I-66 Trail Could Be a Reality But Your Help is Needed 

Written by Sonya Breehey. Sonya is an active member of Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling.
custis trail

The Custis Trail is one of Northern Virginia’s most popular trails. Let’s extend it to past the Beltway and beyond. Photo Credit: MV Jantzen

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.
i66 trail at dunn loring

Proposed Custis Trail extension along I-66 in Dunn Loring. Source: VDOT (PDF)

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.
I66 Trail Benefit Area

25% of Fairfax County residents would live within a mile of the proposed I-66 Trail or within 1/2 mile of the Fairfax Co. Parkway or W&OD Trails.

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.

VDOT Installs Bike Lanes on Sherwood Hall Lane

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is almost finished installing the bike lanes on on Sherwood Hall Lane. We asked our WABA members and supporters in southern Fairfax County to speak up in support of the project during the public process back in March. With overwhelming support for the bike lanes, VDOT moved this project forward. VDOT proposed traffic calming improvements and bike lanes on Sherwood Hall Lane in southern Fairfax County. This road is an important bicycle connection between Mount Vernon Parkway/Fort Hunt Road and the Route 1 corridor. Bike lanes now extend about 1.75 miles. Del. Scott Survell (VA-44th) has recorded a video tour of the new bike lanes with his helmet camera, you can watch them on his blog. There has been little push back to the new bike lanes. There was however a negative Letter to the Editor about the Sherwood Hall Lane bike lanes in the Mount Vernon Voice on August 20th. Read it online here. Letter to the Editor in support of the bike lanes can be sent to their editors through their website. Thank you to Fairfax County Supervisor Gerald Hyland, Virginia Senator Toddy Puller, and Virginia Delegate Scott Surovell for their support of this project. WABA’s advocacy is supported by your membership dollars. Join or donate to WABA today to enable us to continue to achieve success in our advocacy work.

FABB Publishes Bicycle Advocacy Guide

Andy Clarke, Executive Director of League of American Bicyclist

Today FABB celebrated the publication of the Guide for Reviewing Public Road Design and Bicycling Accommodations for Virginia Bicycling Advocates. The guide was published earlier this year and this was an opportunity to thank many of the people who helped FABB produce it. The Alliance for Biking & Walking provided the funds for the guide and Carolyn Szczepanski of the Alliance was there to say a few words about the Advocacy Advance Grants and the work of the Alliance. Other speakers included Andy Clarke of the League of American Bicyclists , Shane Farthing of WABA, Stewart Schwartz of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, and Doug Miller of VDOT. VDOT staff provided invaluable help to FABB during production of the guide by describing in detail how VDOT projects are planned and constructed. Several staff attended the launch. Others present included Mark Blacknell of the Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee, Angela Koch, Events and Advocacy Coordinator at Revolution Cycles, Zack Fields of Congressman Connolly’s office, Edythe Frankel,  Vienna Town Council, Susan Stillman of the Vienna Bicycle Advisory Committee, and several FABB members.

Shane Farthing, Executive Director of WABA

Linda Rapp designed the guide layout and color scheme, making an attractive and more easily understood publication. Kerie Hitt did a great job of editing. Fionnuala Quinn had the initial idea for the guide, initiated the grant application, and was the primary author. Bruce Wright, co-author, noted that Fairfax County has begun the bicycle master planning process that will provide a blueprint for future bicycle facilities in the county. Good things are happening in Fairfax and the Guide should help area cyclists get involved in the process of transforming Fairfax into a more bike-friendly place. Ironically, some of us had to drive to the event. It’s a sobering experience for those of us who usually get around by bike to experience a rainy rush hour. It took longer to get there by car (in some cases much longer) than by bike. Traffic on Maple Ave was backed for miles as were  many of the feeder streets. According to one of the VDOT folks present, maybe we’re on to something.

Doug Miller, VDOT

Cross posted on the FABB Blog