Advancing active mobility in greater Prince William, Virginia

Tag: Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (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

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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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.

END

Take the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority’s Public Input Survey

Update (8/25/21):  NVTA will conduct a pop-up, in-person outreach session on Thursday, September 2, from 5-8 pm at the Manassas Park VRE Station.

The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) is now undertaking its periodic (5-year) update of TransAction, its long-range multimodal regional transportation plan for all of Northern Virginia.

According to NVTA, TransAction is intended to guide the development of “safe, equitable, and sustainable transportation projects over a 20-year time frame.

The two-year TransAction update process, which includes several public input opportunities, was launched with a public “open house and listening session” in January 2021 and will conclude with the NVTA board’s adoption of the updated plan in late 2022.

This summer and fall, NVTA is engaging the public “to identify transportation needs and trends”.  most notably through this online public survey. 

After briefly describing TransAction, the survey asks respondents to 1) select the factors that influence their use of various travel modes, 2) rank their top four priorities for transportation improvements, 3)  express their preferences for transportation infrastructure allocations, and 4) supply some demographic information.

Active Prince William encourages its supporters to complete this online public survey, which closes on September 16, 2021, to express their perspectives and support for better walking, bicycling, and public transportation.  The survey is also available in Spanish and Korean.

Our Recommendations for Upcoming NVTA Transportation Funding Applications from PWC

On July 19, 2021, Active Prince William sent the following email message to the Prince William County Planning Commission, which will soon be briefed by County transportation staff on the transportation projects that the County is considering for submission to the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) in Fall 2021 for  potential regional funding .  Various local transportation and elected officials, including the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, were copied on this message.

 


Active Prince William supports the integration of land use, housing, and transportation planning.  Having the Transportation Department brief the Commission on planned grant applications is a start.  That step should be followed by a formal public hearing and a vote of the Planning Commission.

New mobility infrastructure should substantially enhance the transit and bike/pedestrian network, rather than simply expand the road network and add a desolate side path.  Traditional “business as usual” planning for the next decade will sabotage the county’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to 50% of the 2005 levels.  The transportation sector generates the greatest amount of greenhouse gas emissions in Prince William now.  The only way to meet the 2030 target is to reduce the carbon spewing from tailpipes in Prince William, and that requires a new approach to planning for multimodal *mobility* and access, rather than just paving more roads for drive-alone motorists.

In 2030, most cars will still be fueled by gasoline.  Virtually every project that paves more lane miles will increase Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) and greenhouse gas emissions from those cars.  To understand the impact of various proposed projects, the Planning Commission should identify the projected increase in VMT associated with each transportation project, and use that data when determining which projects to recommend to the BOCS.

The Planning Commission recommendations to the BOCS should be guided by the Strategic Plan.  The Strategic Plan calls for the County to develop in a sustainable way.  As you know, new transit and bike/pedestrian projects have the potential to reduce or minimize VMT and associated greenhouse gas emissions.  To be sustainable, the County must abandon the old school approach of just building more roads–and acknowledge that more roads have not reduced traffic congestion.

For the upcoming NVTA grant program, Active Prince William recommends submitting the following projects to the next NVTA funding round (FY26/FY27). As you can see, none of these projects’ main intent is to add lane miles.  All projects support Transit, Active Transportation, and/or Intersection/Interchange improvements.

  • Route 1/Potomac Mills BRT (TRANSIT) – NVTA 38/39
  • Dale Blvd Improvements (TRANSIT) – NVTA 241
  • VRE Second platforms – Manassas Line (TRANSIT) – NVTA 300
  • I-95 Ped/Bike Crossings (TRAILS/ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION) – NVTA 300/242/49/241
  • Balls Ford Road/I-66 Trail Improvements (TRAILS/ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION)  – NVTA 50
  • Route 123 Improvements (INTERCHANGE/INTERSECTION IMPROVEMENT) – NVTA 242
  • Wellington Rd/Sudley Manor/VA234 Interchange Improvements (INTERCHANGE/INTERSECTION IMPROVEMENT) – NVTA 222
  • Minnieville Rd/PW Parkway Interchange (INTERCHANGE/INTERSECTION IMPROVEMENT) – NVTA 279
  • Pageland Ln/Sanders Ln Safety Improvements (INTERCHANGE/INTERSECTION IMPROVEMENT) – NVTA 227
  • Route 28 STARS (INTERCHANGE/INTERSECTION IMPROVEMENT) – NVTA 29/32

Many of these projects do not match exactly with the NVTA Transaction description but the NVTA has set a precedent by funding innovative intersection improvements at University Boulevard and Prince William Parkway even though NVTA Transaction clearly requires “Construct Interchange at Prince William Parkway and University Boulevard.” (NVTA 324).  Active Prince William agrees with this approach as the intent of the projects is to improve the specified transportation segment.

Below is the list of projects that were not funded in the previous NVTA funding round (FY24-FY25).   As you can, see most of these projects’ main intent is to add lane miles that will induce new VMT and future congestion.  We need to stop advancing projects that continue to increase car dependency and have long-term adverse impacts on the climate and county budget.

  • Van Buren Road North Extension: Route 234 to Cardinal Drive (NEW ROADWAY)
  • Construct Route 28 Corridor Roadway Improvements (NEW ROADWAY/BYPASS)
  • University Boulevard Extension: Devlin Road to Wellington Road (NEW ROADWAY)
  • Wellington Road Widening: University Boulevard to Devlin Road (ROAD WIDENING)
  • Devlin Road Widening: Linton Hall Road to Relocated Balls Ford Road (ROAD WIDENING)
  • Route 234 and Sudley Manor Drive Interchange (INTERCHANGE/INTERSECTION IMPROVEMENT)
  • Prince William Parkway at Clover Hill Road Innovative Intersection (INTERCHANGE/INTERSECTION IMPROVEMENT)
  • Prince William Parkway at Old Bridge Road Intersection Improvements (INTERCHANGE/INTERSECTION IMPROVEMENT) | Funded via Smart Scale

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