Advancing active mobility in greater Prince William, Virginia

Category: Route 28 (Page 1 of 2)

Our Final Comments on the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority’s Six-Year Program Update

On July 11, 2022, Active Prince William joined 10 other advocacy organizations around Northern Virginia to send the following joint letter to the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, three days before the Authority’s scheduled adoption of a two-year update to its Six-Year Program.


Coalition for Smarter Growth | Audubon Naturalist Society | Virginia Sierra Club |
Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions | Active Prince William | Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County |
Chesapeake Climate Action Network | Prince William Conservation Alliance |
Southern Environmental Law Center | YIMBYs of Northern Virginia |
Lewinsville Faith in Action

July 11, 2022

Honorable Phyllis Randall, Chair
Northern Virginia Transportation Authority
3040 Williams Drive, Suite 200
Fairfax, VA 22031

Re: Recommendations to further improve the proposed FY 22-27 Six-Year Program and process going forward

Chair Randall and NVTA board members:

The undersigned 11 organizations offer the following comments and recommendations that we urge you to adopt for the proposed FY 22-27 Six-Year Program coming before your vote this week.  In summary:

  1. We support the overall direction taken by the staff and committees in their selections from the candidate project list to fund all transit and most station access and local complete street projects;
  2. However, we remain concerned that the slate of projects recommended for funding – and the original candidate list – show a program still too focused on road expansion;
  3. We ask for important changes to the proposed FY 22-27 funding allocations in Prince William County: fund the Old Centreville Rd Widening project (PWC-035) as an alternative to the proposed destructive Rt 28 bypass (Alt. 2B) along Flat Branch;
  4. For the next 6-year program cycle, NVTA needs to ensure that local jurisdiction project submissions better reflect adopted regional policies for climate change and equity; and
  5. NVTA’s process for the Six-Year Program should facilitate meaningful public involvement from the start, including requiring public hearings prior to local government candidate project submissions.

These points are elaborated on the following pages.

 

1. We support the overall direction taken by the staff and committees in their selections from the candidate project list.

 We applaud the selection and funding of all of the transit projects and most of the station access, local street grid and complete streets projects.

 We appreciate that many of these changes reflect attention to public feedback you received and the importance of these projects for a more sustainable and equitable future.


2. However, we remain concerned that the slate of projects recommended for funding – and the original candidate list – show a program still too focused on road expansion.

65% of the candidate project funding requested was for highway and roadway capacity expansion.

55% of the staff recommended project funding is for highway and roadway capacity expansion.

These amounts are far too much given the other regional needs for safer streets, transit access, electrification, and climate resilience as well as improving our
transit, pedestrian and bicycle networks.

 This emphasis on road expansion also ignores the reality of induced demand, that widening roads is not a medium- or long-term solution for vehicle congestion, as shown in the Coalition for Smarter Growth’s On the Wrong Road in Northern Virginia report using the RMI Shift Calculator.

 

3. We ask for these important changes to the proposed FY 22-27 funding allocations in Prince William County:

Support a better, less destructive Route 28 project in Prince William County by funding the Old Centreville Road Widening project (PWC-035) as an alternative to the Route 28 bypass (Alternative 2B) along Flat Branch. The four-laning of Old Centreville Road combined with VDOT’s recommended Centreville Road/Route 28 STARS improvement package could effectively serve as a “Modified Alternative 4” for Route 28.

   This alternative project would avoid the adverse impacts to affordable homes in a low-income minority and immigrant community from the 28 Bypass project and would be compatible with walkable, transit-accessible economic development and neighborhood livability efforts in the existing Route 28 corridor.

To accommodate this project, shift funding from other NVTA recommended Prince William projects.


4. For the next Six-Year Program cycle, NVTA needs to ensure that local jurisdiction project submissions better reflect adopted regional policies

NVTA needs to require that local jurisdiction project submissions better reflect adopted regional policies to provide alternatives to driving and reduce car dependence, support transit-oriented land use, and achieve our equity and climate goals.

Equity in transportation, a core value of NVTA, must address the disproportionate impact of unsafe streets, proximity to traffic and pollution, and high personal transportation costs that auto-dependence causes for low- and moderate-income residents and workers. The Region Forward vision plan recognizes this in its goal to lower combined transportation and housing costs and to also improve access to travel options and allow more residents to live in walkable regional activity centers with good transit. These measures also reduce travel demand on roads and highways helping those who must commute or access important services by car. NVTA needs to ensure that its member jurisdictions consider who benefits and who is harmed by transportation projects.

The region’s Metropolitan Planning Organization, the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB), just adopted a greenhouse gas reduction target of 50% for the on-road transportation sector. NVTA’s project selections should be tied to achieving those reductions. TPB’s climate change study showed that the region will need to reduce vehicle miles traveled of passenger vehicles by 15 to 20% below 2030 baseline forecasts, as well as rapidly adopt electric vehicles.

Tackling climate change in transportation also provides more travel options, greater proximity to jobs and services, lasting congestion management, and addresses inequities for households and workers regarding street safety, air quality, walkable amenities, personal transportation costs, housing options, and access to transit and job locations. With new car payments now over $700 per month and gas at $5 per gallon, the need in Northern Virginia for more walkable, bikeable, transit-friendly, mixed-use and compact communities with affordable housing is greater than ever.

Reducing per capita VMT – the need to drive for daily needs – by expanding transportation options, transit-oriented land use, and transportation demand management is also essential to meeting NVTA’s goal of reducing congestion.

 

5. NVTA’s process for the Six-Year Program should facilitate meaningful public involvement from the start, including local government candidate project submissions.

Since project priorities are advanced early on by local governments, NVTA must ensure that there are accessible public engagement opportunities early on.

NVTA should require that localities hold an advertised public hearing for NVTA project funding requests before the local governing body adopts its resolution of support for the application and before the projects are submitted to NVTA for funding consideration.

   Currently some jurisdictions generate staff reports and the elected body approves the project submissions as a consent agenda item with no public hearing.
   Public comments on proposed NVTA project submissions would be more  meaningful and help inform the local government before each set of projects is submitted to the NVTA for the Six-Year Program update.

In addition, NVTA coordinates the submissions for federal CMAQ and RSTP funds and for state SmartScale by Northern Virginia localities and should require similar transparency and public involvement before local governing bodies endorse those submissions.

Thank you for listening to stakeholders as you have carried out this process.

Sincerely,

Stewart Schwartz
Executive Director
Coalition for Smarter Growth
stewart@smartergrowth.net

Renee Grebe
Northern Virginia Conservation Advocate
Audubon Naturalist Society
renee.grebe@anshome.org

Douglas Stewart
Transportation Co-Chair
Virginia Sierra Club
douglasbstewart@gmail.com

Andrea McGimsey
Executive Director
Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions
andrea@faithforclimate.org

Mark Scheufler & Allen Muchnick
Co-Chairs
Active Prince William
Active.PrinceWilliam@gmail.com

Chris Slatt
President
Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County
Hello@susmo.org

Zander Pellegrino
Northern Virginia Grassroots Organizer
Chesapeake Climate Action Network
zander@chesapeakeclimate.org

Kim Hosen
Executive Director
Prince William Conservation Alliance
khosen@pwconserve.org

Morgan Butler
Senior Attorney
Southern Environmental Law Center
mbutler@selcva.org

Luca Gattoni-Celli
Founder
YIMBYs of Northern Virginia
potentiaeromanorum@gmail.com

Jack Calhoun and John Clewett
Co-Chairs
Lewinsville Faith in Action
clewettj@gmail.com

Will Prince William’s Road Expansions Bust Our Region’s Climate Goals?

To lessen catastrophic climate change from the burning of fossil fuels, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) has collectively pledged to substantially reduce our region’s emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) from the level that existed in 2005–by 50% by 2030 and by 80% by 2050.

The major sources of our region’s greenhouse gas emissions.  Transportation (yellow bars) is now the largest single source of our greenhouse gas emissions, comprising at least 40% of the total.

Prince William County and all other localities in the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG)–and the associated National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB)–have committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 50% of the 2005 level by 2030.  In the County, the transportation sector–cars and trucks, primarily–is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.   By 2030, there will be more electric vehicles (and a somewhat cleaner electric grid), but most vehicles will still be powered by fossil fuels and emit carbon dioxide from tailpipes.

The County’s traditional business-as-usual transportation planning–expanding highways for drive-alone commutes–would sabotage efforts to meet the 2030 target.  In particular, the proposed Route 28 Bypass would not increase local jobs but would increase solo auto commutes and greenhouse gas emissions.  Spending well over $200 million in County tax revenue on the Route 28 Bypass would subsidize housing and jobs in other localities, while sabotaging efforts to meet our region’s 2030 greenhouse gas target to lessen our global climate crisis.

Instead of building the Route 28 Bypass, the eight members on the Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) could plan to meet our region’s 2030 climate target and invest the savings to upgrade local infrastructure to better access local jobs.  What makes the most sense to you?

Below is our recent email exchange with BOCS Chair (and TPB Member) Ann Wheeler.   Active Prince William sent similar messages to Neabsco District Supervisor Victor Angry, Manassas Vice Mayor Pamela Sebesky, and Manassas Park Mayor Jeanette Rishell who also serve on the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB).


From: Active Prince William <active.princewilliam@gmail.com>
Sent: Thursday, March 31, 2022 6:46 PM
To: Wheeler, Ann <awheeler@pwcgov.org>; Angry, Victor S. <VSAngry@pwcgov.org>
Cc: Belita, Paolo J. <PBelita@pwcgov.org>; Canizales, Ricardo <rcanizales@pwcgov.org>
Subject: Metropolitan Washington 2030 Climate and Energy Action Plan

Dear Chair Wheeler and Supervisor Angry:

As members of the Transportation Planning Board (TPB), you have an especially important role in sustainability planning and advancing the Metropolitan Washington 2030 Climate and Energy Action Plan.  

Without action by TPB to adopt climate change mitigation goals and strategies, the region will not meet the 2030 and 2050 targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  

Technological changes will not be sufficient; we need policy changes that reduce regional VMT and VMT per capita as well.  Fundamentally, the TPB must adopt targets and policies to reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector.  The impact of new projects in Northern Virginia’s long-range multimodal transportation plan, TransAction, need to be quantified.  Otherwise, how can the 24 jurisdictions in MWCOG meet their 2030 and 2050 targets?

Similarly, each jurisdiction needs to “do the math” regarding planned land use changes.  Transit-Oriented Development can minimize the greenhouse gas emissions that will be increased by population growth.  Those increases must be offset in order to meet the 2030 and 2050 targets, and the impact of changes in land use planning must be quantified. Otherwise, how can the 24 jurisdictions in MWCOG meet their 2030 and 2050 targets?

As noted by the Coalition for Smarter Growth, the 2030 target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 50% below 2005 levels is essential for keeping our planet in the safety zone.  We cannot afford to ignore the cumulative impacts of emissions between now and 2030 and focus only on the 2050 target.


From: Wheeler, Ann <awheeler@pwcgov.org>
Date: Mon, Apr 4, 2022 at 1:12 PM
Subject: RE: Metropolitan Washington 2030 Climate and Energy Action Plan
To: Active Prince William <active.princewilliam@gmail.com>, Angry, Victor S. <VSAngry@pwcgov.org>
Cc: Belita, Paolo J. <PBelita@pwcgov.org>, Canizales, Ricardo <rcanizales@pwcgov.org>

Good afternoon-

Thank you for reaching out to our office.  I have attached the MWCOG plan for achieving GHG reductions.  As you can see on page 11 there will have to be various ways to address this issue and I know both MWCOG and TPB have discussed these at length.  Prince William County is a still growing outer jurisdiction, without Metro, which makes discussion of some of the items you brought up more difficult.  It is my belief that as an outer jurisdiction, with a current heavy reliance on automobiles, we should have a much, much greater focus on electrification of our County-owned fleet as well as encouragement of conversion to EVs through a robust charging infrastructure for our residents.  Even looking at the major activity or transit centers in the west where the housing growth will come from (Broad Run Station, the commuter lot on Route  29 and the commuter lot at Groveton) it will be difficult to get very high density around these three locations for various reasons.   I believe one of the strongest ways to ultimately reduce vehicle miles traveled is to expand our commercial base in Prince William County so people don’t have to commute to their job locations and that is what I am focusing on.  I am sure you will agree that ultimately this is a goal everyone can get behind.

Thank you for you comments as we continue evaluating our land-use and mobility plans to assure our future for the next twenty years.

In service,

Ann Wheeler


From: Active Prince William <active.princewilliam@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Apr 4, 2022 at 6:31 PM
Subject: Re: Metropolitan Washington 2030 Climate and Energy Action Plan
To: Wheeler, Ann <awheeler@pwcgov.org>
Cc: Angry, Victor S. <vsangry@pwcgov.org>, Belita, Paolo J. <pbelita@pwcgov.org>, Canizales, Ricardo <rcanizales@pwcgov.org><

Chair Wheeler,

Thank you for your response to our message regarding the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.  We certainly agree that “one of the strongest ways to ultimately reduce vehicle miles traveled is to expand our commercial base in Prince William County so people don’t have to commute to their job locations.”

That perspective should shape the county’s investments in new transportation infrastructure.  We should prioritize building new capacity that maximizes mobility while minimizing Vehicle Miles Traveled.  The 2040 Comprehensive Plan should focus on creating walkable communities to accommodate the expanding population.  The County priority for new mobility infrastructure should be expansion of local Omniride and shuttle/trolley services, plus bike/pedestrian connections that anticipate increasing use of e-bikes.

To expand our commercial base and increase local jobs, we should stop funding construction of new lane miles designed for Prince William commuters to leave the county–and for auto commuters who live to our west and south to commute through Prince William County–for jobs in other jurisdictions.  In particular, the county’s $200 million subsidy for the Route 28 Bypass is inconsistent with a priority to expand our commercial base in Prince William County so people don’t have to commute to their job locations.

That project, especially when the destruction of houses in an Equity Emphasis Area is viewed through an equity lens, should be cancelled.  The funding earmarked to repay the $200 million in county bonds, should be re-purposed in a joint venture with the school system to fund the Sustainability Action Plan that the Sustainability Commission will complete in the next year.

###

Environmental and Social Injustice in Prince William County–In 2021. Yes, 2021.

Proposed Route 28 Bypass Alignment (as of February 2021)

Remember the bad old days, when government officials routed new highways through minority neighborhoods and displaced low-wealth families for the benefit of more-wealthy White drivers?

Well, it’s happening right now in Prince William County.

To construct the Route 28 Bypass/Godwin Drive Extended, County supervisors would tear down more than 50 homes in a low-income and heavily Hispanic neighborhood.  At least three families in the Bull Run Mobile Home Park would have to move.  The entire mobile home park could close and be replaced by a mixed-use development with much higher rents/mortgage payments.

The losers:  those living in a rare affordable community in Northern Virginia.  The beneficiaries:  commuters from Fauquier, Culpeper, Stafford, and beyond driving to high-paying jobs in Fairfax and DC.

Racial Characteristics of Census Tracks Surrounding the Route 28 Bypass Alignment (pink line).

Building the Route 28 Bypass would cost at least $300 million, not counting the widening of the adjoining stretch of Godwin Drive in the City of Manassas, estimated in 2019 to cost more than $40 million.   Prince William taxpayers would provide $200 million in funding through a County bond issue.  It’s a government subsidy for exurban drive-alone commuters, few of whom would be traveling to jobs in the County or increasing the local commercial tax base.

The Route 28 Bypass would poorly serve commuters.  The Bypass would significantly worsen traffic congestion and travel times on Route 28 in Centreville,  compared to its “No-Build Alternative”, and includes no accommodations for efficient bus transit or managed lanes, such as high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) or high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes, to reduce single-occupant vehicle (SOV) trips.

The equity issue is most relevant today.  The neighborhoods being destroyed are designated Equity Emphasis Areas.  They have been stable, affordable communities for Hispanic residents.  Carving up communities occupied by minority groups, for the benefit of those fortunate to have high-paying jobs closer to DC, is a modern version of environmental injustice.

Oh, and the commuter road would blast through Bull Run Regional Park and the Flat Branch stream valley.  If the noisy and polluting Route 28 Bypass highway barrier isn’t built, the Flat Branch stream valley could become a wonderful linear park and natural habitat that significantly enhances the livability and bike/ped connectivity of its adjacent neighborhoods.  After Prince William voters approved the road-expansion bonds in 2019, County officials cancelled an Environmental Assessment, to avoid examining alternative routes with fewer environmental and social impacts

There’s a chance to stop this environmental and social injustice.  Prince William County supervisors will approve a capital budget by June, 2022 which could include funding for the Route 28 Bypass–or they could instead allocate $200+ million in local funds over the next twenty years to other projects, such as affordable housing, and not repeat the injustices of the 1950s.

For the County’s sales job, see https://route28bypass.com.  For the rest of the story, see the Active Prince William website at http://www.activepw.org.

Active Prince William is a group of concerned citizens who advocate for better opportunities, support, and infrastructure for active mobility, better public transportation, and healthy lifestyles within Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park.  We are working to help make Prince William County and Greater Manassas a more livable, healthy, equitable, and sustainable community.   Follow us at http://www.activepw.org/ , @Active_PW on Twitter, and ActivePW on Facebook.

PW County to Host Route 28 Bypass Project Virtual Public Meeting, Thursday, Feb. 18, at 7 PM

Press Release, February 3, 2021
Department of Transportation, 703-792-6273, route28bypass@pwcgov.org

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors and County transportation staff invite you to attend a virtual information session regarding the Route 28 Bypass project on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, at 7:00 p.m. This approximately $300 million infrastructure project, one of the largest in the history of Prince William County, will reduce traffic congestion, improve travel reliability and address other transportation challenges in the area.

The meeting will inform residents about the project’s background, its current status and aspects of the Route 28 Bypass that most directly impact Prince William County residents. While there are no major updates on the project at this time, the session will provide a baseline of information about the Route 28 Bypass while also sharing planned communication activities that will help citizens remain informed and involved as the project moves forward. The latest information about the project is available on Route28Bypass.com.

The Prince William County Department of Transportation (PWC DOT) will continue to host information sessions on the Route 28 Bypass project and address topics specific to Prince William County as the project progresses.

The public is invited to ask questions and provide feedback during the presentation. You may also submit questions or comments before using any of the mechanisms below.

Meeting Registration Information

  • Register to attend the Route 28 Bypass Virtual Meeting:

https://theclearing.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_P47suUPqQ0O0x1ZBK8KVlA

  • Dial In: +1-301 715 8592 | Webinar ID: 920 6806 7097 | Passcode: 397360

Please submit questions/comments about the Route 28 Bypass using one of the methods below. Submissions received before Feb. 18 at 5 pm may be addressed during the meeting. All questions will be responded to in a timely manner via email or route28Bypass.com.

Have thoughts on how to enhance communication efforts going forward? Please submit any feedback, comments, questions or concerns to PWCDOT:

The Route 28 Manassas Bypass Is Not the Lowest Cost Or the Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative (LEDPA) for the Route 28 Corridor

The Alignments of the Four Route 28 Corridor Expansion Alternatives Compared Below

Active Prince William board member Mark Scheufler sent the following comparison of Route 28 corridor alternatives to the Prince William Board of County Supervisors on November 30, 2020.


Dear Prince William Board of County Supervisors:

In advance of the December 7th  virtual public meeting on Route 28, it is timely to correct misinformation about the alternatives to Alignment 2B. The costs of Alternative 4 (Widening Route 28) were overstated by calculating the impacts/costs of widening Route 28 between Blooms Quarry Lane and Liberia Ave that is already six lanes.

Realistic cost estimates are needed not only by the supervisors in Prince William and Fairfax counties, but also by the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.  Those two agencies may determine that cost differences between Alignment 2B and other alternatives are not sufficient to justify the greater environmental damage.

As the Meeting Minutes at the January 16, 2020 Project Update and Alternatives Development Technical Memo Review  state (on pages 2 and 3):

“Stuart ended with a presentation of the cost summary for the alternatives, which showed that Alternative 4 would be almost $100 million more than Alternatives 2A and 2B. MacKenzie indicated that cost would not be a factor that the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) would consider in their evaluation. Rick responded that he understood, but emphasized the need to consider purpose and need in the comparison of the alternatives.

Subsequent to the meeting, Hannah Schul, DEQ, clarified that DEQ makes permitting decisions based on the Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative (LEDPA). Per the Clean Water Act, a permit cannot be issued if a practicable alternative exists that would have less adverse impacts on the aquatic ecosystem. The LEDPA does take cost into consideration, but an alternative would only be potentially eliminated if costs are clearly exorbitant compared to similar alternatives.”

The analysis summarized in the table below [the complete ROW analysis is here] shows the cost of alternatives along or near existing Route 28 are not exorbitant compared to Alternative 2B.   Alternative 4 includes $37M in ROW impacts along a 1.1-mile section of Route 28 that is already six lanes and should require minimal improvement and no ROW impacts (Blooms Quarry Lane to Liberia Ave).  An additional $54M* in Alternative 4 ROW impacts could be mitigated by increasing the Utility Relocation Costs ($10M).  These modifications would bring the Alternative 4 cost estimate below Alternative 2B.  But implementing the Route 28 STARS recommendation and the Well St Extended recommendation  is the best alternative for the Route 28 corridor to meet transit, revitalization, and climate goals and is the cheapest alternative.  The Well St Extended recommendation was not included in the original set of alternatives because transit, revitalization and climate were not considered part of the project purpose and need.

A Comparison of Four Route 28 Corridor Alternatives (click on the image above to enlarge for reading)

Alternative 2B is not the Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative (LEDPA) and may not receive permits to move forward.  Creating a regional park along this alignment is the best use of the land in the flood plan.

*8300 CENTREVILLE RD, 8130 OAK ST, 7901 CENTREVILLE RD

If you need any clarification, please let me know.

Thanks,

Mark Scheufler

PWC Resident

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