The big discussions about the future of Interstate 66 travel tend to focus on tolling and widening. But the success of the Virginia government’s plan to ease congestion hinges on convincing many more commuters to leave their cars behind.
Even those who are going to pay tolls to use the HOT lanes will care about this, because toll revenue will go to support those leave-the-car options. That’s why Northern Virginia officials and advocates for better transportation service will take a lot of interest in the initial proposals presented to the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, the local group assigned by the state to pick which ones should be financed.
The commission is asking for your comments on the 19 programs, which total up to $42.7 million in proposed spending. The comment period starts Tuesday and leads to a public hearing in Arlington County on May 5. The commission and the state government want to have selected programs ready to go when the high-occupancy toll lanes open inside the Capital Beltway. That’s planned for summer 2017. Financing is limited to projects meant to improve travel in the I-66 corridor between the Beltway and Route 29, in the Rosslyn area. After the public hearing, the commission will wind up voting on which projects to advance.
Many of the applications aim to provide better bus service in the corridor. Smaller portions support better park and ride services, improved information for travelers so they can better plan trips and enhanced bike-sharing services. This page on the commission website has a link to the full list.
Here’s a sampler.
Fairfax Connector express. Fairfax County seeks funds for a $4.8 million project to create a Fairfax Connector express bus service between the Stringfellow Road park and ride lot, the Pentagon Transit Center and the Mark Center Transit Station via Stringfellow Road, I-66, Route 110, I-395 and Seminary Road. The express buses would operate on I-66 inside and outside the Beltway.
Loudoun commuter bus. Loudoun County asks for $2.3 million to help support two years’ operation of a commuter bus service from a new 200-space park and ride lot in Ashburn, near the development called One Loudoun development. The route would take commuters to Metrorail stations.
Gainesville-Pentagon commuter bus. Prince William County would like to get $888,000 to support three years of operating a new commuter bus service between Gainesville and the Pentagon.
Transportation information screens. Alexandria seeks $190,000 to support installation and two years’ operation of about 15 real-time transportation information screens at employment and transportation hubs in the city. Part of each screen’s display will target the I-66 corridor, giving people information on transit, carpool and vanpool options, as well as such travel alternatives as VRE, Metrorail, Metrobus, DASH, Capital Bikeshare, and car-sharing services.
Better Metrobus service. Falls Church asks for $1.9 million to support two years of more frequent service on the Metrobus 2A route, the Washington Boulevard-Dunn Loring Line. The proposal would create a consistent frequency of 15 minutes along the entire route.
The commission will accept comments by email at email@example.com or by phone at 703-NVTC-321 (703-688-2321). The May 5 hearing will be held at the commission offices, 2300 Wilson Blvd., in the First Floor Conference Room. That session will begin with an at 6 p.m., followed by the public hearing at 7 p.m. Use that email address or the phone line to sign up to speak. You can also sign up from 6 to 7 p.m. on the evening of the hearing.