Fairfax County is looking for $7.3 million to help create two links for the upcoming I-66 trail.
The county’s Board of Supervisors gave the go-ahead on Tuesday (Jan. 25) for its transportation director to apply for the funds via the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission.
One of the links is a 5,000-foot-long cycle track along Country Creek Road/Virginia Center Boulevard and a 10-foot-wide paved path along Sutton Road near the Vienna Metro station. The connection would run from the Nutley Street interchange to Blake Lane.
“Funding will assist in completing a high-quality, long-distance active transportation route along the I-66 corridor, conveniently connecting a large segment of Fairfax County population to transit facilities, employment centers, recreational destinations, and other jurisdictions,” county staff said in the board meeting package.
It’s part of the I-66 trail and the application serves as an integral connection, Fairfax County Department of Transportation spokesperson Robin Geiger said.
FCDOT confirmed the project had been unsuccessfully submitted for funding from NVTC before. It previously received a score of 47 out of 100, and the transit group advanced higher-scoring transit proposals.
Geiger said it’s common for funding requests to be renewed, though.
The trail is part of a package of projects that the board sent to NVTC for consideration in the fifth round of its I-66 Commuter Choice program, which funds transit and capital improvement projects in the corridor using highway toll revenues.
Another NVTC funding application the county agreed to seek was $4.3 million for an I-66 trail segment that would cover a 2,750-foot-long portion from the Monument Drive commuter parking garage to the West Ox Road transit center.
Additionally, the board approved seeking $1.2 million in funding to help continue funding Express Route 698 connecting the Vienna and Pentagon Metro stations and $2.2 million to increase bus service on that route.
Funding decisions for the fiscal year 2023-2024 I-66 Commuter Choice program could be announced in May from NVTC, followed by the Commonwealth Transportation Board in June. Virginia’s fiscal year starts on July 1.
Photo via VDOT
The Town of Vienna wants to give bicyclists access to a paved path that currently lets pedestrians cut past the Waters and Caffi ballfields behind the community center.
The Locust Street Trail improvement project would replace the narrow existing path with an 8-foot-wide, asphalt shared-use path from Center Street to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, the Department of Public Works told the Vienna Town Council on Monday (Oct. 25).
Town staff pitched the project as part of a request to apply for more than $900,000 in funding from the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Transportation Alternatives program, which gives grants to local projects involving non-motorized travel and infrastructure improvements.
The town council unanimously approved the request, which included $766,439 for the Locust Street Trail project.
“I fully support this project,” Councilmember Chuck Anderson said. “It’s another important bike path in our town, which will allow people like me who go to the W&OD to turn right and get to Town Hall. Maybe I won’t drive so often.”
While this is the first time the project has been brought forward for possible funding, the Locust Street Trail improvements were recommended in the Maple Avenue Corridor Multimodal Transportation and Land Use Study that was completed in fall 2019.
The study said improving the path would give pedestrians and cyclists “a viable parallel alternative” to Maple Avenue and increased access to the W&OD Trail.
The study suggests extending the trail to Park Street at the mini traffic roundabout with Locust Street East, but that would require the town to acquire access to privately owned land, Director of Public Works Michael Gallagher says.
In addition to widening the path, the project calls for replacing the existing pedestrian bridge to the W&OD and addressing drainage issues. Right now, standing water renders the path unusable after a typical rainstorm, according to town staff.
The Freeman Store Bridge
The public works department is also reapplying for $155,772 from VDOT to construct a new pedestrian bridge to link the Freeman Store & Museum with the W&OD Trail.
That project has been in the works for five years now after water issues and general deterioration forced Vienna to remove the existing wooden bridge in 2016. The new bridge will be 52.5 feet long and consist of steel and timber, according to engineering plans.
According to Gallagher, the town is now seeking construction contractor bids for a third time. An initial solicitation received no responses, and during the second round, material costs, particularly for lumber, pushed the project over budget.
“We’re hopeful that we’ll get some good bids” this time, Gallagher said.
Vienna already has the Freeman Store bridge funding, but with the money set to expire this month, the town has to reapply to extend the deadline.
Staff initially planned to also request an extension of its VDOT funding for a project to complete the sidewalk on Park Street NE, but that was no longer necessary after they “just received word that that [deadline has] been administratively extended,” Gallagher said.
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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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