Active Prince William

Advancing active mobility in greater Prince William, Virginia

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Active Prince William’s Initial Comments on the Proposed Design of the Route 234-Brentsville Road Interchange

 
PROBLEM:
Forcing bicycle and pedestrian users to cross FOUR separate free-flowing, high-speed vehicle lanes is an unacceptable way to connect two of the major trails in the county.  The section should be removed from the design.  It is too dangerous.  [Added Note: The proposed design forces bicyclists and pedestrians to negotiate a fifth high-speed at-grade road crossing (of the ramp from northbound Brentsville Road to southbound Route 234) to actually link these two major trails.  Furthermore, to access or egress Route 234 Business/Dumfries Rd, bicyclists and pedestrians would be forced to negotiate a sixth high-speed at-grade road crossing plus 12 vehicle lanes at two controlled intersection legs at Bradley Cemetery Way.]

 

RECOMMENDED SOLUTION:
Add an additional bike/ped bridge crossing of Route 234 south/east of the planned interchange to directly and safely connect the Route 234 Trail and the Prince William Parkway Trail.

 

HOW TO PAY FOR THIS RECOMMENDED SOLUTION:
1) Remove the proposed bike/ped infrastructure with four at-grade roadway crossings from the Bradley Cemetery Way area:

2) Change the Continuous Green-T Intersection at Brentsville Road and the off-ramp from VA234 Bypass South to a Roundabout, Standard Two-Phase Traffic Light or a Three-Way Stop Sign.  Future traffic volumes do not warrant the expensive infrastructure needed for a Continuous Green-T Intersection.

3)  Remove one northbound lane from the planned Brentsville Road Bridge to create a smaller/cheaper bridge footprint.  Future traffic volumes do not warrant having two northbound vehicle lanes on this bridge.

Design Public Hearing for PWC’s Route 234-Brentsville Road Interchange Project, December 8, 2021 at 6:00 PM

Prince William County’s proposed Route 234-Brentsville Road Interchange includes four treacherous at-grade shared-use path crossings of free-flowing high-speed roadways to link the Prince William Parkway and Route 234 sidepaths.   As an alternative to this dangerous and circuitous trail routing, Active Prince William advocates a simple trail overpass on the east/south side of this interchange to safely and directly link Prince William County’s two major trails.

 

From the Office of Coles District Supervisor Vesli Vega:

A public hearing on the proposed Brentsville Interchange Project will be held on Wednesday, December 8th at 6pm at the Lake Jackson Volunteer Fire Department, 11310 Coles Drive in Manassas.

The meeting can also be viewed live online at https://www.pwcva.gov/department/transportation/current-road-projects.  The Project team will make a short presentation beginning at 6:30 p.m. and answer questions for the duration of the meeting.

The purpose of the public hearing is to receive public comments on the design of the Route 234 Brentsville Road Interchange Project and associated Limited Access Control Changes in the Coles Magisterial District.  This Project will involve a change and break in Limited Access Control.

Preview the Project information and Design Public Hearing plans including the environmental documentation on the Prince William County Department of Transportation website at https://www.pwcva.gov/department/transportation/current-road-projects.  [Note: The five linked documents related to the current design are listed at the bottom, with links depicted in green.  The blue links are for the obsolete March 2020 design].

The deadline to submit comments is December 18, 2021.  The public may provide written or verbal comments at the Design Public Hearings, mail them to Ms. Mary Ankers, P.E., Project Manager, at the Prince William County Department of Transportation, 5 County Complex, Suite 290, Prince William, VA 22192, or email them to mankers@pwcgov.org.   Please reference “Route 234 Brentsville Road Interchange Project PH Comments” in the subject heading.

Please find the Project Schedule Below:

Environmental and Social Injustice in Prince William County–In 2021. Yes, 2021.

Proposed Route 28 Bypass Alignment (as of February 2021)

Remember the bad old days, when government officials routed new highways through minority neighborhoods and displaced low-wealth families for the benefit of more-wealthy White drivers?

Well, it’s happening right now in Prince William County.

To construct the Route 28 Bypass/Godwin Drive Extended, County supervisors would tear down more than 50 homes in a low-income and heavily Hispanic neighborhood.  At least three families in the Bull Run Mobile Home Park would have to move.  The entire mobile home park could close and be replaced by a mixed-use development with much higher rents/mortgage payments.

The losers:  those living in a rare affordable community in Northern Virginia.  The beneficiaries:  commuters from Fauquier, Culpeper, Stafford, and beyond driving to high-paying jobs in Fairfax and DC.

Racial Characteristics of Census Tracks Surrounding the Route 28 Bypass Alignment (pink line).

Building the Route 28 Bypass would cost at least $300 million, not counting the widening of the adjoining stretch of Godwin Drive in the City of Manassas, estimated in 2019 to cost more than $40 million.   Prince William taxpayers would provide $200 million in funding through a County bond issue.  It’s a government subsidy for exurban drive-alone commuters, few of whom would be traveling to jobs in the County or increasing the local commercial tax base.

The Route 28 Bypass would poorly serve commuters.  The Bypass would significantly worsen traffic congestion and travel times on Route 28 in Centreville,  compared to its “No-Build Alternative”, and includes no accommodations for efficient bus transit or managed lanes, such as high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) or high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes, to reduce single-occupant vehicle (SOV) trips.

The equity issue is most relevant today.  The neighborhoods being destroyed are designated Equity Emphasis Areas.  They have been stable, affordable communities for Hispanic residents.  Carving up communities occupied by minority groups, for the benefit of those fortunate to have high-paying jobs closer to DC, is a modern version of environmental injustice.

Oh, and the commuter road would blast through Bull Run Regional Park and the Flat Branch stream valley.  If the noisy and polluting Route 28 Bypass highway barrier isn’t built, the Flat Branch stream valley could become a wonderful linear park and natural habitat that significantly enhances the livability and bike/ped connectivity of its adjacent neighborhoods.  After Prince William voters approved the road-expansion bonds in 2019, County officials cancelled an Environmental Assessment, to avoid examining alternative routes with fewer environmental and social impacts

There’s a chance to stop this environmental and social injustice.  Prince William County supervisors will approve a capital budget by June, 2022 which could include funding for the Route 28 Bypass–or they could instead allocate $200+ million in local funds over the next twenty years to other projects, such as affordable housing, and not repeat the injustices of the 1950s.

For the County’s sales job, see https://route28bypass.com.  For the rest of the story, see the Active Prince William website at http://activepw.org.

Active Prince William is a group of concerned citizens who advocate for better opportunities, support, and infrastructure for active mobility, better public transportation, and healthy lifestyles within Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park.  We are working to help make Prince William County and Greater Manassas a more livable, healthy, equitable, and sustainable community.   Follow us at http://activepw.org/ , @Active_PW on Twitter, and ActivePW on Facebook.

Take the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority’s Public Input Survey

Update (8/25/21):  NVTA will conduct a pop-up, in-person outreach session on Thursday, September 2, from 5-8 pm at the Manassas Park VRE Station.

The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) is now undertaking its periodic (5-year) update of TransAction, its long-range multimodal regional transportation plan for all of Northern Virginia.

According to NVTA, TransAction is intended to guide the development of “safe, equitable, and sustainable transportation projects over a 20-year time frame.

The two-year TransAction update process, which includes several public input opportunities, was launched with a public “open house and listening session” in January 2021 and will conclude with the NVTA board’s adoption of the updated plan in late 2022.

This summer and fall, NVTA is engaging the public “to identify transportation needs and trends”.  most notably through this online public survey. 

After briefly describing TransAction, the survey asks respondents to 1) select the factors that influence their use of various travel modes, 2) rank their top four priorities for transportation improvements, 3)  express their preferences for transportation infrastructure allocations, and 4) supply some demographic information.

Active Prince William encourages its supporters to complete this online public survey, which closes on September 16, 2021, to express their perspectives and support for better walking, bicycling, and public transportation.  The survey is also available in Spanish and Korean.

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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