Saturday, June 23, 2012

Comments on funding of Tysons transportation projects

The Tysons Committee of the Fairfax Co Planning Commission is finalizing their work on the Tysons Plan changes. The plan was approved by the Board of Supervisors in early 2011. During that time the Board asked the Planning Commission to address several issues related to the redevelopment of Tysons, which included 1. Financing of infrastructure, and 2. Providing interim commuter parking at the Metrorail stations.

The Committee prepared a response to the Board in the form of a Strawman Document. The document includes a table showing the cost of various transportation projects. The Committee will mark up the Strawman at their meeting on Tues, June 26 based on comments received from a public hearing held on June 21. We testified at the public hearing and sent the following written comments:
Dear Tysons Committee members,

I wanted to clarify and expand on my comments at the Tysons Strawman public hearing held last night, June 21.

1. Table 7, Tysons Neighborhood Spot Improvements, Bicycle and Pedestrian Access Improvements, $77M - I am concerned that Bicycle and Pedestrian Access Improvements are combined with the Neighborhood Spot/Intersection improvements. I have seen the list of 19 recommended improvements but have not seen cost estimates for those improvements. I suspect they are significant. I suggest breaking out the bicycle, pedestrian, and spot improvements so that the estimated cost for each item is known. It is my fear that the cost of the intersection improvements will consume the vast majority of the $77M allocation, leaving little for bike/ped. When you consider that 10% of all trips in the DC metro area are taken by bike and walking, and that the total amount spent on all of the other transportation improvements is estimated to exceed $2B, the small amount left from the $77M will not be equitable. 10% of $2B is $200M. A fair share for ped/bike facilities is justified.

I  served as a member of the Tysons Task Force. We conducted a number of public outreach meetings over the 5 years. We asked participants at public meetings in the summer of 2007, which included task force members, representatives from property owners and business owners, residents, and others, to decide how they would allocate $100 of transportation funding. This was the aggregate result: Street network: $30, Pedestrian (and bike) amenities $20, More transit within: $20, More transit into: $18, Widening major routes: $12. It's clear that what is reflected in Table 7 contains a much different allocation of resources. I think it's worthwhile to consider what the public said they wanted when you make the final decisions about how transportation funding in Tysons should be allocated.

2. Tysons Corner Consolidated Transportation Impact Analyses (CTIAs), Line 463 - Last night when I referenced a presentation on CTIAs, it was from a Board of Supervisors Transportation Committee CTIA presentation on May 8, 2012. Slide 14 shows no bike facilities on Chain Bridge Rd or Dolley Madison. While I do not think every street needs dedicated bike facilities, the larger roads that provide key connections into Tysons such as Chain Bridge and Dolley Madison, need bike facilities. During the Bicycle Master Plan meeting in McLean earlier this year one of the most frequent comments from participants was the desire for safe, convenient bike routes to the Metro stations and covered, secure bike parking.

3. Tysons Corner connections to the Dulles Toll Road, Line 263 - I am concerned about the financial and environmental impact of these connections, especially the Boone Blvd ramp from the Toll Road that will greatly impact Old Courthouse Spring Branch stream valley park and the old Ashgrove Lane ped/bike connection to Tysons. I think the existing Route 7 exit ramp could be modified to add a connection to Ashgrove Lane by providing a cut through for exiting traffic just after the toll booth, behind the Sheraton. See an arial image of this location. I don't feel that a costly, high speed exit is needed if the goal is to disperse traffic exiting the Toll Road to the new grid of streets.

4. Interim parking - I feel strongly that providing interim parking goes against the spirit of the Tysons Plan. It is also contrary to basic transit-oriented development principles. We need to plan for good access to the future stations using transit, pedestrian, and bicycle connections, not interim parking.

I also agree with a comment made earlier in the meeting that a dedicated bus lane should be included in the Route 7 widening from the Toll Road to Reston Parkway.

I agree with the other aspects of the Strawman document and will continue to advocate for more funding for transit, pedestrian, and bicycle projects in Tysons when I testify before the Commonwealth Transportation Board as I have done in the past.

Editorial comments: 

Line 311, change Flan to Plan
Line 372, insert "to" between "able provide."


Bruce Wright



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