Thursday, October 20, 2016

Jermantown Road Widening Over I-66

When I-66 is widened outside the Beltway, most of the bridges crossing I-66 will be rebuilt. When VDOT designs the new bridges, they use Fairfax  County plans to determine number of lanes and what type of bicycle and pedestrian facilities to include. The current Transportation Plan does not include widening of the existing two-lane bridge. The county would like the bridge widened so they have initiated the process of updating the plan under Plan Amendment 2016-II-T2. For details see Staff Report for 2016-II-T2. Fortunately the Bicycle Master Plan (SW section map) does call for bike lanes on the bridge.
Proposed plans for the rebuilt bridge from the
Fairfax County Staff Report
From the Staff Report:
"Currently, the Jermantown Road Bridge is constructed as a two-lane facility. The bridge, and the segment of the road extending north of the bridge, is located within Fairfax County; the segment of the road extending south from the bridge is located within the City of Fairfax. The jurisdictional line is located directly south of the bridge. The adopted Comprehensive Plan for Jermantown Road (Route 655) does not indicate an improvement for Jermantown Road or the bridge.

"The City of Fairfax has expressed interest in improving the segment of Jermantown Road between I-66 and Route 50 to four lanes. The City has initiated the process of amending its Plan to include this recommendation."

"The [county] adopted Plan does not currently indicate a transportation improvement for Jermantown Road or the Jermantown Road Bridge over I-66 in Fairfax County. PA 2016-II-T2 considers amending the Comprehensive Plan to show the Jermantown Road Bridge as a four-lane facility."

"The Jermantown Road Bridge over I-66 should be planned for a four-lane bridge in order to improve future mobility along the north-south corridor. The bridge improvement should be completed as part of the Transform 66 project. To facilitate the improvement, the bridge should be shown as a four-lane improvement on the Countywide Transportation Plan Map, on the Comprehensive Plan Land Use Plan Map, and in the Area II Plan volume."
We are encouraged that the proposed plan for the widened bridge includes 5' bike lanes, a 10' sidewalk/shared use path, and a 6' sidewalk. However we were disappointed with the staff analysis of the bridge. The staff report does not mention current or future bicycle or pedestrian access. This is the extent of the Transportation Analysis:
"Major intersections within the same corridor operate at poor levels of service (LOS), especially in the afternoon (PM) peak hour. The intersections of Route 50 at Waples Mill Road, Route 50 at Jermantown Road, and Route 123 at Jermantown Road all operate at a LOS F in the PM peak hour. Jermantown Road traffic volumes are 17,000 vehicles per day south of the existing I-66 bridge, and 19,000 vehicles per day north of the I-66 Bridge, both warranting four lanes of capacity for the bridge."
The Bicycle Master Plan indicates a new bridge crossing and bike lanes on the bridge and there was no mention of the Plan in the staff report. Jermantown Road is a key bicycle access road. A paved trail on the north side of the bridge ends at the bridge. Cyclists and pedestrians are forced onto the road to cross the bridge on a very narrow shoulder. There is likely little or no pedestrian traffic due to the dangerous conditions. Providence Elementary School and Lanier Middle School are both located south of the bridge. The school boundaries extend north of I-66 and most of those students live well within the 1 and 1.5 mile walking distance and could walk to school and avoid having to be bussed.

Since widening of the Jermantown Road bridge is not included in the county Transportation Plan, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors authorized a Plan Amendment to consider planning a four-lane bridge. Public hearings are planned on this proposed Plan Amendment, 2016-II-T2, on Wednesday, November 2, and Tuesday, December 6. We plan to submit comments supporting the building of the bicycle and pedestrian facilities on the Jermantown Bridge.

Bicycle Master Plan - Jermantown Bridge

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