Design Public Hearings for Transform I-66 Outside the Beltway November 13, 14 and 16, 2017
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), in partnership with I-66 Express Mobility Partners (EMP), will host Design Public Hearings on the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway Project regarding plans for the 22.5 mile corridor from I-495 to University Boulevard in Gainesville.
This will be our final opportunity to review and comment on the proposed design of the I-66 Trail, between Gallows Rd. in Dunn Loring and University Blvd. & Rte 29 in Gainesville.
Public Hearing Dates and Locations
All hearing times are from 6:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.
A formal presentation will begin at 7 p.m., followed by a public comment period.
According to the study website, the “project goals for the Route 28 Corridor Feasibility Study are to identify infrastructure improvements that will improve travel times and network reliability within the Route 28 Corridor through Prince William County, the City of Manassas and City of Manassas Park [between Godwin Dr at the west Manassas city line and Compton Rd in southern Fairfax County] and develop a plan to implement these improvement project(s).”
The public is invited to review and comment on the four alternatives for long-term corridor improvements that currently remain under consideration.
All alternatives would include a shared-use path for bicycling and walking. One of nine “key objectives’ of this study is to “provide increased opportunities for alternative modes of travel such as travel by bicycles, walking and carpooling/vanpooling”.
I always find it interesting when talking to people about traffic crashes and fatalities, they seem to be resigned to the fact that there will always be carnage on our roads. But if you ask them how many traffic fatalities would be acceptable in their own family the answer is always zero. So why do we have this big disconnect in accepting the status quo for traffic deaths? When a plane, or train, crashes there is high visibility coverage, and much discussion about why it happened. However, when one of the more than 115 people in the U.S., and Canada, die each day on our roadways, there is very little response from the media.
To make matters worse, in 2016 the number of people killed on our roads spiked upward, with a disproportionate effect on people walking and biking. Have we decided that it is just part of the cost of mobility, a cost that has resulted in an estimated 2 million walking, biking and driving deaths in the U.S. from 1945 to 2015, or are we willing to make changes?
Vision Zero is a program to reduce the number of traffic deaths and severe injuries to zero. Is this a worthwhile goal? A lot of people think so, and already cities elsewhere have saved numerous lives as they get closer and closer to the goal. Watch this video and decide for yourself how many traffic deaths are acceptable.
The Washington Area Bicyclists Association hosted the DC Vision Zero Summit on Friday, March 31. DC has a goal of zero traffic deaths by 2024 and they have made great strides in moving towards achieving their goal. Vision Zero DC is a collaborative effort with transportation, health, police, advocacy groups, government officials, and community members working together to reduce crashes that result in fatalities and severe injuries. Mayor Bowser emphasized during her presentation that this has to be a regional effort. This makes sense as the population of DC doubles during the workday with many people driving from suburbs to the city for work.
The epidemic of deaths from traffic crashes is a public health issue. Greg Billings from WABA opened up the summit and was followed by Dr. Sarani from GWU Hospital, Center for Trauma and Critical Care, Dr. Yang from AAA Foundation, and Emiko Atherton, Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition.
Emiko’s presentation resonated with me in that the design of our streets is critical to reducing death and injury. The National Complete Streets Coalition Dangerous by Design 2016 effort takes a closer look at the alarming epidemic of people walking getting killed in traffic crashes on our streets. The study includes a socio-economic analysis of the people who are most at risk, and for the first time also ranks states by their danger to pedestrians.
Having been hit by a car while riding my bike, having spent time in a trauma ward, and then several months recovering, I know firsthand how an unsafe transportation network effects health. I was happy to see a number of health professionals in attendance and speaking at the summit. It is critical going forward that transportation engineers and planners work with public health officials to design livable communities with sustainable transportation options.
The panel session discussions included
Opportunities for Cross-jurisdictional Cooperation
For my part, I would like to see better infrastructure design that provides safe access for all, but especially people walking and biking. Speed limits need to be lowered so that when humans make mistakes vulnerable roads users do not have to suffer the consequences. Road design needs to take in account human behavior and create safer space for all. The automotive industry and the technology industry need to work together to install devices in vehicles to reduce the increasing issues of distracted and drunk driving. Stakeholders need to be included in the community planning process. People of color, and older adults, are over represented among pedestrian deaths, and as such should have a larger voice in the conversation. The best solution might be to get more people out of cars. Using active transportation and transit is much safer than driving, and better for your health.
What are some of the ways that you can start making a difference?
The media and government agencies need to stop victim-blaming vulnerable road users. People walk and biking have a right to navigate the transportation network safely. Every type of traveler makes mistakes. People walk out into traffic while texting. Drivers text while driving, drive drunk, or speed. Bicyclists run stop signs. We need to design our roads for the most vulnerable users as people walking or biking are not surrounded by a 3,000 lb steel personal pod with air bags. Remember that everyone is traveling to their destination outside of a car at some point in time during their travels. The important distinction is which kind of traveler has the biggest potential to kill & maim. And that our roads are designed such that mistakes like texting & driving can kill.
Vision Zero, or zero traffic deaths, is a goal that we should all want to achieve. Americans need to make it personal, and make the choice to slow down and yield to life. No one wants one of their family members, or wishes it on any other family, to be killed in a traffic crash. If transportation professionals, public health professionals and government officials work towards designing and building safe infrastructure, and people use our roads with the perspective that everyone will be missed by someone, we can work towards achievement of the goal to make it safe for everyone using our transportation network.
Update: On February 15, the Criminal Laws Subcommittee of the House Court of Justice Committee tabled (killed) SB 1339 on an unrecorded party-line vote, while on February 13 Subcommittee #1 of the House Transportation Committee killed SB 1338 on a 3-4 vote. Thus, both bills are now dead for 2017. Delegate Rich Anderson (R, HD-51) helped kill SB 1338, while Delegate Jackson Miller (R, HD-50) helped kill SB 1339. Ask Delegates Anderson and Miller to support future legislation to better protect pedestrians and bicyclists from irresponsible motorists.
Two bicycling-friendly bills, filed for the 2017 Virginia General Assembly by Senator Scott Surovell (D, Senate District 36, which includes part of Prince William County), were approved by the Virginia Senate and are now before the Virginia House of Delegates.
SB 1338 would establish a traffic infraction when a motorist drives in a bicycle lane to pass or attempt to pass another vehicle. (This bill also generally prohibits travel in a bicycle lane via motor vehicle or moped for the first time.) The Virginia Senate passed SB 1338 on a 23-17 vote, with only four Republicans voting in favor.
SB 1339 would establish a traffic infraction when a careless or distracted motorist is the proximate cause of serious physical injury to a pedestrian, bicyclist, or other “vulnerable road user”, as defined in this bill. The Virginia Senate passed SB 1339 on a 21-19 vote, with only two Republicans voting in favor.
As recorded here, Subcommittee #1 failed to report SB 1338 to the full House Transportation Committee on a 3-4 vote. Thus, unless someone (such as Del. Anderson) who voted against reporting SB 1338 changes his mind and asks that SB 1338 be reconsidered in the full Transportation Committee, SB 1338 is now dead. If SB 1338 is miraculously resurrected I will update this post.
Subcommittee #1 recommended that SB 1339 be referred to the House Courts of Justice Committee, so SB 1339 is still alive. The Courts of Justice Committee meets on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons, so SB 1339 may go before that committee in a few days.
Delegate Jackson Miller (R, HD-50) is the only member of theHouse Courts of Justice Committee from Prince William County. Please call or email Delegate Miller as soon as possible to ask him to support SB 1339. Del. Jackson Miller, R, HD-50 (Manassas), 804-698-1050, DelJMiller@house.virginia.gov
A short and simple request to support SB 1339 should suffice. Please include your home address and contact information, so Delegate Miller knows you are a constituent or live near his district. Here’s a sample message:
Subject: Support SB 1339
Dear Delegate Miller,
Please vote for SB 1339, which is now before the House Courts of Justice Committee. SB 1339 would hold a careless or distracted motorist accountable when his or her negligence causes serious injury to a pedestrian, bicyclist, or other “vulnerable road user”.
As a Prince William County [or Manassas] resident, I would greatly appreciate your votes for this simple and straightforward traffic-law improvement, to help make me and my family safer when we travel by foot or bicycle. Thank you for your consideration.
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