The Mobility Committee reviewed and drafted revisions to the Transportation Chapter. Eight citizens, with two replacements over course of the last year, appointed by the Board served on the Mobility Committee. The proposals for the Transportation and Land Use/Housing chapters were drafted separately.
What is the current situation?
Generally, Comprehensive Plans aim to plan 20 years into the future and updated every five years. The County's 2003 update covered to 2025 and the 2008 update covers to 2030.
The “base case” for 2003 Comprehensive Plan predicted:
How Much Will This Cost?
$4 million/mile x 575 miles = $2.3 billion
Direction from Planning Commission
- Conform with Code of Virginia mandates;
- Update the Thoroughfare Plan and transportation level of service standards;
- Make technical amendments to keep the Plan consistent with other County, regional, and state transportation documents;
- Encourage the increased use of mass transit facilities, identify new transit facility opportunities, and investigate how to incorporate transit facilities into the Plan's transportation level of service;
The Mobility Committee discussed three options to focus discussion about our transportation problem:
- Travel within county;
- Commuter routes to jobs outside the county;
- Regional travel.
The Mobility Committee considered preparing three separate alternatives, but decided that all proposed road/transit infrastructure would affect all three problems.
Smart Growth Principles
How can Prince William County afford to offer excellent transit services, with minimal delays between trains/buses in a specific locations/corridors, so more people choose walking/transit over driving cars?
“As population and commercial growth continue in the County and the region, the existing transportation network will be unable to handle the traffic demands placed upon it.”
The Mobility Committee concluded that, based on both the goals and fiscal constraints, now is the time to shift to the transit-oriented development option.
The County needs to concentrate new development so transit services would be cost-effective.
The number and location of "centers“ proposed by the Land Use Advisory Committee (LUAC) needs to accommodate population growth predicted for 2030 and be located near rail/bus/carpool corridors.
The Final Report includes:
An updated Thoroughfare Plan (not every road segment has been expanded to LOS D or better);
Goals, policies, and action strategies that match “smart growth” goals;
More transportation infrastructure and services than county may be able to afford.
The Mobility Committee identified specific locations for widening existing roads, building new roads, and creating interchanges to eliminate traffic lights. These were listed in Table 2 of the draft chapter.
The proposed transit plan was completed by a consultant working with the Planning Office. The transit consultant's proposal is integrated with the land use planning assumption that the County will steer new development to create new "centers."
The transit consultant's report proposes locations for transit services, including some VRE stations that were not recommended by Mobility Committee.
Add up the likely costs, and the plan proposes where to build nearly $3 billion in new transportation infrastructure in PW County by 2030. Over 2/3 of that investment was for roads.
In the version presented to the Planning Commission, the Mobility Committee said "The construction of these roadway improvements are expected and proposed to be completed by the Comprehensive Plan buildout year of 2030." Prince William County population is projected to grow 40% to 555,000 people by then, and clearly the existing road network could not absorb a 40% increase in traffic.
What choices will we make?
The Mobility Committee has made their recommendation. It presents a clear choice to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors, which makes the final decision:
Incentivize new development in empty spaces
next to transit and revitalize existing commercial centers v. initiate new development in new areas.
Building all the proposed new/widened roads and interchanges, plus the recommended transit improvements, would require substantially higher funding levels than currently projected. Even if the General Assembly restores funding for the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA), the costs of the proposed projects in the Mobility Committee draft exceed traditional funding levels significantly.
If the Board determines Federal/state revenue for new construction will not grow substantially, then local bonds funded by county taxpayers could be incorporated into the county's Capital Improvement Plan. If additional taxes for local funding is not recommended, then the Board could delete some projects from the draft chapter.
The final plan is supposed to be realistic and reflect real-world financial constraints on what projects could be completed by 2030.
Which choice will the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors approve?
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