Tell the Fairfax Supervisors to prioritize parks and trails!

Fairfax County’s proposed budget for FY 2023 comes with good and bad news. The good: funding for 2 new full time staff dedicated to active transportation planning! The bad: significant underfunding for Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA). 

We need your help to advocate for more funding for FCPA and continue to support active transportation!

Simply put, the current allocation is inadequate to clean and maintain a park system with 24,000 acres, 427 parks, 334 miles of trails, serving over 1 million residents and with more than 18 million visits per year. Increased investment is needed to keep up with the growing demand for parks, trails, natural areas and green spaces – we’ve all experienced the flocking to outdoor spaces during the pandemic. Funding is also desperately needed to ensure that FCPA, historically reliant on fee-based services for up to 60% of its budget, can adapt and address systemic inequities in accessibility as mandated by the County’s One Fairfax equity policy. It will be devastating if FCPA is forced to institute or raise fees, restrict access, and eliminate programs to cope with a stagnant budget, especially for low-income and communities of color already living with fewer nearby green spaces.

The big issues:

  • FCPA requested FY23 funding of $5 million for increased implementation of the One Fairfax program to increase accessibility of all programming (including fee-based programs). The County Executive proposes only $500,000 or 10% of the requested funding, resulting in significant continuing inequitable access to programs.
  • FCPA requested FY23 funding of $751,954 to implement sustainable natural resource management and to improve management of natural resources in its parks including trails. The County Executive only proposes $50,000 or 6.6% of the requested funding.
  • Most significantly, the County Executive proposes changing and reducing the funding used for major capital projects like trail construction and rehabilitation. Rather than receiving $100 million over a 4-year bond cycle, FCPA would receive $100 million over a 6-year period.

We are calling on all Fairfax County residents to call or email Supervisor to let them know that trails and parks are important to you and need more funding. 

Email your supervisor today! [button to generate targeted message]

  • SUPPORT funding for new active transportation staff to grow Fairfax County’s non-car transit network. 
  • DEMAND that the Board of Supervisors and County Executive fully fund FCPA’s maintenance and equity work. 
  • REJECT the change to a 6-year bond cycle and instead increase the bond amount to $150 million over 4 years to address the backlog of capital maintenance and repair projects.

We know growing the County’s trail network and preserving open spaces are top priorities for Fairfax County residents – speak up today! Your voice matters and the public budget process is an important and effective way to affect the County’s direction. 
Keep your eye out for upcoming public budget hearings between April 12-14. You can also sign up to speak at your Supervisor’s Budget Town Hall Meeting. Need help crafting your testimony? Let us know!

Capital Trails Coalition Testifies about ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan Budget

On April 15th, Fairfax County held their public hearing on the County Executive’s Proposed FY 2022 Operating & Capital Improvement Plan Budgets. This was one of three opportunities for community members to comment and testify on the proposed budget. (To read and learn more about budget hearings, visit our post about them here!)  Our Trails Coalition Manager, Stephanie Piperno, represented the CTC and testified at the hearing to verbally support adding funding for Phase Two of the ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan as well as to advocate for funding working toward filling in gaps on the Arlington Boulevard Trail. 

Fairfax County is working on updating their active transportation network by combining the Bicycle Master Plan and the Countywide Trails Plan into the ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan. The goal of this project is to establish and implement safe, convenient, and enjoyable streets and trails in Fairfax County for users of all ages and abilities. The ActiveFairfax Transportation plan will combine the vision for bicycling from the Bicycle Master Plan created in 2014, together with infrastructure, benefits, and highlights of the Countywide Trails Plan map that was last updated in 2018. Combined, these two plans offer the blueprint needed to create a connected and seamless network of on-street facilities and trails.

The ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan launched in the summer of 2020 and has an expected completion date of Winter 2022. It has been split into two distinct phases with Phase One including the development of a vision statement, goals, and objectives, as well as a thorough inventory and assessment of previous planning efforts and existing conditions. The development of a Systematic Safety Program Plan was also included in Phase One. Phase Two, and our focus, includes the development of active transportation network recommendations and facility selection toolkit, coordination with potential updates to the current Comprehensive Plan, and an implementation approach that includes policy, program, and strategies on project prioritization. Phase Two really comes down to implementation. We urged the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to fund Phase Two of the plan during this budget cycle as we do not want to see the momentum slow and the safety improvements proposed in Phase One shelved. We need these safety improvements implemented as soon as possible, especially as our region is seeing an unprecedented increase in traffic fatalities despite there being fewer cars on the road.   

Additionally, to further our mission of creating an expansive, accessible, and safe trail network, we also encouraged the completion of the Arlington Boulevard trail, as its current state—riddled with significant gaps in pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly facilities—proves to make for an unreliable route for trail users. In connecting existing trail segments and creating new sections, we can create a 22-mile trail from Fairfax City all the way to the National Mall! One major gap is in the Merrifield area where there is no trail connection over I-495 (the Capital Beltway). 

 We proposed that Fairfax County include funding in the FY 2022 budget to study the best locations for two trail crossings along the I-495—one north and one south of Arlington Boulevard. Funding this study is the first step needed to complete the Arlington Boulevard Trail. Arlington Boulevard crosses several jurisdictional lines and connects people living in adjacent neighborhoods to offices, retail, parks, schools, and government services. But, it currently lacks a consistent, safe place for people to walk and bike. The Arlington Boulevard Trail will connect dozens of neighborhoods along Arlington Boulevard which will significantly increase pedestrian and bicycle trips by the people living near the route including the 202,320 people residing within just one mile of the trail. Connecting the gaps will lead to a continuous route that will create access from the trail to 17 activity centers, 30 different schools, 20 different parks, and much more. Funding the completion of the Arlington Boulevard Trail is a no-brainer!

You can find our full testimony here

These trails are going to transform our region

Something exciting is growing in the DMV: a world-class trails network that will provide car-free connections between job centers, schools, and neighborhoods across our region. These gorgeous trails are a destination in themselves, creating much-needed outdoor space for exercise and play in addition to transportation.

With more than 10 miles of trails under construction right now, we’re closer than ever to a region where trails are an everyday option for transportation. There are priority trail projects in progress across our region:

  • The I-66 Trail in Fairfax County will improve transportation options, bicycle connectivity and safety throughout the I-66 corridor 
  • A new section of the Metropolitan Branch Trail, won by decades of advocacy, will fill an important gap between Brookland and Fort Totten
  • The Maryland Department of Transportation has broken ground on the Capital Crescent Trail extension (a part of The Purple Line project). When complete, this project will be transformative for the region—finally completing the vision of a Capital Crescent Trail directly linking downtown Silver Spring to Bethesda to Georgetown in the District of Columbia. 

Despite this good progress, there are over 300 miles of planned trails that haven’t seen a shovel yet. We can change that in 2021  by making sure our elected officials know that trails are important to us.

Learn more about WABA’s work to build trails with the Capital Trails Coalition and the Coalition’s priority projects here.

Fairfax County has two bike-relevant meetings on Thursday

A chance for a new bike-ped bridge:

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) will host a community meeting to discuss proposed bicycle and pedestrian crossings on the Fairfax County Parkway Trail at the Dulles Toll Road Ramp on Thursday, Sept. 14, 6:30 to 8 p.m., in the cafeteria of Dogwood Elementary School, 12300 Glade Drive, Reston. Two options that are under consideration include at-grade intersection improvements and a pedestrian-bicycle bridge. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/bike/pkwytrail-dullestollrd.htm

More bike lanes!

Fairfax County will hold a public meeting on September 14, 2017, to solicit comments on the proposed FY 2019 Transportation Alternatives Projects. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, 4050 Legato Road, Suite 400, Fairfax, VA 22033. At the meeting, county staff will make a presentation about the program, followed by a question-and-answer session. More details here: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/news/2017/17_004.htm  

WABA Rides in Fairfax County

Bicycling in the region is so challenging and fun in part because the bike infrastructure can change so quickly. Fairfax residents recently had the opportunity to appreciate and experience just how unpredictable biking can be on our first Community Ride in the county. Specifically, WABA was asked by Connections at MetroWest to conduct a ride that started and ended at the community center on their property next to the Vienna Metrorail Station. The purpose of the ride was to show the community how easy and fun it is to get around by bicycle. Fourteen folks showed up for the ride with a variety of bikes and experience levels. The age of the participants–as well as the number of months since they last rode a bike–ranged greatly from 9 – 75. After everyone was checked in and the waivers were signed, a few of WABA’s excellent, experienced educators (all of them certified as League Cycling Instructors) reviewed helmet-fit, explained how and why to do pre-ride bike checks, and gave out tips for riding in a group. Finally, it was time to set off and explore the community. The first stop was Nottoway Park, a beautiful stretch of green space in Vienna with walking trails and a variety of courts and fields for games. As soon as we passed the park, a few participants in the ride stated, “I had no idea this was so close, and so easy to get to.” We proceeded to climb Tapawingo road, demonstrating how to ride outside of the “door zone” simply by riding in the middle of the lane. Once the group crested the hill, we wended our way through the neighborhood to get to the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail. Before riding on the trail, the group reviewed proper trail etiquette such as riding single-file, staying to the right, slowing down and giving ample space when passing slower moving trail users. We also stressed the need to plan ahead for the most unpredictable users of the trail: pets, children, and wildlife. After our time on the trail, we made our way back to our starting point where delicious cookies and water, generously provided by Connections at MetroWest were waiting for us. WABA’s Community Rides are intentionally not fast or lengthy. On this ride, we covered 5.5 miles in about 90 minutes. These rides are specifically designed to explore communities, give riders the opportunity to become more familiar with riding, and to connect them more closely with their neighborhoods (and neighbors!). Big thanks to the team at Connections at MetroWest for providing this opportunity, we can’t wait to go for another ride! Would you like to explore your region by bike? Then come and ride with WABA.

Fairfax County Advocacy Updates

There are a few big projects in Fairfax County that we’re working on this month that you should know about:

The I-66 Trail

Thanks to the hard work of a number of advocates, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is extending the Custis Trail from Dunn Loring to Centreville as part of the Transform I-66 project, but the designs we’ve seen don’t look good. In many sections, the trail is squeezed between the highway and the sound barrier, which limits access and makes for an extremely unpleasant trail experience.

Like this, but without the grass. Doesn’t that look fun?

VDOT needs to hear that this design is not good enough. The agency is hosting three meetings next week, if you’d like to tell the project managers that the design needs to be improved. Monday, June 12, 2017 6-8:30 p.m. A brief presentation will be held at 7 p.m., followed by a Q&A session. Oakton High School Cafeteria 2900 Sutton Road, Vienna, VA 22181 Wednesday, June 14, 2017 6-8:30 p.m. A brief presentation will be held at 7 p.m., followed by a Q&A session. Stone Middle School Cafeteria 5500 Sully Park Drive, Centreville, VA 20120 Thursday, June 15, 2017 6-8:30 p.m. A brief presentation will be held at 7 p.m., followed by a Q&A session. Piney Branch Elementary School Cafeteria/Gym 8301 Linton Hall Road, Bristow, VA 20136 You can find more information about the Transform I-66 project here.

Support Bike Lanes on Rose Hill Drive:

Despite having almost no impact on parking or existing travel lanes, the County has received vocal pushback to proposed bike lanes on Rose Hill Drive. The comment period is open until June 19, so share your support for bike lanes in Fairfax today: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/bike/rosehillbikelanes2017.htm

Also some good news: Have you seen Fairfax County’s new bike map?

You can obtain a free copy of the print version of this map at a variety of locations around the County, or you can see the online version here. You can provide feedback, too! If you have input or feedback on the map, give the bike team a call at 703-324-BIKE (2453).

Support Biking in Tysons on Monday

support-tysons-2015-bike-lanesFairfax County recently announced that several major roads in Tysons could soon have bike infrastructure as part of the county’s summer repaving schedule. We need you to speak up for biking at a public meeting on Monday, March 16 at Westbriar Elementary School from 7-9 p.m. Here is the proposed new bike infrastructure:
  • Greensboro Dr. – Road diet from Spring Hill Rd. to Solutions Dr.
  • Tyco Rd. – Road diet from Route 7 to Spring Hill Rd.
  • Westbranch Dr, – Road diet from Westpark Dr. to Jones Branch Dr.
  • Jones Branch Dr. – Climbing lane from International Dr. to Westpark Dr.
  • Spring Hill Rd. – Combination of bike lanes/sharrows from Route 7 to International Dr.
  • Westwood Center Dr. – Sharrows from Route 7 to the end of the road
A full map of proposed bike projects is online here. Meeting Details Monday, March 16 at 7-9 p.m. Westbriar Elementary School 1741 Pine Valley Dr., Vienna, VA 22182 Google Map directions Since these projects are part of the repaving schedule, no additional funds are available to supplement the projects. They may not be perfect, but it’s important that we support this effort by the county. If you work or bike in Tysons, please consider attending this meeting to support these important projects. Check the Fairfax Bike Pages or the FABB blog for more info.