Advancing active mobility in greater Prince William, Virginia

Category: Prince William County (Page 1 of 2)

Our Recommendations for Upcoming NVTA Transportation Funding Applications from PWC

On July 19, 2021, Active Prince William sent the following email message to the Prince William County Planning Commission, which will soon be briefed by County transportation staff on the transportation projects that the County is considering for submission to the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) in Fall 2021 for  potential regional funding .  Various local transportation and elected officials, including the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, were copied on this message.

 


Active Prince William supports the integration of land use, housing, and transportation planning.  Having the Transportation Department brief the Commission on planned grant applications is a start.  That step should be followed by a formal public hearing and a vote of the Planning Commission.

New mobility infrastructure should substantially enhance the transit and bike/pedestrian network, rather than simply expand the road network and add a desolate side path.  Traditional “business as usual” planning for the next decade will sabotage the county’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to 50% of the 2005 levels.  The transportation sector generates the greatest amount of greenhouse gas emissions in Prince William now.  The only way to meet the 2030 target is to reduce the carbon spewing from tailpipes in Prince William, and that requires a new approach to planning for multimodal *mobility* and access, rather than just paving more roads for drive-alone motorists.

In 2030, most cars will still be fueled by gasoline.  Virtually every project that paves more lane miles will increase Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) and greenhouse gas emissions from those cars.  To understand the impact of various proposed projects, the Planning Commission should identify the projected increase in VMT associated with each transportation project, and use that data when determining which projects to recommend to the BOCS.

The Planning Commission recommendations to the BOCS should be guided by the Strategic Plan.  The Strategic Plan calls for the County to develop in a sustainable way.  As you know, new transit and bike/pedestrian projects have the potential to reduce or minimize VMT and associated greenhouse gas emissions.  To be sustainable, the County must abandon the old school approach of just building more roads–and acknowledge that more roads have not reduced traffic congestion.

For the upcoming NVTA grant program, Active Prince William recommends submitting the following projects to the next NVTA funding round (FY26/FY27). As you can see, none of these projects’ main intent is to add lane miles.  All projects support Transit, Active Transportation, and/or Intersection/Interchange improvements.

  • Route 1/Potomac Mills BRT (TRANSIT) – NVTA 38/39
  • Dale Blvd Improvements (TRANSIT) – NVTA 241
  • VRE Second platforms – Manassas Line (TRANSIT) – NVTA 300
  • I-95 Ped/Bike Crossings (TRAILS/ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION) – NVTA 300/242/49/241
  • Balls Ford Road/I-66 Trail Improvements (TRAILS/ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION)  – NVTA 50
  • Route 123 Improvements (INTERCHANGE/INTERSECTION IMPROVEMENT) – NVTA 242
  • Wellington Rd/Sudley Manor/VA234 Interchange Improvements (INTERCHANGE/INTERSECTION IMPROVEMENT) – NVTA 222
  • Minnieville Rd/PW Parkway Interchange (INTERCHANGE/INTERSECTION IMPROVEMENT) – NVTA 279
  • Pageland Ln/Sanders Ln Safety Improvements (INTERCHANGE/INTERSECTION IMPROVEMENT) – NVTA 227
  • Route 28 STARS (INTERCHANGE/INTERSECTION IMPROVEMENT) – NVTA 29/32

Many of these projects do not match exactly with the NVTA Transaction description but the NVTA has set a precedent by funding innovative intersection improvements at University Boulevard and Prince William Parkway even though NVTA Transaction clearly requires “Construct Interchange at Prince William Parkway and University Boulevard.” (NVTA 324).  Active Prince William agrees with this approach as the intent of the projects is to improve the specified transportation segment.

Below is the list of projects that were not funded in the previous NVTA funding round (FY24-FY25).   As you can, see most of these projects’ main intent is to add lane miles that will induce new VMT and future congestion.  We need to stop advancing projects that continue to increase car dependency and have long-term adverse impacts on the climate and county budget.

  • Van Buren Road North Extension: Route 234 to Cardinal Drive (NEW ROADWAY)
  • Construct Route 28 Corridor Roadway Improvements (NEW ROADWAY/BYPASS)
  • University Boulevard Extension: Devlin Road to Wellington Road (NEW ROADWAY)
  • Wellington Road Widening: University Boulevard to Devlin Road (ROAD WIDENING)
  • Devlin Road Widening: Linton Hall Road to Relocated Balls Ford Road (ROAD WIDENING)
  • Route 234 and Sudley Manor Drive Interchange (INTERCHANGE/INTERSECTION IMPROVEMENT)
  • Prince William Parkway at Clover Hill Road Innovative Intersection (INTERCHANGE/INTERSECTION IMPROVEMENT)
  • Prince William Parkway at Old Bridge Road Intersection Improvements (INTERCHANGE/INTERSECTION IMPROVEMENT) | Funded via Smart Scale

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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

 

Our Comments on the Thoroughfare Plan Element of the Mobility Chapter in the PWC Comp Plan Update

On June 16, 2021, Active Prince William submitted the following general and specific comments on the Thoroughfare Plan Element of the Mobility Chapter in Prince William County’s Pathways to 2040 Comprehensive Plan


Comments on the Thoroughfare Plan Element of the Mobility Chapter in Prince William County’s Pathways to 2040 Comprehensive Plan

Active Prince William encourages Prince William County to refine its Thoroughfare Plan to support its climate and equity goals.  Please see the attached granular comments on each item in the Thoroughfare Plan that provide a more realistic plan to achieve by 2040.  Below are a few highlights.

  1. Dedicated bus lane infrastructure (Bus Only/BAT[Business Access and Transit]) should be planned for many major roadway arterials (ex. Route 1, Route 234 Business, Dale Blvd, Route 29)
  2. Roadway segments should be identified as “innovative intersection corridors” to replace previously planned lane-mile expansions (ex. Old Centreville Rd, Pageland Ln, Route 234, Prince William Parkway)
  3. Roadways through activity centers and commercial/mixed-use corridors should be redesignated as Urban Boulevards (UB) and Through Boulevards (UTB) (ex. Route 123 and Route 1 in North Woodbridge)
  4. Road diets should be considered for many roadway segments (ex. Occoquan Rd, Williamson Blvd, Lee Hwy/MNBP)
  5. Road capacity expansion should be configured as a managed lane (Toll, HOV, HOT, Bus, BAT). Adding any new unmanaged roadway capacity in the Washington region is unproductive at this point as it relates to future climate and congestion conditions and will only serve to induce SOV travel and increase VMT per capita.
  6. Major “managed lanes” roadway widenings should be packaged with dedicated bus infrastructure on nearby parallel roadways  (234 Bypass -> 234 Business, I-95 HOT ->Route 1)

Click here for our detailed comments on each roadway element in the Thoroughfare Plan.

Our General Comments on Active Mobility and Trails for the Mobility Chapter in the PWC Comp Plan Update

On June 16, 2021, Active Prince William submitted the following general comments on the active mobility and trails element for the Mobility Chapter in Prince William County’s Pathways to 2040 Comprehensive Plan:


Active Prince William’s General Comments on the Active Mobility and Trails Element of the Mobility Chapter in Prince William County’s Pathways to 2040 Comprehensive Plan

1. Active Prince William encourages Prince William County to plan for the expeditious development of a robust, connected, and diverse countywide network of bikeways, walkways, and trails as part of the Mobility Chapter of the Pathways to 2040 Comprehensive Plan.

2. The County should invest in building more “active transportation” infrastructure through 2040 to rebalance the excessive car-centric focus of the past.  A robust, countywide Bicycle and Pedestrian Mobility Plan should be created to identify and prioritize bikeways and walkways that connect all activity centers and provide safe routes to all schools, parks, recreation centers, libraries, transit hubs, shopping centers, and employment sites, so bicycling, walking, and rolling can increasingly replace many short-distance (under 5-mile) motoring trips

3. The Bicycle and Pedestrian Mobility Plan should identify where various types of bikeways, trails, and sidewalks will be completed by 2040.  One goal, synchronized with the Parks, Recreation and Tourism Chapter and the Systemwide Master Plan for county parks, should be to create a connected network of shared-use paths, sidewalks, and bikeways, so all neighborhoods with a density of 4 or more dwelling units/acre are within a 10-minute walk (1/2 mile) of a neighborhood park or school/community-use site.

4. The County should establish a more vigorous and ongoing Active Transportation Program within its Department of Transportation, guided by a comprehensive and strategic Bicycle and Pedestrian Mobility Plan adopted by the Board of County Supervisors. The development of that plan, which could require a year or more of effort and community outreach, should be guided by dedicated in-house transportation planning staff and a diverse citizen task force. An outside consulting firm with strong expertise in active mobility planning (e.g., Toole Design Group or Alta Planning + Design) should be hired to coordinate the development of this Bicycle and Pedestrian Mobility Plan.

5. Formal Complete Streets and Vision Zero policies and action plans–adopted by the Board of County Supervisors following substantial public input–could help guide the County’s development of active mobility infrastructure.

6. The Mobility Chapter should include a table listing specific planned bicycle, pedestrian, and trail facilities, comparable to Table 2 listing the Thoroughfare Plan projects.

7. Appropriate bicycle and pedestrian accommodations should be planned and aggressively implemented, both as an integral component of all roadway widening and reconstruction projects and as standalone projects actively pursued separately from roadway reconstruction, during both scheduled roadway resurfacing and as fully independent projects.

8. A strategic prioritization process should guide the implementation of the standalone bicycle and pedestrian projects. The prioritization process for standalone projects and retrofits should consider many factors, with “opportunity” (such as upcoming roadway resurfacing, grant availability), trip demand, cost effectiveness, equity, and pedestrian safety being key considerations.

9. Bicycling accommodations for collector and arterial road corridors and urban boulevards should not be largely limited to shared-use paths (sidepaths), which are often hillier, more meandering, and less well maintained than the adjacent roadway and frequently interrupted by hazardous motor vehicle cross flows at intersections and driveways. These features make sidepaths much slower and more stressful for bicycling than simply sharing the roadway with vehicular traffic.

10. Whenever feasible, dual bicycling accommodations–both off-roadway (sidepath) and on-roadway (bike lanes, separated bike lanes, paved shoulders, or signed shared roadways)–should be provided to serve the diversity of people who ride bicycles.

11. Roads with Average Annual Daily Traffic (AADT) less than 1,000 vehicles/day generally require no special accommodations for bicycling enthusiasts.

12. Adding paved shoulders (on open-section roadways) or bike lanes (on closed-section roadways with curb and gutter) is appropriate for road cycling enthusiasts and can provide very suitable bicycle accommodations, particularly in the Rural Area.  As traffic speeds and/or volumes increase—and for roads along a designated bike route– the need for (or desirability of) wider paved shoulders or bike lanes or for more separation between the bike lane and the adjacent travel lane (with either a crosshatched buffer or a physical barrier) increases.

13. The Mobility Chapter should include a policy that when the traffic volumes on roads in the Rural Area rise above 1,000 vehicles/day, VDOT will be asked to retrofit modest (2- to 4-foot wider) paved shoulders during scheduled roadway resurfacing, retaining the original 30-foot prescriptive easement. Such modestly widened roadways could then be striped with two 10-foot travel lanes flanked by two 5-foot paved shoulders for walking and bicycling.

14. When any residential development involving 10 or more homes is permitted beside a road without a sidewalk, the developer should be required to build a sidewalk or a sidepath along the road frontage for that subdivision.

15. On roadways where traffic volumes are forecast to exceed 10,000 vehicles/day over the next 20 years, adding a central two-way left-turn lane as well as paved shoulders or bike lanes should be proposed, as an alternative to widening to four or more travel lanes.

16. Roads planned for “Class II” bikeways should be identified as planned for “sidewalks plus bike lanes,” or just for paved shoulders or bike lanes.

17. The current designation for 14-foot “wide” outside lanes (termed “Class III” bikeways) should be eliminated. All of those roads should be re-designated for bike lanes (aka “Class II” bikeways). If multilane roads are simply striped with 11-foot travel lanes instead of the Interstate-regulation 12-foot travel lanes, a 14-foot outside lane becomes at least 16 feet wide, which is wide enough to allocate as a 5-foot wide bike lane plus an 11-foot travel lane.  Thus, the category of “wide outside lanes” is not only a poor bicycling accommodation; it’s a completely unnecessary category.

18. Signed shared roadways (e.g., relatively low-speed collector roads with shared-lane markings (a.k.a. “sharrows”) or low-traffic residential subdivision streets with way-finding signs) are the only “Class III bikeways” that should remain.

19. Signed shared roadways should be planned only where traffic speeds and volumes are relatively low, and bike lanes are either infeasible or unnecessary due to low traffic speeds and volumes.  This category should be designated as “Sidewalks and Shared Roadways”, rather than as “On-Road Trails.”

20. The Vision Zero strategies appropriate for different areas in Prince William should be identified and incorporated in all transportation planning.  Crashes involving a vehicle with a bike or pedestrian should be reported as a “vehicle-bike crash” or “vehicle-pedestrian” crash, not as “bike crash” or “pedestrian crash”.  Since vehicle speed greatly influences the severity of such crashes, VDOT and the County Department of Transportation should seek to lower the design speeds and posted speed limits on roads within activity centers, and emerging technologies, such as automated speed enforcement, should be used to reduce speeding. Particular attention should also be paid to minimizing risk when designing intersections that permit right turns on red and intersections where people walking or bicycling must cross two or more lanes of free-flow traffic.

21. Since transportation is our largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, and Prince William has committed to reduce these emissions by 2030 to 50% of the 2005 level, the County should quantify the greenhouse gas emission impacts of proposed new transportation projects, including trails, for the county’s Climate Action Plan.

22. For shared-use paths, bike lanes, and sidewalks maintained by the county, rather than VDOT or an HOA, the PW County Departments of Transportation and of Parks, Recreation and Tourism should budget annually for routine maintenance as well as for capital maintenance (e.g., periodic repaving).  That includes removing storm debris, managing winter snow and ice, mowing grass, and removing encroaching vegetation.

23. For Traffic Impact Analyses, the county should report average pedestrian delay at intersections together with reports of average vehicle delay, and calculate bicycle and pedestrian Levels of Service and/or Comfort, comparable to calculating Level of Service for Vehicles.  Intersections should be designed to balance delays for bicyclists/pedestrians as well as delays for vehicles.

Register Now for Bike-to-Work Day on Friday, May 21, 2021

 

Bike-to-Work Day (BTWD) Metro DC is traditionally held on the third Friday in May.  For the past 20 years, the event has been organized and promoted annually throughout the metropolitan Washington DC region by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ (MWCOG) Commuter Connections program.

The event celebrates bicycling as a viable commuting  mode and encourages all commuters to try bicycling for all–or for just one segment–of their work commute trip .  Teleworkers are also welcome to participate, by bicycling to one of the roughly 90 BTWD rally locations (known as ‘pit stops’) throughout the Washington region and then bicycling home for their workday.

As most people know, bicycling is healthy, clean, economical, and fun.  Bicycle commuting is energy efficient, reduces traffic and parking congestion,  improves air quality, increases employee morale and productivity, and can lower employer healthcare costs.

Register for Bike-to-Work Day now, so you don’t miss out on the fun (and BTWD swag).

Bike to Work Day was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns, but it ‘s back this year, with some COVID precautions in place at each BTWD pit stop.

This year,  seven Bike-to-Work Day pit stops will be held throughout the Prince William area.  At these locations, participants can pick up a BTWD t-shirt, water bottle, and snacks.  Participants should register online in advance and  show up at their selected pit stop at their scheduled check-in time with a mask on and maintain social distancing.

Click on the links below to learn the exact locations, hours of operation, and contacts for the seven Prince William area pit stops.

Bike-to-Work Day proclamations have been issued this year by the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board, by the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, and by the Manassas City Council.

In the United States, the League of American Bicyclists established National Bike Week (now National Bike Month) in 1956, emulating an event begun in the United Kingdom in 1923.  The Washington Area Bicyclist Association organized DC-based Bike-to-Work Day events on Earth Day (April 22) for several decades until MWCOG’s Commuter Connections program adopted BTWD Metro DC as a region-wide event.

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