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Friday, September 25, 2015

Unsafe bus shelter on Columbia Pike will be removed

The 16L pulls up to the bus stop at Columbia Pike and Braddock Road.
The bus shelter on Columbia Pike near Braddock Road is expected to be taken down soon by the Washington Metropolitan Transportation Authority because WMATA determined it’s structurally unsound and unsafe.


The bus shelter is considered structurally unsound.
If it is removed, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation will evaluate the bus stop and “see if it meets our criteria for adding an amenity for riders,” says Kris Miller, project coordinator for Fairfax Connector at FCDOT. An “amenity” could be a bench, trash can, or bus shelter. To qualify for a new shelter, the bus stop would need at least 25 people boarding a bus during peak hours.

FCDOT would then determine if it should be added to the list of bus stop improvements and whether it should be a priority. There are 75 bus stop projects on the list for 2016, but not all projects are bus shelters, Miller says. If there is a safety or security issue or a bus stop is heavily used, it could be given a higher priority.


The department has a “constrained budget for improvements,” he says, and FCDOT hasn’t determined how many of the projects on the list will be funded next year. A bus shelter costs about $15,000 to $20,000. That includes the concrete pad and shelter structure but not a berm or retaining wall if needed.

An email from another FCDOT staffer says, “the replacement of this bus shelter with a county and VDOT- approved model will take anywhere from four to six months due to the fact that the site has to be redesigned and permitted. Once that has occurred, a contractor must be hired to not only excavate the existing site but install the new shelter foundation.”

The bus stop directly across Columbia Pike.
There have also been complaints about the bus stop across the street, on Columbia Pike and Lakewood Drive. There is no bus shelter, concrete pad, or sidewalk, so people getting off a bus have to negotiate a grassy hill. A bus rider who complained to WMATA said WMATA threatened to take away the bus route. 

25 comments:

  1. > A bus shelter costs about $15,000 to $20,000

    This is profoundly absurd. I wonder what the figures are behind this bloated price tag; how many bureaucrats making how many inspections that plump the price up over $3-5k.

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    1. Move to Arlington County you crazy person. In Arlington County, one of their newer glammed up bus stops cost $1 Million. Look it up you low-information commenter, it went viral all over the Internet not that long ago.

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    2. Anonymous 1:25: Your comment's unnecessarily aggressive and rude. I'm surprised the moderator let you post.

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    3. Anonymous 10:59PM: Your comment is "profoundly absurd."

      Why do you think you are entitled to determine what is "correct" speech on this blog?

      I am surprised you find the comment of someone in the nation's capital complaining about "bureaucrats" allegedly performing unnecessary "inspections" will result in the cost of the installation of a brand-new bus shelter rising from the $3,000 to $5,000 cost the commenter alleges the new bus shelter should cost, to the "plumped up" price of $15,000 to $20,000, should be treated with a significant degree of respect and decorum.

      I am also surprised you are advocating for prohibiting speech you consider "unnecessarily aggressive and rude" right here near the Capitol of the "Land of the Free and Home of the Brave."

      I imagine someone could well consider your comment unnecessarily contentious and opposed to the principle of "Freedom of Speech" the USA was founded on - and "surprised" the moderator let you post a comment intended to only publicly shame, but not inform.

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  2. absurd based on what? You would not even be able to remove and dispose of the old shelter and concrete pad for $3k. If anything, the price sounds low depending on the type of new shelter.

    Costs would include a contractor to remove and dispose of the old shelter, break up the existing concrete slab and haul to a dump site. Silt fence and inlet protection will be required. Replace the stone base for the new concrete. Form, reinforce and place / finish the new concrete slab. Repair all the adjacent grass that is damaged by the work. Have a manufacturer fabricate and deliver a new shelter - depending on the size it may need to be assembled on site. The shelter needs to be anchored to the slab as well. Signage would likely need to be replaced. And all of this work is directly adjacent to an active traffic lane, necessitating traffic control devices and signs, including flag men. This is just off the top of my head, there's probably more involved.

    You don't just order this thing from Amazon, take it out of the box and set it there.

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    1. Thanks for the perspective. Yes, construction costs are freaking high in this country.

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  3. A few miles east on the Pike and the bus shelters can cost up to $1 million!

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  4. A construction contractor does not lift his finger for $5K

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  5. Gee, the condition of that bus shelter looks like an accurate example of the County's state of affairs.....falling apart, decomposing and ready to collapse. Whoever keeps saying that this is one of the wealthiest counties in the country must be smoking weed.

    One can only assume that this must be one of Fairfax's poorly conceived incentives to motivate people to live here and use mass transit, instead of clogging up the roadways.

    In my humble opinion this may be another way to drive the middle class out and keep the Section 8 folks in cattle cars and broken down barns waiting for buses, while the NIMBYs drive around in their luxury mobiles.

    Sad

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    1. Love the cognitive leap here. New bus shelter = driving middle class out. You must have a coronary when they talk about repaving.

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    2. There will most likely take away that shelter, and not replace it.

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    3. Adam they are not replacing the bus stop. There is no ETA, for a new nor a plan. I would interpret this commentor's post as another blow to the survival of the middle class in Fairfax and the continued demise of an already declining metro system. Additionally, I would ask Metro and our leadership in Fairfax/Mason District why this has been ignored and what advocacy is intended?

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    4. The middle class in Fairfax doesn't ride buses. That's why there's so much traffic congestion. Travel by bus is tedious and hardly inexpensive. Even getting to a bus stop can be a challenge, especially if you have to cross Columbia Pike during rush hour. I gave up on Metrobus a long time ago. Driving may have its shortcomings, but at least I can avoid freezing or getting rained on.

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    5. That is because Fairfax County has no strategy to get drivers out of their cars on to mass transit in its older neighborhoods, namely Mason. They are completely ill prepared and not skilled as to how to transition a suburban county to an urban one. They want to build Mosaics but they have zero strategy to thread the needle with viable public transportation that people want to use and economic development that can support and sustain it.......Fairfax grow up. If you want to play in the big game act like it. Start with the little things, like fixing what is already broken and building upon it........simple project management 101.

      I think leadership in this county needs to take some training classes.

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    6. There will never be a practical means for Mason residents to commute anywhere by bus. That scenario only works in an urban settings where residents live close to bus stops and don't ride long distances. Riding across Arlington County every day on a bus to board Metrorail at the Pentagon takes too long. At one time, it would have made sense to increase the amount of parking at Metro stations to encourage more drivers to ride Metrorail. However, that option is now foreclosed. The best remaining partial solution would be to finally make the EFC Metro accessible by shuttle bus to Mason residents living in the Seven Corners area once that area is redeveloped. However, that won't help the remaining Mason residents. So, forget about buses and alternative fixes like Penny's Trolley Folly. Commuting by car remains the only practical option for most Mason residents.

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    7. There are many federal workers that are employed at the Pentagon and in DC, that can only use the Columbia Pike bus routes to the Pentagon Transit Center which is major hub into DC via Mason District.

      Part of Fairfax's survival depends on the Feds as the largest employer in the area. Fairfax, does not do its part. Arlington and Alexandria not only beef up their Metro with additional lines that have bus shelters and paved bus stops, they argument it with DART and DASH. All Fairfax can provide are broken down bus stations, unsafe bus stop in the weeds putting it citizens in harms way. Oh yea, I forgot we have the Fairfax Connector......guess what, that is in Tysons. Our Supervisor is the BoS Chair, why don't we have better transit?

      Don't make excuses for the County's lack of priorities.......give me a break. Fairfax is a Fail-fax.

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    8. If you rode those buses, you'd know that most riders get on and off in Arlington. The feds headed to the Pentagon or DC from Fairfax either drive their own cars or car pool.

      Penny Gross couldn't keep the 4S line along Sleepy Hollow going even though it only ran limited rush hour service twice a day in each direction. That's because no one was going to ride those buses all the way across Arlington County to Roslyn. The same goes with the local Metro buses running along Columbia Pike. The only shot Metro has to pick up more ridership in Mason is to shorten trips by directing more buses to East Falls Church. However, they're seemingly oblivious to that approach.

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    9. Actually, I and many of my neighbors ride those busses, specifically the 16L which gets on the HOV at Mark Center and goes directly to the Pentagon Transit Center. Many mornings it standing room only. Its well utilized by FFX residents. There are 6 express bus routes in the morning and in the eve. And this bus does stop at Braddock and Columbia Pike, where the referenced shelter is located.

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    10. Let's tell the whole story. The 16L is an express bus that only operates during rush hour and takes on and drops off most of its passengers along Seminary Road not Columbia Pike. In other words, it works best as an express route for those who live close to Seminary Road. Moreover, for Fairfax residents boarding on Columbia Pike, having to spend time riding down Seminary Rd. cancels out much of the 16L's presumed benefits as an express route. Like it or not, riding a metro bus to the Pentagon is not an efficient means of commuting for most Mason residents.

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    11. The bus is an express route and is 1/3 to 1/2 full by the time it gets to Seminary Road, which BTW is still partially in Mason. Travel time to the Pentagon is 25 mins vs a miserable 45 to 60 mins on the 395 distress way that is a parking lot at rush hour. The transit center at the Pentagon is a very crowded and heavily used hub to get to other parts of DC and VA via busses and rail. Many of our military use this bus route during the morning and evening rush hours.

      If the Bus service was better, and travel time was shorter, more people would use it. But with broken down shelters, bus stops in the weeds, and busses that shake up the passengers like a mix master, there isn't much incentive for others who have access to other means to use metro. The metro system out in centrurbia is pathetic and not representative of County leadership that claims to be mass transit and environmental friendly. If Farifax wants to become relevant as a destination for young professionals to work and live, it has got to do better. By not making improvements Fairfax's roads will continue to become clogged arteries, while its neighborhoods age into decline because it cannot attract the blood needed to re-invorgorate and sustain its communities.

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    12. Be happy you have anything to cover your head. The closest bus stop doesn't even have a shelter. It's a stake in the ground. You also left out the part about the 15 - 20 minute hike to even get to a bus stop. Many of us don't live close to Columbia Pike, so that just adds to the difficulty. Especially at the ridiculously early hours those first couple of 16L buses run. Moreover, commuters living in proximity to Columbia Pike wouldn't take I-95 unless they're carpooling. They're more likely drive down the Columbia Pike or Rt. 50. Those are the roads I drive and, if I leave early enough, it usually takes me no more 15 - 20 minutes to reach the District. Sure, I have to pay for parking, but then neither my working hours nor Metrorail are predictable enough to guarantee that I'd be returning in time to catch the express bus anyway. In my opinion, complaining about the bus shelters is pointless when there's nothing practicable about commuting by bus.

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    13. Follow the Money- Arlington and Alexandria to some extent have commercial tax bases that are a high percentage of overall local resident. Offices do not require schools, require less Police protection and with sprinklers nowadays require Fire/Rescue usually for ambulance. Fairfax, even with its huge retail and commercial land uses also is home to an incredible number of homes. Homes barely pay for themselves in terms of local revenues. Fairfax probably has a commercial tax base of less than 20% maybe less than 15%. Arlington's commercial tax base is approx 50% ,,, that is a lot of disposable income (plus they have Metro stations).Transit is expensive in MD/DC/VA. Part of the reason is that their is no history or "culture" of public transportation in the Balto/DC areas except for the cities. Metrorail of course is popular with the middle class but buses? Most folks riding buses, even in the cities, do it because they have no choice. If Fairfax was buying 150 shelters a year and installing them the cost would be much lower, Also if the NIMBYs would allow advertising on shelters, shelters would actually yield a profit. Like the person who commented above says about an auto protecting from the traveler weather (like some Metro stations) ... The District, Fairfax, Arlington, Loudon, Prince William and the MD jurisdictions are not going to be able to build themselves out of congestion,,, land costs too much. This is not Dallas, TX. Nevertheless, America's auto travel delusions continue. Perhaps if BRT or even just "bus-only" lanes get some recognition and acceptance, the middle class will start to like this less polluting, lower cost, much safer mode of travel. Metrorail is too expensive in every way to reach the exurbs.

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  6. On another crazy note: Isn't it strange that there is no direct annandale road to dunn loring metro bus? 3A goes up Annandale to EFC/Rosslyn... but if you want to take a bus to Mosaic District/Dunn Loring, you need to catch a connector down by Gallows/Hummer intersection.

    Seems like a straight down Ravensworth all the way to Gallows bus, without all the twists/turns on 236 could become an express to help some residents get directly to rail access

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  7. Metro will continue to pack as many bodies onto its buses as necessary to justify keeping a route in operation. That includes forcing riders to sit on endless meandering routes instead of delivering them to the most convenient metro station by the shortest route. That strategy has made buses the choice of last resort for transportation in Fairfax. So, regardless of traffic congestion, I'm sticking to commuting by car because it still beats the hassle of riding a bus just to end up waiting interminably for a delayed metrorail train.

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    1. You are lucky many of us cannot afford to pay premium parking near the White House. Parking at my location is $300/month.

      So even us professionals have to join the cattle in our ride out of Fairfax.

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