by E. Bruce Davis, Bull Run Observer

19 October 2012, pp. 1, 9

“Current and future local Virginia Department of Transportation and Virginia Railway Express programs seem in tune with the recommendations in the forthcoming Super NoVa Transit/TSM Vision Plan.

“VRE is undergoing environmental analysis and preliminary engineering for a new 11-mile branch into Gainesville/Haymarket.  There are also plans to build a parking garage at Broad Run with 700 spaces and a kiss and ride loop.

” ‘It is going smoothly.  We are on schedule,’ said Joan Morris, spokesperson for VDOT, as it heads for its 2015 goal of widening roads and construction of bridges in Gainesville.

“Another project that should help western Prince William riders is the addition of express lanes on I-495 for 14 miles from Springfield to just north of the Dulles Toll Road.  The lanes will accept Easy Passes and are free for cars with three passengers.

“Starting in 2013, I-66 will be widened from US 29 to US 15.  There will be four lanes on each side, with an added HOV lane and regular lane.  In 2015, the interchange at I-66 and US 15 is scheduled to be built to alleviate the ramp back up.

“Meanwhile, Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) is nearing its destination on time by finalized recommendations on its Super NoVa Transit/TDM Vision Plan.  The plan, ‘envisions safe, strategic and seamless mobility options for rail, transit and TDM (Transportation Demand Management) in the greater Northern Virginia area.

” ‘The study was the result of a Governor Bob McDonnell initiative,’ said Doborah Cordell, a consultant with Cordell and Crumley, on behalf of DRPT.  ‘This is the first time of a study of this magnitude.  It is a challenging study for the engineers who worked closely with the VRE and the Transit Authority.’

“Identifying Northern Virginia as the most congested region in Virginia, McDonnell said, ‘To truly address congestion in Northern Virginia, we have to take a broader view of what constitutes the region and the commuting patterns of its workforce.  We must develop a geographically broader vision and plan for transit and TDMs that do not stop at local or state political borders.’

“In its overview, ‘The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation defined super region for this planning effort encompasses all of the localities comprising Northern Virginia and the localities extending form Northern Virginia to Caroline County on the south, Culpeper County on the west and Frederick County to the northwest.  It also includes an effort in coordination with Maryland, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

” ‘The mission is visioning mobility beyond boundaries,’ said Mike Harris of consulting firm, Kimley-Horn and Associates.  ‘This was a large effort.’  It involved getting input from the public and stakeholders, which include regional government agencies, TDM, organizations, the military and metropolitan organizations.

” ‘This is a vision plan, not a program,’ Harris said.  It will evaluate current transit service and TDM programs, existing and future land use, population and employment factors, travel patterns and trends, and future anticipated travel demand to develop a vision through 2040.

“Four stakeholder meetings were held to obtain input from various localities and agencies.

” ‘About 200 people attended these meetings,’ said Cordell.  ‘We received about 600 comments from them.’  Harris agreed, saying, ‘We had good participation.  Everyone wants to cooperate.  The public has a strong voice.  Its input will go into the draft recommendations.’  The draft plan was scheduled to be available by Oct. 15; public comments can be made until Oct. 30.  To send in a comment for consideration, email by Oct. 30.

” ‘We are looking for coordination and dialogue,’ said Harris.  ‘Of course, we will not be making recommendations to Maryland, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.’

“The Virginia-based study will include an emphasis on transportation hubs.  ‘This is the form for transit and TDM to flourish,’ he said.  ‘We suggest corridors leading to these hubs, connecting from one another.’

“Current draft recommendations with a vision for enhanced regional mobility include, ‘expansive commuter bus network throughout the region; interconnected network of high-capacity transit services in the region’s urban areas; network of hubs to connect people to transportation services and programs; increased coordination of local transit services across jurisdictional boundaries; pedestrian and bicycle improvements to enhance connections to transit services and facilities; comprehensive regional TDM strategy and programs; leveraging technology to enable people to make informed decisions about travel.’

“These recommendations are aimed at improving travel in the Super NoVa area now and over time.  The effect of the recommendations will be contingent on the methods of implementation within each area.  Recommendations of increased rail travel and the development of hubs with connecting corridors could improve travel and reduce congestion in the area.”