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Learn about the Embark Richmond Highway Initiative Archived Discussion Room

Fairfax County, Virginia

Learn about the Embark Richmond Highway Initiative

Embark Richmond Highway is a multi-year effort involving land use and transportation planning in the Route 1 corridor in Fairfax County. The effort will include design and construction activities that will result in a bus rapid transit (BRT) system operating primarily on dedicated lanes along Richmond Highway initially from the Huntington Metrorail Station to Fort Belvoir. A future extension of the Metrorail Yellow Line to Hybla Valley is also being considered. Want to learn more? Join staff from across county agencies on Thursday, July 28 at 11 a.m. to get your questions about this major effort answered.


Tonya McCreary :

Good morning everyone and thank you for joining us for the Embark Richmond Highway online chat for the next hour!

My name is Tonya McCreary and I’m part of the communications team for Embark. With me today are Fairfax County staff from the Department of Transportation, Department of Planning and Zoning, and Office of Community Revitalization to help get your questions answered.

Embark Richmond Highway is an initiative focused on creating a multimodal future for the Richmond Highway corridor. Some of the planned improvement include accessible communities with bike and pedestrian facilities, a bus rapid transit system (BRT), and a future Metrorail extension. For the most up-to-date info on the initiative, visit frequently www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/embarkrichmondhwy.

Please keep the questions coming as we are here to get them answered for the next hour!


how is 8305 richmond hwy 12a affected : How is the business center at mt zephyr affected, 8305 Richmond hwy 12a Alexandria va 22309

Tonya McCreary : From a land use perspective, we are developing recommendations from the northern end of Richmond Highway, working our way down south. These options will be presented to the Advisory Group and the community. Given the size of the Mt. Zephyr business center, major land use changes are not anticipated but are expected to be discussed in the early fall time frame.

Ideas for reuse of the original Mount Vernon High School are being investigated – please check the website for updates:  http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/original-mount-vernon-hs/

If your question refers to the effect of right-of-way needs, it is still too early in the process to know what right of way will be required from properties along this stretch of Richmond Highway. Once a full roadway design does begin, there will be ample time for discussion and feedback on the layout and potential right of way needs from property owners.


Anonymous User : What does "urban-style" development look like? When I hear that I envision a concrete jungle of high rises and expensive shops/restaurants. Our nice suburb is certainly deteriorating for many reasons. We need planned communities that are walkable-- but don't have the open land to do that. Does this new zoning give the county eminent domain to take land for your new "urban" plan????

Tonya McCreary : The focus will be on high-quality architecture and public space. There will be an emphasis on community development (e.g., parks) and creating a walkable community through thoughtful redevelopment in activity centers.

The changes that are being proposed will be reflected in the county’s Comprehensive Plan, once adopted by the Board of Supervisors.

Zoning is a tool to implement the Comprehensive Plan, but the new amendment to the Zoning Ordinance does not affect eminent domain.


Mike Brownell : Looking to the future there is no way to accommodate all the projected traffic and BRT without building a tunnel under Route 1 from the beltway to Fort Belvoir (and beyond). This would serve thru traffic and relieve congestion for surface traffic. It is time to recognize the fact that Route 1 cannot be widened enough to meet future traffic needs and begin planning for the future.

Tonya McCreary : Thank you for the suggestion. A tunnel is one of many ways that may provide capacity in the Richmond Highway corridor. As the County continues with the transportation analysis, staff will look at alternatives to providing congestion relief, including maximizing ridership on the planned Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system along Richmond Highway.


Angela : Will the BRT stations be like the ones in Alexandria or Arlington with high curbs and real-time arrival signs?

Tonya McCreary : The County is actively working to acquire a Program Management Consultant (PMC) that will assist staff in determining what features are appropriate for the Richmond Highway BRT stations. Staff is expecting to have the PMC under contract by the end of the year and will begin to actively start planning and designing the system at that time. High curbs, along with real-time information display, are some of the many features the County will be looking into during the design of the BRT system.


Ruth : Will all of this new housing development be like Tysons or Mosaic and price many of us out of the area?

Tonya McCreary : Much of the new housing will be market rate, however, there will be an emphasis on maintaining and providing affordable housing consistent with adopted Fairfax County policies.


Penn Daw Neighbor : It looked like in the powerpoint from the presentation earlier this week that N. Kings Hwy and Rte. 1 become realigned as one of the "great streets" (also described in the powerpoint), is that correct?

Tonya McCreary : The adopted Comprehensive Plan recommends the separation of North Kings Highway and Richmond Highway with new access points between the two roads. The "great streets" are intended to provide a framework within the neighborhoods surrounding the transit station areas. They are community amenity elements and will provide connectivity to existing neighborhoods. The "great street" concept does not apply to North Kings Highway and Richmond Highway but these roads will include a bike lane and sidewalks.


Anonymous User : How much will all of this cost? Who is paying the bill?

Tonya McCreary : The cost for the roadway widening, from Route 235/Mount Vernon Memorial Highway to Napper Road, recently has been estimated at $214 million. The cost to construct Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), from Huntington to Fort Belvoir, is estimated at approximately $500 million.

The county is looking into many federal, regional, state and local funding sources for the BRT and roadway improvements. For example, we will be pursuing capital investment grants through the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA).


Penn Daw Neighbor : Will the metro definitely be extended by one stop, or is this still tentative?

Tonya McCreary : We've had many questions about the potential for Metro extension - thanks to our Penn Daw Neighbor for this question. The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, Route 1 Multimodal Alternatives Analysis, recommended a two stop extension of the Yellow Line, with stops at Beacon/Groveton and Hybla Valley. This is a long-term recommendation that is currently being studied.


Anonymous User : There were lots and lots of questions and suggestions asked via index card and on the newsprint on Monday. Where are the answers to those questions?

Tonya McCreary : You're right, thanks to the community for such a great turnout on Monday. We received more than 100 questions and are working on answers. Connect with us via facebook at www.facebook.com/fairfaxlanduse, sign up for Fairfax Alerts (www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts and choose "DOT News and Information"), or
visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/embarkrichmondhwy.gov for updates.


Tonya McCreary : Quick correction: earlier we incorrectly referenced the Federal Transit Administration - sorry for any confusion.


Anonymous User : It took 30 years for the Silver Line to be built from concept to opening. Is that the rough timeframe for the Yellow Line? Does Metro support this expansion?

Tonya McCreary : Per the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (VDRPT) study, the Yellow Line Extension is planned for the 2040 timeframe. Metro was part of the Technical Advisory Committee for the study.


The dedicated bus lanes: Other route doing well? : We love the idea of dedicated bus lanes from Huntington Station to Fort Belvoir. Naturally, many motorists are scared their commutes will be impeded. If you've ever traveled in the right lane of Richmond Highway, you know that the dedicated lanes will help, not hurt the situation. Can you share the successes and failures of the dedicated bus lanes through Potomac Yard?

Tonya McCreary :

Thank you for the question. We reached out to staff from the City of Alexandria for information since Potomac Yard is located in the City.

The Transitway on Route 1 through Potomac Yard has not adversely affected automobile traffic on that roadway.  In fact, because a Transitway removes buses from the general purpose lanes, where they can hold up traffic when they stop to pick up passengers, such a facility can be expected to benefit auto traffic. Specifically, having a dedicated lane improves the speed and reliability of the buses since they don't get stuck in traffic. The City has seen steady ridership growth since the service started, and are now at over 2,000 riders per day.


Evie : Why is it necessary to construct additional vehicular lanes? Vehicular lanes cater to single occupant drivers and disincentivize citizens from using alternative forms of transportation. In other words, "free" vehicular lanes compete with BRTs. In addition, they are expensive to buy land, build, maintain, plow. Further, more vehicles cause air and sound pollution. Therefore, why are extra lanes being built for vehicles?

Tonya McCreary : The county is looking to create a continuous six-lane road throughout the corridor from Fort Belvoir to North Kings Highway. Certain sections of the road are already six lanes. These additional travel lanes are not just for single occupant vehicles, they can also be used for local bus travel and carpoolers. Additionally, the county is looking to provide for all modes on Richmond Highway including bus rapid transit (BRT) lanes, bike lanes, and sidewalks.


Parkside at Mount Vernon : Are the homes along the x-streets of Rte 1 and Central Ave going to be effected? If so, how? The tract community is called "Parkside at Mount Vernon." Several residents have received survey letters from DOT and surveys are being conducted directly behind our homes.

Tonya McCreary : Thanks for your question. The survey letters you received are from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), who is conducting the environmental assessment for the widening of Richmond Highway from Jeff Todd Way/Mount Vernon Memorial Highway to Napper Road. Contact VDOT or find out more information at http://virginiadot.org/projects/northernvirginia/rt_1_multimodal.asp.


Evie : Instead of building additional vehicular lanes, couldn't the space be used for a protected bike lane? The shared-use path is a bonus, however, bike commuters often avoid them because they result in conflicts with walkers, dogs, strollers, and runners. In addition, they require stopping at every driveway and roadway crossing as opposed riding with the flow of traffic as vehicles do.

Tonya McCreary : The Plan for Richmond Highway is for separated bike lanes to accommodate riders of more ages and abilities. In addition, the bike lane is expected to be wide enough to allow for bicyclists to pass each other, thus accommodating both recreational bicyclists and the bicyclists with more experience.


Tonya McCreary : Thank you everyone for the great questions! Please keep checking the initiative website at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/embarkrichmondhwy for updates, and sign-up for text/email alerts on new content at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts (select “Transportation” and then “Transportation News and Information”.)