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Monday, October 28, 2013

Fairfax County seeks public input on transportation funding priorities

The Seven Corners interchange definitely needs improvement.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation has identified 192 unfunded transportation projects and is seeking public input on which ones should be the highest priority for funding. FCDOT Director Tom Biesiadny explained the process at the Seven Corners Business Breakfast Oct. 24. 

The landmark transportation bill passed by the Virginia General Assembly provides significant funding statewide. That measure, plus local and regional funding sources, is expected to provide an estimated $1.2 billion for Fairfax County transportation projects through 2020. Those funds cover capital projects and transit operations, but not ongoing maintenance, which is mostly funded by the state.

The top priorities for funding include projects related to Tysons redevelopment; improvements connected with the Fort Belvoir expansion; transit service expansions for Dulles Rail, the South County area, and the I-66 corridor; interchanges and road improvements aligned with the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan; spot improvements; countywide transit operating and capital projects; improvements in activity centers, including Annandale, Bailey’s Crossroads, Springfield, Reston, McLean, and the Route 1 corridor; and bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

Four public meetings have been scheduled across the county for public input on the transportation project priorities. The meeting closest to the Annandale area is Nov. 4 at Falls Church High School. The other meetings are Oct. 30 at Hayfield Secondary School in Alexandria, Nov. 13 at the Fairfax County Government Center in Fairfax, and Nov. 13 at Forest Edge Elementary School in Reston.

The meetings will start with an open house at 6:30 p.m. where people can view project descriptions and maps, followed by a presentation at 7 p.m. and opportunities for public comment and one-on-one discussions with staff. People can also take an online survey to indicate their top priorities. “We want to see where there is consensus,” Biesiadny said.

FCDOT has given each project a benefit/cost ratio score based on the extent to which they would result in congestion reduction, travel time savings, and air quality improvements.

In January 2014, the Board of Supervisors will approve a list of transportation priorities. In the spring, the FCDOT staff will submit a proposed funding plan.

The list of 192 unfunded projects includes the following projects in the Annandale/Mason area. The number at the end of each project is the benefit/cost ratio; the higher the number, the more cost effective it is. Some of the pedestrian/bicycle projects don’t have a benefit/cost ratio because the benefits are considered more subjective.
  • Interchange improvements at Seven Corners—This project doesn’t have a cost or benefit/cost ratio score attached to it because FCDOT is waiting to see the outcome of the Seven Corners Transportation Study.
  • Roadway spot improvements at Backlick Road and Industrial Road—Construct a left turn lane on northbound Backlick Road and add a sidewalk along the west side of Backlick, an upgraded pedestrian signal, and drainage improvements—$2.08 million (1.0).
  • Roadway spot improvement on Woodburn Road and Tobin Road—Add a left turn lane on northbound Woodburn Road at Tobin Road, extend the sidewalk, and replace the signal with one that includes pedestrian signals—$1.38 million (> 0.3).
  • Roadway widening on Woodburn Road from Little River Turnpike to Gallows Road—Construct an improved two-lane section on Woodburn from Little River to Tobin Road, widen Woodburn from two to four lanes from Tobin to Gallows Road, add intersection improvements such as turn lanes and better signalization, road alignment improvements, and pedestrian and bicycle facilities—$49.5 million (> 0.2).
  • Columbia Pike transit service—revise existing bus service and implement new bus service to support the operation of the Columbia Pike Streetcar—$135 million (1.4).
  • Pedestrian/bicycle improvements on Route 50—Construct a pedestrian bridge on the north side of Route 50 over the beltway from Gallows Road to Fairview Park Drive—$8 million (0.7).
  • Pedestrian/bicycle improvements on Route 50—Construct a walkway on the south side from 8301 Arlington Boulevard to Gallows Road—$700,000 (0.9).
  • Pedestrian/bicycle improvements on Backlick Road—Construct a walkway on the east side of Backlick from Kandel Court to Cindy Lane—$1.1 million (0.7).
  • Pedestrian/bicycle improvements on Backlick road—construct a walkway on the east side of Backlick from Industrial Drive to Hechinger Drive—$2 million (0.6).
  • Pedestrian/bicycle improvements on Edsall Road—Install signalized crosswalks at Montgomery Street—$150,000.
  • Pedestrian/bicycle improvements on Edsall Road—Construct a walkway on the north side of Edsall from Timber Forest Drive to Edsall Gardens Apartments—$700,000 (0.9).
  • Pedestrian/bicycle improvements on Edsall Road—Construct a walkway on the north side of Edsall Road over I-395 from Cherokee Avenue to Edsall Gardens Apartments—$4 million (0.7).
  • Pedestrian/bicycle improvements on Glen Forest Drive—Construct a walkway on the south side of Glen Forest Drive from the shopping center on Route 7 to Glen Forest Elementary School—$1.2 million (0.9).
  • Pedestrian/bicycle improvements on Little River Turnpike—Install signalized crosswalks at Old Columbia Pike/Columbia Road—$250,000.
  • Pedestrian/bicycle improvements on Medford Drive—Construct a walkway on the east side of Medford from Annandale High School to Davian Drive—$400,000 (0.7).
  • Pedestrian/bicycle improvements on Peace Valley Lane—Construct a walkway on the north side of Peace Valley along JEB Stuart High School—$500,000 (1.7).
  • Pedestrian/bicycle improvements on Seminary Road—Construct a walkway on Seminary from north of Magnolia Lane to Colfax Avenue—$1.6 million (0.9).
  • Pedestrian/bicycle improvements on Sleepy Hollow Road—Complete the missing links on Sleepy Hollow Road from Columbia Pike to Route 7—$4.3 million (0.8).
  • Pedestrian/bicycle improvements on Wayne Drive—Construct a walkway on the south side of Wayne from Gallows Road/Annandale Road to Mason Crest Elementary School—$600,000 (0.9).
A lot of the projects on the list have low benefit-cost ratios, but a few have very high ones. A $39.5 million project to extend a four-lane divided Shirley Gate Road from Braddock Road to the Fairfax County Parkway in the Braddock and Springfield districts has a ratio of 36.1, for example, and a $57.9 million project to widen Sully Road from Route 50 to I-66 has a ratio of 24.6.

None of the projects on the list address the congestion on Little River Turnpike in Annandale, although a recommendation to widen Little River from four to six lanes is included in the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan, along with other transportation improvements in central Annandale.

Public opinion could possibly tip the balance where there are two equally rated projects and a majority of people favor one project and oppose the other one.  

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