2018 Blueprint for Better Transportation in Northern Virginia
Prince William Conservation Alliance partnered with other regional conservation groups and prepared a plan describing where we should grow and how investing in the right transportation projects can steer that growth. Check out the Blueprint text and map.
It is unrealistic to pretend Northern Virginia can stop growth and simply refuse to allow construction of new houses. What we can do is shape where that growth occur.
Land use and transportation plans should be coordinated so new development is encouraged in the places where it is most appropriate, and redevelopment is encouraged at selected sites.
Manassas and Manassas Park are incentivizing new residential growth near the Virginia Railway Express stations. Manassas has updated its parking requirements to reflect the projection that new residents in the downtown area will use cars less often.
Fairfax County is planning new “live-work-play” communities, redeveloping old commercial areas on Route 1 north of Fort Belvoir into mixed use communities. Fairfax is preparing for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) along Route 1 south to Woodbridge, planning new transportation capacity now to minimize traffic congestion from future development. Fairfax is attracting employers to the Route 1 corridor by upgrading transit connections between the Franconia/Springfield Metro station and Fort Belvoir, so skilled workers across the region could get to jobs there without having to drive.
The Blueprint identifies some specific projects in Prince William that can shape future growth to match the Mobility vision in the county’s Strategic Plan development: The Community Will Have an Accessible, Comprehensive, Multi-Modal Network of Transportation Infrastructure That Supports Local and Regional Mobility.
Political talk about “fixing transportation” is cheap and repeated by candidates at each election cycle. Setting real priorities is hard, but essential. If we invest in the wrong projects, we’ll ignore lessons learned such as “we can never build enough roads fast enough to control congestion, if we keep scattering housing developments.”
Let’s not perpetuate the mistakes made since sprawl began in the 1950s and fund more “dumb growth” projects designed for land speculators, such as the Bi-County Parkway and new bridges to make an Outer Beltway across the Potomac River at Route 15 and Dumfries.
Specific, high-priority projects include:
- Make it safe for pedestrians to cross the new six-lane highway,
- Extend Bus Rapid Transit to Quantico to spur economic development in Prince William.
- Add housing to create a mixed use, walkable community connecting the cultural assets of George Mason University and the Hylton Center, plus the offices at Innovation,
- Expand planning to create a larger area of development linked to the commercial district on Business 234, including Manassas Mall,
- Work with Vulcan to re-purpose the current quarry, when abandoned, into a recreational lake integrated with Rosemont-Lewis Park,
Virginia Railway Express (VRE)
- Support high-density housing and mixed use development within walking distance, especially in concert with the Broad Run rail yard expansion (locating new development where the Manassas Airport safety zone is not a factor)
- Expand capacity with upgraded platforms and longer trains
- Add more trains throughout the day, converting VRE from a rush-hour commuter line into a transit system
Route 28/234 Bypass
- Replace the at-grade Route 234 intersections at Sudley Manor Drive and Wellington Road with grade-separated interchanges, eliminating traffic lights (as will occur at Balls Ford intersection),
- Widen 234 Bypass to six lanes from Route 28 to I‑66, enabling traffic headed towards Centreville to get their fast via HOT Lanes without adding congestion to Route 28 north of Manassas,
- Improve intra‑county bus service by the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission Gainesville so people can get to jobs, VRE stations, and commuter bus hubs without driving,
- Improve local bike/pedestrian connectivity with “Safe Streets to Schools” program,
- Provide bike/pedestrian connections from residential neighborhoods to parks, libraries, and commuter hubs in addition to schools