Route 28 from Manassas to I-66: a “No-Brainer”

congestionRight now, it requires 46 minutes on average to drive the 6.2 miles from Liberia Avenue in Manassas to I-66 in Centreville.  It’s a no-brainer – Route 28 needs to be fixed.

VDOT held a public meeting last night in Manassas Park to discuss Phase 1 of the Route 28 Corridor Safety and Operations Study, with 100 or so projects that could be implemented without buying land or relocating utilities.  These are the quick “band aids” that could be built within 18 months after funding is available.  Longer-term fixes, such as widening the 4-lane bridge over Bull Run, won’t be considered until 2016.

Why so long?  In 2013, the General Assembly raised taxes and provided substantial new funding for transportation in HB2013 – but in 2014, a new law (HB2) required adoption of new state rules to prioritize large transportation projects.  That law was triggered in part by plans to build the Bi-County Parkway, rather than fix Route 28 or I-66.

Two take-aways from last night’s discussion:

1) VDOT will not start to plan for possible transit solutions to reduce congestion on Route 28 until 2016
2) If the Prince William Board of County Supervisors chooses to rezone Cayden Ridge to add 188 more houses, the voters are paying attention to the traffic impacts

1) As usual, VDOT focused almost exclusively on transportation supply and ignored demand.  The VDOT bias for building build more/wider roads is deeply entrenched.  The concept of using transit systems to move more people in fewer vehicles, minimizing the cost of highway construction, was quickly dismissed last night – Phase 1 will not consider increasing bus service.

VDOT made a reasonable case last night for that approach in Phase 1, stating flatly that the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC) won’t schedule new bus routes on such a congested road.  (Ah, the danger of attending a public meeting: ya might learn something…)

PRTC’s current Manassas and Manassas Metro Direct bus routes go from Manassas to Tysons and to downtown DC via the Route 234 interchanges on I-66.  PRTC avoids using Route 28 to Centreville, except for return trips so a bus can make a second run.

Phase 2 could consider construction on Route 28, potentially a dedicated lane for bus rapid transit (BRT).  The Prince William County map of Future Transit Alternatives (“future” means after 2030) includes new bus routes and even a light rail system up Route 28 to Dulles.

2) One member in the audience last night noted that if improving Route 28 was a no-brainer, so was the Cayden Ridge rezoning to add 188 new houses on Signal Hill Road and increase the number of commuters on Route 28.

The county supervisors will be asked to approve a Comprehensive Plan Amendment for Cayden Ridge in early 2015.  The county’s Planning Commission approved it on November 5 on a 6-2 vote, despite a recommendation for rejection by the Planning Department staff.

A vote for that rezoning will be viewed as a vote for increasing traffic congestion on Route 28.  When asked if they support Cayden Ridge, county officials at the meeting mumbled about traffic impact analyses and how county staff studies the effects of new development on transportation.

The traditional political process in Prince William has been for supervisors to agree that commuting is a crisis, spout complicated planning jargon to obscure the obvious no-brainer impacts of adding new housing next to already-overcrowded roads, quietly vote for new rezonings that increase the demand for transportation capacity, blame VDOT and the General Assembly for failing to fund new roads – and then campaign for reelection based on claims that the candidate will fix the problem.

That dog may not hunt much longer. Rezonings add cars to the roads; it’s a no-brainer.

Attendees at last night’s meeting clearly understood that rezonings affect traffic demand.  Candidates running for Board of County Supervisors seats in 2015 may be forced to explain their decisions on rezonings such as Avendale and proposals to “bust” the Rural Area and add even more houses along the Route 28 corridor.

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1 comment so far

  1. j on

    One politician alluded that it would be the public’s fault if the Cayden Ridge development was approved if more of them didn’t attend meetings to voice their concerns.


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