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Discussion Title Transportation in Fairfax County

On Monday, June 10, at 1 p.m., join Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova for an online chat on transportation in Fairfax County. The Chairman will answer questions and address concerns on the current state of transportation infrastructure and what the future holds for transportation in the County. Also, get details on the Evolution of Transportation event scheduled for June 12 at the Angelika Film Center and Café in Merrifield.


Sharon Bulova : Hi! It is great to be with you this afternoon. If you are interested in transportation, which I assume you are, I hope you will join me Wednesday night at 7:30pm at the Angelika Film Center and Cafe in Merrifield for the Evolution of Transportation! If you can't make it, the program will be available online by going to my website at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/chairman. A lot is happening on the transportation front. I look forward to your questions!


John Metzler : I live just outside the Tyson's Transportation area -- i.e. I am not to be taxed. But I am in an "apron" region -- just as a golf green has an apron area around it, in reality so too with Tysons Corner. I've seen no planning for how traffic will be handled in that apron region as Metro opens, etc In particular, the intersections of Great Falls Road, Dolley Madison Blvd, and Old Chain Bridge Road, need re-engineering: at a minimum, no turns on red during rush hours, better timing of lights, and better enforcement. And when the McLean Metro opens, what planning has been done to minimize the "downstream" effects from the inevitable new traffic patterns in the apron region. Thanks. P.S. Keep up the good work.

Sharon Bulova :

The transformation of Tysons into an urban center will be one of the largest transportation challenges Fairfax County has ever undertaken. Developers who are getting property rezoned under the new Comprehensive Plan amendment are committing tens of millions of dollars to major roadway, transit, bike and pedestrian improvements within Tysons. This is in addition to the new tax district you mentioned – all who benefit from the transformation of Tysons will contribute to this effort.

You may want to take a look at our Four Year Transportation Program page on the County’s website at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/fouryearprogram.htm to see what transportation plans and projects are in the County’s plan in your neighborhood, and also on the regional TransAction 2040 Plan at http://www.thenovaauthority.org/. Staff is also working on a Neighborhood Impact Study for the community outside of Tysons.

It is important to remember that the plan calls for phasing of infrastructure with development so that our collective investment is adequate to meet the needs of Tysons without being too burdensome on residents and businesses. This policy will allow us to maintain flexibility to meet needs as they arise.


Rev. Reed : Dear Chairwoman Bulova: I have been proud to support and vote for you. My question is, why are we spending so much money on Transportation which is duly needed; when you have rejected to allow the Brain Foundation to be Grandfathered in as a 501C. Fairfax residents are saving so much money to spend on much needed transportation and yet we are turning our backs on the Brain Foundation. As a mental health counselor, Fairfax County needs MORE of these homes to care for those in great mental health need, rather than stay homeless or institutionalized when they need to be integrated into a caring and compassionate home setting. Will you allow the Brain Foundation to be Grandfathered in as a 501C organization rather than continue to tax them, when Fairfax County is already saving thousands of dollars and not caring for our neighbors?

Sharon Bulova :

The new funding we have been discussing for Transportation was approved by the General Assembly and can only be used for transportation.  If it is used for something else, the funding is taken away.

I am very supportive of the Brain Foundation and think they do great work. I appreciate your advocacy of their behalf. As I hope you know, I am a strong proponent for fostering the strong partnerships Fairfax County has established with our non-profit community. During the mid ‘90s, as Chairman of the Board’s Budget Committee I helped to establish the successful Community Funding Pool which provides funding to non-profits (including the Brain Foundation) that work in partnership with Fairfax County to serve our community. I have also been an outspoken advocate for making sure that affordable housing is available to Fairfax County residents and workers – especially those who are struggling with disabilities, such as brain injuries.

Almost a decade ago, the Board of Supervisors imposed a moratorium on new tax exemptions for nonprofit organizations. At the time (the Recession of the 90’s) we were facing a decline in tax revenues. The Board was also finding it difficult to draw the line among non-profits requesting tax relief. The revenue loss exacerbated our ability to meet the mounting human services needs in our community.

We have many great organizations in Fairfax County that also provide a significant value to our community. Many of these worthy organizations would also be candidates for an exemption. It would be very difficult and unfair to only offer it to a single organization without considering others.

Fairfax County’s affordable housing programs utilize several policy tools and funding streams to address the spectrum of housing needs in our community. The Board’s plan is detailed in our fully funded Housing Blueprint <http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/rha/housingblueprint.htm> .

The non-profit sector is a critical part of meeting the housing and human service needs we face and the County actively partners with non-profits to achieve these goals. We support affordable housing through grants like the Bridging Affordability Program and the Consolidated Community Funding Pool. We also form partnerships to leverage funding streams like the Housing Choice Voucher Program and contract with non-profits for their expertise in services like shelter management, day services and substance abuse treatment. This array of programs relies on the real estate tax for support.

Today’s economic circumstances are even more unsettled than they were when the Board originally imposed the moratorium. Federal sequestration will result in furloughs and reduced income for local residents employed by the federal government. The uncertainty it has created has already resulted in less tax revenue from our commercial tax base. Lastly, the County is facing reduced federal government support for a wide range of services, including affordable housing vouchers, SNAP and other critical services while the demand for these services remains high in the community. Local government is left struggling to address the gaps left by mandated federal cuts.

I appreciate your writing and giving me the opportunity to respond. I hope the background and explanation is helpful. Thanks also for your interest and advocacy for affordable housing and for persons with disabilities.


Zeke : What's evolving about transportation in Fairfax County? I know we're finally get road funds locally, but what's really going to change?

Sharon Bulova :

Much will change. This infusion of dollars, while not a panacea, will help us meet rising demand for new transportation infrastructure and help reduce congestion and improve our air quality and quality of life. The new state money may contribute to projects all the way from lengthening the platform at the Burke VRE station to increasing capacity and widening Route 7. The statewide component of the new transportation bill will result in increased maintenance of neighborhood streets and sidewalks, a state responsibility.

You may want to take a look at our Four Year Transportation Program page on the County’s website at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/fouryearprogram.htm to see what transportation plans and projects are in the County’s plan in your neighborhood, and also on the regional TransAction 2040 Plan at http://www.thenovaauthority.org/.

I encourage you to weigh in on the proposed list of regional projects to be funded through the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority. A number of opportunities for public engagement have been scheduled, including an NVTA Open House and Public Comment session at Fairfax City Hall on June 20th beginning at 5:30 p.m. Fairfax County is hosting our own Community Open House at 7:00 p.m. on June 26th at the Fairfax County Government Center. These sessions will provide information and solicit feedback on the first and future projects to be undertaken with the new funding. A second NVTA public hearing will be scheduled in July prior to the NVTA Board's vote. 


Anonymous User : What is the county's relationship with the Virginia Department of Transportation? It sometimes appears that the county and VDOT blame each other for work that isn't getting done, like cutting the grass.

Sharon Bulova :

Good question!  Essentially all roads, including neighborhood streets and cul-de-sacs are owned and are supposed to be maintained by the State.  The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) collects your gasoline and sales taxes and is responsible for everything from fixing pot holes, to cutting grass in the medians to resurfacing your neighborhood streets and replacing/repairing sidewalks.

People often believe that the County has the responsibility for this and call their Supervisor.  We in turn contact VDOT to get the work done.

In recent years, with State dollars for transportation dwindling, maintenance has suffered.  I am hopeful that we will see significant improvement now that HB 2313 has passed, putting money into empty VDOT coffers.


Scotty : When will we see dedicated bike infrastructure (lanes, markings, etc.) on Fairfax roads and when will sidewalks be expanded? I can't walk or run in Springfield and Burke without hitting dead ends that leave me on the shoulder of the road with overgrown vegetation.

Sharon Bulova :

We are currently in the process of developing a bicycle master plan for Fairfax County. We completed Phase 1 of the Master Plan in 2011, and that area includes an approximate three mile radius surrounding Tysons Corner. Phase 2 will include the rest of the County. You can view details of the Master Plan here: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/bike/county_bike_master_plan.htm

The County also works with VDOT on their annual paving plan and we are partnering with VDOT to paint markings to designate bike lanes. The Board has earmarked over 110 million dollars toward 300 high-priority bicycle and pedestrian improvement projects.

You can also use the interactive bicycle map found here: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/bike/bikemap/.

For all our bike info, visit here: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/bike/.


Dave : What does the average daily passenger count need to be for the new silver line metro stations for the first year for Fairfax County to view the project as a success? Year five? Year ten?

Sharon Bulova : Metro projects opening year boardings at the 5 new phase 1 silver line stations to be between 21,700 and 28,400.


Dave : Beyond expanded busing and improved walking/cycling infrastructure; what has the Board put in place to help those in the Tyson's area take advantage of the new metro stations - rather than driving to Dunn Lorring or West Falls Church? When will the interim parking arrangements be announced?

Sharon Bulova : County staff is currently negotiating with several land owners for interim parking. The goal is to have some of the parking available once silver line service begins.

The County continues to explore interim parking solutions for the Silver Line stations. But we want to encourage people to bus, bike and walk to and from the Metro stations to maximize transit ridership, remove cars from the road and thereby reduce congestion. To that effort, the Board of Supervisors on May 14 approved funding for a significant package of Metro station access improvements identified by the Tysons Metrorail Station Access Management Study (TMSAMS). You can find out what exactly is being done by going here: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/dullesmetro/tysonsimp.htm

In addition to that the Board approved significant expansion of bus service throughout Fairfax County to include 15 new routes and 25 restructed routes. This new service will begin in time for the new silver line service to start.


Dave : What efforts is Fairfax County doing to improve transportation on the Beltway from Maryland into Tysons (i.e. expanding HOT lanes into Maryland) - increasing bridge capacity.

Sharon Bulova :
In 2012, several members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors met with our counterparts in Montgomery County, Maryland to discuss reducing congestion along this corridor. We also asked the Virginia Department of Transportation to work with the Maryland DOT to examine the American Legion Bridge corridor between the northern terminus of the 495 Express Lanes and the southern terminus of the I-270 HOV lanes to identify solutions, particularly the possible use of shoulder lanes during peak hours. VDOT is conducting a study of all potential Potomac crossings and should complete that study this summer.


Vienna resident : Hello. I have a question about sidewalks and trails and planning related to these types of access ways. I live near a new Silver line station in Vienna (I am near Old Courthouse Rd). The Metro rail has been discussed ever since I moved to the area about eight years ago. Please explain why sidewalk projects were not planned to be open on "day one" of the Silver line? These projects, according to county transportation representatives, will not be ready for years. I am excited for the Silver line but wish the planning for those living right around the corner from a station would have allowed us to actually walk there. Thank you.

Sharon Bulova : I hope the answer above helps to answer your question. Actual construction of improvements has been contigent upon available funding. With passage of the new transportation bill and the County's increase in the C & I tax, we will be able to move forward with construction.


Anonymous User : What is the status of the dulles rail project? I know there are 2 different phases, but when we will actually see Metro beyond the Vienna Metro station?

Sharon Bulova :

Phase 1 of the Silver Line is on time and essentially within budget.  We are expecting to see completion by the end of this year.  I expect that passenger service will begin before the end of 2013 or early next year at the latest. 

Test trains are being run through the Tysons area now.


Regarding Phase 2, which will connect the Silver Line to Dulles Airport and into Loudoun County. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) has awarded the contract for Phase II design and construction to Capital Rail Constructors, a team of companies which submitted the lowest responsive bid of $1.18 billion - well below the estimated costs of $1.4 to $1.6 billion. This projected savings will help reduce the cost of the Dulles Toll Road rates which are a component of project financing. The official Notice to Proceed is anticipated in July.  Actual construction should begin late this year or early 2014.  Completion is expected by 2018.


Anonymous User : I live in Centreville, but all I ever hear about is Tysons, Tysons, Tysons. What is being done to address transportation issues in the Western part of the County? Especially the 66/28 interchange, which is backed up every single morning?

Sharon Bulova : VDOT is working on two conceptual designs for the 28/66 interchange. This project is one of Fairfax County's priorities to be funded with the new HB 2313 regional funding. VDOT is getting ready to build its advanced traffic management project for I-66. They also completed the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for I-66 to look at widening and other multimodal opportunities.

Widening of route 28 north of the airport is on Fairfax County's list for priority improvements with the new regional funding.

VDOT is doing a study of the widening of route 28 south of I-66.

We are also looking at study of the Fairfax County Parkway to look at potential widening and multimodal oportunities and interchanges.


Clayton in Lake Ridge : Hi yes I'm a Prince William resident and I noticed in the paper that we have a ton of cicadas and Fairfax County does not. Are you responsible for this? Because it sounds like something Fairfax would do. Just sayin'.

Sharon Bulova : Dear Clayton- I'm afraid a higher power than I is responsible for the cicada situation.


Anonymous User : Any plans to do Capital Bikeshare? Montgomery County is getting into it and Arlington is already a partner. Thanks.

Sharon Bulova : Yes, we are interested in this program. Fairfax County applied for a grant which would have funded this in Reston. Unfortunately, we did not receive the grant. We will continue to pursue this.


Pat in Chantilly : I'm interested in the regional planning aspects. I know you have no sway over what Loudoun County approves, for example, but when they approve a massive project, it impacts county roads and makes it more miserable for county residents to commute. I'm sure Arlington felt the same way years ago when Fairfax was building out. Do you keep an eye on Loudoun and Prince William development plans? Do you talk about these issues with colleagues? I worry that planning is being done in a county-only jurisdiction frame of mind.

Sharon Bulova : Yes, absolutely. State law requires neighboring juristictions to share their development plans with their neighbors and to conduct regional planning efforts. That having been said, we cannot veto a project in a different jurisdiction. As a member of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, I championed region forward which calls for enhanced regional planning and encourages development around activity centers where it can best be supported by public transit.


Alexandra Dixon : Dear Chairman Bulova: There is always a big bottleneck backup on Route 50 going west in the evenings where Gallows Road dumps traffic onto 50 going west. (Near the Wendys and Dell by Luther Jackson). Are there any plans to improve that area? It's relatively near Angelika. Thank you for your time.

Sharon Bulova : Regarding this specific congestion issue, I would encourage you to contact my office directly at chairmanemail@fairfaxcounty.gov and/or dotinfo@fairfaxcounty.gov.


Sharon Bulova : Sorry! Out of time. Thanks so much for participating, I hope to see you Wednesday night at Evolution of Transportation at 7:30pm at the Angelika Film Center and Cafe. An informed and engaged constituency is a well served constituency.
Sign for my Byline at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/chairman.

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