Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Tag

VRE to Haymarket… Who Benefits?

VREVRE Community Meeting!
Update: at the meeting, VRE displayed but did not highlight its exhibit on the number of trains per day.  The exhibit was used to create the inaccurate impression that a Haymarket extension would somehow increase the number of trains using the Manassas Line.  If anything, spending money to build new track would reduce the capital funding available to buy new trains.

Tonight… Tuesday, Nov. 10, 6-8 p.m. at Gainesville Middle School, 8001 Limestone Drive.

Bottom Line: VRE appears to be seeking public support for an extension to Gainesville/Haymarket. It’s a bait-and-switch sales pitch – make people think an extension to Haymarket will increase the number of trains per day.

If anything, spending capital funding on new track instead of buying new trainsets would reduce the potential for increasing the number of VRE trains running daily on Manassas Line.

A legitimate alternatives analysis should include:

  • not building any extension of track, and instead investing in new trainset.
  • not building any station at Haymarket that will induce additional demand from Culpeper, Fauquier, Warren, and Page counties.
  • not building a large parking capacity at any new station, but instead building multiple park-and-shuttle lots nearer to subdivisions so commuters in single occupancy vehicles won’t clog local highways at rush hour.

VRE should consider the alternative of building a new spur track into Innovation Town Center or north of current line, where Vulcan quarry is reaching end of its life and will be converted into water storage bank soon. A new end-of-line station at Innovation/Vulcan quarry could incentivize a high-density town center, and increase TOD potential there!

Prince William County has the opportunity to serve as a 21st century role model for smart transit growth, but the current VDOT plan demonstrates we have a long way to go!


Landscaping Not Included

scalesThe recent widening of Minnievillie Road between Smoketown and Old Bridge Roads, and expansion of the commuter lot near the intersection with Old Bridge Road has helped commuter travel times but it’s also changed the appearance of the area.

Many trees were lost to new road lanes, parking spaces and a now vacated construction staging area near Colby Drive, which left the area looking dreary and gray. Over the past couple weeks I’ve heard several people comment that they are really glad the County is finally planting some trees along Minnieville Road.

However, what most people don’t know is that the County budget did not allocate any funding for the new landscaping, which will soften the appearance of this otherwise bleak street scene. So who is paying for the green? Continue reading

Will gas costs push people to move from suburbs to DC?

A recent analysis of the 2006 American Community Survey, Long Island Express: The Surprisingly Short Commutes Of Suburban New Yorkers, challenges the assumption that as gas prices increase, “people will begin moving from farther out in the suburbs to locations closer to the cores.”

Turns out the people who live and work in the outer suburbs of New York City (NYC) have shorter commutes to work.  If you live in Bergen County, NJ, your commute to work is shorter than if you live in Manhattan.

If you live in an outer suburb and commute to Manhattan, you would have a long commute… so most people living in the region don’t commute to the central business district.  The image of the harried stockbroker enduring long commuter train rides may be powerful, but it’s not the typical worker in the region. Continue reading

Funding transportation vs… (schools/public safety/you pick the priority)

The Wall Street Journal reported today (“Funds for Highways Plummet As Drivers Cut Gasoline Use”) that “$225 billion a year is needed to meet the country’s transportation infrastructure needs. Current spending is about 40% of that level.”

Think we’ll increase current transportation spending by 150%?  Think the Federal government will just send us a check?  Think the members of the General Assembly/Board of County Supervisors will vote for their share of those taxes? 

The transportation system is aging, and the costs to maintain our existing roads/bridges/rail infrastructure is skyrocketing.  How much more new stuff can we afford to build and then maintain?  Continue reading

What would happen if we got Metrorail?

Want Metrorail extended to Potomac Mills?  Gainesville?  Hey, why not extend Metrorail to the intersection of Minnieville Road and Route 234, to support one of those hypothetical “centers of community” proposed in the draft land use chapter of the new Comprehensive Plan?

Of course we want Metro.  Metro is good good good.   It’s like asking someone on a hot July afternoon “want a cold drink?”

Unless you consider the impacts.  Getting Metro to PW County could be economic suicide. Continue reading

VRE to Gainesville/Haymarket… or not?

Did you get an invitation to the VDOT public open house and workshop for the VRE Gainesville-Haymarket Feasibility Study & Alternatives Analysis on July 30 (details below)…

Prince William has imposed an extra 2% tax on local gasoline sales to finance our contribution to VRE, which is one reason Prince William’s gas prices are often higher than in Fauquier and Warren counties.

The Virginia Railway Express Gainesville/Haymarket Implementation Plan presumes that we should spend big bucks (think $200-300 million for infrastructure, plus more annually for operational costs) to extend commuter rail.  The alternative is to focus on improving service on the current lines, running trains more often and offering greater reliability. Continue reading

Revising the County’s Transportation Chapter

Transportation planning ain’t simple, but the DC Examiner newspaper jumped the gun on June 27. It reported that the Board of County Supervisors had approved a new transportation plan.

Nope, not yet. The reporter heard the supervisors dreaming big, with little or no attention to budget challenges. However, those very expensive road and transit construction proposals mentioned in the article are not a “done deal” yet. Continue reading

Better Together: Land Use & Transportation Planning

The connections between land use and transportation are getting a lot of attention in Virginia’s smart growth forums. Sounds like good news, but is it just more chatter or could it signal a step in the right direction?

In 2006 the General Assembly took action and unanimously approved VDOT’s Traffic Impact Analysis Regulations, which say that traffic impacts should be assessed before new residential densities are added to Comprehensive Plans or approved through zoning changes. Continue reading