Monday, July 25, 2011

VDOT meeting on Gallows Rd/Route 29 construction

VDOT rendering of the project
VDOT is holding a public meeting Wednesday night from 7-9pm at Luther Jackson Middle School to discuss the Gallows Road/Route 29 project that will include widening both Gallows Rd and Route 29. According to the Countywide Trails Plan, bike lanes are designated on Gallows Rd, with major paved trails (>8') on each side, and major paved trails are called for on each side of Route 29. That doesn't quite match what's being built:
After three years of major utility relocation and right of way acquisition, the Virginia Department of Transportation begins construction on the $110 million project to improve the congested Route 29 and Gallows Road intersection in Merrifield.Improvements to the intersection will increase safety, reduce congestion and enhance bicycle and pedestrian access, and include:
  • Widening Route 29 from two to three through lanes in each direction between Merrilee Drive and I-495 (about 0.6 miles)
  • Widening Gallows Road from two to three through lanes in each direction between Gatehouse Road and Prosperity Avenue (about 0.8 miles)
  • On Route 29, a six-foot sidewalk on the westbound side and 5-foot sidewalk on the eastbound side
  • On Gallows Road, a 10-foot asphalt shared-use path on the west side, and six-foot sidewalk on the east side
  • Dual left-turn lanes on Route 29 at Gallows Road
  • Landscaped medians on both approaches
Co Trails Plan
The meeting on Wednesday is a "pardon our dust" meeting. Public hearings for this project occurred several years ago after study by a task force, before FABB was formed. Around that time we recall being told by a member of the Transportation Advisory Commission, currently a Planning Commissioner, that "those bikers" wanted too much, despite the fact that the Trails Plan contained the above recommendations. Looks like we didn't get much either.

Gallows Road is a major north-south connector for all modes of transportation, and a 10 foot shared-use path isn't sufficient to serve the pedestrian and bike traffic expected in this area. The 5 and 6 foot sidewalks along Route 29 are even worse. Given the late stage of this project, it's not very likely these plans will change. We plan to attend the meeting on Wednesday.

Update July 26—We've learned that wide outside lanes are included on Gallows Road. Bike lanes were proposed but they are not included in the final configuration. Wide outside or "wide curb" lanes work well for many cyclists although most people who are reluctant to ride in traffic would much prefer striped bike lanes. Bike lanes are currently striped on Gallows from the W&OD Trail to the bridge over I-66 just north of Dunn Loring Metro. Later this year bike lanes will be striped from the W&OD Trail north to Tysons.

Labels: , ,

This superhighway construction project is ridiculously inappropriate for a mixed-use urban public transit node, especially regarding pedestrian accommodations: each leg of the Lee Hwy/Gallows Rd intersection will be 9 lanes wide plus a raised median. The resulting pedestrian road-crossing distance is nearly double the 60-foot *maximum* crossing distance that Arlington County uses; e.g., Columbia Pike, which Arlington is rebuilding to be 5 lanes wide, will be 56 feet wide from curb face to curb face.

Both Lee Hwy (a key east-west bicycling connection across the I-495 bicycling barrier) and Gallows Rd should have striped on-road bike lanes through the entire project area, and such bike lanes are *readily feasible* with the roadway widths being built. The four feet of width needed for each bike lane could be obtained simply by reducing the widths of the overly wide (probably 12+ feet) travel lanes and turn lanes by about one foot each (even less at the 6-lane wide approach legs to the Lee Hwy/Gallows Rd intersection).

Personally, I consider *narrow* outside travel lanes a safer and more comfortable bicycling accommodation than "wide curb lanes" on multi-lane suburban arterials, because the former carries no motorist expectation or legal requirement for the bicyclist to share his/her travel lane with high-speed overtaking traffic.

If FABB and other Virginia bicyclists keep pressing VDOT for context-sensitive road designs and appropriate on-road bicycling accommodations, both Lee Hwy and Gallows Rd should eventually receive continuous on-road bike lanes through this project area.

Post a Comment

Contact FABB via email:

Subscribe to the
FABB e-newsletter

Subscribe to posts:
[Atom 1.0] or [RSS 2.0]

  Bike to Work Day 2015 at Wiehle Station

  Transportation choices

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?