October 8, 2003 Minutes - Trails and Sidewalks Committee

Non-motorized Transportation Committee Meeting

October 8, 2003

Members Attending: Michael Brennan (Braddock), Wade Smith (Dranesville), Robert Michie (Lee), Donald Emerson (Providence District), Christopher O'Brien (Mason), Kevin Brugman (Mount Vernon), Michael Shannon (Springfield), Larry Butler (Sully), Walter Brodtman (WABA), Kate Rudacille and Dan Iglhaut (NVRPA), Ann Bennett (At-Large), Rebecca Cate (FCFCA), Jenny Pate (FCPA)

Staff Attending: Chris Wells, DOT, Sheng-Jieh Leu, DPZ

Call To Order: Don Emerson called the meeting to order at 7:40 PM. Chair Ann Bennet arrived shortly afterward and continued as chair.

Robert Michie agreed to be acting Secretary.

September Meeting Minutes

September minutes were approved.

Staff Reports

Mr. Leu

  • Membership Update - Mr. Leu reported that there are three vacancies. Mr. Leu notified Ms. Pate that staff needs a letter or email report from the Park Authority regarding her appointment as well as a financial statement. Mr. Brodtman alson needs a letter confirming his appointment.
  • Trail Report - Mr. Leu also provided a report from DPWES regarding Capital Construction project status.
  • VDOT Public Hearing - On October 8, 2003 there will be a VDOT public hearing on improvements to the Fairfax County Parkway.


Mr. Wells

  • Pedestrian Safety Month - October is Pedestrian Safety Month. Bilingual TV and radio ads, posters and brochures are being used to get the word out. Fairfax County contributed $50,000 of the $400,000 used for the campaign.
  • Pedestrian Fatalities are down this year. Additional police enforcement on Route 1 may be part of the reason for the decrease.
  • Bus Stop Study - Samples of the study were presented. The study is in the inventory stage. Bus stops are being located using GPS equipment. A pilot project will be completed soon. The contract for the work began in May 2003. Safety recommendations for the pilot area are expected in Dec. 2003. A best practices list is being developed before formulation of recommendations. For the past two years VDOT has applied for permits from Fairfax County for locating a bus stop. It is estimated that there are around 5000 Metro and Fairfax Connector bus stops in the County.


Mr. Brugman wanted to know if the “Safe Crossings Campaign” is involved in the safety campaign. Mr. Wells noted that they are involved in peripheral issues. He will notify Dave Lyons about the campaign.

Ms. Bennett asked Mr. Wells for information about cost estimates of the trails listed on the Countywide Trail Priorities list. He is working on it. Mr. Brodtman asked Mr. Wells if he knew the schedule of VDOT paving in the County. Mr. Wells is also working on this issue.

Ms. Pate said that the Chesapeake Bay Gateway Network is applying for recognition of the Cross County Trail as a Connector Network. She asked for time during the November meeting for a presentation. A letter of support from the committee will also be requested.

Ms. Rudacille needs volunteers for a study of the economic impact of trails. Volunteers can call 703-359-4615.

Chair's Report

Ms. Bennett stated that the Countywide Trail Priorities list goes to the Board of Supervisors on November 17. She also discussed membership in the Pedestrian Task Force.

New Business

Guideline for Review of Trail Waiver Applications Mr. Wright led the discussion. When a new development occurs and a trail is required by the Trails Plan, the developer must either build the trail or apply for a waiver. Mr. Leu usually notifies the district representative about the waiever request and asks for a recommendation. After a decision, the final implementation is verified by the site inspector.

If a residential project is proposed near a school, a sidewalk is required, and developers must either build the sidewalk or apply for a waiver. Weldon Sperling of Fairfax County Public Schools usually notifies the Supervisor's office if a waiver is required. The office has 30 days to respond with a comment.

Sometimes developers will request a waiver during the rezoning process. If the request is presented to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors as part of this process, and the request is granted, a formal trail waiver request is not required.

Mr. Wright discussed examples of situations in which a request is appropriate.

Mr. Leu stated that he does not review the final design. Staff rely on the site reviewer to ensure that the requirements are met. Mr. Wells thinks we need to develop an information packet for site reviewers. Ms. Cate says that civic associations get frustrated that after months of negotiations, projects do n ot get built as agreed. Mr. Smith asked if the committee could look at sidewalk and trail waiver requests. Ms. Pate said it would be difficult since two agencies are involved.

There was discussion of escrow funds, which are often required of the developer for construction of a trail at a later date. Escrows are usually not enough to cover the true cost of the project, once the costs of overhead, design, etc. are factored in. The escrows are usually useless. Mr. Wells would like to get the message out that escrows don't work. The builders should do the complete project at the time of development.

Some districts now have districtwide escrow funds that can be used to fill in gaps in the trail network throughout the district.

Mr. Wright asked if it was feasible for the committee as a whole to develope trail waiver recommendations for the entire County. This would be too time consuming. Ms. Bennett says that the committee chair sees all requests and recommendations and does not feel the entire committee should have to weigh in on the requests. She said that committee members can bring any issues up to the committee as a whole at any time. It was suggested that Barbara Byron be invited to discuss this issue in the future.

Mr. Butler suggested building a relationship with site reviewers in the districts. He also suggested committee members consult with each other on difficult waiver applications.

Ms. Bennett will work with Mr. Leu to get a presentation on this issue.

Old Business

Pedestrian Access to Dulles Rail Stations Subcommittee Mr. Emerson discussed the recommendations being developed by the subcommittee. Mr. Wright will draft a letter to the Board regarding various pedestrian/bike access issues.

Today is Walk to School Day. No Fairfax County schools are participating.

Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 PM.


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