Meeting Address: 9444 Taney Rd # 100, Manassas, VA 20110
As part of the ongoing Comprehensive Plan update, the Prince William County Planning Office has created several small area plans to guide development in key areas of the county. Each small area plan may offer opportunities for improved transit, increased open space, and greater walkability.
Public outreach will be accomplished through one or more public meetings and design charrettes for each project. A charrette is a collaborative planning session among a project’s various stakeholders – in this case, government officials, consultants and/or developers, and interested members of the public. A planning outline and some anticipated outcomes are provided for each active plan at the links below. There are no upcoming public hearings or charrettes currently scheduled, but the Planning Department promises to update the website when they have been. We will monitor the website as well.
Five plans that are currently active:
The basis for this project is two studies completed earlier this year: one by the Dale City Sustainable Design Assessment Team (SDAT) and the other under a Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) Transportation/Land-Use Connections (TLC) Program grant. The scope of the studies includes redevelopment of both the Dale Boulevard/Minnieville Road intersection and Mapledale Plaza at the intersection of Dale Boulevard and Queensdale Drive, as well as extensive redesign of vehicular, cycling, and walking infrastructure throughout the area.
An examination of the Innovation Park area and a couple of miles of Prince William Parkway between Sudley Manor Drive and Godwin Drive/Nokesville Road, with the goal of developing Innovation Park as an economic center for PWC.
Covers US-1 between Occoquan River and Occoquan Road, north to I-95 and south to Belmont Bay Wildlife Refuge. The major issues appear to be the US-1/VA-123 interchange and multi-modal transportation options. There is currently very little usable infrastructure for non-motorized traffic in this area.
There is not a lot of information available for this plan yet. It will include a bike path along US-29 between US-15 and Somerset Crossing.
Future SAP projects include Independent Hill, Triangle, Yorkshire, and Fairgrounds/New Dominion.
Ryan Foster (email@example.com), Community Development Manager, and David McGettigan (firstname.lastname@example.org), Long-Range Planning Manager, are the primary points of contact for questions or comments.
Active Prince William is a group of concerned citizens who advocate for improving opportunities, support, and infrastructure for active transportation and healthy lifestyles within Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park. We are interested in helping to make Prince William County and Greater Manassas a more livable and sustainable Community.
The City of Manassas is holding a series of “Community Conversations” to gather ideas, priorities, and visions for the community’s future from individuals, families, neighbors, business professionals, and community leaders. This is your opportunity to shape Manassas by sharing your perspectives and providing input on key topics such as quality of life, services, transportation, land use, and economic development.
The following engagement sessions remain:
Thursday, Sept. 7, 2 PM – Active Adults & Seniors
Manassas Senior Center Board Room / 9320 Mosby Street
Thursday, Sept. 7, 6PM – Families
Manassas Museum / 9101 Prince William Street
Thursday, Sept. 21, 6 PM – Twenty & Thirty Somethings
Bad Wolf Brew House / 8420 Kao Circle
Saturday, Sept. 23, 2PM – Everyone!
Grace Methodist Church Fellowship Hall / 9750 Wellington Road
You can also engage with City staff at the farmers markets in downtown Manassas on September 16 and 28 and October 21 and 26.
In addition, you can participate online through the City’s new online engagement portal!
The Community Conversations will dig deeper into the “why” of the top priorities to find location-specific issues and gauge if any priorities are missing from the list generated by the survey. The findings from both the survey and the Community Conversations will assist the City in updating its strategic priorities and comprehensive plan. Join the conversation!
What a nice surprise when I opened my email and found that I had been invited to attend the inaugural “Every Place Counts Leadership Academy” hosted by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. As an advocate of walking, biking and transit in my community, and at George Mason University, I was very excited by the opportunity to learn more about how transportation decisions are made and how community members can get more involved in the process.
Transportation decisions shape our lives and connect our communities. Transportation also directly affects our health and well-being. Yet members of the public often struggle to figure out how and when to engage in these important decisions. The fact that the Secretary of Transportation was going to attend the session sent a powerful message that he truly valued the input of community members in the transportation decision making process.
Transportation Secretary Foxx is a believer in the power of transportation to increase opportunity for all, but also knows that community members need to be more included in the process. He initiated the “Every Place Counts: Leadership Academy” to demystify, clarify and simplify transportation decision making. The Leadership Academy is geared toward future community leaders who have limited experience with transportation decision making, and want to learn how to participate effectively and add their insights to the process. The Academy also featured a Transportation Toolkit designed to convey information to the widest audience possible.
What I enjoyed most about the academy was the opportunity to meet people from all over the country and hear their about their experiences advocating for accessible and affordable transportation – the advocate from Baltimore who talked about transportation and access to jobs, the advocate from the Boston area that talked about safe infrastructure for children to walk and bike to school, the advocate from California who talked about transit and the access to healthcare for the elderly, the high school STEM student from Falls Church who talked about technology and transportation, and the advocate from Philadelphia who talked about how important it is to get stakeholders from the community involved in the planning and design process.
This was probably the most diverse group of advocates I have had the privilege of interacting with during my years of advocating for accessible and sustainable transportation. However, what everyone had in common was a passion to create livable communities, and advocate for access to reliable and affordable transportation.
Where you choose to live impacts the mode(s) of transportation you use to get to work, but regardless you still have choices you can make. When I moved to Prince William County I was told that the only option to get to work at Mason in Fairfax was to drive.
Being the curious person I am, I decided to check the validity of this statement. Of course I relate this back to the book club I participated in focused on the Todd Kashdan’s book, Curious. Kashdan asks, “What is essential to creating a fulfilling life? Being curious, being open to new experiences, being able to effectively manage ambiguity and uncertainty, being able to adapt to the demands required of different situations (what I call “psychological flexibility”), discovering our strengths, deepest values, and what it is we are passionate about, and strengthening connections to these values and commit to a life aligned with them.”
An acquaintance of mind once said that, “life beings at the end of your comfort zone.” Being curious and wanting to step out of my routine I found that there were actually multiple ways to get to work:
Of course you might be thinking what do I do if I have an emergency and need to get home quickly, or what if the weather turns bad and I can’t bike home? These are valid concerns but Commuter Connections has you covered. “Guaranteed Ride Home (otherwise known as GRH) provides commuters who regularly (twice a week) carpool, vanpool, bike, walk or take transit to work with a FREE and reliable ride home when one of life’s unexpected emergencies arise. Commuters may take advantage of GRH up to four times per year to get home for unexpected emergencies such as a personal illness or a sick child” (http://www.commuterconnections.org/commuters/guaranteed-ride-home/).
Transportation affects all areas of our well-being to include physical, social, career, financial and community well-being. By starting off, and ending, my day with a four mile bike ride I get 30 minutes of exercise almost every day. On the shuttle I often talk to other members of the staff and faculty, read a book, check my social media and email accounts, or just take a nap. I find that biking to transit keeps my stress levels low, I am more alert and ready to get the day rolling when I arrive at work.
Being enrolled in the Mason bike commuter program and riding the Mason shuttles provides financial benefits. I don’t need a parking pass, I am not using my car, when I ride at least eight times to campus each month I get a $20 voucher good for bike maintenance, and I also receive two complimentary parking passes. As a bike advocate I am very involved in the community promoting active transportation (walking/biking), transit and outdoor recreation. I belong to several community groups including Prince William Trails and Streams Coalition, Active Prince William and the Virginia Bike Federation. Being involved in these groups has helped me meet more people and create strong social relationships with members of the community and government officials.
The health benefits of regular physical activity (biking and walking) are far-reaching: reduced risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic diseases; lower health care costs; and improved quality of life for people of all ages. Regular exercise provides health benefits for older adults such as a stronger heart, a more positive mental outlook, and an increased chance of remaining indefinitely independent—a benefit that will become increasingly important as our population ages in the coming years.
Walking and bicycling are affordable forms of transportation. Car ownership is expensive and consumes a major portion of many Americans’ income. When safe facilities are provided for pedestrians and bicyclists, people can walk and ride more and spend less on transportation, meaning they have more money to save or spend on other things.
Benefits of Walking/Biking (from the Pedestrian and Bicyclist Information Center http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/data/factsheet.cfm)
I have found that how we design our transportation network, and what transportation options are available to us, can have significant impacts on our quality of life. Research on transportation options consistently shows that people who walk and bike to work are the happiest with their commute.
A well designed transportation network with more transportation options can create a strong sense of community. People walking, biking and taking transit have more opportunity for social interaction and interacting with the community they are moving through. In Happy City, Charles Montgomery talks about the dividend we get when we choose to reside in a livable community with sustainable transportation choices.
We all make our own choice about how we commute to work. You may choose to drive alone but it is your choice. Trying out a new mode of transportation to get to work can have healthy benefits. If you think you have no choice maybe it is time to get involved as an advocate for a better transportation network in your community.
Starting out the New Year I will be using my new knowledge to facilitate local leadership academies that educate, and inform, community members on how they can get involved in the transportation planning and design discussion. Get involved, make a difference, and enhance your well-being.
The City of Manassas is in the planning stages of a redesign of Grant Avenue, a road considered the southern gateway to downtown Manassas. Citing pedestrian safety and safe routes to schools, City staff are considering a road diet from 4 to 3 lanes with improved pedestrian sidewalks and crossings. A public meeting was held on 29 June with additional public engagement in the planning process to come in the future. Implementation of the Grant Ave Streetscape Project will also enable the city to move forward with smart growth re-development on the southern side of the city.
At the public meeting on 29 June, there was considerable staff, consultant, and community support for implementing a four-lane to three-lane road diet to improve walking and bicycling conditions, enhance bus stops, and increase aesthetics without significantly degrading motoring. Mayor Parrish, three current City Council members, and senior City staff were present at the meeting.
At the meeting, staff guided interested individuals in using the Streetmix computer program to design alternative cross sections for Grant Ave. While conventional bike lanes are eminently feasible and should be adequate for many bike riders with a road diet’s traffic-calming influence and a lowered 25 MPH speed limit, it was clear that the current street right of way is constrained, and expanding the sidewalk areas to include planting strips with street trees, urban street lamps, and bus shelters is an important “competing” priority that may preclude adding buffered or separated bicycle lanes.
While a simple road diet can often be accomplished using only maintenance funds to repave and re-paint the new lane configuration, expanding the sidewalks and planting strips, undergrounding the currently overhead utilities, and adding bus shelters, urban street lights, street furniture, trees, and other landscaping along Grant Ave will necessitate considerable construction funds.
The Initial planning and design for the project has been funded, but there’s not yet any funding allocated for construction, and thanks to HB 2 and HB 599, which target road capacity expansions, neither the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) nor the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) are likely to provide any money for a road diet. If construction will be locally funded, it’s unlikely that the curbs will be moved, so as to greatly reduce construction costs. At the meeting, Active Prince William advocated for alternatives–including buffered bike lanes–that could fit within the existing roadway.
For more information, visit the City’s project page [http://www.manassascity.org/grantave], where you can sign up for project updates, and view the meeting presentation which provides background information and describes how the meeting was conducted.