March 8, 2006 Minutes - Trails and Sidewalks Committee


Non-motorized Transportation Committee Meeting

Members Present - Bruce Wright (Hunter Mill, chairman), Robert Michie (Lee), Peter Christensen, (Mt. Vernon), Mary Flowers (Clifton Horse Society), Dennis Frew (WABA), Becky Cate (FCFCA), Paul Johnson (NVBIA), Allan Jones (Braddock), Roger Diedrich (Providence), Mike Shannon (Springfield), Ann Pimley (FADSB), Jenny Pate (FCPA)

Staff Present – Sheng Leu (DPZ); Mimi Murray (DOT)

Guest – Paul Anderson (Fairfax County Police)

Call to order – Bruce Wright called the meeting to order at 7:35 p.m.

Approval of Minutes for February 8, 2006 Minutes were approved unanimously as submitted by Mike Shannon (motion by Dennis Frew, second by Mary Flowers)

Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety – Bruce Wright introduced Officer Anderson and posed three preliminary questions: How are pedestrian/motorist interactions being enforced? The past focus for safety campaigns has been improving pedestrian behavior – is that still the case or is it changing to include motorists? What are the results of the fines at crosswalks signs?

The focus of safety campaigns begins at the elementary school level with 2 nd graders learning about pedestrian safety and 4 th/5 th graders learning about bicycle safety. There are also adult pedestrian safety brochures at all police stations in a variety of languages.

The enforcement of ped/motorist interactions and obedience to laws is the responsibility of 29 traffic enforcement officers countywide – regular patrol officers can also issue tickets, of course, but they have many other responsibilities. The traffic enforcement officers also escort VIPs, funerals, etc. In a recent enforcement focus at Medford Drive and Route 236 in Annandale , 95 motorists were ticketed, 241 pedestrians were ticketed. The enforcement is constrained by the way the traffic laws are written. There was a discussion of the reasons behind this lack of enforcement.

The fines at the signed crosswalks are not listed separately from other tickets, so there is no existing data base, but the range of fines issued is based on driving record – if a driver has no record, the charges are often dropped. Maximum fine - $200. Additional points of discussion included suggested remedies to pedestrian safety issues (education/improved facilities), questions on the DMV driver’s license test, etc.

Staff Reports – Mimi Murray, reporting for Department of Transportation, handed out a report on the bicycle coordinator position which is endorsed by the new director of DT, and a response to the BOS request for a bike map – estimated to cost $500,000. This funding is not a part of the FY 2007 budget request, but could be added to the consideration list. She also reported that a map is being sent to each BOS member in the next week showing pedestrian crashes and another map to show existing pedestrian signals.

Sheng Leu handed out a new member list and welcomed the new Mt. Vernon district rep, Peter Christensen. He also handed out the latest report of trail waivers approved and disapproved. The update of the Existing Trails map is still waiting for DPWES to complete their mapping effort which is stalled at 75% complete. No word on final completion date.

Chair Report - the Charter and Bylaws of the committee were previously presented to the BOS. They requested the committee change its name and that was accomplished at the February meeting. They also requested that we take out references to “non-motorized” and clarify “facilities.” Additionally, they asked that we include Robert’s Rules of Order as part of the Bylaws. There was a discussion of these items and the format that Bruce Wright had used for addressing them. With a few minor changes the modified documents as presented by Bruce were unanimously approved. (motion by Dennis Frew, second by Paul Johnson)

The Transportation Policy Plan and map with road classes will be presented at the Planning Commission on May 4. We will request that the Department of Transportation send us a draft copy to review before the final report is presented.

New Business - Jenny Pate announced that May 6 is the CCTrailfest to be celebrated countywide along the Cross County Trail. Everyone is encouraged to attend! For updated information, check the Park Authority website and the CCTrailfest link – www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/trailfest.htm

Dennis Frew, along with WABA reps from Arlington and Alexandria met with Tim Eakin of Congressman Moran’s office to discuss possibilities for funding various trail projects. See attachment for summary.

Ann Pimley asked about the “freedom initiative” and whether any funding was ever received from it for connections to bus stops, etc. No one knew about that initiative. Ann will research.

Bruce announced that he is working to have a representative of the Schools to talk about safe routes to school and other school access issues at our April meeting.

Old Business – no old business.

Adjournment – 9: 10 p.m. (motion by Mike Shannon, second by Dennis Frew)

Secretary for April Meeting – Roger Diedrich

ATTACHMENT 1

Summary of discussion of TOP TRAIL AND BICYCLING CONCERNS FOR

VIRGINIA 'S EIGHTH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT – WABA representatives and Tim Eakin (Congressman Moran’s staff) – February 2006

1) ACCESS THROUGH FORT BELVOIR (including for U.S. Bike Route 1, the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, and the East Coast Greenway) on both the Woodland Rd replacement and US-1.  A sidepath along US-1 should be expedited as a standalone project now that VDOT's Rte 1 centerline study has been completed. Since 2002, Fairfax County has identified Rte 1 pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements as its top unfunded pedestrian and bicycle priority.

2) ACCESS PAST THE PENTAGON AND THROUGH FORT MYER . Bike access between DC and south and central Arlington has been curtailed and degraded since 9-11-01 .  The Pentagon blocked the construction of Arlington 's funded VA-27 sidepath upgrade (immediately adjacent to Ground Zero) and has narrowed Boundary Dr . New north-south and east-west bike and pedestrian access routes that are not subject to security closures, including the East Cemetery Wall Trail, are critically needed.  Since 2002, Arlington County has identified a study of Pentagon area bike access improvements as its top unfunded bikeway priority.

3) RETAIN PLANNED BICYCLE AND PEDESTRIAN ACCESS IN THE WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE PROJECT.  Planning and design for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project has included new bicycle and pedestrian access across the Beltway at the Route 1 and Telegraph Rd Interchanges as well as a new trail crossing of the Potomac.  Following the FHWA's Record of Decision, bicycling and walking access concepts were refined by citizen stakeholder panels and approved by technical and policy panels as effective transportation links throughout the five-mile project area in Northern Virginia .  Regardless of funding shortfalls, all planned bicycle and pedestrian access must be retained, including along the west side of Telegraph Rd, and the Mt Vernon Trail should be permanently realigned along the Potomac shoreline at Hunting Towers (currently owned by VDOT).

4) NEW TRAIL CONNECTION(S) ACROSS THE GWMP in the vicinity of I-395/14th St Bridge, linking the Pentagon and North Crystal City areas with the Mount Vernon Trail and 14th St Bridge bikeway, is another long-standing priority need.  Besides planned trail underpasses of the Humpback Bridge (part of upcoming GWMP highway improvements), Arlington seeks a pedestrian/bicycle bridge (between the CSX Railroad and Metrorail bridges) as both a critical bicycling connection and to directly link the North Tract recreational complex and the Roaches Run wildlife sanctuary with the Mt Vernon Trail and the Potomac shore.

5) SAFER CROSSING OF THE GWMP AT SLATER'S LANE (between East and West Abingdon Drives) at the north end of Alexandria .  Site of a 1999 bicycle commuter fatality, this is a very dangerous intersection for bicyclists and pedestrians trying to access the Mount Vernon Trail from the rapidly growing northeast section of Alexandria.

6) MEMORIAL BRIDGE , COLUMBIA ISLAND , AND LINCOLN MEMORIAL AREA TRAIL UPGRADES AND CONNECTIONS.  Several dangerous at-grade road crossings between the Lincoln Memorial and the Mount Vernon Trail (along the East Coast Greenway) have been neglected for decades, including in related NPS reconstruction projects, except for some poorly designed and executed efforts. A COMPREHENSIVE STUDY of all trails on Columbia Island , around the Lincoln Memorial, and--ideally, throughout the National Mall--is needed to advance long-needed trail upgrades in these areas. 

7) MOUNT VERNON TRAIL (MVT) DESIGN STANDARDS.  As a segment of the East Coast Greenway (ECG), U.S. Bike Route 1, and the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail (PHNST), the MVT should, upon rehabilitation, provide at least a 10-ft paved width (and otherwise meet AASHTO guidelines for shared use paths) wherever feasible, not the 9-ft width NPS specifies, especially for all portions between Rosslyn and Old Town and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge reconstruction.  South of Old Town, an on-street bike route should be signed by VDOT or Fairfax County , as recommended in a 1990 NPS study.

8) EXTENSION OF THE MOUNT VERNON TRAIL BETWEEN CHAIN BRIDGE AND THE AMERICAN LEGION BRIDGE .  We hope the NPS environmental assessment and preliminary engineering study, now underway, will recommend construction of a useful paved trail with multiple access points.

9) MOUNT VERNON TRAIL CROSSING OF FORMER AIRPORT ENTRANCE RAMP.  Years ago, the entrance ramp near the southern end of  Reagan Airport from the George Washington Memorial Parkway was closed, but removal of the unused entrance road and reconstruction of the MVT has yet to occur.  Reopening that entrance would endanger MVT users who no longer have to cross any Airport roads at grade.

10) WASHINGTON & OLD DOMINION TRAIL OVERPASS OF HUNTER MILL ROAD .  The Friends of the W&OD Trail have identified the Hunter Mill Rd crossing as the most dangerous at-grade trail crossing in Fairfax County and are pursing an overpass as a more effective solution than a traffic signal.

Meeting minutes by Jenny Pate


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