Advancing active mobility in greater Prince William, Virginia

Category: Public Hearing (Page 1 of 5)

Our Comments on the Old Bridge Rd/Occoquan Rd Intersection Project

On February 3, 2022, the Prince William County Department of Transportation held a Design Public Hearing for its $11.85 million project to straighten the curve on Old Bridge Road near its intersection with Occoquan Road.   Below are Active Prince William’s written comments on the proposed design of that project.  View the public hearing brochure and the public hearing presentation to see the proposed design.


Active Prince William submits the following comments for the Design Public Hearing for the above-referenced project.  Our all-volunteer organization seeks improved active mobility and public transportation throughout greater Prince William, to create more livable, equitable, and sustainable communities.

Our concerns with the proposed design for this intersection-reconstruction project can be summarized as follows: 1) lengthened crosswalks, 2) inadequate replacement sidewalks, 3) lack of bicycling accommodations, and 4) excessive design speeds.

Although framed as a “safety improvement”, this project does little to make walking, bicycling, or transit access safer.  At the same time, this project would promote speeding and add unnecessary vehicle capacity.

According to the traffic crash reports compiled by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, Prince William County experienced a total of 804 traffic crashes involving pedestrians or bicyclists during the past decade (2012-2021), resulting in 232 severe injuries and 53 deaths among people walking or bicycling.  Undoubtedly, the excessive design speeds on Prince William County’s multilane arterial roadways are largely responsible for this carnage affecting people walking and bicycling, while also causing many additional deaths and severe injuries to the drivers and occupants of motor vehicles.

According to VDOT’s 2019 traffic count data, Old Bridge Road (VA 641) had an AADT of 53,000 west of Occoquan Road and an AADT of 45,000 east of Occoquan Road, whereas Occoquan Road (VA 906) had an AADT of 13,000 south of Old Bridge Road and an AADT of 2800 north of Occoquan Road.  However, those traffic volumes will likely decrease once the southbound bottleneck on I-95 south of Mile-Marker 160 is fixed.

Lengthened Crosswalks

The proposed design would lengthen all three marked crosswalks at this intersection.  With the added right-turn lane on eastbound Old Bridge Road, the Old Bridge Road crosswalk would become eight lanes wide.  The crosswalk across the southern leg of Occoquan Road would remain six lanes wide, and the crosswalk across the northern leg of Occoquan Road would now cross four lanes of traffic, including the separated right-turn pocket from westbound Old Bridge Road.

To help mitigate the adverse impacts of those longer crosswalks, the design should create protected median pedestrian refuges in each crosswalk.  In addition, whenever pedestrian crossing signals are activated, leading pedestrian intervals should be triggered to give the crossing pedestrians a head start over both right-turning and left-turning vehicles.

Moreover, serious consideration should be given to not adding right-turn lanes on eastbound Old Bridge Road and/or southbound Occoquan Road and to eliminating one or two of the existing turn lanes on northbound Occoquan Road.

On eastbound Old Bridge Road, the existing curb lane approaching Occoquan Road should be redesignated for right turns only, rather than adding a new right-turn-only lane.  The VDOT traffic data show that the Old Bridge Road leg east of Occoquan Road carries 8,000 fewer vehicles/day than the Old Bridge Road leg west of Occoquan Road, indicating that two eastbound straight-through lanes are sufficient at that location.

On southbound Occoquan Road, which carries only 2800 vehicles/day, a short right-turn pocket with a pork chop island pedestrian refuge could be created as an alternative to the proposed new right-turn-only lane.

On northbound Occoquan Road, one of the two existing left-turn-only lanes could be eliminated and/or the right-turn lane replaced with a short right-turn pocket with a pork chop island pedestrian refuge.

The overall objective should be to shorten, not lengthen, the three existing crosswalks.  

 Inadequate Replacement Sidewalks

The proposed replacement sidewalks, along both sides of both roads, are only five feet wide and separated from the roadway by only a four-foot-wide grass buffer.  While this does represent a modest improvement over the existing deficient sidewalks, the replacement sidewalks should be both wider and separated farther from the roadway.

Walking just four feet away from a busy multilane roadway is noisy and unpleasant, and five-foot-wide sidewalks do not comfortably accommodate two-way pedestrian traffic or walking two abreast.

Furthermore, in winter, snow and ice plowed onto such narrowly buffered sidewalks from the adjacent roadway can render such sidewalks impassable for many days and weeks.  In the summer heat, the absence of street trees growing within a viable tree-planting strip makes walking without shade miserable.

In addition, the proposed sidewalks are devoid of much-needed pedestrian amenities such as benches, pedestrian-scale streetlights, and bus shelters.

The realignment of Old Bridge Road will abandon much of the existing roadway along the south side of that road.  That abandoned roadway provides ample right of way to build a wider and better-separated replacement sidewalk at that location.

For future projects, the County should revise its road-design standards to provide better pedestrian accommodations.

Lack of Bicycling Accommodations

Old Bridge Road and Occoquan Road both lack bicycling accommodations, so they are not Complete Streets.  Without even a sidepath (a wide sidewalk intended for both bicycling and walking), these roadways should be restriped or rebuilt with at least conventional (striped) on-road bicycle lanes.

Besides improving bicycling conditions, conventional on-road bicycle lanes enhance the pedestrian environment by increasing the separation between the sidewalk and vehicle traffic and by shortening pedestrian crossings of the vehicle lanes at intersections.

Old Bridge Road has overly wide 12-foot travel lanes, the width used on Interstate highways with 70+ MPH design speeds.  Thus, bike lanes could easily be retrofitted on Old Bridge Road at any time, simply by restriping its six 12-foot-wide travel lanes as six 11-foot-wide travel lanes and reallocating the freed-up space for bike lanes.  When added to the existing two-foot-wide concrete gutter pans, the freed-up space would produce five-foot-wide bicycle lanes, meeting the AASHTO minimum width.  Some additional space for bike lanes (or wider medians) could be created by narrowing all left- and right-turn lanes to 11 feet as well.

Since Occoquan Road has only 11-foot lanes, narrowing those lanes to create bike lanes—while still somewhat feasible—might not be approved by VDOT.  However, it is readily feasible to modify the current project to redesign the rebuilt north leg of Occoquan Road to incorporate five-foot bike lanes in both directions.

The south leg of Occoquan Road has at least four travel lanes between Old Bridge Road and US-1 yet had an AADT of only 13,000 in 2019.  This roadway is thus a prime candidate for a four-lane to three-lane road diet, producing a roadway with only one travel lane per direction, a two-way left-turn lane in the center, and two one-way bicycle lanes.

Such roadway reconfigurations, if managed by VDOT during scheduled roadway resurfacing, are highly cost effective and are accomplished at no cost of the County.  Prince William County should coordinate with VDOT to retrofit bike lanes on the entirety of Old Bridge Road and of Occoquan Road whenever those roadways are next scheduled for periodic resurfacing.  If either roadway is reconfigured before the current project is completed, the current project should ensure that those bike lanes are incorporated into the final roadway striping plan for the rebuilt segment.

Excessive Roadway Design Speeds

At the public hearing, project staff reported that the proposed design would preserve the present 35 MPH posted speed limit on Old Bridge Road and aims for a 40 MPH design speed.  Those speeds are too high for an arterial roadway through a commercial corridor with nearby residential neighborhoods and a large park-and-ride facility.

Project staff also noted the traditional highway engineering practice of posting speed limits based on the observed speeds of the motorists that use the roadway (i.e., the 85th percentile speed).  Such an antiquated and dangerous practice is the opposite of a safe systems approach; namely, engineers should select roadway design speeds and standards that allow pedestrians and bicyclists to survive most collisions with motor vehicles.

Narrowing the lanes on Old Bridge Road to 11 feet (or less) would be one simple step to reduce the excessive design speed on this roadway.  In addition, the curb-return radii at all corners of this intersection should be reduced to conform to the 30 MPH design speed that is appropriate for this roadway.

Thank you for considering our comments as you finalize the design of this project.

Sincerely,

Allen Muchnick and Mark Scheufler, co-chairs Active Prince William

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Active Prince William Advocates Reforms at NoVA Transportation Meeting

Active Prince William Co-Chairs Allen Muchnick and Mark Scheufler submitted the following statements for the Annual Joint Northern Virginia Transportation Public Meeting that was held on December 15, 2021.


Northern Virginia needs a transportation system that moves people and goods effectively, safely, equitably, and sustainably.  Sadly, our region’s pursuit of wider and faster roads over the past 70-plus years has failed to achieve those objectives. 

It’s long past time to stop expanding regional roadways for toll-free travel in single-occupant vehicles and instead focus new homes, jobs, and transportation investments in regional activity centers served by high-capacity public transportation and expeditiously retrofit existing arterial roads for safe and efficient travel by walking, bicycling, and bus transit. 

Robust and strategic Vision Zero programs are needed at the statewide, regional, and local levels, and the region should prioritize completion of the National Capital Trail Network.

We appreciate this annual joint transportation meeting and public comment opportunity for Northern Virginia.  However, the conspicuous absence of the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (or TPB) from this annual meeting should be promptly fixed, with or without state legislation.

With the TPB excluded, the public, elected officials, CTB members, and agency staff are not fully and fairly apprised of the TPB’s critical role as the federally designated metropolitan planning organization for the National Capital Region, which includes Planning District 8, and they are not kept aware of the TPB’s many policies (e.g., the TPB Vision, Regional Transportation Priorities Plan, Visualize 2045 Aspirational Initiatives, Equity Emphasis Areas, strategies to achieve regional goals for greenhouse gas reduction and for locating the bulk of new housing in regional activity centers served by high-capacity public transportation), priorities, objectives, studies, planning activities, and transportation project and system evaluation processes.

In addition, the TPB does allocate funds for several transportation programs, including the Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside, the FTA’s Enhanced Mobility Program (Section 5310), the TPB’s Transportation Land-Use Connection (TLC) technical assistance planning grants, the TPB’s new Transit within Reach technical assistance program, the TPB’s new Regional Roadway Safety Program, the Commuter Connections’ suite of transportation demand management programs, the Street Smart Safety Campaign, the TPB’s Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP), etc.

Transparent and impactful public involvement throughout the development of transportation projects is vital for creating better transportation projects.

The CTB and NVTA should require all localities or agencies to hold advertised public hearings on their proposed submissions for funding transportation projects with SMART SCALE, NVTA, CMAQ, RSTP, Revenue Sharing Program, Transportation Alternatives, HSIP, and other non-local funds before the project funding requests are formally submitted by staff and endorsed by the local governing body.  Only if such advertised public hearings are held in advance by agency staff or a local advisory body should the governing body itself be relieved of holding a [second] public hearing and simply endorse the project funding submission(s) as a consent agenda item prior to any public comment opportunity.

The CTB and NVTA should also require localities to hold advertised public hearings that generally comply with VDOT public involvement guidelines before a locally administered transportation project is either advanced beyond a feasibility study or approved for construction.  While VDOT has excellent public participation and environmental review procedures for its own projects. Virginia’s public involvement and environmental review requirements for locally administered projects are far less stringent. Locality transportation staff have long exploited lax VDOT oversight of locally administered projects to minimize input on the scope and design of transportation projects by the public and even elected officials.

Prince William County’s rigged and prematurely aborted feasibility and environmental assessment studies for its proposed Route 28 Bypass along the Flat Branch floodplain are prime examples of a corrupted public process.  The City of Manassas has also repeatedly evaded meaningful public scrutiny of its Sudley Road Third Lane Project along Route 234 Business.


Thank you for the opportunity to address you tonight.   To meet the regional, state, and federal greenhouse gas emission objectives and goals, a structural change in the transportation planning and investment needs to occur.

In addition to improved vehicle emission standards and investing in electric vehicles and infrastructure, vehicle miles traveled or VMT for Single Occupancy Vehicles as a whole needs to decrease even as the Northern Virginia population grows.

At a basic level, this means that we need to stop expanding unmanaged roadway lane miles.  This means Northern Virginia’s section of the Visualize 2045 constrained long-range plan needs to be radically changed. Any government funding for highway expansion is one less dollar going to meeting these urgent climate goals in the transportation sector.

A large number of major roadway projects in Northern Virginia are going to be completed in the next few years that will dramatically increase the VMT in the region.  We need to change the paradigm that Congestion is reduced–not by adding roadway supply to the system–but by reduced Single-Occupant-Vehicle travel demand.  This will require reducing car dependency by developing near high-capacity transit, repurposing roadway space for transit and non-motorized users, and reforming parking requirements and level of service standards, especially in outer jurisdictions.

Route 1 in Fairfax County is an example of a project that we cannot afford to replicate. Instead of repurposing the existing roadway corridor with dedicated bus lanes, we are investing over $1 billion to keep or expand to six lanes of high-speed traffic plus added dedicated bus Lanes to create an unsafe environment for all users in the corridor that will take additional 10 years to complete.

But, most importantly, the public needs to be educated on why these structural changes in transportation planning and investment need to be implemented. We need to move away from “investments in ‘multimodal’ transportation solutions” to “investments in everything but projects that induce SOV travel demand”. We need to start tonight…time is running out.  Thank you for considering this input.

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Our Final Comments on the Proposed Route 234-Brentsville Road Interchange Design

PWC’s Proposed Route 234-Brentsville Road Interchange (a grade-separated interchange with continuous green-T intersections).  To see the details, view the design display boards from the December 8 public hearing.

March 18, 2022 Update:  The County has posted this followup video presentation on the proposed project design, and a virtual followup public meeting is scheduled for March 22 at 6 pm.

Several of our concerns with this project are currently being addressed (although the trail bridge over Rte 234 just east of the interchange is merely being “studied” at present).

However, all trail connections to and from Rte 234 Business and the long-planned future trail along Route 234 North would still require a two-step at-grade crossing of 12 signalized traffic lanes at the rebuilt intersection of Bradley Cemetery Way and Rte 234 Business, and two of the original six at-grade trail crossings of free-flowing highway ramps would remain.  Those remaining design flaws would still create considerable delays and hazards for trail users.


Active Prince William submitted the following public comments to the Prince William County Department of Transportation in response to its December 8, 2021 Design Public Hearing on its proposed Interchange at Route 234 and Brentsville Road.  The public comment period closed on December 18, 2021.


The advertised design of the above-referenced project does not safely and effectively accommodate people bicycling, walking, or using other active transportation modes through the project area.  The design of the advertised non-motorized connections should be revised substantially to provide reasonable access and safety for people who are not traveling inside motor vehicles.

1) The Proposed Design Includes Too Many Dangerous At-Grade Trail Crossings of Free-Flowing, High-Speed Highway Ramps

This interchange is the connection point for Prince William County’s two major east-west cross-county shared-use paths; namely, the asphalt sidepaths along Route 294 (Prince William Parkway) and Route 234 South (Dumfries Road).  While the proposed design does include a circuitous shared-use path, meandering through the center of the interchange, that links both major paths, this advertised path connection would require people walking or bicycling to cross five separate at-grade crossings of high-speed highway ramps without any protection from traffic signals.  This tortuous path connection is not merely long, indirect, slow, and tedious; it is extremely hazardous and will both significantly deter trail use and lead to multiple pedestrian and bicycling injury crashes and eventually to traffic deaths.

Four of the six at-grade trail crossings of free-flowing, high-speed highway ramps that are included in the advertised design

Since this proposed interchange would create near-Interstate-highway-quality, free-flow connections for motor vehicles from all five approaches, it is unconscionable to have any at-grade trail-roadway crossings in this project. 

Rather than connect the two existing major trails via five at-grade highway ramp crossings within the center of the interchange, bicyclists and pedestrians should instead be routed near the eastern and northern perimeters of this interchange via pedestrian/bicycle overpasses of three legs of this intersection; namely, Route 234 South, Route 294, and Route 234 Business.   While all three pedestrian/bicycle overpasses proposed below are clearly warranted for safe and equitable access, they are listed above in priority order.

With that said, the trail approaches to many of the proposed at-grade roadway crossings in the present design are often very short and nearly parallel to the crossed roadway, especially at most of the four at-grade roadway crossings near the intersection of Bradley Cemetery Way and Route 294.  With such closely spaced crosswalks and sharply bent trail approaches, a bicycle rider would need to fully stop well before reaching the crosswalk, dismount, and manually reposition her bicycle to clearly view the approaching cross-traffic, and she will thus require much larger gaps in traffic to safely cross each roadway ramp.  The clustering of some of these crosswalks and the resulting short path segments between them would also likely create conflicts and collisions with any trail users approaching from the opposite direction.  If the final design retains any at-grade roadway crossings, the trail approaches should be as perpendicular to each crossed roadway (or in direct line with each crosswalk) as possible and substantially longer than the crosswalk itself.

The advertised design includes four closely spaced at-grade path crossings of free-flowing highway ramps near Route 294

The proposed shared-use path junction for the sidepath along Brentsville Road, near the southern end of the intersection, is also poorly designed.  The approach of the Brentsville Road sidepath to the Ramp C crossing is far too close and nearly parallel, not perpendicular, to Ramp C.  In addition, the Brentsville Road sidepath joins the longer path leading to Route 234 South at a sharp 90-degree angle, rather than making gentle Y-shaped connections much farther east of Ramp C.  The latter design flaw is replicated at the path junction near Bradley Cemetery Way and Route 234 Business.  Published AASHTO and VDOT guidance describe how to design appropriate path connections for people riding bicycles at 15 to 20 MPH.

The sidepath along Brentsville Road is poorly designed at its northern end near the Ramp C crossing.

 

2) Separating Shared-Use Paths from High-Speed, Free-Flowing Vehicle Traffic is a Long-Standing Practice in Northern Virginia

The practice of designing and building high-quality shared-use paths along and/or across limited-access highways without any at-grade road crossings has at least a 40-year history in Northern Virginia.  When the Virginia Department of Transportation designed and built I-66 in Arlington circa 1980, it established a continuous 10-foot asphalt path immediately adjacent to that highway with zero at-grade roadway crossings for the more than four miles between N Scott St in Rosslyn and the City of Falls Church at N Van Buren St and Route 29.

The 45-mile Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail, which runs from Shirlington to Purcellville, is Northern Virginia’s preeminent active transportation and recreation facility, largely because it has zero at-grade crossings of fast or busy roadways that are not protected with traffic signals.

In Arlington, the W&OD Trail benefits from both local roadway overpasses of the adjacent I-66 to cross under N. Ohio St and N. Patrick Henry Dr and stream underpasses for the adjacent Four Mile Run to cross under N. Sycamore St, N. Wilson Blvd, N. Carlin Springs Rd, and Arlington Blvd.  As a result, the W&OD Trail has zero at-grade roadway crossings for the nearly four miles between Columbia Pike and the Falls Church line at N Van Buren St.

For at least the past 30 years, NOVA Parks (formerly NVRPA) has required all builders of new or widened roads across its W&OD Trail to include a grade-separated crossing for the trail.  As a result, the W&OD Trail west of Four Mile Run now includes more than two dozen separate trail overpasses or underpasses at Route 29 in East Falls Church, Route 7 in Falls Church, I-495, American Dream Way, Reston Parkway, Town Center Parkway, Fairfax County Parkway, Herndon Parkway East, Center St in Herndon, Herndon Parkway West, Church Road, Atlantic Blvd, Route 28/Sully Road, Pacific Blvd, Loudoun County Parkway, Ashburn Village Blvd, Claiborne Parkway, Belmont Ridge Road, Battlefield Parkway SE, Route 15, Plaza St SE, Route 7/Harry Bryd Hwy, the Route 9/Route 7 Interchange, and the Route 287/Route 7 Interchange.  Many of those grade-separated roadways have lower traffic speeds and/or volumes than Routes 234 and 294.

Currently, the I-66 Outside the Beltway Express Lanes Project is in the process of building 11 miles of shared-use paths adjacent to I-66 in Fairfax County, as well as safe bicycle and pedestrian facilities on nearly all of the roads that cross I-66.  These new bicycle and pedestrian connections have been carefully and creatively designed to avoid at-grade roadway crossings, especially crossings with free-flowing, high-speed traffic.

Operated by the National Park Service’s George Washington Memorial Parkway unit, the 18-mile Mount Vernon Trail between Rosslyn and the Mount Vernon Estate is another premier shared-use path in Northern Virgina.  Because it follows the Potomac River, the Mount Vernon Trail has always had few at-grade road crossings.  Nevertheless, many millions of dollars have been invested over the years to remove busy at-grade highway ramp crossings near Reagan National Airport, and—with no highway ramp interruptions—to connect the Mount Vernon Trail to Rosslyn, the Pentagon, and Crystal City and to cross the Potomac River on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

In recent years, the Virginia Department of Transportation has been building a network of pedestrian and bicycle overpasses of I-495 and the Dulles Toll Road in the Tysons area, including along Route 7 across the Dulles Toll Road, Trap Road over the Dulles Toll Road in Vienna,  the Jones Branch Connector over I-495 south of the Dulles Toll Road in McLean, and the Tysons One/Old Meadow Road overpass of I-495 near Pimmit Hills.

Bicycling and walking are viable transportation and very popular recreation modes in communities with high-qualify shared use paths, and the absence of at-grade highway ramp crossings is a key contributor to the safety, use, and enjoyment of those paths.  Prince William County will never create the types of high-quality paved trails enjoyed in most other Northern Virginia localities if it continues to build shared-use paths with hazardous at-grade crossings of highway ramps.

 

3) Install a Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge over Route 234 on the East/South Side of the Interchange to Create a Safe and Direct Connection between the Route 234 and Route 294 Paths

The Route 234 and Route 294 sidepaths–the two major existing bike/ped facilities within the project area—could be linked very safely and directly by building a pedestrian/bicycle bridge between these two trails on the east/south side of the interchange in the vicinity of the Meadows Farms Garden Center.  Because the elevation on the south side of Route 234 is considerably higher than the roadway, no long bridge approach should be needed on that side of the overpass.

Our proposed direct connection of the existing Route 294 and Route 234 shared-use paths via a pedestrian/bicycle overpass of Route 234 on the east side of the interchange near the Meadows Farms Garden Center

 

4) Incorporate Safe and Direct Connections to and from Route 234 Business (Dumfries Road) and the Planned Trail along Route 234 North

Even if the direct pedestrian/bicycle bridge requested above is built, safe and efficient bicycling and walking connections would still be needed to and from all five legs of this interchange; namely Route 294 (Prince William Parkway), Route 234 South (Dumfries Road), Route 234 North (Prince William Parkway), Brentsville Road (Route 649), and Route 234 Business (Dumfries Road).

Although the current Prince William County Comprehensive Plan calls for building a major shared-use path along Route 234 North, the current project design does not depict this future trail or its connections to the four other legs of this interchange.  The current design should be modified to identify the right-of-way and connections for the future Route 234 North shared-use path within the project limits.

Presently, Route 234 Business (Dumfries Road) provides bicycle and pedestrian access to the project area from most of the City of Manassas, the Bradley Square development, and the Godwin Drive corridor.  Bicyclists and pedestrians now readily use Route 234 Business to access Brentsville Rd, the Route 234 South sidepath, and the Route 294 sidepath via the roadways and crosswalks at the two nearby existing Route 234 intersections (and alternatively via Bradley Cemetery Way if desired).

The proposed design, however, would severely degrade this walking and bicycling access to and from Route 234 Business by expanding the limited-access control perimeter and by creating a large new signalized intersection at Route 234 Business and Bradley Cemetery Way.  To access any other leg of the interchange, bicyclists and pedestrians from Route 234 Business (and also the future shared-use path along Route 234 North) would apparently need to 1) cross two separate legs of a large, signalized Route 234 Business/Bradley Cemetery Way intersection—spanning a total of 12 vehicle lanes—2) cross a free-flowing lane of right-turning traffic from northbound Brentsville Road, and 3) finally cross either one or four-additional high-speed highway ramps within the center of the interchange, depending upon one’s destination.  This proposed pedestrian and bicycle access is neither safe nor effective and is a significant degradation of the existing conditions.

The advertised design would require at least a four-stage maneuver for pedestrians and bicyclists using Route 234 Business (or the future shared-use path along Route 234 North) to access any other leg of this interchange: 1) cross five lanes of stopped traffic at Route 234 Business, 2) cross seven lanes of stopped traffic at Bradley Cemetery Way, 3) cross one-lane of free-flowing right-turning traffic from northbound Brentsville Road, and 4) cross either one or four additional highway ramps—located elsewhere inside the interchange–with free-flowing, high-speed traffic, depending upon one’s final destination.

The current design should be modified to add an elevated trail on a berm along the north side of Bradley Cemetery Way, with pedestrian/bicycle bridges over both Route 234 Business and Route 294.  Such an elevated trail would connect the existing Route 294 path with the west side of Route 234 Business and the long-planned future trail along Route 234 North.  Placing this trail connection on a berm along the north side of Bradley Cemetery Way should lower construction costs and improve walking and bicycling conditions by minimizing grade changes along this trail connector between the pedestrian bridges over Route 294 and Route 234 Business.  Integrating these safe and direct grade-separated trail connections as part of the current project should provide them at far lower cost than if constructed later as one or more standalone projects.

Rough alignment of our proposed grade-separated trail connections along the northern perimeter of the interchange, with two relatively short pedestrian/bicycle overpasses of Route 234 Business on the west (connected to future shared-use paths along Route 234 Business and Route 234 North) and Route 294 on the east (connected to the existing Route 294 shared-use path).  Between Route 234 Business and Route 294, the connecting path could be built on a berm along the north side of Bradley Cemetery Way.

 

5) Reduce Interchange Construction Costs by Eliminating Unnecessary Trail and Roadway Features

To offset the cost of adding up to three pedestrian/bicycle bridges, the current design could be modified to eliminate unnecessary features.

If all three pedestrian/bicycle bridges recommended above are built over the eastern and northern edges of this interchange, all currently designed pedestrian/bicycle infrastructure within the center of this interchange would be unnecessary and could be eliminated, including the currently proposed 14-foot-wide shared-use path on the western interchange bridge.

The cost of the western interchange bridge should be further reduced by eliminating the advertised continuous green-T intersection at the exit ramp from southbound Route 234 and by eliminating one of the two northbound travel lanes from Brentsville Road on the western interchange bridge.  Traffic volumes on Brentsville Road, which had an AADT of only 2800 in 2019, will never warrant two northbound lanes through this interchange.  Eliminating one unnecessary travel lane (and potentially also the shared-use path) would reduce the cost of this roadway bridge considerably.  A traffic signal, stop sign, or a roundabout could replace the proposed continuous green-T intersection.

 

To reduce project costs, one northbound lane from Brentsville Road could be eliminated on the western overpass.  This second northbound lane is not warranted by current or future Brentsville Road traffic volumes and was only designed to accommodate an unnecessary continuous green-T intersection for traffic exiting southbound Route 234.  If the advertised design is modified to add all three pedestrian/bicycle overpasses recommended above, the 14-foot wide shared-use path could also be eliminated from this overpass.  The width of the advertised western overpass could thus be reduced 39%, from 67 feet to 41 feet.

Reducing northbound Brentsville Road to a single lane though the interchange would also reduce the widths of the roadway north of the western overpass and the width of the signalized intersection of Brentsville Rd/Route 234 Business at Bradley Cemetery Way.

The Route 234 Business/Dumfries Road roadway is already needlessly wide south of Godwin Drive.  According to VDOT’s 2019 traffic count data, this roadway segment has an AADT of only 8600.  Presently, the Route 234 Business roadway south of Godwin Drive is five lanes wide, whereas only three lanes of roadway (one travel lane per direction plus space for a left-turn lane in the center) would adequately accommodate a future doubling of this Route 234 Business Traffic (i.e., to an AADT of 17,200).

Rebuilding Route 234 Business between Godwin Drive and Bradley Cemetery Way as a three-lane roadway, instead of as a five-lane roadway, would allow the addition of both a shared-use path and a sidewalk within the existing right-of-way along this key road segment.  Moreover, the shared-use path (and not the sidewalk) should be located along the west side of Route 234 Business to align with the west-side path just built within the City of Manassas between Hastings Drive and Donner Drive.

Thank you for considering these comments.  We look forward to seeing a substantially modified final design for the shared-use path connections that will eliminate all at-grade roadway crossings and accommodate safe and reasonably direct pedestrian and bicycle access to and from all five legs of this key interchange.


On December 27, 2021, we submitted the following additional comment:

Building 12-foot-wide travel and turn lanes on Brentsville Road, Route 234 Business, and Bradley Cemetery Way is clearly excessive, since 11-foot-wide lanes are more than adequate for those local, lower-speed roadways.  Designing 11-foot travel lanes on the Brentsville Road bridge over Route 234 would further lower the cost of building that overpass.  With 8-foot-wide paved shoulders included on that overpass, 12-foot-wide travel lanes are most definitely wider than needed.

A narrower Route 234 Business on the north side of Bradley Cemetery Way would also reduce the cost of a pedestrian and bicycle overpass at that location and would shorten pedestrian crossing times if at-grade crosswalks are still included at Route 234 Business and/or Bradley Cemetery Way in the final design.

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Annual Northern Virginia Joint Transportation Meeting, Wednesday, December 15, 2021 at 7:00 PM

The Virginia Department of Transportation issued the following news release on November 22, 2021:

RELEASE:

CONTACT:

IMMEDIATE

Kathleen Leonard, VDOT | 703-638-9115
Haley Glynn, DRPT | 804-351-6647
Karen Finucan Clarkson, VRE | 571-255-0931
Erica Hawksworth, NVTA | 571-355-4661
Mathew Friedman, NVTC | 571-457-9516

NOVA-184807

Nov. 22, 2021

Learn about Agency Projects, Programs at Northern Virginia Joint Transportation Meeting Dec. 15

Join the Commonwealth of Virginia, Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, Northern Virginia Transportation Commission and Virginia Railway Express for a virtual public meeting

FAIRFAX–The public is invited to a joint virtual meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021 with representatives from the Commonwealth Transportation Board, Virginia Department of Transportation, Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment, Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, Northern Virginia Transportation Commission and Virginia Railway Express, to learn more about the regional collaboration required to keep travelers in Northern Virginia moving.

Per Virginia code §33.2-214.3, these organizations shall conduct a joint public meeting annually for the purposes of presenting to the public, and receiving comments on, transportation projects proposed and conducted by each entity in Planning District 8 (Northern Virginia).

The meeting will include an opportunity to receive public comments following agency presentations on transportation initiatives, including:

  • VDOT’s Multimodal Project Pipeline Program
  • NVTA’s updates to TransAction and the FY2022-2027 Six Year Program; the NVTA Transportation Technology Strategic Plan; and the Regional Multi-Modal Mobility Program (RM3P) in partnership with the Commonwealth of Virginia
  • NVTC’s Commuter Choice program
  • DRPT’s funding opportunities, Six Year Improvement Program and the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VPRA)
  • VRE station, and storage- and maintenance-facility projects

The meeting will be held as a virtual/online and attendees must register online. The team of VDOT, DRPT, OIPI, NVTA, NVTC and VRE representatives will make a presentation beginning at 7 p.m. highlighting their transportation programs, regional collaboration and receive public comments about Virginia’s transportation network.

Comments may also be submitted through January 7, 2022 via this online comment form, by voicemail to 703-721-8270, by email to meetingcomments@vdot.virginia.gov (please reference “Northern Virginia Joint Transportation Meeting” in the subject line) or by mail to Ms. Maria Sinner, VDOT, 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030.

Meeting materials and presentations will be posted on this page.

About the Agencies

The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB), the policy board for the Virginia Department of Transportation, Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, and the Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment, allocates public funds to highway, road, bridge, rail, bicycle, pedestrian, public transportation, and transportation demand management projects. Virginia’s SMART SCALE scores projects on factors of safety, congestion reduction, accessibility, land use, environmental quality, and economic development.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) are state agencies reporting to the Secretary of Transportation, focused on the movement of people and goods throughout the Commonwealth. VDOT is responsible for building, maintaining and operating the state’s roads, bridges and tunnels. DRPT’s primary areas of activity are rail, public transportation, and commuter services, working with local, regional, state, and federal governments, as well as private entities to support for projects and programs.

The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (Authority) is a regional body that is focused on delivering transportation solutions and value for Northern Virginia’s transportation dollars by bringing NoVA jurisdictions and agencies together to plan and program regional multimodal transportation projects focused on relieving congestion.

The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) advances a robust and reliable public transit network to support communities in Northern Virginia.

The Virginia Railway Express (VRE) has been providing commuter rail service between Central and Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia since 1992. As a participant in the commonwealth’s $3.9 billion Transforming Rail in Virginia program, VRE has many station-improvement and maintenance-and-storage facility projects at various levels of implementation.

ctb.virginia.gov | virginiadot.org | drpt.virginia.gov | thenovaauthority.org | www.novatransit.org | www.vre.org | oipi.virginia.gov

VDOT ensures nondiscrimination and equal employment in all programs and activities in accordance with Title VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If you need more information or special assistance for persons with disabilities or limited English proficiency, contact VDOT Civil Rights at 703-259-1775.

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Active Prince William’s Initial Comments on the Proposed Design of the Route 234-Brentsville Road Interchange

 
PROBLEM:
Forcing bicycle and pedestrian users to cross FOUR separate free-flowing, high-speed vehicle lanes is an unacceptable way to connect two of the major trails in the county.  The section should be removed from the design.  It is too dangerous.  [Added Note: The proposed design forces bicyclists and pedestrians to negotiate a fifth high-speed at-grade road crossing (of the ramp from northbound Brentsville Road to southbound Route 234) to actually link these two major trails.  Furthermore, to access or egress Route 234 Business/Dumfries Rd, bicyclists and pedestrians would be forced to negotiate a sixth high-speed at-grade road crossing plus 12 vehicle lanes at two controlled intersection legs at Bradley Cemetery Way.]

 

RECOMMENDED SOLUTION:
Add an additional bike/ped bridge crossing of Route 234 south/east of the planned interchange to directly and safely connect the Route 234 Trail and the Prince William Parkway Trail.

 

HOW TO PAY FOR THIS RECOMMENDED SOLUTION:
1) Remove the proposed bike/ped infrastructure with four at-grade roadway crossings from the Bradley Cemetery Way area:

2) Change the Continuous Green-T Intersection at Brentsville Road and the off-ramp from VA234 Bypass South to a Roundabout, Standard Two-Phase Traffic Light or a Three-Way Stop Sign.  Future traffic volumes do not warrant the expensive infrastructure needed for a Continuous Green-T Intersection.

3)  Remove one northbound lane from the planned Brentsville Road Bridge to create a smaller/cheaper bridge footprint.  Future traffic volumes do not warrant having two northbound vehicle lanes on this bridge.

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