FABB encourages local riders to participate in one of the upcoming Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) public and virtual information meetings to provide information about the I-495 Southside Express Lanes study. In earlier meetings, FABB has demanded consideration of a shared-use path to be included in the project.

The project, if adopted, would extend the Express Lanes system on the southern section of the Capital Beltway (I-495) by 11 miles from the Springfield interchange (I-95/I-395/I-495) in Fairfax County, Virginia, across the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge, to the MD 210 interchange in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

VDOT claims part of its goals involve providing additional travel choices, reducing congestion, improving safety, and providing consistency with local plans.

In general, FABB believes that additional express lanes are a poor, if not counterproductive, solution to congestion and safety problems. Worse, they consume funds that would be better used to expand multimodal transit options.

If the project should become a reality, however, we need to ensure that the plans include biking infrastructure that would actually help with reducing congestion and pollution by creating other viable and safe travel options.

Open I-66 Parallel Trail section.

Open I-66 Parallel Trail section.

During initial public meetings in 2022, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) recommended that VDOT include a shared-use path in the express lane study. FABB strongly supports this recommendation.

Such a trail would be similar to the I-66 Parallel Trail, sections of which have recently opened, and the planned trail accompanying the I-495 Northern Extension project that is extending express lanes from the Tysons area to the American Legion Bridge.

VDOT plans to share preliminary alternative concepts for review and input at the upcoming public meetings. These will be excellent opportunities to Speak Up! in favor of inclusion of a shared-use path with at grade crossings and protections at least as good as those installed on the I-66 Parallel Trail.

The Virtual Public Information Meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 12, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Visit https://www.virginiadot.org/495southside or call 703-691-6715 for details on how to join the meeting.

In-Person Public Information Meetings will be held from 6:30  to 8:30 pm on the following dates:

  • Tuesday, Sep. 19 – Nannie J. Lee Memorial Recreation Center, 1108 Jefferson St., Alexandria
  • Wednesday, Sep. 20 – John R. Lewis High School, 6540 Franconia Rd., Springfield

Meeting materials will be posted on the study webpage prior to the public information meetings.

You can provide input by completing the public opinion survey here.

You also can submit written comments by October 2, 2023, by sending an email to [email protected].  You also can send a letter to Nick Nies, AICP, VDOT 495 Southside Express Lanes Study NEPA Project Manager, 9030 Stony Point Parkway, Suite 220, Richmond, VA 23235.

Having a safe, protected, and comfortable shared-use path will make bicycling better in this part of Fairfax County. If the plans to extend the express lanes go forward, your voice will help ensure that VDOT includes bicycle infrastructure in the project.

 

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