Advancing a livable & sustainable greater Prince William, Virginia

Category: Virginia General Assembly (Page 1 of 2)

Advocacy for Bicycle-Related Legislation in the 2021 Virginia General Assembly

Active Prince William board member Allen Muchnick delivered the following personal statement to the Prince William Delegation to the Virginia General Assembly on January 9, 2021.   Some of the comments below have not been officially endorsed by either Active Prince William or the Virginia Bicycling Federation.


Statement to the Prince William Delegation to the Virginia General Assembly January 9, 2021, by Allen Muchnick, Manassas Resident

I’m Allen Muchnick, a City of Manassas resident. I’ve been a board member of the Virginia Bicycling Federation since 1994 and co-founded Active Prince William five years ago.

Both organizations seek safer and more pleasant walking and bicycling and improved justice for pedestrians and bicyclists injured by negligent motorists.

Thank you for passing a wide range of long-delayed progressive legislation in 2020.  We sincerely appreciate the just-implemented ban on using handheld electronic communication devices while driving a motor vehicle, requiring motorists to stop—not merely yield—to persons in crosswalks, establishing a traffic infraction for motorists who negligently injure a pedestrian or bicyclist, and authorizing automated speed cameras at schools and highway work zones.

Legislative changes that we support for the 2021 session include 1) expanding the authorization for automated speed cameras to include residential and business districts, 2) allowing localities to impose urban speed limits below 25 MPH in residential and business districts, and 3) lessening contributory negligence limitations for pedestrians and bicyclists injured in traffic crashes.

We also seek three changes to Virginia’s bicycling laws to increase the safety, comfort, and ease of bicycling.   The bicyclist safety stop would allow bicyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs as long as they yield to all closely approaching cross-traffic.   Stop signs are often installed in lieu of yield signs due to the danger of rolling stops by motorists and as a neighborhood traffic-calming measure. Because bicyclists are generally slower and not inside a vehicle, they can more readily observe and yield to cross-traffic without fully stopping. When bicyclists fully stop their balance is unstable, their effort is greater, and they take longer to clear intersections.  Thus, bicycling injuries have been found to decrease after states have implemented the bicyclist safety stop.

Two related changes would allow bicyclists to ride two abreast at all times and prohibit motorists from passing bicyclists within the same travel lane.  Motorists rear-ending or side-swiping bicyclists is a major cause (ca. 40%) of bicycling fatalities.  Bicyclists riding two-abreast are much more visible to following motorists.  Requiring motorists to execute a full lane change before passing a bicyclist is more understandable to drivers and much easier for police to enforce.

Please ensure that state-funded Potomac River crossing expansions at the American Legion Bridge and at the Long Bridge include substantial bicycle and pedestrian elements, that standalone bicycling and walking improvements are fully eligible for all relevant state and regional transportation funding programs, and that the ban on Sunday hunting on public lands is preserved.  

Thank you for your service and best wishes for a productive legislative session.

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Building the Route 28 Bypass Should Not Be a Legislative Priority for the Manassas City Council

Active Prince William board member Allen Muchnick, a City of Manassas resident, sent the following message to the Manassas City Council on November 29, 2020.


Dear Mayor Parrish and Manassas City Council Members:

I’m writing to comment on Mr. Pate’s draft “Legislative Priorities – 2021” document, which I don’t believe has yet been available for public comment or officially adopted by City Council.

In particular, under the rubric “Transformative Mobility”, the document calls for “improvements to VA-28 corridor in the VDOT Six-Year Improvement Program including construction of the VA-28 Manassas Bypass…”   Oddly, the Route 28 Bypass is the only transportation project mentioned in this document.

Supporting the Route 28 Bypass in this document is pointless and ill advised.  The reference to this Bypass should be stricken for the following reasons:

1)  Not Transformative.  The proposed Route 28 Bypass does not represent “transformative mobility”.  Rather, this counterproductive and destructive project would merely perpetuate the decades-long, repeatedly failed practice of expanding limited-access highways in urbanized areas for toll-free travel in single-occupant vehicles.  The Bypass would induce new vehicle trips and auto-dependent sprawl development, thereby perpetuating car-dependency and traffic ongestion, while failing to effectively promote more efficient and equitable multiple-occupant travel (i.e. public transportation and/or ridesharing) or revitalize the aging communities along the Route 28 corridor, including Mathis Avenue, with transit-oriented redevelopment.

Motorists living west or south of Manassas already have a western Manassas bypass along Route 234.   Why do those same motorists now need a second western Manassas bypass along Route 28?  Fairfax and Prince William Counties are planning to at least double the number of unmanaged travel lanes throughout the Route 28 corridor between Route 234 and I-66.   How does that doubling of motor vehicle capacity help Northern Virginia meet the greenhouse gas reduction targets (50% below the 2005 level by 2030 and 80% below the 2005 level by 2050) that the MWCOG Board and the TPB have both adopted?

2)  Missed Opportunities.  As a railroad town served by VRE and Amtrak , Manassas should instead champion funding and cooperative agreements to improve VRE, Amtrak, and OmniRide service, more state and federal funds for pedestrian retrofits, and statutory changes (e.g., automated speed cameras, local authority for sub-25 MPH speed limits) needed to make Manassas more safely walkable.

3)  This Funding Request is Unnecessary and Inappropriate.  The Route 28 Bypass, estimated to cost $300 million, is already fully funded for completion, with an $89 million NVTA allocation plus $200 million from the 2019 Prince William County Transportation Bond Referendum.   Furthermore, since Prince William County has opted to abandon the federal Environmental Assessment for this project, the Bypass has become ineligible to receive federal or VDOT funds.  Finally, a state or federal carve-out or earmark for this project would undermine recent progress by the CTB (with SMART SCALE) and NVTA in funding transportation projects competitively, based on objective evaluations that prioritize cost effectiveness at reducing traffic congestion.

4)  This Funding Request is Premature and Misplaced.   When preliminary engineering for the Route 28 Bypass project is completed, no earlier than fall 2022, Prince William County will apply for a Clean Water Act Section 404 wetlands construction permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.   Until that permit is granted and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality also signs off on this project, any further funding for the Bypass project is premature.  Meanwhile, the Centreville Road (Route 28) STARS Safety and Operational Improvements Study, championed by Delegate Roem, has recommended a modest $38 million package of intersection, raised median, and pedestrian improvements to Route 28 itself that would clearly benefit  Manassas residents, yet this package still awaits an allocation of funds, possibly from SMART SCALE.

5)  This Bypass Would Not Benefit Manassas or Manassas Motorists Significantly.  Bypass proponents claim that the Bypass would reduce traffic congestion for Route 28 auto commuters and would lower traffic volumes in downtown Manassas.  Neither claim, however, is substantiated by the May 2019 Traffic Technical Report conducted for the Route 28 Corridor Environmental Assessment.   Table 3.1.1 on page 23 of this document shows that building the Bypass would increase traffic volumes in 2040 along Centreville Road segments (#s 19-22) north of the Bypass in Fairfax County by 16% to 26%, compared to the “No-Build” Alternative in 2040.  Meanwhile, traffic volumes on Center Street in downtown Manassas (e.g., from Grant Avenue to Zebedee Street, Segment #s 8 and 9) would grow from 23,230 ADT in 2018 to 28,845 to 35,332 ADT in 2040 if the Bypass is built.   At the same time, building the Bypass would roughly double the traffic in 2040 along Godwin Drive between Nokesville Road and Sudley Road, compared to the “No-Build” Alternative in 2040 (Segment #s 3-6 at the top of page 24), and generate failing intersections (LOS F during the PM peak) along Godwin Dr at Wellington and Sudley Roads (and probably elsewhere; Table 3.3.1 on page 40, intersection #s 16 and 17).  Thus, building this Bypass would necessitate several costly intersection expansions along Godwin Drive in Manassas, as well as the widening of Godwin Drive to six travel lanes between Nokesville Road and Sudley Road.

Sadly, the call to fund and build the Route 28 Bypass in this Legislative Priorities document reflects the lack of proactive and meaningful public involvement in discussing and setting transportation improvement priorities for the City of Manassas.  I hope the City Council will address this deficiency in 2021.

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Virginia Legislative Town Hall Meeting, Sunday, January 27, 2-4 PM, in Woodbridge

Join State Senators Scott Surovell and Jeremy McPike and State Delegates Luke Torian and Jennifer Carroll Foy for a town hall meeting to discuss the 46-day 2019 session of the Virginia General Assembly, which is now well underway.

The meeting will be held on Sunday, January 27, from 2-4 PM, at the Ferlazzo Building, 15941 Donald Curtis Dr, Woodbridge, Virginia 22191

The legislators will present updates on the 2019 General Assembly Session and listen to citizens’ questions and priorities.

Find these legislators on Twitter at @JCarrollFoy, @ssurovell, @DelegateTorian and @JeremyMcPike

Prince William County Delegation 2018 Virginia General Assembly Public Hearing, Saturday, January 6, 1-4 PM

virginia-state-capitol-1

The Prince William County delegation to the Virginia General Assembly is holding a joint pre-2018 Legislative Session public hearing for local residents to relate their concerns.  All Prince William County, Manassas City, and Manassas Park residents and organizations are invited to attend and speak.  Please sign up in advance, using this form.

Prince William County 2018 General Assembly Public Hearing
Saturday, January 6, 2018
1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

James J. McCoart Administrative Building
1 County Complex Court
Woodbridge, VA 22192

To accommodate as many speakers as possible, all participants are asked to respect these guidelines:

  • Speak for no more than three minutes
  • Sign up only once
  • Each organization is limited to two speakers
  • Participants should bring 15 copies of any materials they wish to give to the PWC delegation
  • All speakers be on time

Should you have any questions, please contact Devon Cabot in Senator Jeremy McPike’s office at 571-316-0581 or district29@senate.virginia .

If you are interested in addressing the Prince William County Delegation regarding your concerns for the General Assembly Session, please sign up using the link provided:

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY PUBLIC FORUM SIGN-UP FORM

Legislative Town Hall with Senator McPike & Lieutenant Governor Northam, Thursday, April 6, 7 PM to 8:30 PM, at GMU Manassas Campus

Post Veto-Session Legislative Town Hall Meeting
with Senator Jeremy McPike and Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam
Thursday, April 6, 2017
7:00 PM to 8:30 PM

George Mason University Science and Technology Campus
Verizon Auditorium in Colgan Hall, 10900 University Blvd, Manassas VA 20110 Please park in the Occoquan Parking Lot

WE NEED YOUR FEEDBACK:  Please join Senator McPike and Lieutenant Governor Northam to discuss legislative and policy matters that affect the 29th Senate District and the Commonwealth of Virginia.  This is not a campaign event.

Please use this Google Form to RSVP and/or to sign up in advance to ask questions at the forum

Questions?  Contact Devon Cabot at 571-316-0581 or District29@Senate.Virginia.Gov

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