On March 18, 2022, the County released this followup video presentation on the proposed project design. County DOT staff are willing to at least partly addresses three concerns with the proposed trail connections that were raised at the Design Public Hearing:
1) In response to public comments from Active Prince William and others, the County is now studying the cost feasibility of a new, dedicated trail bridge over Rte 234, just east of the interchange, to directly connect the existing trails along Route 234 and Route 294. If this trail bridge can be added without the project exceeding it’s $55 million budget, it will be included in this project. Otherwise, it probably won’t.
2) In response to safety concerns raised by many about the four proposed closely spaced at-grade trail crossings of free-flowing highway ramps near Route 294 and Bradley Cemetery Way in the northeast corner of this project, those hazardous at-grade trail crossings may not be built, at least if the added trail bridge discussed above is actually built. However, this change would produce a long, circuitous trail route between the western legs (Route 234 Bypass and Route 234 Business) and eastern legs (the existing trails along Routes 234 and 294) of this interchange (shown in the top image above).
3) In response to objections that the design completely omits the long-planned trail along the Route 234 Bypass that should join the existing trails along Route 234 and Route 294, the design team has identified a future location for this trail along the northwestern edge of the interchange (see the blue line in the second image above).
However, all trail connections to and from Route 234 Business and the long-planned future trail along the Route 234 Bypass (aka Route 234 North) would still require a two-stage at-grade crossing of 12 signalized traffic lanes plus one free-flowing right-turn lane at the rebuilt intersection of Bradley Cemetery Way and Rte 234 Business plus a second at-grade trail crossing of a free-flowing highway ramp at the south side of the interchange (at the on-ramp from Brentsville Road) . Those remaining design flaws would still create considerable delays and hazards for trail users.
Under Prince William DOT’s revised design for this interchange, this slow and hazardous crossing of 13 traffic lanes at two legs of the signalized intersection of Bradley Cemetery Way and Route 234 Business would remain. All trail access and egress from either Route 234 Business or the future trail along the Route 234 Bypass would need to use this routing to join either of the existing trails along Route 234 and Route 294 or Brentsville Road.
As a followup proposal, we suggest routing the long-planned trail along the Route 234 Bypass along the north side of Route 234 (per the second image from the top), connecting that trail to both the existing Route 294 Trail to the east and to a new shared-use path along the west side of Route 234 Business (where the existing pavement, depicted in yellow, is planned for removal). This trail (depicted with a red line in that image) would pass underneath both new roadway overpasses being built to carry Brentsville Road and Route 294 over Route 234 and could also pass underneath three single-lane interchange ramps inside box culverts (see the light blue circles).
Under our proposal, the long-planned trail along the Route 234 Bypass would run along the north side of Route 234 and pass under both planned roadway bridges.
Three short box culverts could be used to route our proposed trail along the north side of the Route 234 Bypass beneath three one-lane interchange ramps. Only one such box culvert would be needed for the connection to Route 234 Business.
Our proposed design eliminates all at-grade trail-roadway crossings, except to reach Route 234 Business. However, by building a shared-use path along the west side of Route 234 Business (connecting to Godwin Dr), where only a sidewalk is currently planned, trail users would be required to cross only 5-lanes of stopped traffic at just the western leg of the signalized intersection of Bradley Cemetery Way and Route 234 Business, not 12-lanes of stopped traffic plus one lane of free-flowing right-turning traffic at two separate legs of that intersection.
Our proposal could also lower the cost of this project by eliminating the need to include a 14-foot wide shared-use path on the proposed Brentsville Road bridge.
Active Prince William believes that first-class, safe and direct trail connections for all five legs of this interchange can and should be provided within this project’s existing budget of $55 million.