Written by Sonya Breehey. Sonya is an active member of Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) recently unveiled concept plans for an extension of the Custis Trail along I-66 outside the Beltway in Fairfax and Prince William Counties. Hundreds of Fairfax County trail users contacted VDOT asking for the trail extension as part of the I-66 project. While it is exciting to see the trail one step closer to reality, VDOT still has not included the trail as part of the I-66 project. VDOT is asking for additional feedback on how the parallel trail will benefit you, your commute, and your neighborhood.
The Custis Trail is one of the most successful bike trails in Northern Virginia, providing a popular recreation destination and critical bike-commuting route for thousands of commuters each year. In 2014, over 500,000 people rode a bike or walked along the Custis Trail. A similar trail outside the Beltway would be a major benefit to bicyclists in Northern Virginia.
A recent study showed that 25% of Fairfax County residents live within a mile of the proposed I-66 trail or within 1/2 mile of either the Fairfax Co Parkway or W&OD Trails, both of which would be connected by an extended Custis Trail.
While there are right-of-way concerns and some backyards may be impacted, similar challenges were faced when building the Custis Trail. VDOT should seek to reduce the impacts by fitting as much of the trail within the existing project right-of-way and minimize impacts to neighbors.
Now is the time to take the long view. Providing safe accessible connections for people to bike and walk to transit, and along and across I-66, will offer residents and commuters transportation options that enable us to shift more trips to biking and walking.
If you want the I-66 trail to be a reality, here is how you can help.
Speak Up at an Upcoming I-66 Public Hearings
Attend one of the I-66 Public Hearings and tell VDOT you support bicycle improvements, especially extending the Custis Trail, as part of the I-66 improvement project. Hearings are scheduled from 5:30 to 9:00 pm.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
VDOT Northern Virginia District Office
4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030
Thursday, May 28, 2015
Oakton High School – Cafeteria
2900 Sutton Road, Vienna, VA 22181
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Battlefield High School – Cafeteria
15000 Graduation Drive, Haymarket, VA 20169
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Bull Run Elementary School – Cafeteria
15301 Lee Highway, Centreville, VA 20121
Send a Message to VDOT
Written comments may be submitted through June 18th by mail to Ms. Susan Shaw, Megaprojects Director, at the VDOT District Office address above, or by email to Transform66@VDOT.Virginia.gov. Reference “Transform 66 Outside the Beltway” in the subject line. Copy your public representatives on your email to make sure everyone gets your message for better bicycling! Don’t wait until June 18th, send your comments now.
Involve Your Neighborhood Association
Contact your neighborhood association to let them know how improving bicycling as part of the I-66 project will help your neighborhood, and urge them to get involved.
Visit FABB’s I-66 page for more information about efforts to include bicycling in the I-66 project.