Board Transportation Committee (BTC) Meeting - February 4, 2014
Date: February 4, 2014
Time: 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Location: Rooms 9 & 10, Government Center
1. Approval of Minutes of the December 17, 2013, Meeting
2. Dulles Metrorail Silver Line: Phase 1 and 2 Status and Funding Updates – Mark Canale (FCDOT) and Joe LaHait (DMB)
3. Improving Project Delivery Status Report – Eric Teitelman, Todd Minnix, and Karyn Moreland (FCDOT)
4. Discussion of a Fairfax Connector Riders Advisory Committee – Dwayne Pelfrey, Christy Wegener and Paul Mounier (FCDOT)
5. Status of I-66 Corridor Improvement Projects – Leonard Wolfenstein (FCDOT)
6. Conversion of Secondary Roads to Primary Roads – Tom Biesiadny and Bill Harrell (FCDOT)
7. 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 Deputy County Executive Robert A. Stalzer
TAC Members in Attendance: Chairman Jeff Parnes.
Supervisor McKay called the meeting to order at 10:05 a.m.
1. Approval of Minutes of Previous Meeting
The minutes of the December 17, 2013, meeting were approved unanimously.
2. Dulles Metrorail Silver Line: Phase 1 and 2 Status and Funding Updates
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 Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) continues to work with Dulles Transit Partners towards substantial completion. Systems performance tests were conducted. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is leading the Phase 1 marketing and outreach efforts. Fairfax Connector is conducting operation testing at the Wiehle Garage.
Phase 2 is in the design stage. The bid package A for Phase 2 has been awarded. The Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan process is ongoing. Mr. LaHait informed the Committee that the closing date on the TIFIA loan is still unconfirmed. The credit committee at USDOT has reviewed the credit pledges from Fairfax and Loudoun Counties and MWAA. They will issue the formal invitation letter to apply. The formal loan documents will need Board approval.
Chairman Bulova asked about the status of the opening of the Silver Line Phase 1. Mr. Biesiadny replied that WMATA has 90 days after substantial completion date to conduct its testing. So far, WMATA has not received the date from MWAA, and it could take from 60 to 90 days for WMATA to complete their testing. The Board expressed concerns about uncertainty of the opening date. The Board members expressed their desire for MWAA and WMATA to do their best to open the system as soon as possible, recognizing that safety as the number one criteria.
Supervisors McKay and Hudgins raised a concern about WMATA’s budget which is tied to the passenger revenue projection of the Silver Line. Supervisor Foust stated that there is no guarantee that after the substantial complete date, things will go smoothly. Supervisor Cook stated that MWAA needs to provide better explanations and answers to the citizens about the delays and problems. Chairman Bulova asked if County staff is receiving responses to questions from MWAA or not. Mr. Canale stated that staffs from various partner agencies are meeting weekly, and the testing is very complicated and time consuming. Supervisor Cook asked if there is something happening that the Board is not being told. Mr. Biesiadny replied that the issue is that the contractor has not reached the substantial completion of the project. Supervisor McKay stated that the Board was told that the project is on time and no problems. Supervisor Hudgins stated that they are having software problems with automatic train control. Mr. Biesiadny said that the system needs to be tested, and all problems need to be fixed now rather than later. Supervisor Hudgins stated that the system has to be able to perform with automatic train control. Supervisor Foust asked if the project is still on budget and whether delay claims should be filed or not. Mr. Canale explained the details of the claim process.
3. Improving Project Delivery Status Report
Eric Teitelman and Karyn Moreland (FCDOT) briefed the Board on the status of the Improving Project Delivery Report. The Six-Year Transportation Project Priorities Report approved by the Board on January 28, 2014, requires ongoing evaluation of ways to increase efficiency and expedite delivery of new projects. FCDOT staff has been meeting with VDOT and DPWES to develop ways to streamline the process. Some of the suggested ideas are to improve the project budgeting and scheduling process, identify project issues early, improve communication, and expand staff capabilities.
Supervisor McKay asked staff to prepare a letter from the Board to the State Legislature to raise an issue about proper staffing at VDOT. Supervisor Foust reminded that with the current reduced VDOT workforce, it is taking much too long to complete projects. He stated that the letter needs to include this issue. Supervisor Cook asked for the cost of County staff doing work on state projects. Supervisor McKay stated that a strong-worded letter needs to be sent to the State Legislature while they are still in session.
Chairman Bulova reminded the Committee that the County does not want to end up getting the responsibility for maintenance. Mr. Biesiadny discussed the funding coming from the NVTA to the County; the cap of VDOT workforce at 7,500 people; and no additional staff resource provided by the HB2313 to do the state projects. Mr. Biesiadny stated FCDOT is looking for ways to improve project delivery by working with VDOT and DPWES. The County is not looking to take on more VDOT responsibilities.
Supervisor Frey pointed out problems that the State Legislature did not address in the HB 2313 bill. Board members expressed their concerns about the staff shortage at VDOT and the possible impacts on project delivery. Lauren Mollenup of VDOT informed the Committee that VDOT is in the process of reorganization to provide more project managers to review projects. Supervisor McKay advised staff to work with VDOT to identify problems early, and to avoid delays. Mr. Teitelman stated that County staff will work and coordinate with VDOT staff. Supervisor Hudgins stated that the reason for delay lies with the State and that the public needs to know where the problems are.
In response to Supervisor McKay’s concern about utilities, Mr. Biesiadny stated that FCDOT has developed GIS maps to coordinate projects with VDOT. Supervisor Smyth commented that staffs need to come up with ways to communicate to the public. Mr. Biesiadny agreed. Chairman Bulova advised staff to post information on the County website and newsletters, and make presentations to HOAs, and on how they can be engaged in the conversation.
Supervisor Herrity asked about a plan to track project progress online. Mr. Teitelman replied that the GIS map will have updated project information, and project lists and schedules on the County website. TAC Chairman Parnes reported that the project list was not easily found on the County website. Mr. Biesiadny replied that the information will be posted with updated information shortly.
4. Discussion of a Fairfax Connector Riders Advisory Committee
Dwayne Pelfrey, Christy Wegener, and Paul Mounier, FCDOT, briefed the Board on the Fairfax Connector Advisory Committee. At the June 4, 2013, Board meeting, the Board approved the establishment of a Transit Riders Advisory Group to provide input on transit issues. Staff researched various transit advisory groups, and reviewed their guidelines, by-laws, procedures, etc. If the Board chooses to proceed with establishing a transit riders committee, staff recommended ten individual members to represent the demographics of Fairfax County, and must meet the requirements of Title VI (minority representation).
Supervisor Hyland asked about the diversity of riders versus the demographic of Fairfax County. He commented on the ten-person committee and that the County currently does not have a process to ensure diversity. He was concerned that the County may not find enough people to fill the various committees and commissions. Mr. Pelfrey informed the Committee that FCDOT was in the process of collecting data. Supervisor Gross asked a question about the average Fairfax Connector ridership per day. The answer was about 40,000 riders per day. Supervisor Gross asked for the map of Fairfax Connector for each district.
Chairman Bulova stated that the Board could appoint more than ten members, and members can be appointed at-large. She stated that we need to answer the questions of who is not riding and why they are not riding the bus. Supervisor Hudgins wanted to see the qualifications of the potential members. She stated that the advisory board needs to listen to the citizens’ concerns. Supervisor McKay added that the advisory committee will also be a resource to the Board. Supervisor Smyth stated that the application process could be done by staff. Supervisor Cook suggested having a broader committee to look at issues such as Metro and taxicabs. He stated that the requirements for diversity could be a problem, since the Board is having a problem filling those appointed commissions and committees. Supervisor Herrity suggested having non-riders and the older community on the advisory board. He stated that the Transportation Advisory Commission could have done the job. TAC Chairman Parnes stated that the TAC had been involved with this issue in the past. He raised a concern with the possibilities of too many committees and not a single point of contact, if the County chose to have individual committees by type or mode of transportation. Supervisor McKay stated that staff will refine their recommendation and report back to the Board at the next meeting.
5. Status of I-66 Corridor Improvement Projects
Leonard Wolfenstein, FCDOT, presented the status update of I-66 Corridor Improvement Projects. The Tier 1 of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process was completed. The Tier 1 process examined potential impacts and focused on broad issues at the conceptual level. Tier 2 is the next step. It will analyze one or more improvement concepts from Tier 1 Environmental Impact Study (EIS) and focus on site specific details, including impacts, cost and mitigation measures.
Chairman Bulova asked a question about the request of information process. Mr. Biesiadny stated that VDOT will use the received information when they are ready to initiate the Request for Proposal (RFP) process for a specific improvement. Mr. Wolfenstein added that Tier 2 needs to be completed prior to the RFP process. He stated that some firms have in-depth responses. Mr. Biesiadny noted VDOT is experience working with the I-495 HOT Lanes. In that case, the environmental process was completed before contractors were procured.
Supervisor Herrity stated that the private firms wanted to know about the constraints before they were able to put together their best responses. Supervisor Smyth expressed concerns about a large number of homes that could be affected by of the right-of-way (ROW) requirements on the HOT Lanes project, based on early conceptual design. She stated the needs for having very specific ROW impacts to the citizens and business. Mr. Biesiadny stated that packages of improvements will be reviewed by the Board. Supervisor Smyth also noted concerns about the potential location for exit/entry ramps.
Supervisor Hyland asked about the type of public meeting conducted for the Phase I EIS and how it will be done. Mr. Wolfenstein replied that it will have an open house meeting and no presentation. He noted that people can freely move around and ask questions. Supervisor Hyland did not think that the format of the meeting is beneficial or effective. He suggested having a presentation and follow-up with question and answer session. Chairman Bulova agreed with Supervisor Hyland. She stated that she likes the current format that the County had done at the public outreach on Countywide Dialogue on Transportation. Mr. Biesiadny stated VDOT has heard similar comments from citizens.
6. Conversion of Secondary Roads to Primary Roads
Mr. Biesiadny and Bill Harrell, FCDOT, briefed the Board on the
discussion of converting Braddock Road from a Secondary to Primary road.
Staff examined the pros and cons of converting Braddock Road.
Supervisor Frey asked about the typical primary road that has 35 mph speed limit. Mr. Harrell stated that the speed limit depends on many factors such as operational speed, general characteristics, crash data, number of entrances, etc. Mr. Harrell stated that he has seen a number of secondary roads that have higher speed limits posted as primary and vice versa. Supervisor Frey was concerned about the automatic increase of speed limits, due to the conversion to primary road. Mr. Harrell stated that changing the speed would require a study.
Supervisor Herrity asked about restrictions on design criteria. Mr. Harrell responded that the design criteria are based on functional classification, and we are not changing the functional classification of the roadway.
Supervisor McKay stated that he was reluctant to see Franconia Road change its classification. Chairman Bulova asked about the National Highway System (NHS). Mr. Biesiadny stated that Fairfax County Parkway is on the NHS list, but Braddock Road is not.
Supervisor McKay raised a concern with the issue of changing the shield signs (symbol of Primary roads) of possible hundreds of signs. Supervisor Cook stated that the analysis needed to be programmed on the Countywide level with criteria, rather than randomly selected. Supervisor McKay asked about the internal criteria used in this study and previous studies. Mr. Biesiadny replied that staff looked at the VDOT criteria, and there are very few roads that fit into these criteria.
Chairman Bulova raised a concern about people crossing a primary road. Mr. Biesiadny replied that Route 1 and Route 7 are the primary roads that have the most pedestrians. Supervisor McKay asked for this study to come back at the next meeting.
TAC Chair Parnes stated that VDOT signs that are not consistent on State versus local roads.
Supervisor Foust stated that the guidelines are needed for the analysis on why a road is needed to be upgraded from secondary to primary roads. Supervisor Herrity was concerned about the time limit or missed opportunity. Mr. Biesiadny replied that there is no time limit or missed opportunity. He will bring back the study with other roads at the next meeting. He said that if there are specific roads that Board members would like studied, staff would analyze them.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:10 p.m.
The next meeting is scheduled for May 6, 2014.