Transportation Update

5.16.14

This report provides an update on transportation improvements in our area and plans for future work. Thank you for your patience with construction delays as our tax dollars are put to work to improve our quality of life in Northern Virginia. Doing so is my top priority as your state legislator. As you may know, I serve on the Transportation Committee in the House of Delegates. In addition, I was appointed to the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission in April.

Last month, I testified before the Commonwealth Transportation Board on transportation needs in our area. The CTB is the statewide decision-making entity that funds most transportation projects.

Now that spring has arrived, VDOT is working to fill potholes and repave streets and roads that have unsatisfactory pavement quality. If you would like to report a pothole, it’s easy to do online at: http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/citizen.asp. If you believe a particular street or road is in need of repaving, please let me know, as I stay in contact with VDOT on repaving priorities.

I am working with VDOT on a number of transportation projects in our area. A list of just some projects follows. If you have questions about other projects, please let me know. A complete list of transportation projects in Northern Virginia may be found at:http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/northern%20virginia/default.asp

Opening the shoulder lanes on I-66 anytime they are needed—Although not yet visible to motorists, VDOT has started to install the hardware needed for the new Active Traffic Management (ATM) project between Gainesville and the Potomac River. More visible, overhead systems will be installed later this year. ATM will allow the I-66 shoulder lanes to open as traffic demands dictate on a 24/7 basis between Route 50 and I-495. It is expected to become operational by early 2015. In addition, ATM will provide better accident notification to avoid specific lanes should there be an incident ahead by using new lane control signals above all lanes between the Beltway and Centreville. ATM is being implemented as a result of my request to the Secretary of Transportation and the Commonwealth Transportation Board. It is already in use in other parts of the U.S.

In addition to ATM, significant planning decisions are under review to improve congestion on the I-66 Corridor. Federal, state, and local transportation agencies have cooperated in assembling 10 options that are under consideration. Possibilities include one or more of the following: restructuring the intersections at Nutley Street and Route 50, which have persistent congestion, adding dedicated bus lanes and more bus service, extending the Virginia Railway Express westward past Manassas, and extending the Orange Line Metro to Centreville. In addition, VDOT has received 19 proposals from private entities that are offering to underwrite some of the cost of improving I-66 in exchange for a toll, similar to the Beltway express lanes.

Public information meetings were held on this issue in Northern Virginia in January and February 2014. VDOT will propose specific improvements this summer for additional public comment.

Route 28/I-66 Corridor/Interchange Improvement – a preliminary redesign for this intersection has been prepared, and detailed traffic analysis is now being performed as well as necessary environmental studies. This project is presently $50 million short of the required budget. Finding a funding source for this gap—with money from the state or the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority—is a priority for me this year, and was the focus of my remarks before the Commonwealth Transportation Board.

Widening Route 50 west of Route 28 will result in three lanes in each direction with 10-foot wide multi-use paths on both sides of the roadway. The new eastbound lanes are scheduled to open by the end of 2014, with the westbound lanes opening in 2015. There are several reasons this project is taking so long to complete: the need to keep traffic moving during construction (which limits the ability of VDOT to close lanes for construction work), the necessity of relocating several utilities and power lines throughout the project, and a reconstruction of all of the travel lanes.

Stringfellow Road construction providing two lanes in each direction between Route 50 and I-66 continues with a mid-2015 completion date. If you have driven on Stringfellow Road recently, you have noticed considerable construction activity. Similar to the Route 50 project, the long duration of this project is due to the need to keep traffic moving during construction without significant lane closures. Also, the project must comply with the county’s noise ordinance, which limits night work.

Widening Route 606 in Loudoun County to four lanes from Evergreen Mills Road to the Dulles Greenway is fully funded. VDOT is in the process of evaluating bids from road construction companies. A contract is expected to be awarded this month, with work to begin later this year.

Bi-County Parkway (Loudoun & Prince William Counties) Extention to Dulles Airport - A connection between I-66 in the Manassas area and Route 50 west of South Riding is in the planning process. The exact alignment with Route 50 and extension to Dulles Airport has not yet been determined. If you are following this issue, I am supporting “option 2,” which would extend the Bi-County Parkway to Dulles Airport without directing traffic onto Route 50. More information may be found at: www.bicountyparkway.com andhttp://www.vdot.virginia.gov/projects/northernvirginia/improving_access_to_dulles.asp

Dulles Rail - Phase 1 of the “Silver Line,” expected in 2013, has been delayed until the summer due to a number of relatively minor flaws that need to be fixed. This line will extend from near the West Falls Church Metro station through Tyson’s Corner to Wiehle Avenue in Reston. Financial decisions made several years ago by the state and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) permit the use of tolls on the Dulles Toll Road to pay for a significant part of the project’s cost.

Phase 2 will complete the Silver Line to Dulles Airport and Loudoun County, scheduled for 2018. I am opposed to continuing the use of tolls to pay for Phase 2 of the project, as this will force additional toll hikes for years to come. Toll hikes reduce use of the Toll Road and increase congestion on other roads—and tolls are paid by people who are not benefiting from Metrorail because they are driving cars.

Phase 2 should be paid by contributions from the federal and state governments and by the future riders of the Silver Line through their fare card fees. The 2013 transportation funding legislation passed by the Virginia General Assembly provides $500 million for this purpose. Recently, a low interest federal loan was approved, with my support, the help finance the Silver Line.  MWAA believes this financing should keep Toll Road tolls from increasing for the next five years.

Selection of future congestion reduction projects — VDOT has started to implement the law I authored in 2012 to require that proposed transportation projects be rated using computer simulation technology to estimate the congestion reduction benefits of each project. In this way, the best rated projects can be funded on a priority basis. This system will also be used by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority. The first set of ratings will be available by the end of June 2014 for 37 projects, with more detailed congestion reduction ratings published by the end of 2014. More information about the rating process may be found at: http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/northernvirginia/evaluating_significant_projects.asp

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