Mason District BRAC 133 Task Force


October 4, 2011 Mintues

Attendance of Task Force Members
Bill Pike
Rita Zimmerman
Kathy Hart
Dorothy Beck
Linda Mass
Linda Shapiro
Elizabethe Hall
Barry Wilson
Jennifer Porter

Task Force Members Excused from the Meeting
Dave Dexter

Others in Attendance
James Hamre, Director, Office of Bus Planning, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority-Metro Bus Service in the BRAC 133 Area
Paul Mounier, Senior Transportation Planner, Fairfax Connector, FGDOT- Transit Service in Mason District
Laura Miller, BRAC Coordinator, FCDOT
Seyed Nebavi, Project Manager and Liaison to I-95 Hot Lanes Project, FCDOT
Tom Burke, Sr. Transportation Planner, FCDOT
Clara Pizana - Office of Supervisor Penny Gross
Cindy Wilson, Fairfax County Resident
Guy Mullinax, FCDOT
Lori Cohen – Fairfax County Resident
Peggy Tadej – Northern Virginia Regional Commission
Ellie Ashford – Annandale Blog

Welcome and Introductions
Task Force Chairman Barry Wilson briefly mentioned the special meeting of the Alexandria BRAC-133 Advisory Committee from September 7, 2011.  The Environmental Assessment (EA), being done as part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process for the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) ramp from I-395 to Seminary Road, was discussed briefly.  Mr. Wilson provided a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) Recommendation Letter to the Task Force for later discussion during the meeting.

Approval of August Minutes
The minutes for the August 2, 2011 Mason District BRAC-133 Task Force were approved as amended by a vote of the task force.

Presentation by James Hamre, Director of Bus Planning, WMATA
Reports titled “Ridership Report Mark Center- Pentagon” and “Guidelines for Design and Placement of Transit Stops 2009” were presented, as well as copies of the bus schedules, which service the Pentagon and Mark Center. These include:

#7 Line- serves from the Pentagon to Lincolnia, via Beauregard Street.  This line, which provides “core service,” runs 18 hours a day/seven days a week and serves the transit center at the Mark Center.

#7M Line- provides additional capacity between the Pentagon and Mark Center on a 10 minute interval.  This line is actually seeing high volumes of non-DOD trips.

DASH- The City of Alexandria provides shuttle service through DASH from the King Street Metro to the Mark Center.  By serving King Street, this shuttle line, funded by DOD, also provides a connection to the Virginia Railway Express (VRE).

There are also shuttles to and from the Franconia-Springfield Metro and the West Falls Church Metro.  Of the shuttle lines, thus far, King Street is doing the best with 100 trips per day, approximately.  Franconia-Springfield is seeing 50-60 trips per day.  West Falls Church 30 trips per day (note these volumes are approximations).  Ridership data is collected electronically.

WMATA started shuttle service on August 15, 2011.

Studies of usage on the #7 and #25 lines are being completed.  Results will be available through the WMATA Web site, www.Metrobus-Studies.com.  We will be able to see the data from the ridership reports, broken down into all types of categories, starting in January 2012.  Any proposed changes to the routes also will be provided.

There is a benefit of the routes between the Mark Center and the Pentagon. There are riders who utilize these routes to connect to other routes at the Pentagon to go to, or come from, other transit points in the metro area.  Information about ridership on other shuttles is not available yet.  Laura Miller will get this for the Task Force.

Presentation by Paul Mounier - Sr. Transit Operations Planner, Fairfax Connector
WMATA and DASH provide most service to/from the Mark Center.  The Fairfax Connector has been focusing on routings for new service utilizing the Hot Lanes from Lorton to Tyson’s Corner/Dulles.  WMATA is the regional transit provider, while Fairfax Connector generally provides local circulator service.

Some of the routes that currently are being evaluated include: 401/402 (Franconia-Springfield to Tyson’s Corner); 321/322 (Van Dorn to Franconia-Springfield); 306 (complements the 17 line); 395 (Gambrill/Sydenstricker to Pentagon). 

WMATA will be conducting a study on Little River Turnpike in early 2012.  Fairfax County will be conducting a study on county transit to improve matching service of other jurisdictions.  A handout titled “Fairfax County Bus Stop Guidelines July 2004” was distributed

Presentation by Seyed Nabavi - Project Manager and Liaison to I-95 Hot Lanes Project, FCDOT
Public hearings on I-95 Hot Lanes Project will be held September 26 in Woodbridge, September 28 in Springfield, and September 29 in Stafford.  The finalized environmental assessment report by VDOT was submitted to the Fairfax Board of Supervisors.  There has been a proposal to add one north bound lane on I-395 from Duke Street to Seminary Road at the same time the Seminary ramp is built. This would stop the weaving that currently occurs in this area. Note: there is no funding nor has any design work been done on this proposal.

To discourage high use of the Hot Lane off ramp near Edsall Road, the HOT Lane fees will be higher at this off ramp versus the other off ramps from the Hot Lanes.  The extension of the I-95 Hot Lanes, from Stafford to Edsall Road, is still in the planning stages.

Presentation by Laura Miller - BRAC Coordinator, FCDOT

City of Alexandria BRAC 133 Public Comment Meeting for HOV Ramp

September 7, 2011

Tom Fahrney, VDOT, provided an update on the project.  Money is from the state and is for construction of this ramp, not for any other purpose.  If the ramp is not constructed, the funding will be applied to some other construction project.

Robert Iosco provided an update on the status of the EA.  They are studying three alternatives – 1) No-build, 2) Left and Right turns onto Seminary from the ramp, and 3) Left turn only onto Seminary from the ramp. 

Schedule is as follows:
August 9, 2011           Scoping letters were sent
September 15, 2011    Comments were due to project team
November 15, 2011    Document available for public review
December 15, 2011     Public Hearing

The public was included in this portion of the process, which is unusual, to ensure open communication.  Following is a brief summary of questions and answers:

Q         Can public comment on what alternatives are being review, geographic scope, technical issues?
A         Yes – there is a guide for citizens on the web - http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/decisionmaking/decisionmaking.pdf

Q         VDOT studied 7 intersections – many are operating at LOS D or F.  This ramp will not help.
A         Short term improvements mitigate most of the issues but don’t address transit access or southbound I-395.  These intersections will all be restudied in the NEPA.

Q         Can the ramp look other than list the proposed ramp – can it end elsewhere?
A         Alternatives are as listed in the purpose and need statement.

Q         Traffic Impact Analysis on adjacent streets and cut-through?
A         Yes

Q         Steep grade to reach third level – will SWM/drainage be looked at?
A         Yes

Q         Will traffic management techniques be used to control traffic movements?
A         Please submit your comment during the public comment period

Q         Will the EA address noise?
A         Yes

Q         Barry Wilson – 1) three options are pre-defined, 2) Lack of consideration of the broader impact, 3) look at I-395 and Route 236 interchange including use of Quantrell Avenue for SB traffic
A         N/A

Q         BRAC should have been at GSA site.  If you don’t build the ramp, you lose the $80M.  Clarify when you talk about the two options.
A         VDOT was asked by the City to look at an option that prohibits right turns to EB Seminary.

Q         Will the HOV ramp be open to drivers during off-peak hours?
A         TBD

Q         Why look at right and left turns if the ramp is for the Mark Center?
A         Required by FHWA

Q         How much traffic will the ramp take off the rotary?
A         Will be evident in the completed traffic study.

Q         If left turns from the ramp onto Seminary is not a viable option, would you tell us?
A         It is a viable option

Q         This ramp has been talked about for 25 years.  This BRAC created an opportunity to make the ramp happen now.
A         VDOT and the City looked at it then and wanted it studied.

Q         Concern that the ramp only addresses SB and doesn’t look at all important intersections including some in Fairfax
A         All funding for improvements is done through VDOTs 6-year plan.  Hearings are in May.  80 Citizens attended the last meeting, but none from Alexandria.

Q         Mass transit on Beauregard Street – aesthetics of 30’ high ramp from residences, loss of property value, want perspective views to residents will understand what it will look like, look at tax impacts to the City.
A         N/A

Q         Proximity of ramp to building and safety of height of ramp?
A         Building meets ATFP requirements.  Haven’t looked at blast on ramp.

Q         Does ramp = loss of trees?
A         Maybe – will be determined during design.

Q         Are there impacts to Alexandria Hospital?
A         Restricting the right turn from the ramp to EB Seminary may have impact.

Q         Traffic studies will include BRAC traffic, including previous BRAC assumptions?
A         Yes.

Q         Will study look at increase in HOV traffic?
A         Meeting FHWA requirements

Q         More people may use HOV at Seminary
A         Traffic studies will show if there’s more traffic on Beauregard.  Traffic study assumes full occupancy and looks at 2015 and 2035 using COG Regional Model.

Governor’s Mark Center Task Force
Established August 8, 2011

Six subcommittees are working simultaneously:

  1. Brainstorming additional Short-Term Improvements
  2. Traffic Monitoring
  3. Integrated Corridor Management
  4. Regional Transit and TDM
  5. Roadway Construction Coordination
  6. Communications

City of Alexandria’s Public hearing for Corridor C (Beauregard/Van Dorn)
September 17, 2011

Public Hearing and Consideration of the first stage of implementation for High Capacity Transit Corridor - C (Van Dorn/Beauregard) - Staff: Departments of Transportation and Environmental Services and Planning and Zoning

Planning Commission Action: Planning Commission reaffirmed support for transit in Corridor C on an expedited basis and believes that there should be bus rapid transit running in dedicated lanes. The Commission had insufficient information on the non-transportation planning elements to form any further judgment. 7-0

Alexandria Transportation Commission Action: Recommend the City Council adopt the recommendation of the CWG for Corridor C, with two caveats: 1) The alignment be optimized to better serve the Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC), and 2) Recommend that the Transportation Commission be tasked to identify decision criteria, evaluate and monitor the transition from Alternative D (Bus Rapid Transit in dedicated lanes) to Alternative G (Streetcar in dedicated lanes), and periodically report the progress to the City Council. 7-0

City Council adopted the recommendation of the High Capacity Corridor Work Group, with the addition that the alignment be optimized to better serve the Northern Virginia Community College.

Presentation by Tom Burke - Sr. Transportation Planner, FCDOT

A brief summary of the spot improvement priorities discussion from the August 2, 2011 meeting of the Task Force was provided.  Projects #1 (traffic signal optimization) and #4A (I-395 off-ramp signage) were selected, by consensus, as the #1 and #2 priorities by the Task Force.  The remaining priorities were to be determined at the October 4, 2011 meeting of the Task Force, after members had an opportunity to further review and meet to discuss with their respective homeowners and/or civic associations. 

Note: It has been determined that Project #4A (prioritized as #2 on August 2), which recommends enhanced signage on the I-395 SB off-ramp at Route 236/Quantrell Avenue, will require (National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documentation, potentially in the form of a Categorical Exclusion (CE).

A brief summary of the remaining projects was provided.  The project numbering from the Document titled “Mason District BRAC-133 Spot Improvement Priority List,” dated August 2, 2011, was used for further discussion of the remaining projects about the draft spot improvements priority list.  Discussion occurred on the following items:

Project 2 - Route 236 at Beauregard Street: Either Project 2A (right-turn channelization) or Project 2B (removal of free flow right) can be implemented independently, but not in tandem.  Project 2B was generally determined to be more preferable of the two.  There was discussion of removing Project 2C (re-routing Beauregard Street) from the list.  Project 2D (additional SB left turn lane) was determined to be a supported concept.  The need for a feasibility study for this project was discussed.

Project 3 - Route 236 at Chowan and Cherokee Avenues: Removal of Project 3C (one way pairs) was requested by the representative from Lincolnia Park.  Project 3B received the least opposition of the projects by the communities affected by this issue.  There was additional discussion of a new project regarding the design of the Chowan Avenue approach to Route 236 and the connection to the access road/service drive to the east.  Crash data for this area was requested.  There also is a concern about the infrastructure on Cherokee and Chowan Avenues, including problematic ditches and other sub-par design issues.

Project 4B - Widen south-bound ramp to Quantrell Avenue: There was no significant additional discussion on this project.

Project 5 - Lincolnia Road, Braddock Road to North Chambliss Street: There was no significant additional discussion on this project.

Project 6 - Route 236, Braddock Road to I-395: Route 236 is 6 lanes in the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan.  The Task Force discussed the possibility of using the extra lane for transit only.

Project 7 - South Van Dorn Street: This project is located within the City of Alexandria.  The Alexandria City Council recently approved their Transitway “Corridor C,” which would place exclusive transit lanes on South Van Dorn Street, with connections to Sanger Avenue and Beauregard Street to the north.

Discussion of Proposed Environmental Assessment Letter Offered by Chairman Barry Wilson
The Task Force discussed the merits for an Environmental Assessment (EA), as part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process for the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) ramp from I-395 to Seminary Road.  Mr. Wilson provided a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) Recommendation Letter, which, after a brief discussion, the Task Force voted to table the proposal.

The next meeting of the Mason District BRAC 133 Task Force will be, subject to room availability, on November 1, 2011 at 7 p.m.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:30 p.m.


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