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.