Advancing active mobility in greater Prince William, Virginia

Category: Public Hearing (Page 1 of 4)

Virtual Public Meeting on Van Buren Road North Extension Environmental Study, Thursday, July 22, at 7:00 PM

 

 

From a Prince William County news release:

The Prince William County Department of Transportation invites you to attend a Virtual Information Meeting and learn more about the Van Buren Road Alignment and Environmental Study. This project will identify the project alignment which consists of extending Van Buren Road from Route 234 to the existing connection at Cardinal Drive, and the in-progress Environmental Study for this improvement.

The on-going environmental study is budgeted at $1,300,000. Funding for the final design and construction of the Van Buren Road North Extension has not yet been identified.

The project will provide relief to existing and projected traffic congestion as an alternate north-south route along the I-95 and Route 1 corridors. In alleviating congestion in this heavily travelled corridor, safety is improved, and mobility is enhanced to the nearby community schools and facilities.

The purpose of this virtual information meeting is to give the public an opportunity to review the project exhibits, review a tentative project schedule, and provide feedback to the County to assist in finalizing the environmental study. Comments can be submitted either online at the below website or by mail. The public is also invited to ask questions at the conclusion of the presentation utilizing the Question and Answer (Q&A) function. A comment sheet will be available at the same website. Please submit your comments by close of business on August 5, 2021.

A recording of this meeting and the meeting presentation will be posted on the Prince William County Department of Transportation webpage.

Meeting Registration Information

  •  Dial In: +1-415-655-0001  Access code: 172 658 5243

Comments Due Thursday, August 5th at 5:00 PM.

 To submit comments, questions, or feedback, please contact PWCDOT:


Brochure for the June 22, 2021 public information meeting  The proposed design includes four 12-foot wide travel lanes, a 16-foot wide grassy median,  a 10-foot wide shared-use path along one side of the road, and a 5-foot wide sidewalk along the other side of the road.

Comment sheet for the June 22, 2021 public information meeting

 

Manassas’ Motorist-First Sudley Road Third Lane Project and Its Awful Public Process

The City of Manassas’ upcoming northbound-only Sudley Road Third Lane Project illustrates how the Manassas City Council has, over many years, allowed pro-motoring locality Engineering  and Public Works staff to avoid meaningful public involvement in transportation project development to advance a dismal, anti-pedestrian, largely unnecessary, and counterproductive arterial-road-widening project through a healthcare-focused regionally significant activity center planned for mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly redevelopment (as described on pp. 56-58 in the City’s Comprehensive Plan).

View the City’s project design presentation, which was finally linked from the project webpage on May 28, 2021, one workday before the June 1 project public comment deadline.  View the project area on Google Maps.

The design of this relatively modest $8.4 million project—despite providing some much-needed and long-delayed pedestrian facilities—fails to make Manassas more livable, equitable, or sustainable, because it prioritizes excessively fast travel in motor vehicles over safe, pleasant, and effective non-auto mobility.

Moreover, the chronic lack of timely and impactful public involvement throughout the multi-year development of this City-led transportation project has squandered a valuable opportunity to help transform the City’s Sudley Medical character area into an attractive, mixed-use, walkable, healthcare-focused activity center, by ignoring or undermining the objectives, focus priorities, and design principles outlined on pages 56-58 in the Land Use chapter of the Manassas 2040 Comprehensive Plan.

An Abysmal Public Process

Although this project has been listed with a nutshell description in the City’s Capital Improvement Program (as project #T-015) since 2000, staff work apparently did not begin in earnest until the fall of 2015, when the project was submitted for the Commonwealth Transportation Board’s first round of SMART Scale (HB 2) funding (for FY 2017).  On November 23, 2015, the Manassas City Council adopted a pair of resolutions to support the City’s transportation funding applications, but there was no prior public speaking opportunity.

Ideally, City staff should have begun engaging the community to discuss the scope of this long-planned transportation project at least six to 12 months before applying for any outside funding.  However, the City had no transportation planner at that time, and the City departments responsible for Community Development and Planning and for Public Works and Engineering were siloed at separate locations.

In short, no community meeting or public hearing was ever held to discuss the scope, nature, or particulars of this project until City staff finally held a virtual public information meeting on Tuesday, May 18, 2021, when preliminary engineering was more than 90% complete.  Had the City held such community conversations early and throughout project development, the scope and proposed design of this project would likely have been substantially better.

Originally, the southern terminus of this project was Dorsey Circle, the roadway widening was limited to the short segment between Rolling Road and Godwin Drive, and the scope included undergrounding the NOVEC electric wires on the east side of Sudley Road.  However, in mid-2017, staff determined that the electrical undergrounding would cost more than extending the road widening farther south, to add a third northbound lane to Sudley Road between Grant Avenue and Stonewall Road.

The northbound roadway between Stonewall Road and Rolling Road has long had an essentially continuous right-turn-only lane, as well as two straight-through-only travel lanes, and was never proposed for any additional widening (or sidewalk improvements).

Google Streetview of Northbound Sudley Road across fron Novant/UVA Hospital.  Except to allow through traffic in the rightmost lane, the Third Lane Project will not alter this road segment. The narrow, 4-foot sidewalk is only 2 feet from the roadway and without shade, street lights, or street furniture (except at this single, mid-block bus stop).  The current continuous right-turn-only lane helps buffer the sidewalk from high-speed traffic and also provides bicycle access for traffic-tolerant bicyclists.  The proposed Sudley Road Third Lane Project would essentially extend this pedestrian-hostile street design with three northbound travel lanes the full distance from Grant Avenue to Godwin Drive.

On December 11, 2017, City staff placed a change-of-scope request for this project on the consent agenda for the Manassas City Council.  The project was re-scoped to create a continuous third northbound lane from Grant Avenue to Godwin Dr and to abandon all electric wire undergrounding.  Again, there was no public comment opportunity, community meeting, or public hearing to discuss the re-scoped project, and the Council’s resolution approving the re-scoping falsely stated in part: “WHEREAS, the public involvement process is complete and all resulting comments have been addressed, as needed;”

In February 2021, the project was quietly re-scoped again to add two extra turn lanes on Sudley Road at Godwin Drive for Prince William County’s proposed four-lane Route 28 Bypass in the Flat Branch floodplain.  To accommodate the proposed Bypass, Prince William County has transferred $1.03 million in surplus federal highway (RSTP) funds from a recently completed highway project to the City’s Sudley Road project (see pp. 39-43 here).  This time, not only was there no public comment opportunity, community meeting, or public hearing to discuss these project changes; the changes were not even mentioned on a City Council agenda.  Instead, the fund transfer was discussed and approved at the February 11, 2021 meeting of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, with no public comment opportunity.

The Manassas City Council, as the policy-setting body for the City, has both the authority and a public duty to ensure early, continuous, robust, and impactful public involvement in the development of all City-led transportation projects going forward.

A Wasteful, Motorist-First, Pedestrian-Hostile,-and Bicyclist-Unfriendly Street Design

1) Sudley Road already has more than ample capacity for motor vehicles and lacks a traffic congestion problem that warrants a third northbound travel lane. 

This two-way Sudley Road segment carries only 28,000 vehicles/day, a volume well accommodated with only four travel lanes, especially with dedicated left and right turn lanes at every intersection.  By contrast,  nearby Sudley Road in Prince William County carries 38,000 vehicles/day north of Godwin Drive and 50,000 vehicles/day north of Sudley Manor Drive.  For comparison, Grant Avenue by Georgetown South, which the City seeks to squeeze into only two travel lanes, carries 16,000 vehicles/day, and southbound Sudley Road has only two travel lanes and no dedicated right-turn lanes south of Digges Road.

This project’s 2015 SMART Scale application scored very low for congestion-reduction benefits (see page 8 of the referenced application); over 90% of the project’s SMART Scale score (1.7 out of 1.9) was for “transportation-efficient land use” due to its location within a healthcare-focused mixed-use activity center that could be made more walkable and accessible via non-auto travel modes.  In other words, SMART Scale funding was awarded because this project is located where enhanced walkabiity and non-vehicle access is important, not to address any traffic-congestion “deficiency”.

During the development of the City’s Transportation Master Plan (TMP) in 2019, existing arterial roadways and intersections throughout the City were analyzed by a traffic engineering consultant for traffic congestion, both at present and in the year 2040.   As documented on pp. 11-13 of the TMP, Sudley Road has no existing traffic congestion problem between Grant Avenue and Godwin Drive, especially in the northbound direction.  Furthermore, a similar analysis of roadway and intersection performance in 2040–in the absence of any currently non-programed transportation improvements–failed to identify any future traffic congestion problems along this segment of Sudley Road (see pp. 22-23 of the TMP).

Simply put, the repeatedly claims by City staff that this is project is “needed” to relieve traffic congestion and would “improve the capacity of northbound Sudley Road to accommodate vehicular traffic needs” is shear nonsense.

2) The proposed design is blatantly hostile to pedestrians.  The project is designed to move motor vehicles at or above 45 MPH and would shift much of that fast traffic close to a narrow, poorly buffered sidewalk.

Each travel lane would be 12-feet wide, the standard for Interstate highways.  Only one pedestrian crossing signal and marked crosswalk to cross Sudley Road is provided at each signalized intersection, and no mid-block pedestrian crossings or Sudley Road crossings at non-signalized  intersections are accommodated.   At many intersections, pedestrian-unfriendly free-flowing right turns are provided for vehicles entering Sudley Road from side streets.  Higher vehicle speeds greatly increase the incidence and severity of traffic crashes, especially for pedestrians and other vulnerable road users.

This project will provide only narrow 4- or 5-foot sidewalks that are separated from the roadway with just a two-foot grass strip.  Such narrow sidewalks poorly serve two-way foot traffic.  Northbound Sudley Road lacks tree shade, urban street furniture, or pedestrian-scale street lights and offers only widely and irregularly spaced highway-style street lights.  The design also lacks bus stops and bus shelters, except to preserve one mid-block bus shelter opposite the hospital.  This project will not add or upgrade street trees, street lighting, street furniture, or bus stops.  Those were not considerations.

The added lanes on Sudley Road at Grant Avenue, Rolling Road, and especially Godwin Drive would make crossing Sudley Road longer and more treacherous than if those lanes were not added.

3)  The project design lacks promised and planned bicycle facilities which are both needed and eminently feasible.

Although the 2019 Manassas Transportation Master Plan calls for on-road bike lanes on Sudley Road (see maps on pp. 60-61 of the TMP), and project staff had promised to study the feasibility of adding a shared-use path (see page 62 here), the proposed design lacks bicycle accommodations.  Furthermore, the project would eliminate the existing, continuous right-turn lanes that currently do accommodate traffic-tolerant northbound bicyclists.   According to the Bicycle Network Recommendations Prioritization Matrix, conducted in 2019 as part of the development of the City’s Transportation Master Plan (Appendix E),  installing bike lanes on this segment of Sudley Road (Grant Avenue to Godwin Drive) was tied as the most impactful bicycle network improvement identified for the plan.

Turning Lemons Into Lemonade

Since this project will likely be constructed with minimal design changes, two priority modifications merit immediate consideration.  These two alterations would alter the current design by only  changing some proposed pavement markings and roadway signs:

1) In lieu of the unnecessary and pedestrian-hostile third northbound travel lane, stripe and sign a continuous right-hand lane dedicated to right turns, buses, bicycles, and perhaps motor scooters.  

2) Reduce the widths of the three 12-foot northbound travel lanes to 11 feet (or 10.5 feet if necessary) and reallocate 5 feet of roadway space to install bike lanes between the right-hand lane (described in #1 above) and the two straight-through travel lanes.  To make ordinary striped bike lanes on Sudley Road reasonably safe, all right-turning traffic must be channelized in a right-turn-only lane to the right of the bike lane, and the vehicular design speed should be lowered toward 35 MPH, by narrowing the straight-through travel lanes and not expanding their number.

Of course, only a barrier-separated (“protected”) bike lane or an off-roadway shared-use path would provide a low-stress bikeway on Sudley Road serving the “interested, but concerned” “aged-eight-to-eighty” bicycling public.   In addition, if striping similar bike lanes along southbound Sudley Road is not presently feasible beyond Digges Road, shared-lane markings (aka sharrows) might be a necessary, if less desirable, southbound alternative.  However, neither a shared-use path nor a separated bike lane is politically or practically feasible under the current project, and the perfect should not be the enemy of the good.

How You Can Help

Public comments on the design of the Sudley Road Third Lane Project can be submitted at this link.  The previously announced deadline for submitting  those comments is Tuesday, June 1, 2021, but we have requested a two-week extension of that deadline.

There is no deadline to contact the Manassas Mayor and City Council to express your concerns with the project design and/or the awful public process.  The Mayor and City Council are ultimately responsible for setting policies for the City, and they need to hear from their constituents that pedestrian-hostile street designs and the lack of early, robust, and proactive public involvement during the development and funding of City transportation projects are no longer acceptable.

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City of Manassas Transportation Project Virtual Public Meetings, May 18, 20, and 25

During May 2021, the City of Manassas held three virtual public meetings on various transportation projects:

1) Tuesday, May 18 @ 7 pm–virtual public meeting on the Sudley Road Third Lane project . View the project design presentation on the Sudley Road Third Lane Project from the May 18 meeting.

2)  Thursday, May 20 @ 7pm–virtual public meeting on four sidepath projects (Godwin Dr, Dumfries Rd, Gateway Blvd, and Wellington Rd trail gap) and three sidewalk projects (Portner Ave, Quarry St, and Gateway Blvd).  View the meeting presentation and a 31-minute recording of the Zoom meeting.

3) Tuesday, May 25 @ 7pm–virtual public meeting on the Dean Drive Extension ProjectView the project design presentation on the Dean Drive Extension Project.

Route 28 Bypass Project Virtual Public Meeting, Monday, Dec. 7, @ 7 PM

Prince William County

PRESS RELEASE

November 25, 2020

Office of Communications
Communications@pwcgov.org
703.792.6606 (office)

 

Prince William County to Host Route 28 Bypass Project Virtual Meeting Focused on the Fairfax County Connection and Tie-in on Monday, Dec.7

Prince William County, in conjunction with the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, invites you to attend a virtual informational session regarding the Route 28 Bypass project on Dec. 7, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. This approximately $300 million infrastructure project, one of the largest in the history of Prince William County, will reduce traffic congestion, improve travel reliability and address other transportation challenges in the area.

The meeting will inform residents of both counties about the project background, efforts to date, and the current status, focusing on proposed concepts for the Route 28 Bypass connection and tie-in point to the existing Route 28 in Fairfax County.

The Prince William County Department of Transportation (PWCDOT) will host information sessions on the broader Route 28 Bypass project and address topics specific to Prince William County in the near future.

The public is invited to ask questions at the conclusion of the presentation and to provide feedback.

The project team will record the meeting and presentation and post them on the project webpage.

Meeting Registration Information

  • Register to attend the Route 28 Virtual Meeting.
  • Dial In: +1-415-655-0001 | Access code: 180 932 8746

Comments Due Monday, Dec. 7 at 5 p.m.

To submit comments, questions or feedback, please contact PWCDOT:

Department of Transportation
Prince William County
5 County Complex Court
Prince William, VA 22192

  • By phone: 703-792-6273

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Tearing Down Houses and Paving Over Wetlands for a New Highway – What Is the Alternative?

Route 28 Alternatives Studied in the 2018-2020 Environmental Assessment

Prince William County (PWC) needs a Department of Mobility, not a Department of Highway Paving. Since the Shirley Highway reached the Occoquan River in 1949, we have paved and paved, at great expense to the environment and taxpayers. Has traffic congestion been eliminated? The answer to this is ‘no’. Expanding highways is not the answer to creating livable communities with sustainable transportation.

Under the last Board of County Supervisors, the scheme was to keep building new roads and widening old roads. Everyone knew it would not “fix” the highways, but land speculators could get rezonings for building new subdivisions if the county would plan to pave more roads. Expanding roads will not solve congestion; that is a lesson learned from several decades of previous road projects in the region and across the country.  However, if the county’s land use planning remains isolated from transportation planning, we will just keep repeating the old mistake. A citizen-led Multi-Modal Transportation Advisory Commission, similar to those in Fairfax and Arlington Counties and the City of Alexandria, could increase transparency and citizen involvement in determining how PWC will grow and its residents, workers, and visitors will travel.

So, what is Plan B, if “build roads, build new houses, create new congestion, build roads, build new houses…” does not work? The County’s Strategic Plan is clear – build live-work-play communities that locate housing together with stores and offices, so people can walk, and bike, more rather than drive everywhere for daily living.  Invest in increasing the number of jobs within Prince William, rather than fund more roads that incentivize long commutes. We need smart growth planning.

The twenty-four jurisdictions in the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments agreed on a clear solution on September 11, 2019. PWC joined in setting regional housing targets, with new development concentrated in “Activity Centers.” Each will offer high-capacity public transportation, but walkability within the community will be key. PWC’s six Activity Centers were designated in 2013, based on assumptions about expansion of Virginia Railway Express. Those assumptions turned out to be incorrect. Developing the 2040 PWC Comprehensive Plan creates a great opportunity to re-assess where high-capacity transit really will be provided, vs. drawn as a line on a map and then ignored.

Sadly, on August 4 the supervisors are considering a proposal that would repeat the mistakes of the past.  They could approve Alignment 2B of the Route 28 Bypass/Godwin Drive Extension, to build a new commuter highway through the flood-prone Flat Branch stream valley. At least fifty-four homes would  be destroyed, and many more would be degraded by increased traffic noise and air pollution.

A community with affordable housing, including a trailer park, would be disrupted so commuters from Fauquier and other counties can temporarily drive a bit faster through PWC. Over six acres of wetlands would be filled in, impacting the natural environment and resilience to climate change. A noise wall would be constructed from Sudley Road to Bull Run, blocking all potential bike/pedestrian access across the highway barrier except at a Lomond Drive intersection.

The traffic analysis report (check the tables on pp. 23-24, and p. 40 for Godwin Dr and for Rte 28 in Fairfax County) indicates that the Alternative 2B commuter Bypass road would create clogged, “failing” intersections on existing Godwin Drive, at all four new Godwin Dr Extension intersections, and along Centreville Rd in Fairfax County (between the north end of the Bypass and I-66). If this Bypass is approved, a future “Fix Godwin Drive” campaign will require even more funding – hundreds of millions for more highway paving. New flyover ramps might have to be added to the interchange of Route 28 and Prince William Parkway/Route 234 Bypass, and Godwin Dr between Nokesville Road and Sudley Road would need widening and intersection improvements . This is not a smart growth approach.

There are better alternatives (including these recent VDOT STARS [Strategic, Targeted, Affordable Roadway Solutions] Study recommendations for Centreville Rd in Yorkshire) but the county’s current Department of Highway Paving will be promoting Alignment 2B on August 4. To stop repeating mistakes and to start applying lessons already learned, the new supervisors need to vote no on Alternative 2B and pursue new innovative solutions.

Residents of Prince William County need a government that uses smart growth principles to guide future land use and transportation decisions. Prince William County residents want livable communities that are great places to work, live, play, and raise a family. Prince William County residents want a sustainable environment that provides a resilient approach to the effects of climate change.

Please call, or email, BOCS Chair Ann Wheeler and your magisterial district supervisor, asking them to vote NO, on August 4, on the proposed Route 28 Bypass/Godwin Drive Extension (Alternative 2B), to pursue innovative smart growth solutions to our mobility issues, and to create a citizen-led Multi-Modal Transportation Advisory Commission that would provide the public and supervisors with thoughtful information and ideas regarding land use and transportation planning decisions.   

Email the BOCS with this easy Sierra Club action alert page

More information about the proposed Route 28 Bypass

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