Monday, April 28, 2008

HOT lanes plans available for public review

As mentioned in an earlier blog entry, the Beltway HOT lanes project public hearings will be held on May 20 & 21. One month before the hearings the current plans for the project must be available to the public for review. We recently rode to the VDOT headquarters, a not very bike-friendly location, to look at the plans. FABB's position has been that VDOT and the HOT lanes contractors Fluor and Transurban should follow the guidelines in the Fairfax County Comprehensive Trails Plan for all reconstructed bridges over the HOT lanes.

We've posted copies of some of the plans online. From our initial review, it appears that most of the Trails Plan facilities are included in the project plans. A summary table of the VDOT and Fairfax Co DOT agreement on bike/ped facilities lists the Trails Plan requirements, the HOT lane team proposals, and the County recommendations, most of which match the Trails Plan. The key text in the document is the last entry, footnote 4: “VDOT concurs with the FCDOT Staff Recommendation.”

There are still some outstanding issues:
  • Leesburg Pike - Route 7—While we are quite sure that multiuse trails will be included on both sides of the bridge, we do not have a copy of those plans.
  • Gallows Road—The planned bike lanes on Gallows Rd do not appear to be included in the plans. Gallows Rd is a major bike commuter route. It is one of the few roads in the county for which funds are available for building bike lanes. It's critical that bike lanes be included on this road.
  • Wakefield bike/ped bridges—This bridge near Wakefield Park is currently 8 feet wide. The new bridge will not be any wider. It should be the same width as the W&OD Trail bridge, 16 feet. At a minimum it needs to be 10 feet, VDOTs standard for a multiuse trail.
Overall we are very encouraged by the inclusion of bike facilities in the plans. All cyclists who are interested in being able to safely cross the Beltway by bicycle should either attend the public hearings and speak out in support of the proposed plans, or send comments by June 5 to

See the FABB HOT Lanes Summary Page for more in formation.
According to AASHTO's _Guide to the Development of Bicycle Facilities_ which is the basis for VDOT's bikeway design standards, shared-use paths on structures (e.g., bridges and tunnels) should be at least four feet wider than the approaching (10-foot minimum width) paths. This extra width provides a two-foot clear zone in each direction which should buffer the path at all times.

Thus, the bicycle bridges crossing the Beltway should be at least 14 feet wide.

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