Thursday, July 2, 2015

Fairfax Times article on proposed I-66 trail

FABB riders on the Custis Trail
A discussion of the proposed I-66 trail is the subject of the Fairfax Times article by Kali Schumitz, Proposed I-66 trail sparks debate: New artery would expand opportunities for cyclists. The trail would provide a tremendous asset for Fairfax County residents and allow a significant percentage of the county population to take short trips by walking and biking. However, it would also impact several properties adjacent to I-66.
Cyclists in the Interstate 66 corridor are hoping that the proposed highway widening project also will create an opportunity to add new bike facilities.

However, for residents in Dunn Loring and Oakton already concerned about the highway encroaching into their yards and a community school, one proposed bike trail signifies to them another 10 feet of property that they might lose.

“There is simply no physical way to fit a bike lane in the I-66 corridor, at least through Vienna. Simply adding extra travel lanes is stressful enough,” Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Dist. 34) wrote on his Ox Road South blog, expressing the concerns of his constituents. “There’s no point in reducing the right of way take for new lanes, if you’re simply going to take it for a bike path.”
Sen. Peterson opposes the multi-use trail, which he constantly refers to as a bike lane. In an op-ed article in the Reston Connection he said " Why do we have to accommodate ten lanes, plus a bike lane? We need to get I-66 right. Yes, the solution should be multi-modal, with buses and trains playing a major role." Without safe, convenient bicycle and pedestrian access to those buses and trains, the project will not be multi-modal.

We were also quoted in the article:
Bruce Wright, chairman of Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling, said his organization is working with VDOT to ensure that the project includes bike facilities that were planned for in the county’s bicycle master plan and other planning documents.

For example, this includes adding bike and pedestrian facilities to bridges across I-66 that would be replaced due to the road widening. A similar effort was made when the 495 Express Lanes were being constructed.

“This is a great opportunity to provide safe, convenient bike and pedestrian access,” Wright said.

The biggest point of contention is a potential major trail that runs parallel to I-66, like the Custis Trail in Arlington County, which connects the Washington & Old Dominion Trail to the Key Bridge in Rosslyn.

Wright said the high number of both commuters and recreational users of the W&OD and the Custis Trail show that there is great demand for these types of major trails.

“What we really need are better first-class trails for everyone,” he said.

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