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Thread: 22 Mile Trail Parallel to I-66 -- Helpful Video and Input Needed

  1. #81
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    dasgeh is offline Queen of Family Biking & All Things Kidical
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    Quote Originally Posted by annoyedindc View Post
    I think there are only 6 at grade road crossings on the Custis.
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve O View Post
    Zero. From the top of the Rosslyn Hill to East Falls Church the trail is entirely grade separated. All the crossings are in Rosslyn.
    You're both right. The Custis is still the Custis in Rosslyn, and those 6 at-grade crossings are the worst part of the trail, and what makes us think twice about letting are kids ride their own bikes to TR island/into DC.

    The entirely grade-separated section of the Custis is lovely. The only issues are the spots where the sight-lines are inadequate or what's immediately beside the trail is unsafe.

    Another point to note in comments: trail users generally don't ride/run/walk up against a large wall. So any trail built abutting a large wall is effectively narrowed by 6-12" on that side. If there are large walls on both sides, that means the entire trail will feel at least 1-2' narrower than it is built. An 8' wide trail that feels 6' wide is worthless.

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    Regarding the privacy issue, I think home owners who live next to I-66 who are complaining about privacy issues are imagining a trail at the end of their clear lawns, with people looking at them, when the reality is more like shrubs and dense vegetation blocking trail users from seeing them, just like what we have at the W&OD. They can grew shrubs or build a fence, so they shouldn't have more of an issue than those who have houses next to the W&OD trail.

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    Quote Originally Posted by n18 View Post
    Regarding the privacy issue, I think home owners who live next to I-66 who are complaining about privacy issues are imagining a trail at the end of their clear lawns, with people looking at them, when the reality is more like shrubs and dense vegetation blocking trail users from seeing them, just like what we have at the W&OD. They can grew shrubs or build a fence, so they shouldn't have more of an issue than those who have houses next to the W&OD trail.
    Sounds like they fear Steve-O, a known bike peeping Tom.

  6. #84
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    LAST DAY FOR COMMENTS. TRANSFORM66@VDOT.VIRGINIA.GOV

    Here are mine, which are very much a combination of all the points made here:

    Good Afternoon,


    Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed concept for the "Transform 66" Project. As an Arlington, VA resident who bikes, walks and drives in the I-66 corridor, I was pleased to see that the proposed concept includes a 22 mile multi-use path.
    I believe the agreement to provide multi-modal transportation infrastructure along the I-66 corridor was a critical part of the agreement to widen I-66. I support VDOT building of a bicycle and pedestrian trail as part of the I-66 widening. However, I am concerned that VDOT's proposal to squeeze the trail in between the interstate and the noise wall would create a trail that would be so dangerous, so uncomfortable, so difficult to use, that I wonder whether VDOT is actually going back on their commitment to provide improvements for people walking and biking in this area. VDOT must honor their commitment to improve these modes of transportation. They should commit to developing a new proposal for public comment for a trail that people would actually use before they break ground on any efforts to widen the roadway.


    Why this proposal is problematic

    This trail would not be safe or comfortable, and would not provide usable connections to enable people to get where they are going, especially on foot.


    Safety

    Interstate highways are full of debris. Blown tires, car parts, bolts, and even a mattress or two are often found on the side of Interstates. These present a hazard when they end up on the trail and are potentially deadly when propelled from a travel lane on the trail. Placing the trail at grade with I-66 separated by only a two foot wall and two buffer lanes presents an unnecessary risk of serious injury.
    The trail would be very difficult to clean of debris or snow. With the soundwall on one side and the barrier on the other, there would need to be some sort of custom trail cleaning vehicle that would need to be out there at least weekly to clean debris. It would either have to be pretty small or it would block the entire trail (with no way to go around).
    In the cases of the trail being blocked (car crash involving a vehicle encroaching on the trail or something) there appears to be no way to go around. Trail users are essentially trapped in the trail by the soundwall.
    Because users would be trapped behind the opaque soundwall, with exits that are far separated, this trail could prove to be a place for attacks -- muggings or worse. Certainly, a person would think twice about using such a trail alone at night.
    In the case of fast moving weather, such as a hailstorm or lightning storm, it would leave trail users, particularly those on foot, with no place to shelter. It seems there are pretty long sections without exits. Imagine one were pushing a stroller and a fast moving lightning storm came up with the nearest exit point 1/4 mile or further away. No place to go; no way to flee into the nearby neighborhood or industrial park or commercial area. Trapped with literally no way to shelter whatsoever. This seems pretty scary to me.

    Comfort

    Interstate highways are noisy. According to a Federal Highway Administration article, "Levels of highway traffic noise typically range from 70 to 80 dB(A) at a distance of 15 meters (50 feet) from the highway. These levels affect a majority of people, interrupting concentration, increasing heart rates, or limiting the ability to carry on a conversation." (https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publication...s/03jul/06.cfm) This level of noise not only would discourage trail use, it would also make it difficult for trail users to hear bells or voice calls when passing each other, creating a safety issue.
    Interstate highways are uncomfortable heat islands. Virginia summers are hot and often humid. Add the heat island effect of a concrete sound barrier, an asphalt roadway and the heat from engines with a lack of trees or landscaping to provide shade and this trail will be unbearably hot in the summer.
    The fumes from the vehicles on the highway would collect on the inside of the soundwall, and be funneled towards trail users, who of course would not have the option of just rolling up the window.

    Usefulness

    The distance between exits and entrances would make this trail very difficult to use, particularly for people on foot.
    Because it would be unsafe and uncomfortable, people won't use it as much as they would a safe and comfortable trail. Those people would like instead be in cars, contributing to traffic delays, polluting our environment, increasing the demand on our road system, and taking up parking spaces.

    Why a good trail would benefit the region

    This trail has the potential to connect hundreds of thousands of people to neighborhoods, trails, and transit hubs while providing new recreational opportunities.

    A large segment of the population of Fairfax County lives within a mile of this trail.
    Our region is growing, and we must enable people to take more trips by bike or on foot. Currently, Fairfax and Prince William Counties are difficult to bike and walk in, because they are generally laid out with major roads with high speeds collecting from local roads which are basically culs-de-sacs. If we don't get trails along roads like 66, it's really hard to go longer distances because the lower speed roads aren't through roads. Compounding that is geography: if you look at a map you'll see a lot more long north-south roads than east-west roads, because of the hill & stream valley topography. There aren't that many options to get from east to west across western fairfax into PWC, and (here's the double whammy) the ones that exist are mainly being "upgraded" by VDOT into super stroads. It used to be that 50 or 29 were quiet alternatives to 66, but now there's not all that much difference between them from a cyclist perspective--and that's a trend that's likely to continue.
    When people that live near this trail choose to make even a fraction of their trips by walking or biking instead of by driving, we can significantly decrease traffic delays and we can use space currently dedicated to parking unused cars to other uses - parks, housing, commercial space.
    Encouraging recreational biking and walking improves public health and builds community, both of which improve the fiscal situation and the quality of life in Northern Virginia.
    The existing Custis Trail along I-66 in Arlington allows several thousand cyclists, joggers and walkers each day to commute, to exercise or to connect to another neighborhood. The Washington & Old Dominion Trail similarly enables walking and biking not only for transportation, but also for recreation.
    The experience of the Des Moines, Iowa, region shows that a system of safe and comfortable multi-use trails can improve not only transportation, but can become a economic generator through bike tourism. Northern Virginia already is home to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail and the Mount Vernon Trail, and a new trail along I-66 would help build this network.

    What VDOT should do next

    VDOT should commit to another round of public comments on a new proposal, which keeps the trail outside of the soundwall (possibly with minor exceptions, as seen on the Custis Trail). All crossings of major roads and streets should be grade separated (which is largely accomplished in the current proposal).

    Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling (FABB) and the Washington Area Bicyclists Association (WABA) have made clear that they are willing to work with VDOT to develop better plans.
    VDOT should of course work with nearby homeowners to make sure the plan respects their property rights. But plenty of models exist throughout the country, and even here in NoVa, where public multi-use trails run behind private property. In many places, the homes bordering those trails see such proximity as an amenity.
    VDOT should explore creative solutions for any challenges created by having the trail outside of the sound barrier. For example, to help eliminate a microclimate where the trail is on the north side of the soundwall (e.g. where ice may not melt), the bottom section of the sound wall could be clear, like the wall on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Opposite the clear section of the trail, an opaque smaller wall separating private property from the trail could provide privacy to any houses. Similarly, the trail could be slightly raised where passing behind houses, providing additional separation.

    Conclusion

    I am deeply concerned that the Virginia Department of Transportation's current trail plans are inadequate to the opportunity. As designed, the narrow trail between highway and sound wall will expose trail users to excessive noise, pollution, highway debris, utility vehicles, and weather. To be attractive and well-used by a majority of Virginians, the trail should be at least 12 feet wide and on the non-highway side of the sound wall. I urge you to do all that is necessary to ensure this trail is a true amenity for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities.


    I appreciate the opportunity to provide feedback. As you consider refining the concept based on public comment, I implore you to ask yourself if the current concept is the kind of trail that you would be happy to take a walk or a bike ride with your family.

    Thank you,

  7. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by dasgeh View Post
    LAST DAY FOR COMMENTS. TRANSFORM66@VDOT.VIRGINIA.GOV

    Here are mine, which are very much a combination of all the points made here
    Thanks! Well-written and thorough summary of most of the points discussed here. The last day snuck up on me, so I plagiarized much of your letter. I shortened some parts, reorganized others, made a bunch of small tweaks and added several extra thoughts of my own.

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    Encouraging response from my letter to Senator Ebbin (VA District 30).

    Thank you for writing to me in regards to the recently released concepts for the "Transform 66" project, specifically the current design proposal for the 22 mile multi-use path with me. The Custis Trail is an important resource for both car-free commuters and recreational cyclists, joggers and walkers. I support the inclusion of a multi-use trail in the project, and share your concerns regarding the noise, debris, snow removal, heat, and accessibility of the portion of the trail adjacent to I-66 that lies between the traffic lanes and the sound wall. After reviewing your concerns, and the concerns of many members of the cycling community like yourself, I have arranged for a briefing today with the Virginia Department of Transportation “Transform 66” project team where we will discuss the issues that you have raised. Thank you again for your advocacy on behalf of the Northern Virginia cycling and recreational communities. Please contact my office if you require future assistance with state-related matters. Best regards,
    Adam P. Ebbin
    Member, Senate of Virginia

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    I recently attended a social/political event in Fairfax, and had the opportunity to chat with this gentleman http://marcussimon.com/ a delegate from that County. He is apparently a triathlete, as well as family biker, and was aware of the issues and sympathetic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ginacico View Post
    Encouraging response from my letter to Senator Ebbin (VA District 30).
    I got the same response. I'll speak with my Delegate (Mark Levine) this weekend to follow up on my email to him.

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    Hi. I got my comments in, though it was on Sunday July 2. Comment was submitted and apparently accepted. What I highlighted:

    How unwelcoming a design *inside* the sound wall would be, both for access and the noise pollution problem. Used the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, before and after the glass sound wall, as an example. I should not need to wear hearing protection to ride.

    And safety. In another life, long ago, I was an SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) Corner Worker, working races at Summit Point Raceway. I have first hand experience with high speed traffic feet away from me, and, at least once, had to *run* to avoid an out-of-control race car. A wall and fencing that close to traffic is not safe enough. And, riding in the same direction, you cannot practice the *Rule One* that kept us safe and alive on the race course- "No backs to traffic!"

    Who have given us understanding and support so far?
    Last edited by Starduster; 07-06-2017 at 12:32 PM.

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    Washington Post article giving the issue some publicity.

    #dontreadthecomments

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