Board Transportation Committee (BTC) Meeting
Time: 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Datae: January 15, 2013
Location: Rooms 9 & 10, Government Center
- Approval of Minutes of the September 18, 2012 Meeting
- Update on Dulles Rail Phase II Project and Funding – Tom Biesiadny and Mark Canale, FCDOT; Len Wales and Joe LaHait, DMB
- I-66 Corridor Study from I-495 to Route 15: Update of I-66 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) – VDOT
- Dulles Toll Road Ramp Study – Karyn Moreland and Seyed Nabavi, FCDOT
- Update on the Countywide Dialogue on Transportation Survey – Tom Biesiadny, FCDOT
- Express Lanes Bus Service – Christy Wegener and Paul Mounier, FCDOT
- New Business
Members in Attendance
Supervisor Jeff McKay (Chair), Chairman Sharon Bulova, Supervisor John Cook, Supervisor John Foust, Supervisor Michael Frey, Supervisor Penny Gross, Supervisor Pat Herrity, Supervisor Catherine Hudgins, Supervisor Gerald Hyland, and Supervisor Linda Smyth.
Transportation Advisory Commission (TAC) Members in Attendance
Edward L. Long Jr. (County Executive) and Robert A. Stalzer (Deputy)
Call to Order
Supervisor McKay called the meeting to order at 10:10 a.m.
Approval of Minutes of Previous Meeting
The minutes of the September 18, 2012, meeting were approved unanimously without any changes.
Update on Dulles Rail Phase II Project and Funding
Tom Biesiadny, Director, Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) and Mark Canale (FCDOT) gave an update on the Dulles Rail Phase II project and funding.
Mark Canale reported that Phase I is at 87% completion and is on budget with an expected completion date in August 2013. Phase II is in the procurement process. It is estimated that the contract will be awarded in May 2013 and the project would take five years from contract award to completion in 2018. Staff is looking at public-private partnerships for garages at the Herndon-Monroe and for the Innovation Center Stations, as well as alternative funding sources. Mr. Canale noted that that the Board had previously asked the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority (MWAA) to look into finding additional funding sources.
Chairman Bulova mentioned that there might be additional funding for rail to Dulles as a result of the General Assembly Session. Mr. Biesiadny said that the Governor included funding for the Dulles Rail project in his transportation funding proposal.
Supervisor Foust asked about the status of responses for a letter that was sent in April 2012. FCDOT staff said that there were no responses but that staff would follow-up on the letter in its regular funding meetings with MWAA staff.
Supervisor Foust reminded FCDOT staff that the Board has asked MWAA about alternative ways to raise funding for the project other than tolls. The Board has also asked staff about this question. Supervisor McKay stated that this matter was added to the agenda, because of a recent discussion among Board members, but staff did not have all the information yet.
County Executive Ed Long stated that the County participates in regular meetings with the partners. He explained that even though the system will be available in August, there is a lot of testing that has to be done. The tests will stress the system to ensure that everything works. He also said that MWAA wants to maximize TIFIA money to keep the tolls down, but both Fairfax and Loudoun Counties want to make sure that each has enough to cover their capital projects.
Supervisor Hudgins stated that she does not receive enough information about her district.
Len Wales, County Debt Manager, stated that USDOT encouraged MWAA and its partners to reapply for a higher amount with most of the funds to be allocated to the toll road. USDOT responded on December 21, 2012, with a request for more information. Staff is in the process of discussing with the partners, and USDOT. Mr. Wales expects to be able to provide more information to the Board within the next few weeks. USDOT did not tell the County about the new allocation amount. The authorized project amount is $6 billion, and the project partners asked for $3 billion. USDOT stated that the project partners do not have a compelling reason to go that far in funding. They want to keep the project at the 33 percent level or $2 billion. County staff is in discussions with MWAA and Loudoun County about how to best distribute that $2 billion. There is no agreement on the details yet. Mr. Wales expects to return the Board within the next few weeks with the details.
Supervisor McKay asked staff to explain the relationship of our TIFIA request with the rural infrastructure component of MAP-21.
Mr. Wales answered that USDOT explained it as boilerplate language. Chairman Bulova asked if the TIFIA funding would come to the partners. Mr. Wales responded that the situation is unique. Part of the negotiations will be to work out the mechanics. The County would be receiving money directly. He further explained that TIFIA is a loan, not a grant, and that all parties would be looking at the repayment structure and the loan agreement. The primary benefit of the TIFIA loan is not the interest rate. He emphasized that the primary benefit is the ability to delay payments, give tax districts time to build up equity, and give the Commercial and Industrial property tax (C&I) funds a break from debt service payments.
Supervisor Smyth asked about the ultimate cost of Phase I. She asked if it was more than the amount predicted when the tax district was set. Mr. Wales replied that he does not anticipate it to get higher. He stated that the TIFIA process may be extended but that staff would try to answer USDOT as fast as possible to move the funding process along. Mr. Wales suggested that the County might need to do some interim financing.
Supervisor McKay asked when the $67 million would be decided. Supervisor Foust asked how the TIFIA loans would be used. Mr. Wales explained that the County would use it to cover as much of all of its obligations as possible.
Chairman Bulova asked if the MWAA share of TIFIA will be used to bring down the cost of the tolls. Mr. Wales replied that that component would be part of the negotiations. The amount that will be attributed to MWAA is still unknown.
Supervisor Foust stated that the portion of the TIFIA that goes to the toll road does have a substantial impact. The County will have to make a decision whether or not to compete for a larger share of TIFIA, how to allocate it, and advocate for TIFIA funds. He stated that the more TIFIA that goes to MWAA, the lower the tolls would be. He also stated that it is a dramatic difference for MWAA and their interest payments.
Mr. Long replied that the Board would have to make that decision. He explained that from experience and the County’s view, MWAA wants it all. He reiterated that the County does not yet have all the information needed for the Board to make a decision. He stated his concern for a proper balance, otherwise more responsibility may come back to the County and require it to pay through C&I or something else.
Mr. Biesiadny added that there is a limit as to how much would have a significant impact on the tolls. He stated that the first billion dollars has a significant impact on tolls. After that, the amount of benefit to toll road users is significantly lower.
Mr. Wales stated that there is a point of diminishing returns. Of the $6 billion, 33% (or $2 billion) is available to the County. To determine the cost of providing the County with a loan, USDOT needs to score the premium. If we assume that we will receive $2 billion, we can use $1 billion to reduce toll rates without a problem. He explained that the partners are discussing the additional amount that might be used to reduce tolls, and those amounts (over $1 billion) would not be as significant as the first $1 billion.
Supervisor Hyland stated that the partners need to figure out how to keep the tolls down using the funds that are available. He hoped that the County will only use as much C&I funds as necessary, because C&I funding was meant to be used for the whole county.
Supervisor Hudgins asked if MWAA has a separate application for the TIFIA. Mr. Wales’ response was no. Mr. Wales said the County and MWAA submitted a joint letter of intent. However, each partner is moving through the process of acquiring a credit rating separately.
Supervisor Foust requested a monthly update on the project for the Board. He stated that the Board needs the information even if there is no committee meeting. Supervisor Frey stated that the Route 28 Station was dropped off the schedule on the project Phase II timeline. Mr. Canale replied that the Route 28 Station is included in the procurement process. He also noted that the Board previously decided that the Route 28 Station has to be cost neutral to the county. For the Route 28 garage negotiations, staff is looking at ways to fund it through public-private partnerships. Mr. Biesiadny reiterated that Route 28 Station is still in the project, and that staff may be able to find funding for some of the projects.
Supervisor Frey stated that he was concerned about wasting time exploring options that are unavailable to the County.
I-66 Corridor Study from I-495 to Route 15: Update of I-66 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
Bill Cuttler and Angel Deem of VDOT made a presentation about the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) on the I-66 corridor from I-495 to Route 15. Ms. Deem said that the study encompassed 25 miles of I-66 from I-495 in Fairfax County to Route 15 in Prince William County. A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was executed in June 2011 among FHWA, FTA, and VDOT. Tier 1 focused on broad issues, whereas Tier 2 focused on site-specific details. The tiered approach allows for the consideration of a multi-modal solution, because decisions can be made in Tier 1, are not tied to funding. Five discrete elements were measured in the study: capacity, congestion, mode choice, safety, and unpredictable travel. Ten improvement concepts were evaluated against the elements. The improvement concepts were general purpose lanes, managed lanes, light rail transit, bus rapid transit, commuter rail, improve spot locations/chokepoints, intermodal connectivity, safety improvements, transportation communication technology, and no-build.
There were five key findings from measuring the improvement concepts against the need elements. Fully meeting demand may not be possible given the constraints within the corridor. A major fact in the decision is space efficiency. The no-build concept does not satisfy the purpose and need. None of the improvement concepts, as stand-alone concepts, fully satisfies the purpose and need. Multimodal solutions would be most effective in addressing transportation needs in the corridor.
Environmental consequences were determined. Ms. Deem explained that there was substantial agency coordination and two citizen information hearings in preparation for a public hearing. She anticipated that the EIS document will be available for public review soon.
The next steps following FHWA’s issuance of a record-of-decision is to identify and prioritize projects. Tier 2 documents will be initiated as required.
Supervisor McKay asked about the outside widening and why VDOT would want to increase the width to five lanes? He wondered if the analysis showed five lanes was all that could be accommodated or if five lanes were needed to meet the demand. Ms. Deem stated that VDOT looked at capacity and findings to fully meet demand for the purpose of analysis. The test was only for general purpose lanes.
Supervisor Smyth commented that while she appreciates the wetlands study, she wonders how many homes and businesses will be impacted. She asked if Tier 1 would quantify on this.
Supervisor Herrity commented that the report does not have a cost-benefit column and asked for the cost-benefit piece of the analysis. He also asked if the timetable was realistic. Ms. Deem commented that VDOT is making the assumption that a vast majority of the improvement concepts will advance to Tier 2. Additional analysis may extend the timeframe.
Supervisor McKay inquired about the timeframe for Tier 2. Ms. Deem answered that it would be shorter than the time taken for Tier 1.
Supervisor Frey commented that the “à-la-carte approach” once Tier 1 is approved, is a huge benefit. Ms. Deem discussed the estimated number of affected residences and businesses. Board members commented that the numbers seem to be inaccurate, because there are many homes that are in close proximity to the corridor.
Mr. Biesiadny stated that FHWA needs to release the document, so that the County can review it.
Supervisor Smyth commented that the findings seem like an estimate of the number of houses. She suggested that they need to be checked for factuality before the study is released to the public. She also suggested that illustrations would be helpful.
Dulles Toll Road Ramp Study
Karyn Moreland and Seyed Nabavi of FCDOT gave a presentation on the Boone Boulevard Ramp Analysis.
Mr. Nabavi discussed three possible ramp locations: West of Route 7, Between Route 7 and Spring Hill Road, and East of Spring Hill Road. He also discussed the four ramp options: Option A (western ramp alignment), Option B (one-lane in each direction through the Sheraton site), Option C (two-lane reversible lane through Sheraton site), and Option D (four-lane ramp through Sheraton Site).
An analysis was performed with the following conclusions: Option A should be eliminated, because it has significant environmental impacts and is more expensive than the other options for comparable benefits. Options B, C, and D will be challenging to construct, but will offer significant traffic benefits at a lower cost. These options will be investigated and analyzed further in combination with the other ramp connections in Tysons.
Chairman Bulova asked for the transportation planning timeline for building the ramp.
Mr. Biesiadny replied that ramps will begin construction in the second 15 year period of the Tysons Transportation Plan (2028 to 2040). It would be unlikely to see any construction in the next 15 years.
Supervisor Hudgins commented that the County states that it is its goal to take the congestion off of the toll road and bring it into Tysons, and that the ramps are contradictory. She also asked for the relative traffic flows for the area. She talked about the need to discuss the quality of the development in Tysons, and said she still has some concerns in general. She suggested that the number of vehicle movements will have an impact on the quality of development.
Supervisor Gross asked if the costs are in today’s dollars. Mr. Biesiadny answered that the costs are in today’s dollars. Supervisor Gross stated that she was glad that option A is removed. She asked about the difference in cost between B and D. She asked if the cost included right of way. Mr. Nabavi replied that the cost disparity between option B and option D was because option D was twice as wide as B. The cost does not include right of way. It only considers construction costs and does not include environmental impact costs.
Mr. Biesiadny said that the owner of the Sheraton site is expected to proffer land for option B and C in their rezoning. Supervisor Gross asked about the probability that someone would put an obstacle in the way of construction while the County is in the planning process. Mr. Biesiadny answered that any obstacles would be addressed during the rezoning process.
Supervisor Gross asked about the possibility of by-right issues. Mr. Biesiadny responded that he does not anticipate by-right issues, because of the significantly higher density that can be achieved through redevelopment.
Supervisor Foust commented that option C seems to stop at Tyco Road while option D goes beyond and through an office building that is already in existence. He asked if that was a map mistake. Mr. Biesiadny replied that in either option, there would be a street that would connect at the end of the ramp. It is envisioned that some redevelopment within the next 15 years which will make the connections more practical. All the options will have to take down the building.
Supervisor Foust asked about the toll rates used in the traffic analysis. Mr. Nabavi answered that the County used the rates in place in the Council of Governments travel demand model. The model will have to constantly be updated.
Supervisor Foust asked if MWAA released traffic projections based on the continual increase of the tolls. Mr. Biesiadny responded yes. In addition, FHWA requires the use of the COG model and that would be evaluated over time as toll rates actually increase.
Update on the Countywide Dialogue on Transportation Funding
Mr. Biesiadny gave a presentation summarizing the Countywide Dialogue on Transportation and suggestions about continuing the outreach. Staff suggests using a multi-layered public education campaign. Staff hopes to reach out to citizens over multiple levels, over an extended amount of time, using some media involvement.
Chairman Bulova commented that the meetings were extremely well done and complimented the transportation staff. She noted that participation was relatively small. She thought that the people who were attending were those who were already engaged and very few were new to the meetings. She suggested that staff put the transportation funding topic into programs of Rotary clubs, and other organizations. She also suggested that it would be a good idea to use existing organizations and forums, so that staff could get a crowd that would benefit a greater number of people.
Supervisor Cook commented that a no-build option and its consequences need to be presented. He also suggested putting together information relevant to geographic regions within the county would help citizens to understand the consequences.
Supervisor McKay stated that he was not sure if message layer #3 and #4 were in reverse order. People might be more inclined to pay more if they see projects first before reviewing funding options.
Supervisor Hudgins suggested that staff needs to present more information about why the County is building more improvements and using certain funding sources.
Supervisor Gross asked if public relations would be performed by staff or through a consultant. Mr. Biesiadny stated that FCDOT does have a consultant, but that much of the data would come from staff.
Supervisor McKay stated that depending on what does or does not happen after the General Assembly, the County may need to adjust the effort. The summer might be a good time to promote the funding issue and that staff might have some time after the General Assembly to prepare. The message may need to change depending on what happens in the General Assembly.
Supervisor Bulova stated that she plans on doing a program in the summer regarding the past, present, and future of transportation in Fairfax. She suggested partnering with the FCDOT to determine how to reach out to the public.
Express Lanes Bus Service
Christy Wegener (FCDOT) gave an overview on the marketing and implementation of the Fairfax Connector Express Lanes Bus Service. Transit staff has been conducting employer outreach and advertising through publications, news media, and social media. The program would continue to be evaluated.
Supervisor Cook commented that staff missed an opportunity in marketing because the stops in between Burke Centre and Tysons were ignored. Only the endpoints of the line were marketed and the people in between do not know about the service. He suggested that staff needs to identify mid-points earlier and advertise them.
Supervisor Bulova wanted to make a point that the new service is very senior friendly. The bus entrance went down to ground level. She also commented that people wanted to know about the mid-point stops. She said that the service gave senior citizens an easier way to get into Tysons, and there is additional bus service within Tysons.
Supervisor Herrity stated that he was present on opening day and that he is interested in Nextbus technology. He stated that the reasons to take transit include time advantage and reliability. The technology will tell people when the bus will arrive. He is looking forward to the express service on I-66.
Mr. Biesiadny will advise the Board of the next meeting that will be held in February. There is no meeting date set at the moment. Board members moved to another room to meet with WMATA staff on the Momentum initiative.
The meeting was adjourned at around 12:00 p.m.
No presentations are available at this time.