As Northern Virginia continues to grow, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority has planned on how to improve transportation and relieve congestion. The authority has been collecting public input the past couple months as it gets ready to adopt the proposed 2040 TransAction Plan later this fall.
Loudoun residents were able to voice their opinions online through the Envision Loudoun survey and at last week’s Transportation Authority meeting and a July 19 open house at the Loudoun County Government Center. The authority is still taking online comments through July 23.
The plan includes 350 potential projects, of which the authority only has money to fund about a third. One particular project, a bride crossing the Potomac River into Maryland, has particularly caught local attention. While plans that pertain to roads within the Commonwealth can be fully funded through the plan, projects that cross into Washington D.C. or Maryland cannot be funded unless Maryland and D.C. come to the table, NVTA Executive Director Monica Backmon said.
As things stand, Virginia does not have the support of Maryland to build the bridge. However, if it were to happen, NVTA officials also said there would be a great deal of community input and research put into the project. The NVTA would want to build the bridge in a location where it would be lease disruptive to the environment and existing structures.
The NVTA expects the population of Northern Virginia to increase by 24 percent by 2040 and for employment to increase by 37 percent. This means that even if all 350 projects on the plan’s list were implemented, traffic would still get worse, Backmon said. However, it would get worse at a much slower rate than if nothing is done, and some areas will see improvements. The draft plan is expected to save Virginians an average of 24 minutes on their commute.
The draft plan also looks to implement multi-modal projects to target congestion in different ways. Projects focus on new roads, updating existing roads, Metrorail expansion, Light Rail Transit, Bus Rapid Transit, bicycle and pedestrian projects, incentivizing carpooling or use of public transportation to reduce single drivers commuting and addressing congestion by creating more parallel road and transit options to main routes.
“There is no single solution tot he transportation woes of the region,” Backmon said. “What works within the beltway may not work outside the beltway so we have to use a multi-modal approach.”
Seventy percent of funds will go to the Commonwealth and 30 percent will go to the Northern Virginia counties and cities of Fairfax, Falls Church, Alexandria, Manassas and Manassas Park to use how they see fit.
The full TransAction plan is available online. The NVTA will adopt the plan Oct. 12. Once the plan is adopted, the NVTA will look at projects with greater scrutiny to decide which plans to implement within the next six years. The authority will take expected congestion relief, community input and the benefit to cost ration when selecting projects.