Citizens Seek More Affordable, Sustainable and Effective Loudoun County Transportation Plan

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Loudoun County (VA) residents hire own transportation consultant for second opinion.

We decided we needed an independent professional review of the draft plan and the modeling analysis used to create it. That review has confirmed our concerns.

Citizens for a Countywide Transportation Plan (CCTP), a coalition of residents from across Loudoun County, has been raising a number of concerns about the cost, scale, impact and effectiveness of the draft Countywide Transportation Plan (CTP).    Using contributions from community members they hired Smart Mobility, Inc, a transportation consulting firm, to review the draft CTP and have just released the consultant's initial findings to the County Board of Supervisors and staff.

"We have a number of technical professionals in our coalition who perceive significant problems with the draft transportation plan, including the high price-tag $1.6 to $2 billion, large highway expansions through communities, and failure to evaluate alternatives," said Steve Hines, spokesperson for CCTP. "We decided we needed an independent professional review of the draft plan and the modeling analysis used to create it. That review has confirmed our concerns."

"In our view, a $1.6 to $2 billion wish list of large road projects isn't a real plan if we could never afford it, and we can't," said Karen Ficker, Ashburn. "Any corporate CEO would take one look at an unaffordable proposal like this and at the failure to look at alternatives, and would tell the staff to try again."
The Citizens CTP suggests advanced solutions for traffic choke points while preserving community character and setting the stage for the kind of economic development Loudoun needs. It's a pro-business residents' perspective that serves the community and calls into question who is served by the County's current draft.

Key findings of the Smart Mobility report from the coalition's perspective:

The transportation model used is not up to the state of the art in multimodal planning. It has structural flaws and is not calibrated to Federal Highway Administration standards, leading to many flawed strategies.
The model overestimates future car trips, resulting in road projects, road widths and priorities detrimental to Loudoun residents:

  •     North-south or circumferential travel is 33% too high resulting in too many of those roads
  •     External trips into and through the county are overestimated and do not account for rising energy prices
  •     The level of service focus leads to road widening through neighborhoods, instead of addressing intersection bottlenecks which can be managed through other neighborhood-friendly techniques

The model also fails to offer an alternative scenario that addresses the goals of the County's Comprehensive Plan and does not include solutions suggested in the policy language in the draft CTP. Alternative solutions include roundabouts for both rural and suburban intersections; a more interconnected local street network and mixed-use, walkable development; and transit serving more walkable, mixed-use centers.

The long list of roadway expansion projects ($1.64 billion +) in the CTP is a lost opportunity to consider more compatible, sophisticated and less costly approaches to traffic congestion.

The full report is posted online (http://sites.google.com/site/loudounctp/smart-mobility-study) and includes an up-front summary of the technical findings.

"The report confirms our belief that the draft CTP does not support the goals of the County's Comprehensive Plan, or the commitment of the Board to address the needs of current residents of the county," said Laura TeKrony, The Marches.

CitizensCTP has taken issue with the proposed transportation policy as one that will induce development in the Transition Area, over-expand roads in the Suburban area, and set up a road network that relies on re-zonings to pay for the plan. More residential development where it does not belong will require more government services with a shrinking County budget. These roads include Northstar Boulevard (a segment of the Outer Beltway), Ryan Road, Belmont Ridge Road, and the Lenah Loop.
Expanding current four-lane roads to six and eight lane thru-ways in existing communities would induce high speed rivers of traffic. These include Route 606 proposed for expansion from two lanes to eight lanes and the six-laning of Belmont Ridge Road, as well as expansion of existing four lane roads to six, such as Ashburn Village Parkway, Claiborne Parkway, Riverside Parkway, Gloucester Parkway, Farmwell, and Russell Branch Parkway. The group is calling instead for nearer term solutions for existing residents like increased commuter bus transit, effective planning and local street networks for the future transit stations, and the Route 28 economic corridor, and fixing specific bottlenecks with innovative roundabouts and other solutions.
"We believe that the Board should adopt the best of the policy language in the plan and the new commitment to transit and to streets that accommodate all users including pedestrians and bicyclists. They should eliminate most of the new & wider road projects from the map and prioritize key near term solutions for bottlenecks in existing communities and enhanced transit for commuters. Finally, plan a more up-to-date transportation modeling analysis to find more effective and affordable alternatives," said Ben Kelahan, Brambleton.
Citizens for a Countywide Transportation Plan (CitizensCTP) are a group of local residents that formed to provide alternate solutions to Loudoun County's Countywide Transportation Plan (CTP). More information on CCTP is available from the organization's web site: http://sites.google.com/site/loudounctp/
The complete Smart Mobility report is posted on the CitizensCTP website (http://sites.google.com/site/loudounctp/smart-mobility-study) and available upon request.

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