Transportation

Fairfax County, Virginia

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Fairfax, VA 22033

Tom Biesiadny,
Director

Fairfax County & Franconia-Springfield Parkways Study Frequently Asked Questions

Fairfax County staff thanks all citizens, property owners and stakeholders who have taken time to participate in public meetings, online surveys and provided feedback via the website. The following Frequently Asked Questions were compiled throughout this process, and will help inform the decision making process moving forward. The questions have been grouped into the following topics:

  1. Study Purpose and Outcomes
  2. Transportation Funding
  3. Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan
  4. Analysis Considerations
  5. Bicycle/Pedestrian
  6. Location-Specific Questions
  7. Park-and-Rides
  8. Transit
  9. Managed Lanes
  10. Noise Walls
  11. Public Outreach

FCDOT is currently collecting feedback via a second survey that focuses on improvements to the Parkways by segment. Results will help determine which improvements will be developed for screening and testing.Take the Fairfax County & Franconia-Springfield Parkways survey (extended to June 3, 2019).

Return to the Fairfax County & Franconia-Springfield Parkways Study page.

1. STUDY PURPOSE AND OUTCOMES

A. What is the purpose of the Fairfax County & Franconia-Springfield Parkways Alternatives Analysis & Long-Term Planning Study?

The Fairfax County & Franconia-Springfield Parkways Alternatives Analysis & Long-Term Planning Study, led by Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT), in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), will provide recommendations for 2040 and beyond for the 30+ miles of Fairfax County and Franconia-Springfield Parkways. The Alternatives Analysis & Long-Term Planning Study was authorized by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to re-evaluate currently planned improvements to both Parkways included in the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan.

B. Where is FCDOT considering widening of the Parkways? If additional lanes are recommended, can they be located within the current median area, thus requiring less right-of-way on the outside of the existing lanes?

The current Comprehensive Plan recommends widening of most sections of the Parkways, with new/additional lanes being constructed as High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes. As part of this study, FCDOT is seeking public feedback on preferred improvement strategies, with widening as one of the potential strategies under consideration (whether general purpose lanes or HOV lanes).

As a matter of policy, any new lane widening would be towards the center/inside, not outside, of the roadway, if possible. Some locations have wide enough medians to absorb all, or most, of the need for space for additional lanes. Some will not. Once recommendations are made and the Comprehensive Plan is amended, any road widenings would need to be identified as priorities and be funded. Once this occurs and the project moves into implementation, right-of-way needs will be addressed during the design phase.

C. What will be the impacts to properties adjacent to future improvements?

FCDOT is still analyzing traffic conditions, future models and gathering public input, and has not reached the recommendation stage of the study. Specific impacts from possible, future project recommendations are yet to be determined.

D. Can the plan be changed to remove planned widening?

Part of the purpose of this study is to evaluate and plan the future of the Parkways, which could include making changes to widen the Fairfax County Parkway as stated in the current Transportation Plan. However, before the Plan could be changed, a transportation analysis must be conducted to determine the impacts of  such a substantial change to the Plan.

Please note, even if this change were made, it would likely not be a blanket recommendation for all 30+ miles of the Parkways, but rather a section-based recommendation. The County is seeking public input through the online survey (due June 3) regarding future widening. This feedback will be considered in the Study and presented to the Board of Supervisors for their final decision as to what is included in the County’s Comprehensive Plan.

2. TRANSPORTATION FUNDING

A. How does the County receive funding for Transportation?

Fairfax County transportation improvements and enhancements are funded by a combination of Federal, State, Regional and Local funds. The County has direct control over how to allocate some of the funding, though some revenue types may be subject to certain restrictions. For example, some revenues can only be used within a specific geographic area or only for projects that increase transportation capacity. The County allocates locally-controlled funds based on set priorities (called the County’s Transportation Priorities Plan or TPP), which is updated on a recurring basis. Improvements not currently included in the TPP can be added as part of an update.

Other Federal, State and Regional funds are allocated through competitive processes. The County applies for funds through specific funding or grant programs, providing justification for why its improvements should be funded over others. The County uses the TPP as a guide in selecting which projects will be submitted for consideration. The Federal, State and Regional agencies then rate Fairfax County's applications versus all others and decide how those funds are allocated.

3. FAIRFAX COUNTY COMPREHENSIVE PLAN

A. How often is the Comprehensive Plan updated? What is the process for adopting plan amendments?

The Comprehensive Plan is required by state law to be used as a guide in decision-making about the built and natural environment by the County's Board of Supervisors and other agencies, such as the Planning Commission. The Code of Virginia mandates that the Comprehensive Plan be reviewed at least once every five years. Because of the dynamic growth experienced by the County, over the past thirty years, the Plan has been evaluated more frequently. Plans for individual activity centers, such as Reston, Fair Lakes, Springfield and Richmond Highway, are generally programmed for updates. These updates can be editorial in nature, where text is updated to reflect current conditions, or can be more impactful where land use types, intensities, and placement are reevaluated within an area. An impact analysis (transportation, schools, parks, wastewater, etc.) would accompany the proposals. Proposed amendments to the Plan at the site level can also be authorized.

Any changes to the Comprehensive Plan, brought about as part of these updates, would be subject to extensive public review, including public meetings (depending on the magnitude of the change or review), public hearings before the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors. The Board of Supervisors must vote to adopt a Comprehensive Plan Amendment in order to change the Plan. Once, or if, the Amendment is adopted by the Board, any associated transportation projects recommended as part of the Amendment become part of the Comprehensive Plan.

B. What will the process be for project implementation after improvements are identified in the comprehensive plan?

Once identified in the Comprehensive Plan, each project would be periodically evaluated on its own merit. As demand increases for a specific project, the County may identify it as a priority and add the project to the 6-year Transportation Priorities Plan (TPP). This action allows the County to seek funding and develop programs/schedules for project implementation with phases including engineering, design, environmental review, right-of-way acquisition, utility relocation, and, ultimately, construction.

4. ANALYSIS CONSIDERATIONS

A. What are the land use assumptions for this study?

The planned uses currently contained in the Comprehensive Plan are assumed to be maintained. This study does not propose any changes to currently approved land uses.

B. With Amazon establishing its headquarters in Arlington, there could be an impact to the land use in Fairfax County with employees of Amazon becoming residents of Fairfax County. How is Fairfax County accounting for this impact?

The land use forecasts used in this study account for residential growth, the vast majority of which is planned to occur in the County’s activity centers, such as Tysons, Reston and Richmond Highway. Further changes in land use within Fairfax County would require Comprehensive Plan Amendments that would also include a corresponding transportation analysis and public input process. While the land use forecasts used for this study do not specifically account for the timing of land use development due to Amazon establishing its headquarters in the neighboring jurisdiction, the forecasts do anticipate long-term regional growth. If adjustments are needed in these forecasts, the County would evaluate that need in the next round of regional land use forecasts.

C. What is the methodology for traffic forecasting, including the assumptions, land uses assumed and other data?

The County is using a regional travel demand model, which is based on the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) model, refined further for Fairfax County (including a refined transportation network and land use allocation). This is the standard method used for County projects and is in accordance with VDOT guidelines.

The model uses regional socio-economic land use assumptions for population and employment to generate estimated travel demand on the County’s multimodal transportation network. For this study, we are applying 2040 land use forecasts.

D. Can the traffic forecast models provide information on how much of the projected traffic will be using the Parkways to get from I-95 to I-66 or vice versa?

The travel demand models utilized to forecast traffic allow FCDOT to extract trip information, including origins, destinations and travel patterns. An estimate can be obtained for the number of vehicles on the Parkways that potentially would alternatively use I-66, I-495 and I-95 instead. This assessment can be done after developing the alternative improvement strategies during evaluation the phase.

E. Does the Comprehensive Plan show an alternative route from I-66 to I-95, or Route 1, other than the Parkway? Are there any plans to investigate alternative routes?

The Comprehensive Plan Transportation Map includes various roadway improvements throughout the County. Within Fairfax County, the main connections between I-66 and I-95 are the Beltway and the Parkways. Note that there are planned improvements to Route 123, south of the Fairfax County Parkway, but this will mostly relieve the southern segments of the Parkways and not create alternative routes (many trips will still utilize the Parkway, north of Route 123). Otherwise, no new roadway connections between the Interstates are planned. Stable residential neighborhoods and environmental features would likely preclude any such new connections.

F. Did FCDOT consider improving signal timings and coordination of traffic during the rush hours with heavy congestion?

VDOT owns and maintains all traffic signals within Fairfax County. VDOT regularly monitors all traffic signals and will optimize traffic signal timing, as needed, especially in corridors with several signals. In these corridors, they will look at traffic signal timing and coordination. Unfortunately, in longer corridors, where the traffic signals are not close together, traffic signal progression can be harder to accomplish, as there is more space for driver behaviors to vary.
 

G. Does FCDOT consider new demand while planning for roadway widening?

The travel demand forecasting model used for this study evaluates the trips generated by land uses within the region, as well as how they travel through the region, including trips to, from, and through Fairfax County. When a substantial change is made to the highway network within the model, such as the widening of a roadway, the model evaluates how travel patterns may be altered due to that change. It considers where people live, work and travel, given all the transportation options available.

In terms of demand, the model may shift volume to a roadway with additional capacity in this situation. However, the model does not create, or induce, new demand, because that demand already existed somewhere else in the network due to the land uses programmed for the area.

H. Existing congestion makes turning onto or from the Parkways difficult. Will neighborhood access be factored in this Study?

Ingress and egress are both factors that will addressed in the study. The County is seeking public input, as part of its second online survey (active through June 3, 2019), on each individual intersection along the Parkways. In addition, the study has an overarching goal to improve mobility throughout the Parkways. As such, if an intersection is anticipated to experience congestion issues, FCDOT will attempt to provide adequate solutions to address.
 

I. Is Fairfax County considering autonomous vehicle technology and including the impacts in the traffic analysis?

The impacts based on the potential for autonomous vehicles in the future are still unknown at this time. Fairfax County is using the latest traffic forecasting tool available that is calibrated at a regional and County level.  The County is keeping abreast of new technology, but current traffic models are not advanced enough to completely analyze the true impact of connected or autonomous vehicles.
 

5. BICYCLE/PEDESTRIAN

A. There is a concern for safety for trail users, especially at the crossings of ramps and intersections. Can crossings be redesigned while also reducing the speed limits along the Parkways?

This Parkways Analysis is a multimodal study, and it considers the future needs of both bicyclists and pedestrians. However, the study does not focus on specific design issues of existing/proposed crossings and is not used as a method for changing speed limits. Each of these issues would have to be undertaken under a different process – either during the design phase of a specific project or via a speed study performed by VDOT to alter the speed limits of a facility.

6. LOCATION-SPECIFIC QUESTIONS

Ai. Sunrise Valley Drive: How will congestion at the intersection of Sunrise Valley Drive and the Fairfax County Parkway be addressed?

This intersection is included in the County’s Transportation Priorities Plan (TPP) and a project is underway to design short-term improvements. In addition, this intersection will be reviewed for improvements associated with the Silver Line Phase 2 and the future Herndon Metrorail Station to the west. Between these two efforts, interim solutions will be developed to address congestion. There will be further public outreach as each of these projects moves forward.

This current study is investigating longer term impacts and needs, including the potential need for interchange improvements, as currently shown in the Comprehensive Plan. As a part of this process, the County is seeking public input on whether this interchange should remain in the plan or be replaced with alternative improvements. To date, FCDOT has received general support for a new interchange, consistent with the current Comprehensive Plan, while some supported keeping the intersection similar to the existing form in order to avoid property impacts.

Aii. To improve the Sunrise Valley Drive and Fairfax County Parkway intersection, can an eastbound on-ramp be added from the Herndon-Monroe Park-and-Ride facility?

There is currently a ramp that provides eastbound access onto the Dulles Toll Road from the Herndon-Monroe Park-and-Ride that will reopen after the Silver Line construction is complete.

B. McLearen Road Extension: Are plans available for the planned sections of McLearen Road between West Ox Road and Quincy Adams Drive available?

The planned sections of McClearen Road, between West Ox Road and Quincy Adams Drive, including a new interchange at the Fairfax County Parkway, are included as recommendations in the Comprehensive Plan and Transportation Plan Map. Focus also will be given to the east end of the new road where Lawyers Road, Fox Mill Road and Reston Parkway would all meet. As part of this study, these new connections to Fairfax County Parkway will be evaluated. Engineering, design and environmental review for this new roadway, including an evaluation of how it will integrate with existing the road network and intersections, would occur once the project is identified as a priority and included in County’s TPP and funding is secured.

Ci. Fairfax County Parkway Parkway Widening: Will the additional lanes within the the widening project betwen Route 29 and Route 123 be HOV now or in the future?

The additional lanes are being designed as general-purpose lanes. If the results of this Long Term Study and Alternatives Analysis determine HOV lanes to be the preferred option, the lanes could be made part of a larger HOV system at some later date.

For more information on this VDOT-led project, please visit their project webpage.

Cii. Is a full interchange with ramps and connections needed at the intersection of Popes Head Road and the Fairfax County Parkway? Could a bridge or overpass with no ramps be considered in lieu of an interchange?

The Fairfax County Parkway widening project, undertaken by VDOT, is currently under design, and includes improvements between Route 29 and Route 123. As a part of this project, various grade separated concepts are being evaluated at the intersection of Popes Head Road and the Fairfax County Parkway. Specific comments related to these concepts should be provided to VDOT. More information, including contact information and meeting dates, can be found at the VDOT project webpage.

D. Burke Centre Parkway: Can the County accelerate a Comprehensive Plan Amendment to add a grade-separated interchange at the intersection of the Burke Centre Parkway and Fairfax County Parkway?

This study will evaluate future conditions for all major intersections along the Parkway and make recommendations for locations where grade-separated interchanges are warranted.

E. Huntsman Boulevard and Reservation Drive: How will this study address the accident history and congestion at Huntsman Boulevard and Reservation Drive intersections?

VDOT and Fairfax County conducted an Existing Conditions study for the Parkways in 2016, which assessed existing conditions and focused on recommending short-term improvements (including improvements related to reducing the potential for crashes). That study reviewed crash and traffic data and developed recommended improvements at these locations. This current project generally focuses on addressing congestion issues through future traffic forecasting and analysis.

F. Conections to I-95 Express Lanes: Are there any plans to allow general purpose lanes to access directly to I-95 from Franconia-Springfield Parkway?

The current Comprehensive Plan does not include access to I-95 general purpose lanes from the Franconia-Springfield Parkway. We have not yet reached the recommendation stage of our study, but recommendations for I-95 access may be considered based on public feedback and traffic analysis.
 

7. PARK-AND-RIDE FACILITIES

A. The Gambrill Road Park and Ride lot is operating at full capacity. If Fairfax Connector adds planned route serving the Franconia-Springfield Metro Station and the future Herndon Metrorail Station, will additional parking spaces be provided?

Capacity requirements at the Gambrill Road Park and Ride, a Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) facility, would need to be assessed. The County would coordinate with VDOT on this facility, and others along the Parkways, to provide an overall assessment of demand and capacity prior to the route being implemented. Note that there is limited space for additional parking spaces at the Gambrill Road Park and Ride lot, with its proximity to the adjacent residential areas. Other locations for stops along the Parkways will likely need to be explored. This is not a task associated with this study and will be done in the future as Route 496 is being planned.

B. Additional capacity should be considered at existing park and ride facilities near Sydenstricker Road as well as the potential for expansion of facilities into other areas and locations.

The Parkways Study recommended adding new and/or expanding existing park-and-ride facilities based on public feedback from Fall 2018. The County is seeking input on locations where the public would like to see more through the online survey.

8. TRANSIT

A. Does this study consider changes to traffic patterns resulting from implementation of Phase 2 of the Silver Line?

The travel demand forecasts and traffic analyses for this study account for the land use adjustments and changes in trip patterns resulting from implementation of Phase 2 of the Silver Line.

B. Can transit improvements be considered immediately before the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) or High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes are implemented?

Based on public feedback received from  Fall 2018 outreach efforts, tolling (HOT lanes) will not be considered.

The Fairfax Connector and MetroBus review and assess transit needs on an ongoing basis. The highest priority needs are incorporated into the County’s Transit Development Plan (TDP), which includes service recommendations and implementation plans for the expansion and enhancement of Fairfax Connector and Metrobus service operated within Fairfax County.

Fairfax County has identified a new Fairfax Connector Route 496 that would connect the Herndon Monroe Park and Ride (future Herndon Metrorail Station) with the Franconia-Springfield Metrorail/Virginia Railway Express (VRE) Station. This service, once implemented, would feature limited stops, serving the South Run and Gambrill Road Park and Ride facilities, as well as Fort Belvoir North. This service is pending further study and may commence once Silver Line Phase 2 is operational.

C. Has the County considered Bus Rapid Transit or Metrorail along Fairfax County Parkway?

The County recently studied potential high-capacity transit throughout the County. The study determined that Metrorail and Bus Rapid Transit were not viable on the Parkways due to a general lack of residential and employment density (and thus, ridership) when compared to the high cost associated with implementing either of those modes. Express, or limited stop, bus service was determined to be the most appropriate transit service for the Parkways based on the anticipated land use density and growth.

9. MANAGED LANES (HOV and HOT)

A. Will HOT lanes or HOV lanes be implemented in all lanes or only select lanes along the Parkway? How will residents access their neighborhood if HOV lanes are introduced?

Based on public feedback received from the Fall 2018 outreach efforts (including online survey), tolling (i.e., HOT lanes) will not be considered.

Should HOV lanes be recommended, they would only be planned to occupy one lane per direction. The remaining lanes would be general purpose lanes and usable by all vehicles. The cross street and neighborhood access would be assessed and determined based on the recommended improvements to the intersections and through additional traffic operations analysis at the engineering and design phases of implementation.

B. Has the County considered HOV-2+ instead of HOV-3+?

HOV-2+ is an improvement strategy that has been identified for consideration and public input as part of current (Spring 2019) public outreach. Depending on analysis and feedback, a HOV-2+ improvement might be considered for further evaluation.

10. NOISE WALLS

How will noise pollution be addressed with the potential for additional lanes and increased traffic on the Parkways in the future? What are the plans for sound barriers for residents?

Recommendations and improvement strategies identified as part of this study will result in amendment(s) to the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan and Transportation Plan Map, which generally represent long-range improvements that take many years to implement. Engineering, design and environmental review (including noise and air quality) phases will not commence until the project is prioritized and included in the County’s Transportation Priorities Plan (TPP) and funding is identified. At that point, the County, in coordination with VDOT (if they are a partner in implementation), will identify the need, and appropriate location, for noise walls. Applicable federal and state regulations would need to be followed, depending on funding sources.
 

11. PUBLIC OUTREACH

A. How are the study public meetings and surveys advertised? Can the residents be personally notified of the public meetings and the online survey?

To promote the public meetings and online surveys, the project team posted information on the County/project websites, NewsCenter, NewsWire, and social media platforms (including paid, geo-targeted advertisements along the corridor) such as: Facebook, Twitter and NextDoor. The project team also engaged the news media, and sent out text/email alerts (via Fairfax Alerts) to 5,000+ subscribers. Many elected officials, including the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and state delegates, promoted the Study in their newsletters and social media platforms, as well.

To further ramp-up outreach efforts for the second round of public meetings and online engagement, held in Spring 2019, the project team added closer collaboration with the Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS) and the County’s Interfaith Liaison to reach out to the community and faith-based organizations. This partnership will continue through future activities to ensure distribution of Study outreach efforts through multiple channels.

To receive meeting notices and Fairfax County Transportation project and study updates, please subscribe to Fairfax Alerts.

B. How will affected citizens and property owners be notified regarding proposed changes to the Comprehensive Plan for the Parkways?

Fairfax County advertises dates and times of Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors public hearings, associated with proposed Comprehensive Plan Amendments, in The Washington Times at least three weeks prior to the Planning Commission public hearing and two weeks prior to the Board of Supervisors public hearing. A minimum of 25 property owners immediately adjacent to the affected area associated with a proposed Plan Amendment are notified, by mail, at least four weeks prior to the Planning Commission public hearing (the notification letter also mentions dates for the Board of Supervisors public hearing). Civic associations and/or home owners associations located within ½ mile of the affected area also are notified, as are adjacent jurisdictions, military installations, and airports (as applicable). In addition, large yellow signs/postings are placed, on-site, when practical, providing dates and times for public hearings. Virginia Code §15.2-2204 addresses requirements for advertising and notifications of adjacent jurisdictions, military bases and airports associated with amendments to the Comprehensive Plan. The County also uses social media to keep the public informed about community meetings and project updates.

It is important to note that no recommendations for changes (amendments) to the Comprehensive Plan have been made as part of this study as of spring 2019. Based on public feedback received from the Study’s spring 2019 public outreach, a determination will be made on which improvement strategies will be incorporated for screening and testing, including traffic operational analyses. A third round of public meetings, anticipated for the fall of 2019, will be held to share results of the screening and testing, with another opportunity for the public to provide input. Based on that feedback received from the third round of public meetings and the traffic operations analysis, final recommendations will be developed for the Parkways. These recommendations will be presented in a final round of public meetings and eventually to the Board of Supervisors in 2020. Any recommended changes to the Plan would require formal amendments to the Comprehensive Plan, which would require public hearings. Notifications would be sent out at that time, in the process described above. Please note: FCDOT will announce when the next round of public meetings are scheduled; future timelines for the Study have not been set and are provided here for planning and reference purposes.

C. Are there email notices that go out about the study for which citizens and stakeholders can sign up?

Yes, email notifications were sent to attendees from previous public meetings who provided their contact information. To receive future Parkways Study-related emails, please send your request to the project team using the feedback form.

To receive notifications regarding all FCDOT news and meetings, please subscribe to Fairfax Alerts.

Information also is posted on the Transportation Facebook page @FFXTransportation, which provides a convenient forum to like, share and comment.

Fairfax Virtual Assistant