New Va. Bike, Sidewalk Projects Aim to Provide a Way Out of Driving

WASHINGTON — A series of projects aimed at making it easier to get around without sitting in traffic are moving forward in Virginia.

Expanding the new Fairfax County Capital BikeShare system in the Tysons and Dunn Loring areas, upgrading regional trails, and adding sidewalks in areas where people run the risk of being struck by cars are among the projects approved this week by the Washington region’s Transportation Planning Board.

“Our regional goals, which we really want to emphasize, are multimodal transportation options and regional activity centers,” said Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Transportation Planner John Swanson.

The board approved $2.7 million for seven projects as part of a program that aims to improve bike and pedestrian connections.

“All with the idea of making sure that people are not reliant on driving as their sole method of getting around,” Swanson said.

An additional $1 million is distributed by Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board, but that still left about $7 million in requests from local governments unfunded.

The federal funding program also provides for improvements in Maryland and D.C. on a different funding cycle.

The projects approved by the TPB are:

  • Holmes Run Connection Trail (Alexandria): This project would provide a trail connection on the south side of Holmes Run between North Ripley and North Pickett next to Holmes Run Parkway, providing an extension of the trail. “This is going to allow accessibility, access to bus stops, really making walking and bicycling a viable transportation option in that part of Alexandria,” Swanson said. The TPB funded $424,619 of the $800,000 requested for the project.
  • BikeShare expansion (Fairfax County): This would expand Fairfax County’s relatively new Capital BikeShare system by about 15 stations and 120 bikes within a couple of years. Eleven stations are currently up and running in the Tysons area and 14 more in the Reston area (one more is set to come online in the Reston area next month, and additional stations are planned around Tysons too). The new stations added as part of the $400,000 allocated for the project are expected to be centered on the Tysons and Dunn Loring-Merrifield area.
  • Mount Vernon Trail Bridge Replacement (Fairfax County/National Park Service): This $525,000 project funded half by the TPB funds and half by the CTB funds would remove and replace a bridge along the Mount Vernon Trail, which functions as a recreational and commuter route. “The Mt. Vernon Trail is a key, sort of iconic regional facility so this is going to really address a key safety issue at that location,” Swanson said.
  • Washington & Old Dominion Trail (Falls Church): This $497,600 project, also funded by the two sources, deals with four locations where the trail crosses roads at street level. The work would also provide separate space for bicyclists and pedestrians and add lighting and better connections to the East Falls Church Metro station. “Making that a transportation facility, not just a recreational facility,” Swanson said. There has been debate about some bridges that would raise the trail above wide and at times high-speed roads in the area.
  • Van Dorn Street Bicycle and Pedestrian Improvements (Fairfax County): This $400,000 project will add a shared-use path, crosswalk and other improvements near the Van Dorn Street Metro station.
  • Van Buren Street Multimodal Improvements (Fairfax County/Town of Herndon): Off-street bike paths, improved sidewalks, crosswalks and pedestrian signals are part of the $320,700 that aims to make it easier to access the Herndon Metro station when it opens as part of the second phase of the Silver Line.
  • Old Bridge Road Sidewalk (Prince William County): Prince William County plans to build 950 feet of sidewalk on the south side of Old Bridge Road from Tacketts Mill Shopping Center to Minnieville Road. Today, there is a worn path near the road where walkers are at risk. “Serious pedestrian safety issues. This project is going to provide access to shopping centers and neighborhoods and it’s about time that something happened in that location,” Swanson said. The board supported $664,000 for the project.
The projects approved by the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board. (Courtesy National Capital Region TPB)

Additional projects expected to get funding from the CTB are:

  • Opitz Boulevard Sidewalk Project (Prince William County): Half of the requested $585,208 for 1300 feet of sidewalk along the south side of Opitz Boulevard between Potomac Center Boulevard and Route 1.
  • Route 7 pedestrian safety improvements (Town of Hamilton/Loudoun County): $121,570 for improvements to sidewalks along Route 7, including the replacement of sidewalks and crosswalk improvements.
  • Freeman Store Pedestrian Bridge (Town of Vienna/Fairfax County): $74,526 of the $139,520 requested for design and construction of a pedestrian bridge from the existing W & OD trail to historic Freeman Store. The old bridge was torn down due to deterioration.

New Leesburg trails launch this weekend

Separately, Leesburg is unveiling a new bicycle trail network this weekend, intended to make it easier to figure out a route from one place to another or to follow the existing shared-use paths for recreational rides.

Public Information Officer Betsy Arnett said the opening of the new segment of Russell Branch Parkway last year between Battlefield Parkway and Crosstrail Boulevard provided the link needed to complete the trail system.

One marked trail starts at the Washington and Old Dominion Trail at the edge of Tuscarora Creek Park, runs up Battlefield Parkway to Russell Brank Parkway, up River Creek Parkway to Potomac Station Drive, then up Battlefield Parkway to near Ball’s Bluff Regional Park. Called the Blue Trail, it covers 5.5 miles. The other newly marked trail, called the Green Trail, runs from the W&OD Trail near Fox Ridge Park, up past Ida Lee Park, to Battlefield Parkway and N. King Street. It covers 2.6 miles.

The new Leesburg bike-trail network. (Courtesy Town of Leesburg)

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