TAC Meeting Minutes for September 10, 2013

Meeting Summary

Work Session MeetingSeptember 10, 2013 at 7:30 PM – FCDOT, 4050 Legato Rd, Fairfax, VA 22033

TAC Members in Attendance: Chairman Jeff Parnes (Sully), Vice Chairman Jenifer Joy Madden (Hunter Mill), Ed. L. Tennyson (At-Large), Secretary Roger Hoskin (Mason), Kevin Morse (Braddock), Micah Himmel (Dranesville), Frank Cohn (Mt. Vernon), Harry Zimmerman (Lee), Eric Thiel (Springfield) and Ann Pimley (Fairfax Area Disability Board).

TAC Members Absent: N/A

Extended TAC Members in Attendance: Roger Diedrich, Edythe Frankel Kelleher, Jim Larsen and Alan Young.

Extended TAC Members Absent: Michael Caplin, Bob Chase, Colleen Colangelo, Heidi Perham, Frank Sellers, and Joe Vidulich.

Others in Attendance:  FCDOT Staff: Tom Biesiadny, Beth Francis, Ken Kanownik, Calvin Lam, Brent Riddle, Randy White, and Todd Wigglesworth.   

Meeting was called to order by Chairman Parnes at about 7:30 pm.

Note Taker:  Jenifer Joy Madden

Main Topics Discussed


Continuation of Countywide Dialogue on Transportation Public Outreach

Tom Biesiadny, Director, Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT), presented a presentation on the recent history of transportation funding. The County has whittled down, through the availability of various funding sources, its transportation needs funding deficit from $300 million per year to $79 million per year.

All projects which can be considered for funding relate to new capacity (and not maintenance). Types of projects will include spot/corridors, transit capital and new operating capacity, highway interchanges, road widenings, road extensions, and bicycle and pedestrian.  Metrorail extensions and other very large projects (i.e. the Interstate highways) are not included.

The County is assembling posters which map funded and unfunded projects.  There is a separate map for proposed projects.  Project modes will be depicted in differing colors. There will be a project description sheet for every project. Activity centers will be shown on the map as they appear in the Fairfax Forward Comprehensive Plan process.  Project detail sheets and maps will be available to TAC members at the next meeting.

County staff will use nine (9) criteria to evaluate for future project selection in addition to the cost/benefit analysis, including congestion reduction, travel time savings, air quality, safety, and economic development. Benefits incorporated into the cost benefit analysis (CBA) for Highway and Transit include user travel time savings, user vehicle operating cost savings, and collective emissions reductions.  Bicycle and pedestrian projects will be evaluated more qualitatively using factors such as employment and household density, transit proximity, connectivity, etc.

Commissioner Pimley suggested also mapping the economically disadvantaged, other higher percentage of consumers of transit such as the elderly and disabled residents.

The CBA has been in development for 14 months and has been compared with other types of traffic analyses. The CBA model can be scaled to include more factors and projects.

Alan Young pointed out that it would be important to point out to residents that there are economic and other advantages of projects that can enable them to exist without buying a second vehicle or even having to use the one they have.

Mr. Biesiadny explained the rating scale and how projects are charted.  Regarding public outreach, according to Mr. Biesiadny, the County will hold four large County-wide public meetings in an open house format with visuals on display. Meetings would be held October through November in 2013. The plan is for staff to give a brief 20 minute presentation which will be followed by public comments. Comments can be made on paper, in person at the meetings and online. The County website would have an overview and background, links to all projects and links to presentations. The effort will also communicate with the public via the County Facebook and Twitter accounts and provide links with Flickr, You Tube, etc. Social voting is also a possibility. Staff will also attend citizen meetings upon request. Presentations will be recorded so they can be viewed online. Ads and QR codes may also be placed on buses, Channel 16, You Tube videos, possible gas station ads, online chats. Staff is looking for ways to reach disadvantaged audiences.

Commissioner Cohn asked about the focus of the presentation at the meetings, suggesting that staff present an overview of what they are trying to accomplish, how residents can participate, as well as the results of BCA. Otherwise, residents will be overwhelmed.

Roger Diedrich wondered how the public would participate.  To the extent possibly, ask people to rank by check boxes, but also have an open-ended spot in case they want to suggest a project.  Mr. Diedrich suggested residents rank the 10 most preferred, or maybe the top 3 projects.

Commissioner Tennyson was concerned about neighborhoods creating a lobbying group this isn’t based on fact.  Staff needs ways to keep order ahead of time. Senator Moynihan – “Everybody is entitled to his (or her) own opinion, but nobody is entitled to his (or her) own facts.

Commissioner Pimley suggested getting in touch with the Department of Family Services who can suggest newsletters and places to hand out flyers.

Commissioner Zimmerman asked who will make the ultimate decisions on these projects. Mr. Biesiadny says the purpose of the outreach is to bring something back to the BOS that they can endorse. Staff is hoping BOS will coalesce around priorities as in 1986, when BOS came up with priorities for secondary roads projects.

Commissioner Morse added that HB 2313 did include money for the state to do additional maintenance. Mr. Biesiadny noted that staff will include a slide on that.

Chair Parnes asked about HOV facilities and whether there are studies to look at locations where HOV would be successful.

Commissioner Madden asked how the County will address trail maintenance. Mr. Biesiadny said that the Board approved allocating $200,000 to use for that purpose Countywide and that the County is seeking other funding, but that the funding discussions would not cover maintenance.

Commissioner Himmel pointed out that the Dept. of Public Works is involved in making repairs.

The goal is for the Board to adopt a project priority list in January 2014.

Ken Kanownik, FCDOT, provided details about the BCA, displaying a spread sheet of the relative BCA of Highway Spot and Corridor improvements, pointing out that projects of one mode will not be compared with another.

Commissioner Pimley requested that public meetings be accessible to public transportation.  Commissioner Zimmerman suggested projects should include a connection between Franconia-Springfield Parkway and the I-95 mainline.  Staff pointed out such as project is among those which might be funded.

Commissioner Cohn cautioned that the CBA will be “going over their head” and that by emphasizing the CBA that people will be looking for “their fair share.”

Chair Parnes suggested using the term “secondary state roads” instead of “highways” in the list of “highway spot and corridor improvements.”   Staff suggested that the word “roadway” would substitute for ‘highway”.

On the example project description sheet of Route 28 widening project, the TAC suggested to analyze for transit option.

Commissioner Madden wondering how that project list will be compared with recommendations from the Countywide Transit Network Study.  Mr. Kanownik responded that it is possible at this time to compare projects to look at adding transit such as bus rapid transit versus simply widening a highway simply to add more traffic lanes.

Mr. Biesiadny reported that the Countywide Transit Network Study was not expected to be finally concluded until spring 2014. 

Commissioner Zimmerman suggested that some money be set aside as a “placeholder” for Route 1 improvements.  Edith Frankel asked about Richmond Highway which she did not see on any lists.  Mr. Biesiadny pointed out the only funds which would be used on transit are for infrastructure improvements and transit services.

Regarding the Innovation Parking Garage, Chair Parnes asked about adding additional bus service. Mr. Biesiadny replied that the County “can’t provide bus service everywhere. There is not enough density.”

Commissioner Zimmerman wondered about whether there could be funding for flyover ramps on highways which could be accessible with a Z Pass – (See item 64).  Mr. Biesiadny noted that they will look at HOV would work on places like the Fairfax County Parkway or on Route 7.

Mr. Kanownik responded that, as to whether some projects are not cost beneficial, that they haven’t done design alternatives on all projects. “We would only want to use it on projects we need to improve on,” he replied.

As stated previously, bike/ped projects would be evaluated for they improved accessibility, such as access to retail, and how they would get cars off the road. All would be rated on cost per linear foot, with the benefit score divided by a cost score.

Commissioner Thiel pointed out that roads are already arrayed in a network – but that bicycle trails do not always form a network which is “really an impediment to safe travel for people”.  Mr.Thiel said it would be good to look at the bike lanes so that they provide a safe alternative to cars and form a network.

Commissioner Madden noted that lanes and bike trails are annotated on the Master Bike Plan (MBP), some of which would be projects for protected bike lanes, but that the MBP had not been approved by the Board.

Mr. Biesiadny stated that staff is seeking TAC comments and needs feedback on public outreach and ways to do public outreach. They will also want feedback on the project list.  He recommended that the extended TAC be reconvened at the September 17th regular TAC meeting and any business which had been planned for that meeting (such as the WMATA Momentum effort) be delayed. They will also seek TAC input on the project comment input sheets.

Alan Young suggested that outreach should use a simple narrative and that citizens should be asked what they perceive will benefit them. The County should also be careful not to overload residents with information.

Mr. Biesiadny replied that staff is fully capable of coming up with project list, but that they have the impression that residents want to be more engaged in the selection process.  In his words, “We don’t want to narrow it down too much so people are upset because their projects aren’t there.”

Mr. Young responded that perhaps the public meetings should be more general and that the majority of the project specifics could be found online.

Commissioner Zimmerman asked about whether the projects should be divided up into quadrants, according to the location of the meetings.

Mr. Young suggested that TAC members have to specify their priorities.

Chair Parnes said TAC should look over which projects are being put forth and see if there should be switching around, such as by swapping one big project with 6 small projects – which might be a beneficial trade.

Commissioner Cohn said it should be made clear to residents on where they can have input on deciding something and the limitation (where they cannot and the total projects not to exceed the $1.2 Billion).

Commissioner Zimmerman said that grouping by category is alright for analysis, but not helpful for the citizens, but that grouping projects would be good. Showing CBA results is dangerous since it’s only 1 of 9 criteria factors and it’s “too easy to default to the numbers.” Commissioner Himmel agreed.

Mr. Zimmerman suggested to perhaps packaging it up along main commuter routes or by district or geographic area.  It would also be good to visualize the changes the projects would make within the network. 

Commissioner Morse asked about HOT lanes such as between the Fairfax County Parkway and Interstate 95. Mr. Biesiadny responded that interchanges on 95 are not being rebuilt.

Commissioner furthermore pointed out that travel time differs with congestion changes. For instance, with transit, sometimes the trip is longer but you do have congestion reduction.

Commissioner Roger pointed out there is a paucity of projects in Mason District.

Commissioner Himmel pointed out the sports group are very well organized and perhaps they would be a good group to reach out to. Also, it might be a good idea to use PTA distribution lists and those used by political parties. 

Draft Guiding Principles

Chair Parnes determined that, for sake of time, Commissioner Madden’s proposal for Draft Guidelines could be delayed until the next meeting.  But Commissioner Cohn suggested that the Draft Guidelines should be compared with the County’s nine Criteria for project prioritization. 

Other Business: N/A

Topics for Future Meetings:

  • October 15, 2013: Momentum: The Next Generation of Metro and the projected loading statistics for the Dulles Metrorail Silver Line - Shyam Kannan and Gregory Potts (WMATA)
  • November 19, 2013: Fairfax Area Mobility & Transportation Options Survey for Older Adults and People with Disabilities – Steve Jaffe (Arlington County) and Jill Clark (DFS)
  • December 17, 2013: Route 1 Transit Center Study – Caijun Luo, FCDOT
  • January 21, 2013: Columbia Pike Street Car Line Progress (and additional possible candidates)
  • Countywide Transit Network Study -
  • CTB Determination of Corridor of Statewide Importance through Loudoun/Prince William Counties
  • Comprehensive Plan staff and Planning Commission discussions with TAC on what their vision is for future development and any changes in planning and zoning guidelines that may be needed to account for future work environment given the pace and impacts of technology advances (including guest speaker to explain impact of self-driving/smart cars, buses and trucks on traffic, roadways and intersections).

Announcements: none   

Adjourned: the meeting was adjourned at 10:00 pm.

Upcoming Events:

September 18, 2013                7:00 – 9:00 pm           

                                             Route 7 Corridor Transit Alternatives Study - Preliminary Transit Alternatives

                                             5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA, 1st floor conference room of the Skyline 7 building

September 30, 2013                4:00 – 6:00 pm           

                                            Community Involvement Committee for the Route 1 Multimodal Alternatives Analysis project

                                            Mount Vernon Government Center, 2511 Parkers Lane, Alexandria

October 9, 2013                     6:00 – 8:00 pm

                                            Public Meeting #1 (Route 1 above)

                                            South County Government Center, 8350 Richmond Highway, Alexandria

October 9, 2013                     6:00 – 8:00 pm           

                                            Braddock Road and Pleasant Valley Road Intersection Improvements Design Public Hearing

                                            Stone Middle School, 5500 Sully Park Drive, Centreville, VA 20120

Upcoming Meetings:

October 1, 2013                      7:30 pm           TAC Work Session (FCDOT)

October 15, 2013                     7:30 pm          TAC Regular Meeting (FCDOT)

October 29, 2013                     7:30 pm           TAC Work Session (FCDOT)

November 19, 2013                 7:30 pm           TAC Regular Meeting (FCDOT)

December 3, 2013                   7:30 pm           TAC Work Session (FCDOT)

December 10, 2013                10:00 am           Board Transportation Committee

December 17, 2013                 7:30 pm           TAC Regular Meeting (FCDOT)

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