Support continuous shared-use paths on BOTH sides of Braddock!

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The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will host a public meeting on Wednesday, July 26th to discuss the latest project developments to improve Braddock Road in Fairfax County. The initial redesign concept looks promising, with real emphasis on pedestrian and bicyclist safety, connectivity, and comfort. But good designs can be quickly diluted by public opposition and budget concerns, so we need to reiterate to VDOT the importance of putting people first!

We need residents like you to speak up and tell VDOT to keep bicycle and pedestrian facilities on both the north and south side of Braddock Road and to keep critical safety improvements like 

bulb outs and medians at intersections, reduced crossing distances and times, and lower speed limits. People live, work, shop, and recreate on both sides of this vital corridor and should be able to safely navigate along and across it on foot and by bicycle. Without these improvements, residents will continue to be cut off this busy 6-to-8 lane roadway and reliant on cars for even the shortest trips. A project pitched as a multimodal and safety-focused must deliver on those promises.  
We at WABA, along with our friends at the Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling (FABB), encourage you to share your support for the bicycle and pedestrian facilities and safety improvements in-person at the July 26th meeting or via email before August 7th. Speaking out at every step of the process is how we advance our vision of a just and sustainable transportation system where walking, biking, and transit are the best ways to get around.

The Braddock Road Multimodal Improvement Project aims to implement multimodal and access management improvements along three miles of Braddock Road (Route 620) between Humphries Drive in Burke and Ravensworth Road in Annandale, including the eastbound and westbound Braddock Road ramps to southbound I-495 (Capital Beltway Outer Loop) and a half-mile of Ravensworth Road between Braddock Road and Heritage Drive.

VDOT’s proposed improvements include intersection enhancements at Rolling Road, Wakefield Chapel Road/Danbury Forest Drive, and Burke Lake Road along with new and upgraded shared-use paths along both sides of Braddock Road. A potential pedestrian bridge just west of Burke Lake Road was also considered but early public feedback has mixed-to-negative, likely signaling its cancellation. 

Some area stakeholders have also questioned the need for a shared-use path on both sides of Braddock Road, suggesting that a trail on one side is sufficient and commenting that ‘people don’t walk or bike here’. We strongly disagree, for several reasons:

  1. There are numerous destinations on BOTH sides of Braddock Road, including residential neighborhoods, shopping plazas, recreation spaces and parks, and bus stops. This is not a situation where development is centered on one side and it is easy to envision equal trail usage on both the north and south sides of Braddock Road.
  2. Braddock Road, even with intersection improvements, will remain a daunting roadway to cross on foot or bike. Vehicular traffic moves at high speed along this corridor that stretches to as many as 8 lanes in sections. Asking those on foot or bike to cross back and forth to get to destinations on the same side of Braddock is dangerous and unnecessary.
  3. Segments of trail and sidewalk already exist on both sides. VDOT need not blaze a new path through forested medians or neighborhoods; rather, it needs only to connect the numerous existing pieces, straighten out some goofy crossing angles, and ensure the width meets the County’s minimum standards. 
  4. People DO walk and ride along this corridor, and more would if it were a safer, more comfortable route. Questioning why people don’t use a space that was designed to be inhospitable to them is disingenuous. As we see throughout the County and region, when you build dedicated bike and pedestrian infrastructure, users will in fact come.

If this is indeed a multimodal project making use of multimodal funds, we cannot give short shrift to the bicycle and pedestrian elements. Given the existing segments on both sides, we believe continuous shared-use paths can be carved out of the Braddock Road right-of-way with minimal disturbance to the tree canopy. Plus, Fairfax County’s commitment to Vision Zero makes adding such facilities along with intersection improvements is an imperative. We encourage you to share these sentiments with VDOT before August 7th or at the public meeting on July 26th.

Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling’s Yvette taking picture of woefully narrow sidewalk along Braddock Road