Tysons, VA

Morning Notes

Early Voting Begins Today — At 9 a.m., Fairfax County voters can start casting their ballots for the June 8 Democratic primary. Early voting has expanded from previous years, with all registered voters now allowed to participate and the county immediately offering three locations with Saturday hours. [Fairfax County Government]

McLean Downtown Plan Public Hearing Pushed Back — The Fairfax County Planning Commission will defer a public hearing on the McLean Community Business Center study that was scheduled for next Wednesday (April 28). A new date for the public to comment on the much-debated draft plan will be announced on April 28. [Fairfax County Planning Commission]

I-66 West in Dunn Loring Closed Tonight — “All lanes of I-66 West approaching I-495 will be closed during the overnight hours Friday, April 23, to allow for continued installation of bridge beams for new ramps at the I-66/I-495 Interchange. All I-66 West traffic will be detoured around the closure via Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) West and I-495 South.” [VDOT]

Man Arrested for Capital Beltway Crashes — Virginia State Police arrested a 26-year-old man yesterday (Thursday) for allegedly crashing into two vehicles around the 53-mile marker of I-495 in Fairfax County and punching the drivers in an attempt to carjack their vehicles. The suspect is in custody in Maryland with charges pending as he awaits extradition to Virginia. [WTOP]

Fire Temporarily Closes Vienna’s Church Street — Fairfax County Fire and Rescue units responded to a fire in the basement of a building on the 100 block of Church Street NE in Vienna yesterday. The fire was extinguished with no reported injuries, but the activity temporarily closed the road between Center and Mill streets. [Patch]

Capital One Airport Lounge Coming to Dulles — “Capital One Financial Corp. plans to open its Dulles International Airport lounge sometime in 2022 and we now have renderings that show what the 9,100-square-foot space could look like. The Dulles location will be the second of a network of lounges the McLean-based financial giant is branding, Capital One (NYSE: COF) announced Monday.” [Washington Business Journal]

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(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) Officially, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors endorsed the I-495 extension of the express lanes on Tuesday (April 13), but the discussion leading up to that vote showed that some officials closest to the project still have reservations.

Supervisor John Foust, representing the Dranesville District that would ostensibly stand the most to gain from the project called 495 NEXT, said the project only addresses half the problem and, without the other half, could only worsen an already miserable bottleneck.

“I’ve lived with the horrible congestion caused by backups at the American Legion Bridge and I’ve supported widening or replacement of the bridge,” Foust said. “But without the Maryland project, 495 NEXT worsens traffic in the general portion lanes…Until the American Legion Bridge is widened, these adverse impacts are far greater than any public benefit.”

The plan would add new express lanes from 495’s intersection with the Dulles Toll Road up to the American Legion Bridge, where the plan was to connect with similar lanes on the Maryland-owned bridge and onto the Maryland side of the beltway. Foust’s frustration comes from Maryland dragging its heels on the project despite an earlier pledged commitment to widening.

Foust said that, as recently as December, the Board agreed that VDOT should only consider further action on widening once Maryland executed a comprehensive agreement with a developer to fulfill their half of the project.

“Of course that hasn’t happened, nothing significant has happened since December to justify us reversing our opinion,” Foust said. “I want to make it clear, I think it’s a mistake. Going forward without agreement from Maryland is exposing us to worsening impacts.”

But Fairfax County has faced mounting pressure to endorse 495 NEXT, most recently from Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay and others on the board described the endorsement as a good-faith move on Fairfax’s part.

“We don’t entirely control the schedule here,” McKay said. “There are some signfiicant benefits to this project. Everyone is familiar with the gridlock that Foust has explained…We’re close to a guarantee that Maryland is making significant progress.”

“This is a chance for Fairfax County to be a leader,” Supervisor Pat Herrity agreed, “and I think this encourages Maryland to move forward.”

The endorsement passed in a 8 to 2 vote, with Foust and Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn voting against it. The new lanes are scheduled to open to traffic in 2024.

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Morning Notes

Transportation Group Urges Support for 495 NEXT — The Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance reiterated its support for extending toll lanes on the Capital Beltway in a letter to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors ahead of its vote today. The organization argues that the project “will unequivocally improve the quality of life in Northern Virginia, spur further economic development, and meet the transportation needs of future generations.” [NVTA]

McLean Resident Urges Board to Delay 495 NEXT — A McLean resident argues in a letter to the editor that there has been insufficient community outreach about the project, which she says will result in increased congestion on the highway and in local neighborhoods. [Patch]

Madison High School Sets Graduation Ceremony Date — “IN PERSON GRADUATION! June 1 at Jiffy Lube Live. We have many details and logistics to figure out, but we are just excited to announce our graduates will be walking across an actual stage! Be sure to keep up with JMHS emails for details.” [James Madison High School/Twitter]

Fortune Names McLean Companies Among Top 10 Best Places to Work — “Fortune’s annual 100 Best Companies to Work For…puts two large companies with headquarters in the D.C. region in the top 10. Hilton Worldwide ranks No. 3, while Capital One Financial ranks ninth. Both are headquartered in McLean, Virginia.” [WTOP]

Falls Church City Highlights Reopened ParkBig Chimneys Park on Gibson Street reopened in January after undergoing an extensive renovation that included updating the playground equipment, addressing stormwater issues, and adding a new accessible trail to the Winter Hill neighborhood to the west. [City of Falls Church/Twitter]

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(Updated at 10:10 a.m. on 4/13/2021) The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will take an official position on the Virginia Department of Transportation’s much-debated Interstate 495 Express Lanes Northern Extension (495 NEXT) project when it meets on Tuesday (April 13).

A prepared letter to Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine suggests the board plans to endorse the project, which will extend the I-495 Express Lanes about three miles from the Dulles Toll Road interchange in Tysons to the American Legion Memorial Bridge.

However, whether the board will actually approve the letter as it currently stands remains to be seen.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust told Tysons Reporter on Friday (April 9) that he hopes to revise the letter with firmer language calling for closer coordination with Maryland’s plans to widen the American Legion Bridge and I-270 and objecting to the design of the Capital Beltway/Dulles Toll Road interchange.

“If I can’t get those revisions made, I won’t be able to support it,” Foust said.

The letter says the 495 NEXT “will improve mobility” in the D.C. region by connecting the existing 495 Express Lanes to toll lanes that Maryland is considering constructing on its side of the Potomac River.

It indicates that Fairfax County and VDOT have made progress on addressing transit, pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and stormwater management concerns that have been raised throughout the project’s development.

According to the letter, VDOT will fund the capital and operating costs of one of the Tysons-Montgomery County bus routes proposed by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation’s transit demand management study.

The state has also now committed to continuing its planned regional trail toward Tysons instead of stopping it at Lewinsville Road, and the county is working with VDOT to secure an agreement that would require the 495 NEXT builder to contribute funds to Scotts Run stream restoration efforts.

At the same time, county officials say they “remain concerned” about the possibility that Maryland will further delay its express lanes project. Without a widened American Legion Bridge, the 495 NEXT project would simply move the congestion that currently plagues drivers on the Beltway further north.

“The continuation of an express lanes system into Maryland over the ALMB remains a critical priority to realize the maximum benefit of the I-495 NEXT project,” the Board of Supervisors letter says. “The Board continues to strongly encourage VDOT to coordinate with Maryland to minimize the time between the opening of the I-495 NEXT express lanes and Maryland’s managed lanes.”

Foust says he hopes to revise the letter to tell the Commonwealth Transportation Board “to wait until we are certain that Maryland is going to move forward with their project before we authorize [express lanes operator] Transurban to begin construction of 495 NEXT.”

He also wants to make clear his opposition to the proposed design of the Dulles Toll Road interchange.

“I suspect that it is designed to move cars very effectively, but it is just outrageously huge and visually unacceptable for that location adjacent to Tysons,” he said.

Virginia and Maryland’s Beltway plans have also drawn criticism from environmental advocates.

The Coalition for Smarter Growth, Audubon Society, National Parks Conservation Association, and Sierra Club chapters from both states released a “Best Smart Growth Plan” on Friday, urging officials to pause the projects and conduct a comprehensive analysis to find “a less destructive and more sustainable and equitable solution.”

Foust says he is “sensitive” to the groups’ environmental concerns, noting that some impact on parks, trees, streams, and open space is unavoidable with an infrastructure project of this size.

However, he believes Virginia and Maryland have already waited too long to address the traffic issues at the American Legion Bridge, and postponing action for another 15 years, when the bridge is expected to need a replacement, would be “absolutely unacceptable.”

“We’ll have to mitigate those impacts, but there’s no reason to incur them if Maryland doesn’t move forward with their project to connect to 495,” Foust said.

VDOT acknowledged that there have been persistent concerns about 495 NEXT in a statement to Tysons Reporter:

VDOT continues to collaborate with the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and staff to listen to and address their concerns on VDOT’s I-495 Northern Extension Express Lanes Project. The issues identified by Fairfax County remain important to VDOT and to our efforts to develop and deliver the best possible multimodal transportation solution for the I-495 corridor, and make a positive impact on our Commonwealth.

Photo via Google Maps

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Construction on the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project will continue disrupting travel at the I-66 and I-496 interchange in Dunn Loring this week.

Overnight lane closures and traffic stoppages will begin at 10 p.m. today (Monday) on I-495 South, whose general purpose lanes will be reduced to a single travel lane from Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) approaching I-66 to accommodate overhead bridge work and partial demolition of the I-66 West bridge over I-495 South.

The Virginia Department of Transportation says drivers should expect periodic stoppages of up to 20 minutes between midnight and 4 a.m., though the lane closures will last until 5 a.m. on Tuesday. The 495 Express Lanes will not be affected.

The 495 lane closures will take effect again during the same time frame on Thursday (April 8) and Friday (April 9).

That final day will coincide with more substantial closures planned for I-66.

On Friday and Saturday (April 10), all westbound lanes approaching I-495 will be closed from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. so that construction crews can install bridge beams for new ramps at the I-66/I-495 interchange, VDOT says. The ramps to I-66 West from 495 North and the 495 South Express Lanes will also be closed.

“Drivers traveling on I-66 and I-495 during this time should expect delays and should consider using alternate routes,” VDOT said.

Here are the details on those closures from VDOT:

I-66 West at I-495

  • All I-66 West travel lanes will be closed at I-495 from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. both nights.
  • All westbound I-66 thru-traffic will be directed to exit the interstate at Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) West, travel about one mile to the ramp for I-495 South, and then follow signs to I-66 West.
  • The ramp from I-66 West to I-495 South will remain open.
  • All lanes will reopen by 6 a.m.

Ramp from I-495 North to I-66 West

  • The ramp will be closed from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. nightly.
  • Traffic will be detoured farther north to Route 7 West, stay to the right to I-495 South, and then follow signs to I-66 West.
  • The ramp will reopen by 6 a.m.

Ramp from the 495 Express Lanes South to I-66 West

  • The ramp will be closed from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. nightly.
  • Overhead variable message boards in the Express Lanes will direct traffic to an alternate route.

The I-66 and I-495 closures both stem from ongoing efforts to reconstruct the interchange as part of the Transform 66 project, which will extend the I-66 Express Lanes 22.5 miles from Dunn Loring to Gainesville.

“Improvements at the interchange include adding access to and from the existing 495 Express Lanes and the new I-66 Express Lanes, as well as building new connections between express and general-purpose lanes,” VDOT said.

Images via Google Maps, VDOT

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Thursday Morning Notes

Federal American Recovery Plan Will Prevent Metro Budget Cuts — Metro will not need to make the drastic service and personnel cuts proposed in its fiscal year 2022 budget, thanks to Congress’ approval of a new COVID-19 relief package that includes $1.4 billion for D.C. region transit agencies. The potential changes, which included closures of the McLean and Greensboro stations, would have taken effect in January 2022 if the advertised budget got approved. [WMATA]

Thomas Jefferson Admissions Changes Spur New Federal Lawsuit — “Fairfax County Public Schools is facing a second lawsuit over changes officials made last year to the admissions process at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, its flagship STEM magnet school. The suit, filed in federal court Wednesday, alleges the changes are discriminatory against Asian Americans and therefore violate the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.” [The Washington Post]

Ramp Closure Planned for I-495/I-66 at Fairview Park — The ramp from southbound Interstate 495 to westbound Interstate 66 will be closed from 11 p.m. Saturday (March 13) to 7 a.m. Sunday, and again on 10 p.m. Sunday to 4 a.m. Monday. The ramp will have two exit lanes when it reopens, one of which has been closed since late January for the construction of a new ramp as part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project. [Patch]

Vienna Town Council Debates Undergrounding Utilities — “Placing utility lines underground in Vienna’s Maple Avenue corridor would beautify the streetscape and improve service reliability, but at a steep cost. According to a feasibility study…presented at the Vienna Town Council’s March 8 work session, utility undergrounding in 10 locations would cost an estimated $22 million – the equivalent of about half of the town’s general-fund budget for one year.” [Sun Gazette]

Capital One Appoints New Board Members — “McLean banking giant Capital One Financial Corp. (NYSE: COF) has appointed executives from Facebook Inc. and Nike Inc. to its board of directors, the company said Tuesday. In May, shareholders will vote on the election of Ime Archibong, head of new product experimentation at Facebook, and Craig Williams, president of Jordan Brand at Nike.” [Washington Business Journal]

Vienna Fire Department to Host Two Inova Blood Drives — The Vienna Volunteer Fire Department (400 Center St. S) will hold two blood drives this spring for Inova, one from 1-7 p.m. on March 25 and the second from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on April 2. Face coverings are required at both events. [@ViennaVFD/Twitter]

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Fairfax County and the Virginia Department of Transportation are working on an agreement to include funding for Scotts Run Stream restoration efforts in McLean as part of the I-495 Northern Extension (495 NEXT) project, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said on Tuesday (Feb. 23).

McKay shared the news in a letter to Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine that reiterates some of the county’s lingering reservations about the project, which seeks to extend the I-495 Express Lanes approximately three miles from the Dulles Toll Road interchange to the American Legion Bridge.

“In conjunction with the stream restoration project planned by the County, the additional funds received from the I-495 NEXT concessionaire will provide a more holistic approach to stream restoration that helps promote streambank stabilization, enhanced outfalls, and an overall improvement to Scotts Run,” McKay said in the letter, which was unanimously approved by the full board during its meeting.

The board raised concerns about the environmental impact of 495 NEXT, among other issues, in a letter to Valentine in early December, stating that runoff from the proposed project would affect almost 100 acres of wetlands, water, and land around Scotts Run and the Potomac River and exacerbate flooding issues in McLean.

The potential Scotts Run agreement and Maryland’s announcement last week that it has chosen a consortium led by Tysons-based Transurban for its Capital Beltway toll roads project have eased some — but not all — of Fairfax County supervisors’ anxieties about 495 NEXT.

Urging VDOT to coordinate with its counterpart across the Potomac as closely as possible, Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust noted that, while last week’s announcement was a meaningful step forward, the actual realization of Maryland’s I-495/I-270 project remains far off.

“We have gone on record as saying that [495 NEXT] does more harm than good if we don’t get Maryland to move forward with their project,” Foust said. “They are making good progress. What happened last week, I think it was good news and very exciting, but they’re still not there yet.”

He also asked that McKay’s letter be amended to request more detailed renderings of planned ramps for the Dulles Toll Road interchange from VDOT, reiterating previously voiced concerns about the possible traffic and construction impacts on surrounding communities.

In addition, the Board of Supervisors wants VDOT to extend the shared-use trail included in the 495 NEXT project to Tysons, rather than ending it at Lewinsville Road, and fully fund one of the Tysons-Bethesda bus routes that have been proposed as a transit option for the I-495/American Legion Bridge corridor.

According to the board’s letter, the route would carry nine vehicles with an estimated initial cost of $5.2 million and annual operating costs of $2.2 million.

Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity cautioned against making too many demands of a project that already carried an estimated $500 million cost as of last March.

“Those requirements get paid by someone. They don’t get funded out of thin air,” Herrity said. “…Since these are just recommendations, I’m going to be supporting the letter, but I think we’ve got to be careful that we don’t push this project out of existence.”

Supervisor Walter Alcorn, who represents Hunter Mill District, said county leaders need to make their concerns about major projects like this known, especially since a private vendor will be involved.

“We have to make sure that the public interest and the environmental issues and everything else that’s important to the broader community is paramount,” Alcorn said.

VDOT issued the following statement to Tysons Reporter in response to the Board of Supervisors’ letter:

VDOT remains committed to continuing to work with the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to listen to and address their feedback on VDOT’s I-495 Northern Extension Express Lanes Project. The issues identified by Fairfax County are important to VDOT and will continue to be an important part of the dialogue as we work together to solve one of the Washington Metropolitan Area’s most congested transportation links. Through the continued collaboration among the staff of VDOT and Fairfax County, VDOT is confident that a multimodal transportation solution can be put in place, which will improve travel and make a positive impact on our Commonwealth.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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A new pedestrian bridge and shared-use trail linking Tysons Corner Center to the McLean Metro station is on track to start construction this summer, the Virginia Department of Transportation says.

The project will introduce a bridge for pedestrians and cyclists over the Capital Beltway, along with a 4,662-foot-long, 10-foot-wide path between I-495 and Route 123 along the west side of Old Meadow Road.

“I think this is going to be a good thing for Tysons,” VDOT Senior Project Manager Abraham Lerner said. “It will continue to go along with the goals of the Board of Supervisors and Fairfax County staff to implement multimodal measures and to try to reduce the dependence on the private automobile.”

This pedestrian and bicycle improvement at the I-495/123 interchange has been in the works for years as part of a commitment that VDOT and Fairfax County made when the Beltway was widened to accommodate toll lanes.

The I-495 Express Lanes project, which was completed in November 2012, called for the addition of pedestrian and bicycle connections throughout the Beltway corridor from Braddock Road in Annandale to Lewinsville Road in McLean.

However, a crossing at the 123 interchange could not be built at the time because of “a number of physical and geometric reasons,” Lerner says. So, Fairfax County and the state committed to constructing one in the future.

About five years ago, VDOT and the county proposed building a trail along Route 123, but the idea drew public criticism given the safety risks of having crosswalks across multiple Beltway ramps, according to Chris Wells, who manages the Fairfax County Department of Transportation’s Active Transportation Program.

Transportation officials then looked at options for building an overhead bridge across I-495 near 123, rather than immediately at the interchange. Old Meadow Road emerged as the most feasible site.

“Because of the design of the Beltway itself and the express lanes, there was only this one location that we found where we could put a bridge pier in the middle of the Beltway,” Wells said. “Otherwise, we were going to have to span the entire Beltway with a larger bridge structure, which would’ve been much more expensive.”

VDOT held a public hearing on the project in June 2018, and the design was approved in November of that year. But Lerner says the right-of-way acquisition process took over nine months to complete, since the project needed land from six different properties.

The Dolley Madison Apartments and Encore Condominiums were affected the most, with residents citing concerns about the loss of trees, the potential impact on security and privacy, and the safety of a path with no separation between cyclists and pedestrians.

“Because of all the concerns, the issues that were raised during the public hearing process, we needed to work with [residents] to make sure we did the right-of-way acquisition in a very thorough manner,” Lerner said.

The public comment process also led VDOT to incorporate lighting in its design for the planned bridge over I-495.

While VDOT has not identified a contractor yet, construction is expected to cost $8.5 million. The project’s total $13.4 million cost has been fully financed with funds from federal, state, and local sources.

Because the path is off-road, Lerner says the only significant traffic impacts will come when crews work on the bridge over the Beltway. Construction is expected to take a year, concluding in the summer of 2022.

Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said in a statement that she is “delighted” that work on the shared-use path and pedestrian bridge will start this summer.

“This bridge will encourage walking and biking, save time, and reduce automobile traffic and carbon emissions,” Palchik said. “Residents won’t have to jump in their cars to drive and park at the mall, and I’m pleased that VDOT will be installing a lighted bridge. We are grateful to the Old Meadow Road neighborhood who worked with the engineering teams to transition the property and make this bridge happen.”

Image via VDOT

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Several local chambers of commerce have come out in favor of the Virginia Department of Transportation’s much-debated 495 NEXT project, which will extend the I-495 Express Lanes approximately three miles from the Dulles Toll Road interchange to the American Legion Bridge.

The Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce announced its endorsement of the project yesterday (Monday). It was joined by the Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce, as well as chambers representing Reston, Springfield, Mount Vernon, the City of Alexandria, Arlington County, and Prince William County.

The organizations, which represent businesses that collectively employ about 600,000 people across Northern Virginia, say expanding the 495 Express Lanes will help reduce one of the region’s biggest chokepoints and generally improve local travel conditions, particularly in the Tysons area and in between Virginia and Maryland.

“The I-495 expansion will bring a much-needed economic boost to the area and provide long-term economic benefits,” Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Julie Coons said. “It will also add new transit choices that will help attract more businesses and help existing businesses flourish.”

According to the NOVA Chamber of Commerce, the 495 NEXT project is expected to create an estimated 6,300 new jobs and generate $880 million in economic activity during its development and construction.

VDOT is currently waiting for the Federal Highway Administration to issue a decision on the project based on an environmental assessment that was released last February. If the assessment is approved, the state agency expects to issue a contract, finalize the design, and start construction later this year.

The 495 NEXT project is being developed in parallel with a Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation study of transit options for the I-495 and American Legion Bridge corridor. State officials have proposed expanding bus service between Northern Virginia, particularly Tysons, and Maryland, though a final report is not expected to come out until March.

“The expanded transit service will help Tysons reach its long-term goals to reduce congestion and increase accessibility for Tyson’s residents, businesses, employees, and consumers, improving our quality of life and economic outlook,” Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce President and Chairman Andrew Clark said.

VDOT says that the 495 NEXT project will enable 2,500 more people per hour to move through the corridor starting in 2025.

However, it would be able to move even more people if Maryland finishes its plans to introduce toll lanes on the American Legion Bridge, leading some to question why the timelines for the two projects are not aligned. The environmental assessment for Maryland’s managed toll lanes study is not scheduled to be completed until this fall.

Community members and public officials have also raised concerns about the project’s potential impact on surrounding neighborhoods and the environment, especially when it comes to water quality.

The chambers of commerce that have backed 495 NEXT say it is necessary to “set the stage” for improvements to the American Legion Bridge, which currently sees over 230,000 trips per day.

“For years, neighborhoods in McLean have been inundated by cut-through regional commuters seeking to avoid the endemic Beltway backups approaching the American Legion Bridge,” Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce President Paul Kohlenberger said. “495 NEXT will alleviate this cut-through traffic, increase travel time reliability, and offer additional travel choices to the residents, customers and workers of the Greater McLean area.”

Photo via Google Maps

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The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) hosted a virtual public meeting on Tuesday (Jan. 12), with transportation leaders from Virginia and Maryland to address questions and comments about its transit and transportation demand management study for Interstate 495 and the American Legion Bridge.

The study’s focus is to “develop and prioritize transit options and travel demand management for bistate travel across the bridge,” DRPT Northern Virginia Transit Planning Manager Ciara Williams says.

Tuesday’s meeting specifically focused on proposed recommendations to expand bus service through the corridor that the study team first unveiled in November.

Williams presented three investment packages divided into baseline, medium and high designations based on their ability to improve productivity, equity and connectivity.

The baseline package focuses on two main route connections that would provide peak-period service from Tysons to Gaithersburg and Bethesda in Maryland.

The medium package features additional routes, increased frequency, and a Bethesda-Tysons route with off-peak service. It also adds service to Silver Spring, Germantown, Frederick, L’Enfant, and Arlington.

The high package offers all-day bus service, additional route connections, and even more frequency. It has an expanded scope that includes Dunn Loring, Reston, and Dulles.

DRPT Chief of Public Transportation Jennifer DeBruhl emphasized that the study is being conducted in coordination with partners at the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Maryland Transit Association.

“This study is really about the art of the possible,” DeBruhl said. “…We’re looking forward to continuing to work with them…to put together a really seamless network that we can develop and enhance as funding resources become available to do that.”

During a question-and-answer portion of the meeting, community members questioned the exclusion of a Dulles route from the baseline and medium packages.

According to DeBruhl, there wasn’t “much demand” seen in a connection to Dulles, but transportation leaders can reevaluate the possibility, either as part of the current study or in the future.

“This evaluation of transit options in the corridor doesn’t end with this study,” she said.

Members of the public also asked about the ability to accurately predict the potential traffic patterns that transit may create over the American Legion Bridge when transit currently does not exist there.

“This is, in a lot of ways, a very technical modeling effort to try to assess and predict the demand and willingness of individuals to shift from that single-occupant vehicle to a transit option if it’s made available and competitive from a time perspective,” DeBruhl said.

With DRPT now working to finalize its recommendations, Williams noted that no decisions have been made yet on which transit agencies would operate the proposed routes.

The public comment period for the study will be open through Feb. 1. DeBruhl anticipates that a final study report will be published in March.

“This study has covered a lot of ground in a relatively short period of time, but it is our goal to bring this study process to a conclusion before we get to far into the spring,” DeBruhl said.

Comments on the study may be made online, by phone at 703-253-3324, or by sending a letter addressed to Ms. Ciara Williams at DRPT, 1725 Duke Street, Suite 675 Alexandria, VA 22314.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott; slide via Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation

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