Local officials and residents attended the meeting Wednesday at the South County Government Center where key members of the AECOM project team discussed the analysis process, goals and answered questions from residents.
According to the Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation (SFDC), the main objectives for the study are to define key transportation issues, establish a "needs statement" and consider a range of multimodal transportation solutions to address those needs.
The study will look at different transportation options including bus rapid transit (BRT), light rail transit (LRT), extended Metrorail service, roadway widening and restructured pedestrian/bicycle pathways. Transportation recommendations will be made based on the technical analysis created during the study and ideas and concerns from stakeholders and community members, according to SFDC.
Jason Mumford, AECOM project manager, presented information about the goals of the project and how they will continue with the process until they make their recommendations next year.
"It's important to look more broadly at how we're using the land," Mumford said about the area along the Route 1 corridor. "We're trying to create places where people want to be."
Some of the goals of the analysis include improving multimodal transit options, improving pedestrian crossings and bicycle pathways and increasing economic competitiveness.
While discussing improvements to bike pathways, Mumford described these options currently along Richmond Highway as "a little bit patchy" for which many residents found humorous.
Mount Vernon resident John Pickett said he travels by bicycle each day and has lived in the area for more than 20 years.
"What I think is it needs to be improved so that we can be able to bike the area every day for things like running errands, or going to the drug store," Pickett said.
Pickett said he thinks bringing in more higher end retail options is inevitable, but there should still be a better way for residents along the corridor to complete day-to-day errands and tasks in the area by walking or biking.
"There have been a lot of really good changes since I first moved here, and the change will continue," Pickett said.
One of the major factors the team is considering as they continue the analysis is the growing traffic at the south and north segments of Fort Belvoir — a high traffic area that continues to grow. The team is also keeping in mind multiple studies that have been conducted along Route 1 since 1998.
VDRPT's Project Manager Tim Roseboom explained the meaning of an alternatives analysis, which is "a locally driven planning study that looks at multiple ways to improve transportation."
Roseboom explained that their recommendations will include road improvements as well as suggested modes of transportation that will decrease congestion along the major highway.
"Planners recognize the need for mixed land use and local connectivity," Roseboom said. "Decision makers have called for the analysis to determine what transportation options are viable."
Amy Inman, with VDRPT and project director for the analysis, said the analysis will set up the planning process moving forward and many factors are being considered as they work on recommendations for transportation improvements.
"There are many factors that we'll consider in determining what we recommend. We will look at a variety of criteria," she said. "We will evaluate each of those modes of transit equally. At the end of the day, it's very likely for us to have road improvement recommendations as well as transportation recommendations."
Mumford said they're looking to have initial recommendations ready by May or June 2014. All agency's involved — including VDRPT, Fairfax County, Prince William County, VDOT and the Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment — will then review the recommendations and move forward from there to make decisions about funding. Inman said they are also keeping in mind how to fund these improvements as they move forward with the analysis.
"We don't want to leave out federal and state because we'll all have to make a decision once recommendations are made," said Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerry Hyland.
Hyland also questioned the team about the density of the area and future businesses moving into the area and if they're considering these factors as well. The team said they are considering density and the recent and future growth of the Route 1 corridor as they move forward.
Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay made it clear to residents during the meeting that this particular study focuses on transportation improvements along Route 1. However, McKay said the county is also looking at ways to improve transportation from the Route 1 corridor to other areas.
"I don't want anyone to leave here thinking that we're just looking at Route 1. The county is also looking at connecting Route 1 to other parts of the county," he said. "That's a different study, but I just want people to know we're not only looking at congestion on Route 1."
Other officials at the meeting include Sen. Toddy Puller (D-44th), a representative for Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-11th), Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30th), Del. Scott Surovell (D-44th) and Del. Mark Sickles (D-43rd).
AECOM will host two more meetings to update residents, stakeholders and local officials. Those meetings are tentatively scheduled for February and May 2014. To follow the progress of the analysis and ask questions about the study, visit Route 1 Multimodal Alternatives Analysis. You can also follow the team's progress on Facebook and Twitter.
- VDRPT Developing Transportation Study for Richmond Highway
- Route 1 Transportation Study: Tentative Schedule for Public Meetings
- Route 1 Transportation Improvements '20 Years Overdue,' McKay Says
- Route 1 Improvements at Fort Belvoir Scheduled to Begin Spring 2014
- Route 1 Corridor Needs 'Focal Point' to Become Vibrant Street