495 Express Lanes Extension Study 300x83 - I-495 Express Lanes Northern Extension Study Public Meeting ReportOn Monday, May 20, FABB members were out in force for a Virginia Department of Transportation public information meeting on its study of plans to extend the I-495 Express Lanes approximately three miles from the Dulles Toll Road to the American Legion Bridge. One of VDOT’s latest mega-projects, the study is examining options to add two Express Lanes in each direction, reconstruct overpasses, and improve access.  For local bicyclists, the key proposal is the addition of bicycle and pedestrian facilities as part of the project, which could begin by late 2020.

495 Express Lanes Extension Bike Plans 300x183 - I-495 Express Lanes Northern Extension Study Public Meeting ReportThe current plans has two types of proposed share-use paths for bicyclists and pedestrians. One seemed more set while the other was listed as “to be determined” (TBD), suggesting that its final position or even inclusion is tentative.

A TBD path would start just south of Lewinsville Road and, remaining outside the sound walls, would go north on the western side of I-495 until it crossed Old Dominion Drive.

A proposed path would continue along the western side of I-495 until it connected with Georgetown Pike.  Old Dominion Drive also would gain proposed paths on either side of the bridge crossing I-495 that connected to the path heading to Georgetown Pike.

Screen Shot 2019 05 21 at 8.55.24 PM 300x300 - I-495 Express Lanes Northern Extension Study Public Meeting Report

Proposed Path (in green) Crossing Georgetown Pike.

At Georgetown Pike, a short proposed path would cross the bridge over I-495 on its southern side and then connect to Balls Hill Road. A crosswalk will lead to a continuation of the path along Balls Hill Road to Live Oak Drive.

At this point, a proposed TBD path continues behind the sound walls along the east side of I-495 that goes underneath the ramps to and from the George Washington Parkway before ending on the south side of the American Legion Bridge.

If constructed, this shared use path will provide a links from the Tysons area to communities to the north and perhaps one day into Maryland. Unfortunately, there are no direct connections with Tysons. But, it is possible to get there using Lewinsville Road.

It will be possible to get from the future Route 7 paths that connect to Tyco Road to Spring Hill Road to Lewinsville Road and vice versa. Similarly, riders coming from or going to Vienna could use the new Vesper Trail and Spring Hill Road to connect to Lewinsville. Another option would be to travel the bike lanes on Lewinsville Road to the Spring Hill Road side path to Jones Branch Drive in Tysons to get to the bridge over Route 123 to the Tysons Corner Center and on to the bike lanes on Gallows Road to get to the W&OD Trail or into Merrifield.

Of course, to make these safe options, FABB requests that members contact VDOT and ask for the following:

  • Separated bike lanes, regular bike lanes or at least sharrows will need to be retained or added to Tyco Road, Jones Branch Drive, and Spring Hill Road on south of International Drive.
  • Access from Lewinsville Road along Spring Hill Road underneath the Dulles Toll Road and into Tysons needs to be greatly improved. Currently, there is a narrow and rough paved path and sidewalk from Lewinsville to the Toll Road and then up to the intersection with Jones Branch Road that needs to be widened and improved.
  • Traffic signals in these areas need to be upgraded to account for pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Adequate wayfinding signage should be included in the project to get cyclists and pedestrians to and from the Tysons area to the new I-495 shared use path.
  • Adequate wayfinding signage should be included to get riders and pedestrians from the I-495 shared use path along Lewinsville Road to Tysons and then to Reston and Gallows Road.

Finally, the intersection at International Drive, Jones Branch Road, and Spring Hill Road is notorious for scoff law motorists using improper turn lanes and blocking crosswalks, endangering cyclists and pedestrians seeking to use paths and sidewalks in this area. VDOT and FCDOT should work with the Fairfax County Police Department to conduct regular enforcement actions to discourage improper behavior by motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists.

Given the tentative nature of the path plans, they will be the first thing to be dropped if cost issues or other obstacles arise, so Speaking Up now is very important. Your comments can be submitted here or by Email at [email protected]. Comments must be submitted by June 10, 2019.

Please join us in letting VDOT know that we support the plan to add a shared use path as part of this project and to ask for the improvements needed to make the path a safer and more effective transportation option.

Blog