Friday, June 2, 2017

Three Meetings in June on I-66 Bike/Pedestrian Trail

Your support is needed to ensure the planned I-66 parallel trail is done right!  The Virginia Department of Transportation has scheduled three public information meetings in June (details below) to present updated concept plans for the I-66 Outside the Beltway Project and its bicycling/pedestrian trail, which will run the 22-plus miles between the I-495 interchange and Haymarket.

I-66 Outside the Beltway Project map.
The preliminary concept plans for the overall project are posted by section on the VDOT website for public review and comment. VDOT says that new concepts will only be included in the project following public input, which means the June meetings are an important  opportunity to help VDOT and its private partner improve the trail proposal.

Trail supporters, especially those living in communities near the proposed trail, need to speak up and share their local knowledge with VDOT to help make the proposed trail safer and more user-friendly.  It’s CRITICAL that VDOT hear public views about these aspects of the plans: 

  • For about 16 of the project’s 22 miles the current plan places the trail when it passes near homes on the highway side of the noise barrier/sound wall.
  • In these locations the trail will only be separated from traffic by a two-feet tall roadway barrier topped by fencing.  
  • In these locations exposure to noise, pollutants, buffeting from traffic, and weather (the path appears to lack natural cover from trees to protect against sun and wind) will affect the quality of the user experience on the trail. 
  • The height of a separate grade for the trail, if any, has not determined. 
  • The ​8-feet to 10-feet wide ​trail ​will be used as a service road for utility vehicles, and when these trucks are present, trail traffic will be constricted.
  • There are only 11 access points to the trail through the sound barriers planned in select local neighborhoods, which may not be sufficient for safety and ease of use. 
  • The plan relies on ambient lighting from the roadway to illuminate the trail. Public input on areas on where additional lighting might be appropriate would be helpful​ 

FABB will be addressing some of these issues in more detail in preparation for the three upcoming public information meetings to be held on the following date: 
  • Monday, 12 June, Oakton High School, 2900 Sutton Road, Vienna
  • Wednesday, 14 June, Stone Middle School, 5500 Sully Park Drive, Centerville
  • Thursday, 15 June, Pine Branch Elementary School, 8301 Linton Hall Road, Bristow

The meetings will be held from 6:00-8:30 pm with VDOT staff available to discuss the plans and answer questions for the first hour. A formal presentation and question-and-answer session will start at 7:00 pm. 

The goal of adding a parallel trail to the project is to provide a safe and attractive option for people to take advantage of bicycling and walking as a transportation choice. Public suggestions to make improvements even at the margins of the current plan can go a long way toward ensuring the new trail is a successful bike commuting option. Please make plans now to attend one of these meetings. 

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