|The Metroway bus rapid transit line started operating in Alexandria in 2014. [MJW15/Wikimedia Commons]|
That is one of the key elements in Fairfax County’s plans for a “high-quality transit network” that would be a mix of light rail transit (LRT), bus rapid transit (BRT), and Metro extensions.
Fairfax County Department of Transportation officials gave a presentation on the plan at a public meeting Feb. 23 at Marshall High School. The plan has a “horizon year” of 2050, so don’t expect any big changes any time soon. FCDOT plans to present its recommendations to the Board of Supervisors in July.
The top priority in the plan is transit along the Route 1 corridor, which could be connected with Metroway, the BRT system running between Crystal City and the Braddock Road Metro station.
The second top priority is transit along Route 7 from Alexandria to Tysons – either LRT or BRT – that would serve the Mark Center, Bailey’s Crossroads, Seven Corners, and the East Falls Church Metro station.
That project, “Envision Route 7,” is being developed by the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission. Several public meetings have already been held on it, and more meetings are planned for April.
The Gallows Road project could be LRT or BRT. It would be tied to a provision already in the Comprehensive Plan for widening Gallows to six lanes.
Another proposal in the plan calls for LRT or BRT along the Route 28 corridor from the Dulles Town Center to Centreville. Express buses are not considered high-quality transit, but could be included in the plan for Route 50, Route 236, Van Dorn Street, Route 28, the Fairfax Parkway, and the Beltway express lanes.
All these transit lines would require extensive collaboration with other projects, such as Route 66, and other governmental entities.
The objectives of the plan include reducing congestion on roadways, encouraging transit-oriented development, supporting managed growth, and increasing transit ridership.
The plan is based on the idea that population growth will occur in “activity centers,” like Tysons and Merrifield, not in established lower-density suburbs, said Len Wolfenstein, a transportation planner with FCDOT.
Tom Burke of FCDOT said the plan calls for transit in “destination corridors,” routes with short distances between stops designed to connect multiple neighborhoods with multiple activity centers, as well as “commuter corridors,” such as existing VRE and Metro routes that focus on getting people to and from work.
Future Metro expansions in the plan suggest extending the orange line to Gainesville, the blue line to Potomac Mills, and the yellow line to Hybla Valley. All that is far in the future, however, as the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority would first have to address capacity issues in D.C.
If fully implemented, the plan would add 33 miles of Metrorail, 11 new Metro stations, 33 miles of BRT/LRT with 32 stations, and 143 miles of express bus service with 26 stations.
Once the Board of Supervisors approves the transit network, the recommendations would be incorporated into the country’s Comprehensive Plan. Supporting policies, addressing such issues as multimodal street design and feeder bus service, would be developed. The county would then refine the plans and apply for federal funding.