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    Document Summary
    - Report Published -

    Senate Document No. 14

    Document Title
    Report on the Progress in Meeting the Request of Senate Joint Resolution 292

    Department of Rail and Public Transportation

    Enabling Authority
    SJR 292 (Regular Session, 2011)

    Executive Summary
    The 2011 General Assembly passed Senate Joint Resolution (SJ 292) that directed the Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) to evaluate the level of study necessary to identify and advance potential public transportation services to Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County and the Marine Corps Base at Quantico in Prince William and Stafford Counties. This evaluation comes at a critical time in which the Route 1 roadway is becoming increasingly congested due to population growth and Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) related actions affecting Fort Belvoir and Quantico. Currently, local jurisdictions, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are working on various roadway and transit related projects to address the mobility issues on Route 1. Recently, the United States Office of Economic Adjustment (a division within the Department of Defense) approved Fairfax County’s grant proposal to widen a 3-mile segment of Route 1 near Fort Belvoir from four to six lanes. In Prince William County, there are on‐going efforts to improve the Route 1 and State Route 123 intersection and to widen segments of Route 1. Further study is necessary to potentially advance roadway widening from Woodlawn Road to the I-95/I-495 Capital Beltway.

    DRPT convened a Steering Committee to provide direction to staff over the course of the SJ292 study that consisted of staff from Fairfax County, Prince William County and the federal, state and local elected officials within the subject jurisdictions. Representatives from the Marine Corps Base Quantico and Fort Belvoir also participated in the SJ292 steering committee. A summary of meeting notes and presentations may be found at http://www.drpt.virginia.gov. Through its research, DRPT compiled numerous recommendations from completed studies and plans that have been developed by VDOT, Fairfax County, Prince William County, Stafford County, local transit agencies and private organizations over the past ten years. These recommendations were aimed at improving mobility for commuters, local residents and establishing transit-supportive, pedestrian-friendly, mixed use development along Route 1. The completed studies and plans recommended a range of road-widening, improved local transit service, potential rapid transit service, such as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Light Rail Transit (LRT), or MetroRail, and transit supportive mixed-use development. As funding has materialized, implementing agencies have taken steps to advance these recommendations by making roadway and transit-related improvements such as establishing new limited stop bus service, expanding roadway capacity and constructing new sidewalks and bus shelters. In addition, Fairfax County has worked with VDOT to develop signal priority technology solution on the traffic signals that is intended to improve transit operations along Route 1, but the technology has not been utilized.

    The improvements that have been made on Route 1 are indeed an excellent step forward in improving the travel conditions; nevertheless, the traffic volume continues to meet or exceed the Route 1 roadway capacity. As such, a desire remains among local elected officials to continue to make improvements in the near-term, but also continue to move toward making a long-term major capital investment in rapid transit service such as consideration of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Light Rail Transit (LRT) or extending MetroRail in the corridor. Implementing a major capital investment could not only improve mobility, but with proper land-use decision-making, it could jump-start economic revitalization efforts.

    Given the vast array of study and subsequent recommendations related to Route 1 over the past ten years, the need to improve travel conditions on Route 1 in the near-term, and the desire of the local elected officials to pursue a major capital investment in a rapid transit system technology, two courses of actions were agreed upon by the Steering Committee. In the first course of action, DRPT will work with its transit partners and affected jurisdictions to initiate a near‐term initiative that will seek to advance and/or implement the recommendations that have been made to improve transit operations and traffic conditions in the near-term (two year to five year timeframe) on Route 1 from Huntington Metro Station down to Woodbridge and potentially extending to Quantico, as appropriate. It is anticipated that the near-term implementation analysis will be initiated by spring of 2012 and conclude in the spring of 2013. DRPT will assemble a stakeholder group to oversee and advise the near-term implementation initiative. This group will include representatives from local jurisdictions, elected officials offices, Fort Belvoir and the Marine Corps Base Quantico. In addition, DRPT will seek significant and meaningful public involvement and input by residents, business owners and interested parties located along Route 1 throughout the process.

    The second course of action includes initiating the long-term planning and project development that is necessary to be eligible for FTA Section 5309 “New Starts” funding. This long-term planning initiative includes the initiation of countywide transit network study and an Alternatives Analysis that will be led by Fairfax County with support from DRPT. The Fairfax County Department of Transportation’s transit network study is intended to identify travel patterns, desired land-uses, prospective station locations and challenges affecting implementation. The project will be completed in 2012, on the condition of Fairfax County Board approval. The information from this transit network study will serve as an input into the Alternative Analysis (AA). One of the goals of the AA is to determine which mode of public transit is feasible in the long‐term (light‐rail, bus rapid transit, etc) and how it would qualify for Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Section 5309 “New Starts” funding. Led by Fairfax County, this analysis may take between two to five years to complete.

    Prince William County Department of Transportation is aware of Fairfax County’s alternatives analysis process. However, the County will focus its efforts on implementing roadway expansion projects, in coordination with VDOT, in order to address chokepoints that hinder vehicular movement and affect on‐time performance of commuter and local buses that serve communities along the Route 1 corridor. The County will coordinate with the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC) to implement an extension of the Route 1 OmniLink route from the Woodbridge VRE station to Fort Belvoir, once a funding source is identified to cover capital and operating costs.

    In 2012, DRPT will consult with its transit partners, State agencies, and affected jurisdictions on the development of the near‐term implementation analysis. Once Fairfax County launches their County‐wide Transit Network Study, DRPT staff will monitor their efforts and exchange project‐related information, at the appropriate time. Throughout this process, DRPT will maintain contact with staffs from Prince William County and other interested agencies to solicit input and, if necessary, facilitate involvement with future studies.

    DRPT believes these efforts will add momentum to a long‐standing desire among elected officials, residents and commuters to identify and implement solutions that improve mobility and public transportation services on the Route 1 corridor.