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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

How should Fairfax County spend transportation money?

Afternoon rush hour on Route 50.
Where should Fairfax County spent the $1.2 billion it expects to have available for transportation projects over the next six years?

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation is seeking public input before submitting a proposed list of projects to the Board of Supervisors in December. Civic associations and advocacy groups from all over the county will be pushing their pet projects, so residents of Annandale/Mason need to make some noise, too.

At a public meeting on transportation priorities Nov. 4 at Falls Church High School, FCDOT Director Tom Biesiadny said this effort only involves capital improvement projects and transit operations, not regular road maintenance, such as repaving and fixing potholes, which are covered under a different funding stream.

The list of 192 potential projects distributed by FCDOT Director Tom Biesiadny at the Seven Corners Business Breakfast Oct. 24, included 26 projects in the Annandale/Mason area. One of them calls for unspecified interchange improvements at Seven Corners, which will be tied to the recommendations of the Seven Corners Land Use and Transportation Task Force.

That list also included roadway spot improvements on Backlick Road and Woodburn Road, improved bus service on Columbia Pike, the Route 7 transit study, and pedestrian/bicycle improvements at 20 locations throughout the area. 

One of the projects that is vitally needed is a walkway on the south side of Wayne Drive from Gallows Road/Annandale Road to Mason Crest Elementary School. Only FCDOT got it wrong, calling it the “Lacey School,” so let them know they need to correct it.

Since the presentation in Seven Corners, the list of projects has grown from 192 to 214. Among the projects added are a $47.5 million project to widen Route 50 from Cedar Hill Road to Annandale Road and a $1.3 million pedestrian/bicycle improvement project to construct a walkway on the north side of Little River Turnpike, on the west and east of Roberts Avenue in Annandale. 

The list of projects does not include widening Little River Turnpike or improving the traffic flow in central Annandale, even though a proposal to relieve traffic congestion is included in the Annandale amendment to the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan, which was approved in 2010.

Biesiadny said that project was not on the list because “it might be too complex and we are focusing on projects that could be accomplished within six years.” If that is something that people want, he said, they should let FCDOT know.

There are lots of ways for the public to make their views known:: People can take an online survey, submit comments to FCDOT via email, engage in “social voting,” take a survey using a QRC app on a phone, or comment through Facebook or Twitter (@FairfaxCounty). 

Additional public outreach meetings have been scheduled (Nov. 12 at the Fairfax County Government Center and Nov. 13 in Reston), as well as presentations to civic and business groups.

FCDOT is conducting cost-benefit analyses on the proposed factors, focusing on travel time savings, vehicle operating costs savings, congestion reduction, and collective emissions reduction.  Each project is given a score based on its potential life cycle benefit over 20 years.

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