Transportation Update

11.12.14

Transportation Update
November 2014

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. 

I am working with VDOT on a number of transportation projects in our area. Highlights of some key projects follow. A complete list of transportation projects, including maps depicting the evaluation of roadway pavement conditions, and those roadways scheduled for repaving, may be found at: http://virginiaroads.org/  This new VDOT website is a result of bipartisan legislation I authored in 2013, H.B. 1885. The resulting website goes well beyond the requirements of H.B. 1885 in terms of clarity and detail, and I applaud VDOT for this effort.

I know we are all interested in getting projects completed according to schedule and on-budget. VDOT’s Northern Virginia operations were found to have a 95 percent on-time rate for completing projects on schedule, with 98 percent on budget in the most recent performance review. I will continue to work closely with VDOT to help ensure this level of performance continues.

I-66 shoulder lanes will open anytime they are needed starting in 2015. 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 D.C. line. More visible, overhead systems will be installed later this year and in early 2015. 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 March 2015. In addition, ATM will provide better accident notification 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. and Europe.

In addition to ATM, significant capacity improvements to I-66 have been proposed by VDOT and the Department of Rail and Public Transit (DRPT). This includes additional lane capacity on I-66, new express bus service, and expanded and new commuter parking. Two HOV lanes with tolls for non-HOV traffic are included in the proposal similar to the Beltway Express Lanes. More information about the status of these plans may be found here: http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/northernvirginia/i66_eis.asp

I have sent a letter to Virginia’s Transportation Secretary, Aubrey Layne, with a number of comments regarding the proposed I-66 changes. Many of these comments result from suggestions made to me by local residents. A copy of my letter may be found here. Additional public meetings are planned for early 2015. 

Route 28/I-66 Corridor/Interchange improvement planning continues. A preliminary study for this intersection has been prepared, and a detailed traffic analysis is now being performed as well as necessary environmental studies. This project will become an integral element of the more comprehensive I-66 improvements.

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 three new eastbound lanes are now open even while construction continues. It is anticipated that three lanes will be open westbound from the Cub Run bridge to Poland Road by the end of this year or early 2015, depending on how the weather permits construction to proceed. The remainder of the third lane westbound is estimated to open by early spring 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 reconstruction of all of the travel lanes. Getting three lanes open in each direction is the priority. I expect final completion of the project, including walking and bike paths as well as landscaping, will take well into 2015 even though the new lanes will open sooner. 

Widening Route 28 to add a lane northbound from McLearen Road to the Dulles Toll Road, and a lane southbound from Sterling Boulevard to Route 50 is set to begin in 2015 for completion in 2017. 

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 progress. I have urged VDOT to open the two new lanes in each direction as soon as possible, even while construction continues, to alleviate the backups on this road. Similar to the Route 50 project, the long duration of this project is due to the need to keep traffic moving during construction. 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 has awarded a contract and construction is projected to begin in the first half of 2015. 

Preliminary work on the Braddock and Pleasant Valley roundabout has started. VDOT issued a contract in July to turn this four-way stop into a roundabout to improve traffic flow. Utility relocation is anticipated to take place during winter 2014-2015. Construction will begin in spring 2015 and completion is anticipated by May 2016. 

The roundabout at Poland and Edgewater installed about a year ago has reduced accidents significantly. There have been only two crashes reported here since September 2013. During the previous three years when the intersection was controlled by a two-way stop, there were five crashes in 2010, seven crashes in 2011, and 11 crashes in 2012. A permanent roundabout will be considered after the Route 50 project is completed to account for any changes in traffic patterns resulting from the Route 50 project.

 The new Bi-County Parkway/Dulles Western Access Road to connect I-66, Rt. 50 and Dulles Airport west of South Riding is in the environmental study process. The exact alignment from Route 50 to Dulles Airport has not yet been determined. I am working to ensure this new roadway has at least two lanes in each direction from I-66 to the Airport. More information may be found at:  www.bicountyparkway.com  and http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/northernvirginia/improving_access_to_dulles.asp

Phase 1 of the Silver Line opened in July. This line extends 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. Bus service in Fairfax and Loudoun Counties has been changed significantly to transport passengers to the Silver Line who previously transferred to the Orange Line.

Unfortunately, the Silver Line does not provide any increase in Metrorail service in Northern Virginia. Silver Line service consists of 10 trains per hour during peak periods. However, this is made possible by removing eight trains per hour from the Orange Line and two per hour from the Blue line during peak periods. This is a result of a short-sighted decision made many years ago that diminishes service for some Metrorail riders while creating new service for others. In my view, the traveling public deserves much more for the Silver Line’s $6 billion price tag. Legislation I introduced, and other legislation I supported that has become law, should ensure that future transportation projects don’t create such win-lose outcomes for the traveling public.

Phase 2 will complete the Silver Line to Dulles Airport and Loudoun County, scheduled for 2018. 

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 according to the congestion reduction benefit 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 preliminary ratings was made public in July for 37 projects, with more detailed congestion reduction ratings published by the end of 2014. The July progress report may be found here: http://www.virginiadot.org/VDOT/Projects/Northern_Virginia/asset_upload_file857_68679.pdf