Board Transportation Committee (BTC) Meeting
Date: December 17, 2013
Time: 1:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Location: Rooms 9 & 10, Government Center
1. Approval of Minutes of the September 17, 2013, Meeting
2. Dulles Metrorail Silver Line: Phase 1 and 2 Status and Funding Updates – Mark Canale (FCDOT), Len Wales (DMB), and Joe LaHait (DMB)
3. Recommended Transportation Project Priorities and Improving Implementation – Tom Biesiadny, Ray Johnson, Eric Teitelman, and Todd Minnix (FCDOT)
4. Transportation Design Standards Update – Eric Teitelman (FCDOT)
5. Policy on Level of Service in Activity Centers – Dan Rathbone (FCDOT)
6. Dulles Corridor Ramp Study – Seyed Nabavi (FCDOT)
7. Dulles Corridor Air Rights– Dan Rathbone, Leonard Wolfenstein, Kris Morley-Nikfar (FCDOT)
8. Recommendations Related to Possible Reinstitution of County Photo Red Program – Eric Teitelman and Neil Freschman (FCDOT) and Susan Cullin (FCPD)
9. 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
Supervisor Linda Smyth
County Executive: Edward L. Long Jr. and Rob Stalzer (Deputy Executive)
Supervisor McKay called the meeting to order at 1:05 p.m.
1. Approval of Minutes of Previous Meeting
The minutes of the September 17, 2013, meeting were approved unanimously without any changes.
2. Dulles Metrorail Silver Line: Phase 1 and 2 Status and Funding Updates
Tom Biesiadny, Director, Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT); Mark Canale, (FCDOT); and Joe LaHait, County Debt Coordinator, Department of Management and Budget (DMB), briefed the Board on the status of the Dulles Rail project.
Phase 1 construction of the Silver Line is 99% complete. The Wiehle Avenue garage is completed. Phase 1 project remains on budget ($2.906 billion). The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) will determine the date for passenger service after the system testing is done.
Phase 2 is in the design stage. Fairfax County is proceeding to fund garages at the Herndon Station and Innovation Center Station outside of the project’s funding. Mr. LaHait informed the Committee that the closing date for the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan will likely be spring or summer 2014.
Supervisor Hudgins asked about the oversight of Phase 2. Mr. Canale
explained the differences of oversight in Phase 1 and Phase 2. Jeff
Parnes, Chairman of the Transportation Advisory Commission (TAC), asked
for the plan of the overpass at the Innovation Center Station. Mr.
Biesiadny replied that there is a plan for proceeding with the overpass,
but it is not part of this project.
Supervisor McKay asked about the testing of the new Silver Line. Mr. Biesiadny replied that WMATA will do an all-day testing of the entire operation. The public will be given notice in advance when the date is determined. Supervisor McKay voiced his concerns about the changes, and service reductions on the Blue line. He recommended on-going communications with WMATA regarding the significant efforts needed to help riders prepare for the changes. Supervisor Hudgins asked about the outreach and public meetings. Mr. Canale said that there is a window of 90 days from the date the system is turned over to WMATA for testing of the entire system. Outreach activities will also occur during this time.
3. Recommended Transportation Project Priorities and Improving Implementation
Mr. Biesiadny provided an update on the Continuation of Countywide Dialogue on Transportation. He summarized the comments from the survey, public outreach meetings, and the staff recommendations for projects to be funded during the next six years. There were over 2,500 survey responses, five public meetings with 206 attendees, and 15 additional presentations with more than 155 attendees. Staff used the Cost Benefit Analysis model to evaluate over 200 projects. Project selection is based on multiple factors.
Supervisor McKay clarified that the prioritized project list was the first step; staff will provide the matching funding sources at a later time. Mr. Biesiadny stated that staff will come back with the proposed schedules for the approved projects and specific revenue sources. Supervisor McKay thanked staff and the community for their efforts to complete the process. Supervisors’ office can submit any additional projects or changes to Ray Johnson of FCDOT.
Supervisor Foust asked about adding staff and the increased workload. Mr. Biesiadny replied that he is working closely with the County Executive on this issue. Supervisor Foust was concerned with the issue with VDOT’s workforce. Mr. Biesiadny stated that this is one strategy for implementing some projects. Supervisor McKay agreed that VDOT needs to increase their workforce.
The Board recognized the effort of FCDOT staff working on this project. Chairman Bulova stated that the outreach helps to bring attention to the County’s transportation network challenges and the discussion was valuable.
4. Urban Street Standards Progress Report
Eric Teitelman, FCDOT, provided the progress report on the development of Urban Street Standards for major activity centers and revitalization areas. Fairfax County submitted the first draft multimodal system map for the Franconia-Springfield area to VDOT for review. VDOT has written a new appendix for the State Road Design Manual that incorporates by reference, the methodology of the Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) Multimodal System Design Guidelines, and facilities the implementation of the guidelines.
Mr. Biesiadny stated that the benefit of the guidelines is to reduce waivers for developers after the adoption of the guidelines. Supervisor McKay stated that the guidelines for the Van Dorn area should be coordinated with the City of Alexandria’s plan. Supervisor Hudgins asked what VDOT uses for urban and multimodal districts. Mr. Teitelman explained the activity centers and multimodal districts. Supervisor Gross asked about the public meetings on the new guidelines. Mr. Biesiadny replied that he was willing to meet with the community, even though it is just to implement the adopted Comprehensive Plan. Supervisor Hyland asked about the progress on Route 1. Supervisor Smyth asked staff to readjust the name of the activity center including Dunn Loring and Merrifield to Merrifield. Mr. Biesiadny agreed to work on Supervisor Smyth’s request and stated that the guidelines allow future developers to implement urban public streets without waivers.
Supervisor Herrity asked if the corridor will be approved before the cross section. Mr. Teitelman stated that this is a two-tier process. Supervisor Herrity suggested having a separate map for the road network. Supervisor McKay stated expanded road capacity is not always the best solution, and he cited the example of the Springfield Mall.
5. Policy on Level of Service in Activity Centers
Dan Rathbone, FCDOT, presented information on Policy on Level of Service (LOS) in Activity Centers. The presentation provided staff recommendation to change the LOS standard from “D” to LOS “E” in activity centers to accommodate the multimodal approach. The LOS measures how well traffic moves along a roadway. LOS “E” is the average delay per vehicle from 55 to 90 seconds at an intersection. The application of LOS “E” in activity centers will reduce traffic speeds and create a more pedestrian/bike friendly environment.
Supervisor Hudgins was concerned with the economic loss of not implementing the changes. Supervisor Herrity added he was also concerned with the business loss that might be caused by greater congestion. Supervisor McKay asked about the funding affect and how to work with VDOT on this issue. Mr. Rathbone stated that LOS “D” will be maintained on the National Highway System. Mr. Biesiadny stated that this change to the Comprehensive Plan is important, because the Plan calling for LOS “D”. The change would make it clear to VDOT that LOS “E” is acceptable for activity centers.
Supervisor Smyth stated that she objected to applying the Policy to Merrifield, and there needs to be a balance between land use and transportation. The Board agreed and suggested applying the changes to LOS to centers on a case by case basis. Supervisors Foust and Cook suggested the step-by-step approach. Supervisor Hudgins stated that LOS for activity centers needs to be flexible and not to apply countywide. Supervisor McKay spoke about the needs for balance and trade-off, and the pros and cons of the activity centers. Mr. Biesiadny thanked the Board for their feedback and staff will pursue looking at the issue for each individual activity center.
6. Dulles Corridor Ramp Study
Eric Teitelman briefed the Board on the progress of the Dulles Corridor Ramp Study. Mr. Biesiadny stated that the final results of study will not move forward in the short-term, but will be available to inform future development in Tysons. Mr. Teitelman explained the two options and the No-Build option.
Supervisor Herrity asked for the amount of traffic coming west from I-495 to Tysons. Staff will provide the number to Supervisor Herrity’s office. Supervisor Smyth asked about the issue with traffic at Wolftrap. Mr. Biesiadny stated that the project will be broken into two projects, and it is one of the many challenges to address traffic to Tysons. Supervisor Smyth asked about the MWAA study on the corridor.
The ramp construction is for future development. The study helps developers to accommodate the proposed location of the ramps. The Board was concerned with the timing of this study. Mr. Biesiadny said that there were several public outreach meetings.
Supervisor Hudgins stated that this study has huge impacts on future development in Tysons. Chairman Bulova stated that it was premature to ask the Board to make a decision on the ramp option, and there are too many uncertain variables. After discussion, the Board stated that it should be presented to the community as the conceptual plan for future development. Mr. Biesiadny agreed and will bring this study to the Board as an information item.
Chairman Parnes (TAC) emphasized the need of reserve the right-of-way for future development.
7. Dulles Corridor Air Rights
Kris Morley-Nikfar, FCDOT, presented the Dulles Corridor Air Rights and the estimate of the cost of a feasibility study. MWAA did a study on the Reston Town Center Station as a test case. The cost of this study was about $150,000. The study concluded that developing over the Dulles Toll Road (DTR) will be more expensive than developing on adjacent land, issues with economic and accessibility challenges, and other issues. Currently the County’s Comprehensive Plan does not include density over the DTR. A Dulles Air Rights study is estimated to cost between $150,000 to $200,000.
Supervisor Hudgins raised a concern with the loss of economic value for air rights and future investment. Supervisor Smyth questioned who owns the air rights. Chairman Bulova stated that the land belongs to MWAA, and there is an issue of who has the authority to tax the air rights, the cost to contribute to infrastructure improvements, and economic value coming back to Fairfax County. Mr. Biesiadny replied that all of these issues would need to be resolved.
Supervisor Herrity asked if staff has talked to Arlington County about the Request for Proposal (RFP) for Rosslyn. He stated that this is something that the County needs to consider since it works for the District of Columbia (DC) and New York. Supervisor Hudgins stated that the challenges remain with the economic issue, and the County does not have the type of development like DC and New York.
8. Recommendations Related to Possible Reinstitution of County Photo Red Program
Neil Freschman, FCDOT, presented information on re-establishing a Photo Red Program. The current legislation allows reinstating the Photo Red Light Program. The law requires law enforcement officers to swear or affirm certificate of violation and a maximum of $50 fine. This requirement is greater than in the earlier program. The Board was concerned with the $50 fine as it is too low to be an effective deterent. Chairman Bulova asked if the laws applied to the cities. Mr. Biesiadny replied that they do, even though the cities control their own traffic signals.
Supervisor Frey asked if the legislation allows for longer yellow time. Mr. Freschman replied that it does. Mr. Biesiadny stated that more time for yellow will reduce the capacity of any intersection. Supervisor Frey stated that increase in rear-end accidents will decrease in time and the issue is lack of funding. Supervisor McKay asked if there is a “sunset provision”. Mr. Biesiadny replied that there is no sunset provision. Supervisor McKay suggested doing a pilot program as a test. Mr. Teitelman replied that it is not effective to run the program with less than 25 cameras. Supervisor Herrity suggested that the program is not effective. He urged staff to look for alternative way to reduce red light violations since the program’s startup cost will be high. Mr. Freschman said that there is a requirement to publish the locations of the cameras for the public.
Chairman Bulova stated that she was not supportive of the program since Fairfax County at this time. The County will lose about $100,000 per year and police resources are needed for the program. Bob Otten, Fairfax County Police Department, discussed the pros and cons of the program. Mr. Teitelman stated that a problem with the legislation is the low fine. After some discussion, the Board agreed that the legislation made it hard to reinstate the program. The Board asked staff to monitor the legislation and report back any changes.
The next meeting is scheduled for February 4, 2014.
The meeting was adjourned at 3:50 p.m.