Thursday, May 28, 2015

FABB's I-66 Public Hearing Comments

Over 20 citizens spoke last night at the first public hearing on the I-66 Outside the Beltway project. Almost all speakers voiced support for transit over widening the road. Several speakers said they moved to the Dunn Loring area to be in a walkable/bikeable neighborhood that would be negatively impacted by the project. FABB's Sonya Breehey spoke on behalf of FABB in support of the extension of the Custis Trail parallel to I-66 and bike/ped facilities on the rebuilt bridges.

You can support this effort by telling VDOT to include the parallel trail as part of the project. Attend the second public hearing tonight at Oakton High School, 2900 Sutton Road, Vienna, VA 22181, from 5:30-9:00. See the FABB Blog and FABB I-66 Info Page for more info. Written comments may be submitted through June 18th by email to Your comments do make a difference.

Below are FABB's public hearing comments:
I-66 Outside the Beltway Public Hearing Comments
By Sonya Breehey
May 28, 2015

I think we all agree that improvements to the I-66 corridor are necessary but to truly transform I-66 for the future, we need long-term solutions that are legitimately multi-modal, maximizing public transit, and biking and walking connectivity.

I truly appreciate the incorporation of bicycle and pedestrian facilities for reconstructed bridges. These connections are imperative to ensuring this massive highway project does not sever neighborhoods, and that our bridges remain a humane place for residents to walk and bike transit, schools, or anywhere they need to go.

I am concerned however that while the Tier II Environmental Impact Statement indicates VDOT has studied the feasibility of a parallel bicycle facility; the trail still has not been included in the project.

An I-66 parallel trail would provide significant connectivity to the northern Virginia transportation trail network.  A recent study showed that 25% of Fairfax County residents live within a mile of I-66 or within 1/2 mile of either the Fairfax Co Parkway or W&OD Trails, both of which would be connected by an I-66 parallel trail.

In fact, over 500 county residents provided comment to VDOT asking that a parallel trail be part of your multi-modal solutions.

They know, as do I, that a parallel trail along I-66 could provide direct access for biking and walking from neighborhoods to:

  • Current and future public transit, and park and ride lots;
  • Suburban centers like Merrifield, Fairfax Corner and Fair Oaks; and
  • Employment centers throughout central Fairfax County.
This bike and pedestrian connectivity is what will help make any TDM program more successful.

While the EIS suggests a trail would require additional ROW in certain areas, VDOT should seek to reduce those impacts by fitting as much of the trail within the existing project right-of-way minimizing impacts to neighbors.

It is also essential that VDOT provide a safe and consistent trail for its entire length to ensure maximum use for all ages. Circuitous routes outside the immediate I-66 corridor is inefficient, confusing, and will reduce its successfulness.  If absolutely necessary to use alternative routes, upgrading the bike and pedestrian facilities, including wayfinding signage would be critical.

I also urge you to address bike and pedestrian crossings at Rt. 50, 123 and other significant interchanges and crossings where bridges are not being rebuilt.

Now is the time to take the long view.  Providing safe accessible connections for people to bike and walk to transit, and along and across the I-66 corridor, will offer residents and commuters transportation options that are truly a multi-modal solution.

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