Mason District BRAC 133 Task Force

August 2, 2011 minutes

Called to order at 7:07 PM by Chairman Barry Wilson

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

Task Force Members excused from Meeting
Dave Dexter

Others in Attendance
Clara Pizana - Office of Supervisor Penny Gross
Thomas Burke - FCDOT
David Grover - BRAC Coordinator for City of Alexandria
Laura Miller - Fairfax County BRAC Coordinator
Mark Canale - FCDOT
Guy Mullinax – FCDOT
Peggy Tadej – Northern Virginia Regional Commission
Cindy Wilson - Fairfax County Resident
David Saum – Fairfax County Resident
Lori Cohen – Fairfax County Resident
R.D. Smalley – Fairfax County Resident
John Agnone – Fairfax County Resident

Approval of June Minutes
The minutes for the June 7, 2011 Mason District BRAC 133 Task Force Meeting were approved as written by a vote of the task force members prior to tonight’s meeting.

Update on status to limit parking - The conference about the attempt to limit parking at BRAC 133 to 1000 parking spaces failed.  The move in schedule for employees at BRAC-133 will occur as noted below:

From August 15, 2011 to September 15, 2011 about 75 employees a day will move in for a total of about 2,300 people.

From September 16, 2011 until the end of this year, another 2,500 people will move in

The remaining employees will move in after January 1 through February 2012.

The impact of the entire 6,400 people in the facility will be most noticeable when all 3,600 parking spaces are filled.

The City of Alexandria has begun adjusting signal timings at intersections.  The Management Information System (MIS) used in synchronization analysis will help monitor the traffic signals.  The traffic signal management is to include roads west of the BRAC-133 site, i.e. Seminary Road at South Mason Drive. 

Presentation by Thomas Burke
The PowerPoint presentation (see Web site under supplemental materials) was discussed and the task force considered the following potential spot improvements:

  1. Traffic Signal Optimization – Traffic patterns will change with the Mark Center open and occupied.  Traffic signal timings and phasing should be re-evaluated and optimized for all traffic signals along Route 236, Beauregard Street and South Van Dorn Street to ensure traffic is being served in the most efficient manner possible with existing infrastructure.
  2. Route 236 @ Beauregard Street – The intersection of Little River Turnpike (Route 236) and Beauregard Street has been identified as a major issue.  Beauregard Street is anticipated to be a popular route to the Mark Center for those looking to avoid I-395.  There is a clear need for additional SB capacity (approaching Route 236).  Queuing and weaving are also a concern on the SB approach.  The following potential improvements may be implemented to address these concerns:
    1. Re-Route and Channelize SB Rights – Vehicles traveling SB on Beauregard Street wishing to turn right on Route 236 currently weave with vehicles traveling SB on North Chambliss Street wishing to turn left on Route 236 in a very short span of Beauregard Street.  A potential short-term solution to this weaving issue could be channelizing the SB right turns with a re-routing of SB right turns originating from Beauregard Street.  SB rights coming from Beauregard Street/Alexandria would be re-routed onto Lincolnia Road and North Chambliss Street.  The SB right turn lane would be channelized, so that weaving would no longer occur.  Those vehicles from Lincolnia/Chambliss that wish to make a SB left would have to utilize the signalized intersection of Beauregard Street and the main entrance at Plaza at Landmark.  
      (Note that 2A could be considered an interim improvement leading to 2D.)
    2. Eliminating Exclusive SB Right (Alternative to 2A) – Another means to solving the weaving issue could the elimination of the free-flow right turn lane from North Chambliss Street to Beauregard Street.  Currently, vehicles traveling SB on North Chambliss Street that wish to turn right on Route 236 utilize a free-flow right turn lane to Beauregard Street.  Those that wish to turn left on Route 236 traverse a signalized intersection at the main entrance to Plaza at Landmark.  By eliminating the free-flow right turn lane, all SB vehicles on North Chambliss would have to traverse the signalized intersection (potentially resulting in the need for an additional right turn lane).  This will separate the Lincolnia/North Chambliss traffic from the Beauregard traffic.
    3. Re-Route SB Approach (Permanent Improvement) – Following up on the short range alternative described above (2A), all SB trips originating from Beauregard Street/Alexandria could be re-routed to Lincolnia Road/North Chambliss Street.  A portion of Beauregard Street could be abandoned and provided to the Plaza at Landmark. 
    4. 3rd SB Left – 2A, 2B and 2C deal with the weaving issue on Beauregard Street.  Capacity on the SB approach of Beauregard Street at Route 236 is also of concern.  Ideally, we would modify the SB approach to include three (3) exclusive left turn lanes, one (1) through lane and one (1) right turn lane.  In addition to adding capacity for the SB lefts, we could potentially remove the split phasing at the traffic signal.  Right-of-way (ROW), however, is a significant concern on the NW, NE and SE corners.  Rather than adding two (2) full lanes to the approach, it is recommended that a third SB left be provided, but it be shared with the through movement.  This would result in a net increase of one SB left turn lane.  Note that a third receiving lane would be necessary on Route 236 heading east towards I-395 and Alexandria. 
      (Note that 2D can be combined with 2A/2C or 2B to address both capacity and weaving.)
  3. Route 236 @ Chowan Avenue/Cherokee Avenue – It is anticipated that trips destined for the Mark Center from the South may utilize back-streets.  Vehicles may elect to use Chowan or Cherokee Avenues to access Route 236 and Beauregard Street from Edsall Road.  The following potential improvements may be implemented to address these concerns:
    1. Route 236 @ Chowan Avenue – Connecting Edsall Road and I-395 with Route 236, Chowan Avenue could potentially offer Mark Center commuters an alternative route to and from the south.  Currently, NB traffic stops at a free-flowing Route 236.  With low availability of gaps and NB left turning movements blocking the NB rights, separating the lefts from the rights would be beneficial.  An exclusive NB right turn lane should be provided, long enough to provide adequate separation from the NB lefts and throughs.
    2. Route 236 @ Cherokee Avenue – Connecting Edsall Road and I-395 with Route 236, Cherokee Avenue could potentially offer Mark Center commuters an alternative route to and from the south.  Currently, NB traffic stops at a free-flowing Route 236.  With low availability of gaps and NB left turning movements blocking NB rights, separating the lefts from the rights would be beneficial.  An exclusive NB right turn lane should be provided, long enough to provide adequate separation from the NB lefts and throughs.
    3. One-Way Pairs – In the interest of increasing capacity and reducing the workload associated with 3B and 3C, an alternative may be to create a one-way pair, where Chowan Avenue would provide NB access to Route 236 and Cherokee Avenue would provide SB egress from Route 236.  Chowan and Cherokee Avenues could be two-lane, one-way facilities, or one-lane, one-way facilities with on-street parking and/or enhanced bicycle/pedestrian facilities.
  4. I-395 SB Off-Ramp @ Route 236 – The I-395 SB off-ramp at Route 236 is anticipated to operate below acceptable standards. 
    1. Enhanced Signage – Beauregard Street and the Plaza at Landmark shopping center can be accessed via an access road off the I-395 SB off-ramp, prior to reaching Route 236.  Enhanced signage advising travelers well in advance of the access road would likely remove numerous trips from Route 236 where a weaving issue exists.
    2. Widen Off-Ramp to Two Lanes – Another means to increase capacity on the I-395 SB off-ramp would be to widen the ramp from one lane to two lanes, from I-395 to the access road to Beauregard Street and Plaza at Landmark.  Adding a lane to Route 236 is not advisable as it would exacerbate the existing weaving issue.
  5. Lincolnia Road, Braddock Road to North Chambliss Street – Lincolnia Road, a two-lane minor arterial providing connection between Columbia Pike and Braddock Road and Beauregard Street, is anticipated to reach its capacity by 2030.  Consideration should be given to enhancing the corridor to an improved two-lane facility with spot improvements, such as curb and gutter, turn lanes,  sidewalks, etc., as determined by future study (e.g., at Sano St). 
  6. Route 236, Braddock Road to I-395 – Route 236 has been identified in the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan for widening from four lanes to six lanes.  This will provide additional east-west capacity and better access and connectivity with I-395.  Note the Comprehensive Plan actually identifies a longer, more regional stretch of Route 236 for widening, from the City of Fairfax to the City of Alexandria.  
  7. South Van Dorn Street, I-95/495 to Route 236 (or Sanger Avenue) – A potential “relief valve” for I-395, South Van Dorn Street could provide Mark Center Commuters with a viable alternative route.  There is a clear need for additional capacity on South Van Dorn Street.  Consideration should be given to widening South Van Dorn Street to six (6) lanes.  Given that this is outside Fairfax County, coordination is needed with the City of Alexandria.  Early indications are that a fifth and sixth lane, if added, would be for transit.
    (Note: This is a City of Alexandria project and preferred choice.)

Using a map of the affected areas for the possible spot improvement list, the pros and cons for each proposed item was discussed.  At the end of the discussion there was a consensus that Items 1 (Traffic Signal Optimization) and 4A (Enhanced Signage) on the priority list were the most cost effective and could be implemented quickly by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to mitigate the impact on the increased traffic resulting by the occupancy of the BRAC-133 site.  There was a motion to recommend to Fairfax County staff that these two items be referred to VDOT for implementation.  The motion passed unanimously. The task force members also agreed to discuss these potential spot improvements with their respective civic and homeowners associations so that the remaining projects may be discussed at the next task force meeting.  

Note: Unlike the City of Alexandria, the roads in Fairfax County are controlled and maintained by VDOT, a state agency.

Following the potential spot improvements discussion, the task force and other participants discussed existing transit in the area.  Concerns were raised about the bus stop on eastbound Little River Turnpike, east of Beauregard Street, and how it prevents the continuity of the dual left turns from southbound Beauregard Street onto eastbound Little River Turnpike.  A question was raised about providing bus pull-outs or having drivers use existing service roads to pull out of the travel lanes at bus stops.  FCDOT staff responded that bus drivers have difficulty merging back into the travel lanes, which causes schedule delays.  There was interest in knowing the guidelines for determining bus stop locations, the feasibility of bus service on Lincolnia Road, and the potential for increased/improved bus service on Beauregard Street to the Mark Center.  Based on this discussion, the task force agreed that the next meeting would focus on transit.

The next meeting of the Mason District BRAC 133 Task Force, subject to room availability, will be October 4, 2011 at 7 PM.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:38 PM


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