Board Transportation Committee (BTC) Meeting - May 6, 2014
Date: May 6, 2014
Time: 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Location: Rooms 9 & 10, Government Center
1. Approval of Minutes of the February 4, 2014, Meeting
2. Dulles Metrorail Silver Line: Phase 1 and 2 Status and Funding – Mark Canale (FCDOT) and Joe LaHait (DMB)
3. Bicycle Master Plan – Charlie Strunk (FCDOT)
4. Fairfax County Approved
Transportation Projects FY2015-2020 – Tom Biesiadny, Todd Minnix, Ray
Johnson and Karyn Moreland (FCDOT)
a) Proposed Scheduling for Projects
b) Proposed 2014 Bond Referendum
5. Converting Secondary Roads to Primary Roads – Tom Biesiadny and Bill Harrell (FCDOT)
6. New Business
Members in Attendance:
Supervisor Jeff McKay, Chair
Chairman Sharon Bulova
Supervisor John Foust
Supervisor Michael Frey
Supervisor Penny Gross
Supervisor Pat Herrity
Supervisor Catherine Hudgins
Supervisor Gerald Hyland
Supervisor Linda Smyth
Members not in Attendance: Supervisor John Cook
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 February 4, 2014, 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.
Mr. Canale said that on April 24, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) concurred with Dulles Transit Partners on the declaration of substantial completion for Phase 1. On April 27, MWAA and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) reached agreement that work must be completed for WMATA to declare an Operational Readiness Date (ORD). On the ORD, the project will be turned over to WMATA control. Following the ORD, WMATA has up to 90 days for testing, employee training, and emergency drills prior to passenger service. WMATA will provide weekly press updates on progress of outstanding work.
Regarding Phase 2, the design work continues. There is no change in the budget. The Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan application was approved. MWAA plans to hold toll rates on the Dulles Toll Road at current rates through 2018, as a result of the TIFIA financing.
3. Bicycle Master Plan
Tom Biesiadny, Director, FCDOT, stated that staff has been working on the plan for about three years. The result is a draft document which is being distributed for Board feedback. Charlie Strunk (FCDOT) and Marianne Gardner (DPZ) provided the briefing on the Bicycle Master Plan.
The draft plan provides policies, programs, and physical facility recommendations that support the Comprehensive Plan. It serves as a guide for County leadership, planning and engineering practitioners, bicycle advocates, and citizens. Mr. Strunk reviewed the details of the draft plan. In June, he will present the draft plan to the Planning Commission and hold two public meetings. In September, the Planning Commission will have a public hearing for plan adoption and forward its recommendation to the Board for a public hearing and consideration of the plan.
Supervisor McKay asked questions about the makeup of the advisory group
and the issues with children not being allowed to ride bicycles to
school. Mr. Strunk replied that he did reach out to some school
transportation groups, because of their Safe Routes to School programs.
Supervisor Hudgins stated that by having a conversation with the schools,
the County would know what they may want to include in the policy. Mr.
Strunk replied that he has had discussions with the school staff and met
with them periodically on issues as the plan was being developed.
Supervisor Hyland asked for the locations of the public meetings. Mr. Strunk replied that there will be two meetings in North and South County. Supervisor Gross encouraged staff to setup meetings at locations in the east and central parts of the County as well. She was troubled by two photographs in the draft document where riders were not wearing their safety helmets. Mr. Strunk replied that he will change these two pictures.
Supervisor Smyth raised concerns about lane narrowing, the three-foot passing law, and the safety issue with on-road bicyclists. She was very concerned with the bicyclists disobeying traffic laws and lack of enforcement. Mr. Strunk replied that bicyclist safety is an education issue, and enforcement is sporadic. He raised this issue with the police department and agreed that the police need to increase their enforcement effort. Supervisor Smyth stated that the County provided trails, but did not provide signals at all places. She noted the need for having consistency for how bicyclists use facilities.
Supervisor Foust asked for the breakdown of the recommended bikeway improvements of 792 miles and whether these miles were included in the $1.4 billion in transportation priorities which were approved by the Board in January 2014. Mr. Strunk replied that some miles were included, but he would have to provide the exact numbers to Supervisor Foust at a later time. Mr. Strunk stated that he will provide customized district maps. Supervisor Foust asked a question about shared-use paths that do not have bike lanes. Mr. Strunk replied that it depends on the situation, and if there are children and other riders using the paths. Supervisor Foust asked if Mr. Strunk considered sidewalks as bike paths or not. Mr. Strunk replied that he did not endorse using sidewalks, but at some locations, there is no alternative.
Supervisor McKay asked a question about the bicycle lane access improvement plan in rezoning cases and whether such a plan can be done included the rezoning or not. Ms. Gardner replied that it could.
Supervisor Frey stated that bicycle advocates insisted on having on-road
bike lanes on Stringfellow Road. He was concerned with the two-foot bike
lane at this location as the result of right-of-way issues. He stressed
that it was unsafe, and staff needs to develop proper bike lanes or stand
firm against such unsafe application. Supervisor McKay agreed and noted
that on Mulligan Road, Fort Belvoir did not allow for bike lanes to be
marked on that road even though Mulligan has ample right-of-way. He hoped
that the issue will be revisited at a later time.
Supervisor Hyland asked for VDOT standards on on-road bike lanes. Mr. Strunk replied that the standard is for a five-foot bike lane; however, if there is curb and gutter, but the bike lane can be four feet. On wider roads, Mr. Strunk stated that a buffer for bike lanes can be provided.
4. Fairfax County Approved Transportation Projects FY2015-2020: and
Proposed 2014 Bond Referendum
a. Proposed Scheduling for Projects
Mr. Biesiadny, Todd Minnix, Ray Johnson, and Karyn Moreland (FCDOT) briefed the Board on the proposed scheduling for projects and proposed 2014 bond referendum. The Board of Supervisors (BOS) adopted the Six-Year Transportation Project Priorities for FY 2015 - FY 2020 on January 28, 2014. The Board directed staff to return with the proposed project timelines. Staff had discussions about the timelines with individual Board members and adjustments were made based on the feedback received. The project timelines document was presented in a multi-color table/bar-chart for phases like planning, scoping/preliminary engineering, design, right-of-way, utilities, and construction. The projected timelines were based on preliminary information.
Supervisor McKay asked if the timelines will be continuously updated with a report to the Board, and if these documents will become available online. Chairman Bulova complimented staff and asked for the documents to be prominently shown on the County website. Mr. Biesiadny replied that the Board will receive the report and the information will become available online.
Supervisor Smyth asked for the individual district timelines chart. Supervisor McKay noted that many projects were in multiple districts, and they should be included in each of their respective districts’ charts. Mr. Biesiadny replied that his staff will provide the charts with the feedback and comments on the timelines. Supervisor Gross praised staff for the best timelines chart and requested a copy to be posted on the wall in her office. Chairman Bulova agreed with Supervisor Gross and suggested having a poster size for each district. Supervisor Gross suggested having the detailed chart for other usage like human services and planning purposes. Supervisor Herrity stated that he hopes that the timelines were the worst case scenario and asked staff to complete these projects as soon as they can.
b. Proposed 2014 Bond Referendum
Mr. Johnson reviewed the background of the transportation needs and funding and the 2014 bond referendum. Staff proposed changes to the list of projects for the 2014 transportation bond funds. Staff is recommending that they be used for the implementation of roadway spot improvements, and bicycle and pedestrian projects. HB 2313 revenues provide new funding for roadway projects. The general obligation bonds are the most flexible source of revenue for transportation projects. Staff requested Board feedback on the proposed bond project list. Staff will return to the Board during its June 17, 2014, meeting for the approval of the 2014 bond referendum and a final list of projects.
Chairman Bulova noted that the bicycle and pedestrian projects have been identified and approved by the Board members with input from the community. Mr. Biesiadny stated that staff tried to match those projects with appropriate revenue sources. He noted that HB2313 has restrictions that precluded funding most of the bicycle and pedestrian projects from this source. The general obligation bond revenues are under the Board’s control and are the most flexible funding source for bicycle and pedestrian projects. Supervisor Hyland asked for the breakdown of the $100 million bond. Mr. Biesiadny stated that 16 percent was for roadway spot improvement projects and 84 percent was for bicycle and pedestrian improvement projects.
Supervisor Smyth stated that the public will have questions on how these projects were selected and prioritized. She asked staff to provide responses for Board members. Mr. Biesiadny stated that staff has selection criteria and factors. Supervisor Foust noted that the $100 million bond projects were part of the $1.4 billion which was approved by the Board. Mr. Biesiadny explained that staff made some adjustments to the list which was approved by the Board on July 2012, because of new revenue available to fund for some of the roadway projects (i.e. HB 2313).
Chairman Bulova asked how the bond projects will benefit schools. Mr. Biesiadny replied that by working with the school system on their priority list of projects, staff was able to align the Board’s priority list with the school’s priority list. Chairman Bulova noted that this was not only a benefit to the County transportation system, but also a benefit to schools and students.
Supervisor Frey raised a question about the timeframe for the road projects as their funding mechanism changed. Mr. Biesiadny replied that by using other funding sources for the road projects, staff was able to move road projects ahead of schedule presented in July 2012. Supervisor Frey stated that there may be a perception problem with the size of many of the projects. The public may not understand the switching from roads to trails. The benefits of trails and roads are not equal. He stated that staff will have to do a better job defending against this perception. Mr. Biesiadny explained that Fairfax County did not ask for the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) to fund bicycle and trail projects. The County asked NVTA to fund major roadway projects like widening of Route 28, and Innovation Center Metrorail Station. He explained that the bond revenue is the most flexible funding source. The proposed projects will provide connections to Metrorail stations and will also benefit schools as part of a larger system. Supervisor Frey stated that he understood all the reasoning behind this, and noted that some of the advocacy groups may have a problem with it.
Mrs. Moreland noted that the $100 million was a very small piece of the $1.4 billion that was authorized by the Board. These projects were important based on the feedback by the public outreach effort.
Supervisor Herrity shared the same concern as Supervisor Frey and asked staff to identify the type of projects (i.e. recreational, commuting, on-road bicycle, or pedestrian walkway). Mr. Biesiadny noted that very few projects were for recreational purposes; the majority of the projects were transportation improvement projects. Supervisor Herrity asked for mode share for a five-year period, and to separate walking and biking. He talked about the Route 7 Bridge as a highway project, and 28 feet of bridge is proposed for pedestrian facilities. He asked staff to breakout the percent of roadway versus bicycle and pedestrian, and the spending per mode share. Supervisor Herrity asked if staff had projections of usage and rider counts or not. Mr. Biesiadny replied that staff had trail plans and bike plans, and did a cost benefit analysis.
Supervisor Hudgins talked about the importance of accessibility for people with disabilities, providing connections to the Metrorail system, and to fill the missing links. Supervisor McKay talked about the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and how it included pedestrian features versus the Springfield Mixing Bowl about which he received a lot of complaints, because of its lack of pedestrian features. He suggested that pedestrian facilities should have been included in the big projects. Chairman Bulova noted that the Burke Centre Virginia Railway Express (VRE) garage community rallied around more connections to the station for pedestrians and bicycles. The day before the ribbon cutting, about 30 people got on the trail with their bikes. The trail was considered recreational, but people used it to go to the VRE garage.
Supervisor Foust stated that these projects were already approved through an unprecedented outreach effort. The people at these meetings were really there to talk about spot improvements, and bicycle and pedestrian access. People want to be able to walk and bike to Metrorail stations and communities; children to walk to school. A majority of the $1.4 billion is already going to road improvements.
Supervisor Gross stated that she got more inquiries about accessibility for pedestrians and bicycles. She stated that the walkways complied with ADA (The Americans with Disabilities Act) standards; therefore, they are not recreational in nature. She mentioned that the sidewalks have lots of debris and can be difficult for those in wheelchairs or with disabilities to use them. Supervisor Gross asked about maintenance and whether the County can reserve money to maintain sidewalks. Mr. Biesiadny responded that the issue was discussed at the Joint Board of Supervisors/School Board Infrastructure Finance Committee. The cost was included in the analysis and in the report to the Board. Supervisor Gross stated the needs for having sufficient funding, staffing, and the ability to take care for the existing walkways.
Supervisor Smyth stated that in Tysons, there are ongoing construction activities. She brought up the issue regarding the width of the walkway on Route 7 leading to Spring Hill Metrorail Station. There are two-way traffic lanes for bikes on both sides, so people do not have to cross Route 7 to access to the Metrorail station.
Supervisor Herrity shared the same concern on the maintenance issue with Supervisor Gross. He stated that VDOT struggled to get funding to maintain the trails on Fairfax County Parkway. He stated that the County has many capital needs. He talked about the issue with 32 feet of roadway for bikes on Route 7, and the fact that about 72 percent of people will drive to Tysons Corner. Supervisor Smyth disagreed. Mr. Biesiadny explained that the service drives on Route 7 were converted to create space for pedestrians. He stated that the existing right-of-way was used differently, and Route 7 was not widened.
Supervisor Frey shared his constituents’ concerns that they are paying tolls on the Dulles Toll Road to support the new Silver Line, and now the County is asking for their support for the bonds to help Metrorail riders conveniently walk to Metrorail stations. He stressed the need for balance. Supervisor McKay stressed the need for telling the whole story about how much money the County put in for roadway projects. He stated that this was not Fairfax County’s transportation plan and it was a very small piece of the bigger picture of transportation. Chairman Bulova stated that the plan was not for Tysons area only; the plan contained Countywide projects. Supervisor Hudgins noted the economic activities going on and hoped that the investment to the Metrorail system will return the benefits to Fairfax County.
Supervisor McKay noted that old roads were built without pedestrian facilities. The County is working to bring those roadways up to standards. The new roadways will have pedestrian facilities.
Mr. Biesiadny stated that staff will come back to the Board on June 17 for approval and preparation for the referendum process.
5. Converting Secondary Roads to Primary Roads Study
Bill Harrell (FCDOT) provided the update to the Committee. This was a follow up from the previous meeting on February 4. The Board asked several questions about the funding advantages that might result from Braddock Road being converted to a primary road; the effect on land development cases; and evaluation of other secondary roads like Old Keene Mill Road and the Air and Space Museum Parkway.
Supervisor McKay asked about the VDOT analysis on Van Dorn Street. Mr. Biesiadny responded that based on VDOT’s new criteria, Van Dorn Street was eligible for the conversion. The Board would need to send a letter to VDOT for consideration. VDOT limits the number of lane miles that can be converted to 50 miles or less statewide per year. Supervisor McKay asked for the reason behind the “50 miles” number. Mr. Biesiadny responded the limit prevented a significant change in the funding in a given year.
Supervisor Smyth asked if Gallows Road should be studied and the advantages and disadvantages of converting it to a primary road. Mr. Biesiadny responded that the primary roads receive higher priority for funding, but decisions belong to the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB). The Board will lose flexibility in what the road would look like and how it will change. He stated that for regional roads like the Fairfax County Parkway, this was not a problem; however, for Gallows Road, the Board would have more control over streetscape, if it stays a secondary road. Supervisor Smyth concluded that staff did not need to study Gallows Road.
Chairman Bulova asked about the affect on speed limit. Mr. Biesiadny replied that speed limit is set by the functional classification of the roadway, and it will not be changed due to the conversion.
Supervisor Herrity asked about how often the County’s recommendations are not included in VDOT’s final design. Mr. Biesiadny replied that in most cases, the CTB accepted the Board’s recommendations. Supervisor Herrity asked if the activity center criteria caused Braddock Road between Rt. 123 and I-495 to fail the conversion requirements. Mr. Biesiadny replied that Braddock Road did not meet the majority of the criteria. He noted that a shopping center is not defined as an activity center.
Supervisor McKay stated that if a Board member wanted something considered, they would need to bring this to the Board as a Board matter. Supervisor Herrity stated that he will probably reach out to other Board members.
Chairman Bulova noted that when the NVTA put projects forward for CTB recommendation, the CTB included six lanes on some sections of the Fairfax County Parkway which was inconsistent with the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan (which indicated four lanes). Mr. Biesiadny stated that this was a recent example where the Board can lose some control.
Supervisor Herrity asked if converting Braddock Road from a secondary to a primary will affect other projects on Braddock Road or not. Mr. Biesiadny replied that as a secondary road, the County would have more control over Braddock Road and can take into account the community work that has occurred versus control by the CTB.
TAC Chair Parnes noted that documents in PDF format need to be readable to screen readers for the visibly impaired community. In response to this request, Mr. Biesiadny suggested that a Word document (without the scanned signature) can be sent out with the agenda in addition to sending the signed document.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:05 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for June 10, 2014, at 3:00 pm.