$110 Million for Transit Projects Proposed

By Fredrick Kunkle
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 1, 2007

This year's ballot asks voters whether Fairfax County should float $110 million in bonds to build or improve parts of the county's transportation network.

Bob Chase, president of the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, urged the bonds' passage, calling them a modest but important investment in the economy. Putting off improvements would cost more over time, he said, and roads are so clogged now that traffic is a drag on the economy.

"Perhaps the one commodity that's irreplaceable is people's time," Chase said.

Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, said he welcomed more money for mass transit and improving travel for pedestrians and bicycles. He cautioned against widening roads to the point where they become unsafe for pedestrians and bicyclists or divide neighborhoods. He said the county should not rely solely on road improvements to solve transportation problems and focus more on planning.

"Overall, we think it's a good package," Schwartz said.

If approved, the biggest chunk, $71.25 million, would be for roads. That includes $55 million for major projects, such as widening Stringfellow Road from two to four lanes, relocating the Cinder Bed and Newington roads intersection, and widening parts of Lorton Road, Lee Highway and Poplar Tree Road. An additional $8.5 million would help alleviate traffic caused by a shift of jobs to Fort Belvoir ordered by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission.

The bond would fund $7.75 million for minor road projects. Those are, among others, fixing Braddock Road, including at Backlick Road and the entrance to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology; adding turn lanes on Shirley Gate Road at Route 29 and on Towlston Road at Leesburg Pike; modifying the Fairfax County Parkway to give it a third southbound lane between Lee Highway and Braddock Road; and expanding bike lanes on Gallows Road and nearby roadways.

The bond measure would also raise $16 million in transit spending. Those funds would be for building two bus transit centers at George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College, installing a staircase at the Vienna/Fairfax-GMU Metro station, renovating the Fairfax Connector bus facility in Herndon and expanding the Stringfellow Road park-and-ride lot from 385 to about 700 spaces.

Pedestrian improvements, including constructing sidewalks and trail links and improving crosswalks, would take $15 million and cover 46 projects.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company