Sunday, November 16, 2014

Commonwealth Transportation Board Fall 2014 Hearing Statement

Commonwealth Transportation Board

Fall 2014 Hearing for Northern Virginia, October 16, 2014

Statement by Allen Muchnick, board member

Virginia Bicycling Federation (VBF)

Over the past two decades, VDOT--with the CTB’s support and guidance--has made commendable progress in advancing bicycling and walking across Virginia as “fundamental travel modes and integral components of an efficient transportation network    The ongoing implementation of VDOT’s 2004 “Policy for Integrating Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodations” has begun to improve our Commonwealth’s livability, prosperity, equity, and sustainability, but--after the neglect of bicycling and walking for many decades--the needs are vast.

Non-motorists have directly supplied Virginia’s highway funds via the state sales tax since 1987, but last year’s substantial increase in sales and other non-motorist taxes for statewide and regional transportation projects now warrants a far greater allocation of transportation revenues and resources to bicycling, walking, and public transportation.

The expansion of highway capacity while neglecting and, in fact, impeding walking, bicycling, and public transportation for many decades has created some of the nation’s worst traffic congestion.  To cost effectively reduce traffic congestion, the CTB must implement projects that increase walking, bicycling, and transit trips, whereas highway capacity expansions, which induce more driving and auto-dependent sprawl, are usually counterproductive.  A Northern Virginia Bicycle Advisory Committee should be established immediately to prioritize bicycling improvements for funding.  Rail services should provide roll-on bicycle access, and public rail-corridor investments, such as the Southeast High Speed Rail project, should incorporate shared-use paths (known as rails with trails), especially on river crossings.

In 1982, VDOT distinguished itself by establishing two AASHTO-designated cross-state bicycle routes—US Bike Routes 1 and 76.   Unfortunately, due to Prince William County’s urbanization and access restrictions at Fort Belvoir since 2001, US Bike Route 1 has been severed and elsewhere rendered hostile for bicycling for well over a decade.   We commend VDOT staff for recently obtaining the resources to complete a detailed route evaluation for realigning US Bike Route 1 through the NoVA District and for submitting route realignment applications for AASHTO’s approval.  With the completion of those tasks and the installation of vital route signage, the VDOT NoVA District should expeditiously improve bicycling conditions along the realigned route with cost-effective roadway retrofits.  In particular:

Retrofit 4-foot or wider paved shoulders along all of Fleetwood and Aden Rds in southern Prince William County.  These two-lane roadways, with AADTs around 5,000 each, are currently inhospitable-- and potentially treacherous—for bicycling, especially during peak travel times. 
Restripe Hoadly Rd in central Prince William County with continuous and properly designed bike lanes.  In general, this should be inexpensive and readily feasible since ample roadway right-of-way exists, although some existing soft shoulders may need reconstruction.
Retrofit Old Bridge Rd to better accommodate on-road bicycling, especially between Tanyard Hill Rd and Minnieville Rd. 

In closing, I’ll add that rehabilitating the 20-year-old shared-use path along much of the Prince William Parkway is another pressing bicycle transportation need in Prince William County.   While this path is overdue for repaving, the many jarring transverse pavement cracks should be fixed first.

Thank you for your consideration.