My remarks at last night’s CTB public hearing in Fairfax County are below. Four of the 20 citizen speakers, including Bruce Wright and Fionnuala Quinn of FABB and Rick Holt from Prince William County primarily addressed bicycling issues, most notably the vacant statewide coordinator position, the stalled statewide bicycling policy plan, and the poor maintenance of VDOT shared-use paths. Thanks to those who spoke last night, VDOT should make significant progress on at least those three issues in the coming months.
The CTB will hold two more public hearings in Salem and in Richmond on May 12 and 18, respectively. The CTB hearing in Hampton Roads (Chesapeake) happened on April 27.
Written comments may be submitted via mail or email until May 27, 2011 to:
Virginia Department of Transportation
1401 E. Broad St.
Richmond, VA 23219
Public Information Office
Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation
600 E. Main St., Suite 2102
Richmond, VA 23219
I encourage everyone to comment on the CTB’s 2011 Tentative Enhancement Allocations (FY12). I believe this list of proposed TE project awards can be downloaded from the VDOT TE program webpage, but for some reason I can’t get that page to open at this time. This year, trail project awards predominate in most VDOT construction districts, but the “statewide” TE awards include $1 million to Virginia Tourism Corporation to develop a multimedia application for “scenic roads” and “historic trails” and $1.5 million to the Civil War Preservation Trust to acquire battlefield sites. We need to discourage the increased diversion of TE funds for such projects in future years.
Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) Public Hearing
May 4, 2011 at VDOT NoVA District Headquarters
Remarks of Allen Muchnick
Board Member, Virginia Bicycling Federation
Good evening. I’m Allen Muchnick, speaking for the Virginia Bicycling Federation, the unified statewide voice of Virginia bicyclists.
We appreciate the CTB’s support of bicycling and walking as fundamental travel modes and integral components of Virginia’s transportation network. Since the CTB adopted VDOT’s Policy for Integrating Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodations seven years ago, VDOT has made considerable progress in advancing and integrating these two travel modes, but much remains undone, and substantial progress will not occur without more program staff and financial resources and a paradigm shift at VDOT, starting with the development and implementation of strategic work plans for these modes. In addition, the establishment of VDOT bicycle and pedestrian committees for VDOT districts, MPOs, and/or PDCs could amplify constrained VDOT resources through local collaboration. Nowhere is the need for a regional bicycle advisory committee greater than in Northern Virginia.
In recent months, we’ve become increasingly concerned with the inactivity of VDOT’s bicycle program. The position of statewide bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, which is mandated by federal law, has now stood vacant since December 2009. Perhaps for this reason, VDOT’s State Bicycling Policy Plan, which was supposed to guide the effective implementation of the CTB’s 2004 bicycling accommodations policy, is still not completed and adopted. In fact, no progress on that critical plan has been evident since last August, when a plan draft was posted for a 30-day comment period. In addition, VDOT’s statewide bicycle advisory committee has not met in several years, VDOT’s bicycle and pedestrian program web pages have evidently not been updated at all since last August, and VDOT’s state bicycling map is now out of print, with no immediate plans to reprint or revise this resource.
In the Northern Virginia District, US Bike Route 1, which VDOT first established and signed in 1982, has not had most of its missing signs replaced for decades, has remained severed by two road closures–with no signed detours–for almost ten years, and uses bike-unfriendly multilane arterials in Prince William County where no on-road bicycling improvements are currently even planned. While VDOT NoVA District staff have been working to fix these problems for the past four years, very little substantive progress has been achieved to date.
Since 1993, VDOT’s Transportation Enhancement (TE) Program has been a primary funding source for standalone bicycling and walking improvements. I did not find any proposed TE project awards in the draft Six-Year Improvement Program posted online, but the list of 2011 Tentative Enhancement Allocations (FY12), which I found at this meeting, includes a good share of bicycle and pedestrian projects. We ask the CTB to prioritize TE funding awards for cost-effective bicycling and walking improvements.
Regarding DRPT, VBF urges that all publicly funded rail improvements, such as high-speed rail corridors and the Intermodal Center near Roanoke, require public trail access along and across the rail facility, as appropriate. Railroad corridors are often ideal for long-distance trail facilities, including the East Coast Greenway, a developing national project that will connect urban centers from Maine to Florida.
In closing, we make these simple requests:
1. Please expeditiously fill the statewide bicycle and pedestrian coordinator position at VDOT with a highly qualified, capable, and empowered individual.
2. Please expeditiously complete, adopt, and implement VDOT’s state bicycling policy plan.
3. Please reconvene VDOT’s statewide bicycle advisory committee and establish a regional bicycle advisory committee for VDOT’s Northern Virginia District and for all other VDOT districts, PDCs, or MPOs where one is needed.
4. Please expeditiously complete the realignment and signing of US Bicycle Route 1 through the NoVA District and retrofit much-needed on-road bicycling improvements along the portion of the route through Prince William County.
5. Please reprint VDOT’s state bicycle map for 2011 and revise it for 2012.
6. Please prioritize cost-effective bicycling and walking improvements for Transportation Enhancement awards.
7. Please ensure that publicly funded rail-corridor projects include needed and planned bicycle and pedestrian facilities along and across the corridor.
8. Please adequately fund roadway and trail maintenance, including the resurfacing of VDOT shared-use paths, especially the Fairfax County Parkway Trail which has never been resurfaced since it was first built more than two decades ago.
Thank you for your consideration.