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Plan Proposed for Northern Virginia Relief

Just got back from a press conference at the Dunn Loring Metro station with some of the elected officials in Northern Virginia who have presented a plan to improve the road-transit-pedestrian-bike network in Northern Virginia.

The plan, created by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, projects the region's needs to 2030 and aims to ease the intense congestion that the generation born in this decade will encounter as it enters the working life.

The plan identifies a total of $16 billion in what it considers unmet transportation needs, but the leaders supporting it are not proposing a specific method of raising the money. Their goal is to win the backing of the Virginia General Assembly, the stumbling block for any plan for the future of Northern Virginia's transportation network.

The NVTA chairman, David Snyder, and Gerry Connolly, who is a member of the authority, each pointed to a set of maps that illustrate their concern for the region's success in this century. One map marks highway congestion in 2005. There's red -- for "one hour or more of stop and go traffic" during peak periods -- all along the Capital Beltway, out I-66, down I-95 and along the George Washington Parkway. The red spreads extensively along the highway network on a projection to 2030, based on land use patterns.

Even with the investment required to carry out this plan, a separate map shows that the Dulles Toll Road remains red, as do most parts of I-95 andthe parkway. Even part of I-66 in western Prince William is red. Many other areas would benefit from the extra investment, according to this study, and would experience only occasional stop and go traffic.

The advocates of the plan, called TransAction 2030, picked the Dunn Loring Station for this media event because it puts reporters and camera people within eye sight of jammed up I-66 and the Orange Line's crowded trains.

This is a sample of the transportation improvements that the plan recommends in that corridor:

-- Widen I-66 to eight lanes between the Beltway and Gainesville.
-- Extend Metrorail to Centreville.
-- Extend VRE from Manassas to Haymarket.
-- Add express bus service throughout the area.

The TransAction2030 plan will be one of several competing for attention in the Virginia General Assembly's special session beginning on Sept. 27. There's also a proposal from two Northern Virginia House delegates to raise $417 million a year for Northern Virginia projects by raising some taxes and fees in the region. The Republican House leadership, meanwhile, has called for changes in the way the Virginia Department of Transportation operates.

Jim Parmelee, president of Republicans United for Tax Relief, also was out at Dunn Loring. Jim is always out there at events like this, to needle local officials and tell reporters that the officials care more about raising taxes than about new roads.

I'll be following the issue of long-range transportation planning in Virginia this month, and am interested in hearing your thoughts on what extra investment is needed and how you think it should be financed.

Here's a link that will get you to a pdf copy of the 171-page report, but keep in mind that's a big file to download.

By Robert Thomson  |  September 15, 2006; 11:31 AM ET
Categories:  Congestion  
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Comments

I think that a proportional amount of tax dollars generated in NOVA should stay in NOVA. It seems that the region is prospering and generating dollars but not receiving the necessary funding for infrastructure support.

Maybe NOVA should become a state within a state (joke). But seriously, we would probably be better off.

Posted by: Sick of Traffic | September 15, 2006 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I think that expansion of the Metro System is key to helping Northern Virginia traffic issues.

I think that they are on the right track, but I would go even further. Why not expand the Metro all the way out to Gainesville. I also think that the metro should expand down the 395/95 corridor to the Dumfries/Manassas 234 exit.

Posted by: Proposal right on track | September 15, 2006 11:48 AM | Report abuse

"I think that they are on the right track, but I would go even further. Why not expand the Metro all the way out to Gainesville. I also think that the metro should expand down the 395/95 corridor to the Dumfries/Manassas 234 exit."

That would a lot more sense than throwing away $4 billion plus operating subsidies on Dulles rail so developers can make billions and so Fairfax and Loudon County boosters can brag about a "train to the plane".

Alas, there are no developers, anti-road rail advocates, folks who paid a lot to live in the "right" zip code, and their political lackeys pushing for the routes you suggest.

Posted by: CEEAF | September 15, 2006 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I agree with "sick of traffic." we need the lawmakers down in Richmond to send us back more of our tax dollars in NOVA. It is outrageous that we in NOVA only get 27 cents for every dollar we send down to Richmond. NOVA provides more half of the states jobs and is the economy of VA. Lawmakers have to find a way to shift more funds up to NOVA.

Posted by: andrew | September 15, 2006 3:08 PM | Report abuse

The Metro rethink is a great idea. The orange line expansion to Centreville will relieve a lot of traffic from I-66. However this needs to be done soon. If this gets stuck the in the bureaucratic cycle then there are high chances that this area might lose its charm. Currently in the Metro and Metro bus to Centreville I hear many disgruntled commuters who contemplate moving from this area to avoid traffic.

Fairfax city is mostly residential so anyone living in Fairfax and west have a long commute. So if there is a metro is a utter necessity. I-66 is getting pounded by more and more cars everyday. If there is so plans finalized soon and if the economy cools down the area might lose its luster.

Posted by: Ravi | September 26, 2006 3:45 PM | Report abuse

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