,” the DMV report said. “This is an increase of 51%. Overall, based on preliminary numbers, there were 203 traffic-related fatalities in the region in 2022, a 3% increase compared to 2021.”

Crashes increased by 4% throughout Virginia last year.

A report compiled by the Traffic Records Electronic Data System (TREDS) put the number of total traffic fatalities in Fairfax County at 65, with 4,922 injuries.

Last year was the deadliest year for Fairfax County pedestrians in over a decade. With 32 deaths, the county was the site of over half of the pedestrian fatalities in Northern Virginia last year.

“We provide this data to give folks a look at what’s going on right now in their communities,” acting DMV Commissioner Linda Ford said in the release. “We hope drivers will be motivated to make a change and put a stop to the behaviors that we know contribute to these devastating crashes. Each of these numbers represents a real person and many are people in your community.”

0 Comments
Optical speed bars intended to slow down drivers have been installed on Lee Chapel Road in Fairfax Station (via Pat Herrity/Twitter)

Calls for safety improvements on Lee Chapel Road in Fairfax Station have resurfaced in the wake of last week’s car crash that killed two teens and put a third in the hospital.

As an online petition urging Fairfax County to prioritize regular maintenance and new safety features surpassed 12,000 signatures, Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity — who represents the area — met with state and county transportation staff to discuss short, mid and long-term options for addressing long-standing safety concerns.

Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck and Del. Kathy Tran (D-42) also attended the meeting yesterday (Wednesday).

“Both VDOT and County staff came to the meeting with ideas for improving the safety of the road and will be working to address the feasibility and timing of these potential improvements including those recommended by residents,” Herrity tweeted, adding that another meeting will be held next week.

A key connection between Lorton via Route 123 and the Burke/Fairfax Station area, Lee Chapel Road has been the site of 243 vehicle crashes since 2011, resulting in 148 injuries and two deaths, according to state data.

That includes the fatal Jan. 10 crash, where a sedan veered off the road while going over a hill approaching the Fairfax County Parkway intersection, according to police. The crash killed 16-year-old South County High School students Ariana Haftsavar and Ashlyn Brotemarkle, who were identified publicly by family and friends.

Started by classmates of Ariana and Ashlyn, the petition says local residents have been questioning the road’s safety for years, noting that a 19-year-old died in a crash at the same intersection in 2015.

“The solution for this conflict is to keep the road maintained regularly by doing something big like putting in safety features to something small like filling in potholes,” the petition says. “Safety features include signs that blink when you are to slow down at turns, road lights, safety signs before the road starts, and guardrails.”

After the last week’s crash, the Virginia Department of Transportation added “optical speed bars” on the road last Friday (Jan. 13). The striped markings are thought to reduce speeds on curves with an optical illusion that makes drivers aware of how fast they’re going.

“We are saddened to hear of the loss of two of our community members,” VDOT said in a statement. “As is customary, we allow time for the police department to fully investigate the crash to determine the facts, circumstances, and cause. Once we receive the finalized police report, our Traffic Engineering group will perform a safety review of the location.” Read More

0 Comments
Traffic on the inner loop of I-495 in Tysons (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

As Fairfax County starts expanding its efforts to curtail cut-through traffic clogging up neighborhood streets, a new corollary could allow local residents to skirt those limits.

Currently, there are three neighborhoods around the county with cut-through mitigation restrictions. Those restrictions involve signs that prohibit turns into those neighborhoods from major transit corridors during the morning and/or evening rush hours.

Existing cut-through mitigation projects (via Fairfax County)

While the restrictions aim to prevent local streets from getting clogged up by drivers trying to get around traffic on major highways, that also makes it difficult for residents on those streets to legally access their homes.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation is considering shifting to a “residential cut-through permit zone,” which would let residents in the affected neighborhoods get permits for their vehicles. Signs that currently prohibit turns during rush hour would be changed to say “resident permit required.”

The draft ordinance would include specifications for eligibility for permits, set rules and permit fees, and provide information on enforcement and penalties for violation.

Fairfax County is also looking to expand its cut-through mitigation project to five neighborhood streets, including preventing cut-through traffic from rocking down to Electric Avenue.

  • Dead Run Drive and Carper Street in McLean
  • Thomas Avenue in Great Falls
  • Electric Avenue/Williams Avenue/Overlook Street in Tysons/Vienna
  • Allen Avenue in Falls Church
  • Hidden Meadow Drive in Chantilly

The proposal was scheduled for review at the Board of Supervisors transportation committee meeting in December but got pushed back to its next meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 31.

0 Comments
Town of Herndon government offices (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Sidewalk improvements are in the works for two streets in the Town of Herndon.

Included as part of the town’s long-range capital projects planning tool — the Capital Improvement Program — the town is planning a series of sidewalk improvements on Spring and Locust streets, each of which will cost over $1 million overall.

The overall CIP uses roughly $49.6 million in grant funding to support 25 different projects — a figure that does not include $57 million for projects at Elden Street and nearly $18 million in funding for Spring Street improvements.

Both of those projects are primarily funded through grants.

“Funding for large capital projects needs a mechanism so projects can come to fruition. The FY2024-FY2029 CIP incorporates all projects despite the lack of funding,” John Vernin, who manages the town’s CIP program, said in a memo.

The CIP establishes a six-year schedule for public improvements. The town’s planning commission, which held a work session on Monday (Jan. 9), makes recommendations to the town manager prior to the town council’s consideration of the program.

So far, the town has budgeted nearly $1.4 million each for the Spring and Locust street improvements. The town plans to construct continuous, ADA-compliant, 5-foot-wide sidewalks along both sides of the streets.

The Locust Street project will extend from old Spring Street to Elden Street. It will also include curb-cuts.

For Spring Street, the project will extend from Locust Street to the new Spring Street. A project to widen a quarter-mile of East Spring Street is currently underway.

The town might construct the project in phases.

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list