Embark Richmond Highway (Embark) was a coordinated effort among multiple Fairfax County and Commonwealth of Virginia agencies to implement recommendations from the Route 1 Multimodal Alternatives Analysis (Alternatives Analysis) conducted by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), a state agency that oversees transit funding and planning. Published in February 2015 and managed by DRPT, the 18-month study was a collaboration among Fairfax County, Prince William County, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), and the Virginia Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment. An Executive Steering Committee comprised of elected officials and senior staff from key stakeholder groups provided guidance throughout the study and endorsed the recommendations in October 2014. On May 12, 2015 the Board of Supervisors initiated Embark Richmond Highway. The Board's action consisted of three components:
- An endorsement of the October 2014 recommendations of the Route 1 Multimodal Alternatives Analysis Executive Steering Committee for multimodal (roadway, bicycle/pedestrian and transit) improvements from Huntington to Woodbridge, contingent upon supportive land use and an achievable funding plan;
- An authorization of a Comprehensive Plan amendment (PA 2015-IV-MV1) to assess and refine the recommendations of the Route 1 Multimodal Alternatives Analysis from Huntington to Accotink Village, Fort Belvoir. The amendment will consider: a.) Land use density and mix for the areas within a one-half mile radius of proposed stations, corridor wide transportation systems, urban design, public facilities, and other elements supportive of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and b.) Policy guidance supporting future Metrorail extension from the Huntington Metrorail station to Hybla Valley.
- Direction to proceed with actions necessary to conduct an Environmental Assessment (EA) for BRT from the Huntington Metrorail Station to Accotink Village and the associated road widening of Route 1, in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Transportation and other appropriate entities; and to initiate design for the road improvement and BRT projects.
Certain decisions about recommended future transportation improvements for Richmond Highway have already been made as a result of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation's Route 1 Multimodal Alternatives Analysis and Board of Supervisors' endorsement of the study's recommendations. The agreed upon decisions about the phased implementation of multimodal transportation improvements are as follows:
- Roadway widening from four to six lanes to create a consistent, six-lane cross-section;
- Continuous facilities for pedestrian and bicyclists along the 15 mile corridor (configurations will vary depending on urban design, right-of-way availability, and other local considerations);
- Contingent upon land use changes and project funding, a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system from Huntington to Route 123 in Woodbridge in Prince William County, and ultimately a 3-mile Metrorail Yellow Line extension from Huntington to Hybla Valley.
Implementation of BRT in the Richmond Highway Corridor will help to advance the implementation of Metrorail by attracting the growth and activity needed to support a rail extension in the long term. BRT should assist in building transit ridership that will increase over time along with additional development at the stations. The Alternatives Analysis also notes there should be coordination with Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and other stakeholders to address Metrorail core capacity issues. Discussions of core capacity issues are ongoing at WMATA and with state and local governments. Addressing WMATA’s core capacity issues and implementing Metrorail in the Richmond Highway corridor will require significant additional funding. Efforts to identify this funding are ongoing. Find more information on the BRT project on the project website.
Embark Richmond Highway Community Outreach and Advisory Group
Traditional and pioneering communication and outreach tools were utilized to maximize technological resources, promote awareness and gather feedback on the amendment. Project updates and meeting announcements were disseminated via a project listserv. Meetings were also announced through variable message signs positioned along the corridor, boosted postings to Facebook and Next Door, and flyers written in both English and Spanish that were distributed to community leadership and posted within county buses. Community meetings were live streamed via Facebook.
This project website was created to publish all information, documents, and frequently asked questions about the study, and a study email address was utilized to accept and respond to questions and comments. An ESRI Story Map, Embark Richmond Highway, highlighted information about the project and the plan amendment through an interactive, technologically-advanced, story-telling tool.
A 13-member advisory group assisted with community outreach, provided local and/or subject area expertise, offered input on technical work and recommendations developed by staff, and reached out to stakeholders and the public to encourage participation. Visit the Embark Meetings page for more information on meeting topics. In addition to the Advisory Group, six, major community meetings were held, as well as numerous other town hall, civic association, and interest group meetings. These meetings provided opportunities to present the project to the larger community and other interested parties at milestones and gather reactions and feedback on key aspects of the Amendment. Visualizations and graphics were used at community meetings to communicate planning concepts and ultimately many were included in the recommendations. At one of the meetings, iPads and Smartphone surveys were available to electronically gather input from attendees, in addition to the traditional paper surveys. Videos about the project were created at different milestones through Channel 16 and posted online, and staff participated in an Ask Fairfax media event to answer questions submitted by the public.