Tag: fairfax county

Fairfax board votes to move forward on Seven Corners redevelopment

After hours of discussion and debate Tuesday that stretched toward midnight, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted 8-1, with one member absent, to move forward with an ambitious redevelopment plan for the traffic-choked Seven Corners area.

The plan would create three villages and add several thousand homes to the area, along with restaurants, shops and a street grid that could draw local traffic away from the confusing Seven Corners intersection.

The board argued over affordable housing and density before the vote on proposed changes to county planning guidelines, changes that would allow the redevelopment to take place.

“I do not think that there is value in deferring this any longer,” said Supervisor Penelope A. Gross (D-Mason), who represents the area and was referring to a nearly three-year-long community discussion marked by intense debate.

Residents of the neighborhoods of single-family homes that surround Seven Corners have opposed some aspects of the plan, saying it would lead to increased density and worsen traffic in the area, home to the Seven Corners Shopping Center.

This month, the county’s Planning Commission adopted an amended version of the original plan in an attempt to address community concerns. Although the revised plan reduced the number of new houses and apartments by several hundred units — bringing the total closer to 5,000 — it still generated worries.

During the hearing, about 40 people lined up inside the Fairfax County Government Center to express both support and concerns about the plan.

“Density, particularly residential density, must not be so high that the accompanying people overwhelm the support-services system, particularly schools and transportation,” James Kilbourne, president of the Lake Barcroft homeowners association, said to applause.

County officials say the plan’s latest version makes several compromises in response to community concerns, including worries about school crowding that would result from adding more residents.

The site of the former Willston Elementary School would also feature a second building that would house a day-care center, social services for school families and the multicultural center, Gross said.

“That is going to be many years in the future, because there is no money right now,” Gross said, referring to the idea of a new “urban-style school” inside a high-rise building. “But we are committed.”

Gross said the overall redevelopment plan is an attempt to bring new life to an area of Fairfax that has become worn in the years since the Seven Corners Shopping Center was a regional draw in the 1950s and 1960s. She called it a road map for what the county will look like in the next 50 years.

“We need to make sure that whole area is ready for all the newcomers who are going to be coming here,” Gross said. “We need to make sure that the community that is being developed is what they would like to live in.”

Urban-planning groups say the kind of walkable, transit-friendly communities envisioned for Seven Corners are needed in aging suburbs that have become homes to mostly vacant office buildings and discount stores with little commercial traffic.

“The future of Fairfax lies in these aging commercial corridors,” said Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “It certainly can be a win-win and enhance Fairfax’s competitiveness.”

Read original article here.

Testimony: Seven Corners Community Business Center (CBC)

Chairman Bulova and members of the Board, the Coalition for Smarter Growth strongly supports the Seven Corners Plan but we also have equally strong recommendations. Our reasons for support are as follows: First, if not here then where? Fairfax will continue to grow and the best way to grow without impacting single family home neighborhoods is in the county’s commercial corridors.

Dulles International Airport Challenges

A demand for change at Dulles Airport.

Washington Dulles International Airport, located in Fairfax and Loudoun Counties in Virginia, was once surrounded by farmland. An image of the Dulles Airport decorates the seal for the Town of Herndon. Yet Dulles airport is fighting an image problem. Virginia political and business leaders are trying to reverse passenger declines at Dulles Airport, as more passengers travel through Reagan National Airport.

#In 2005, 27 million passengers flew through Dulles; in 2014, the number was 21.6 million. In comparison, 17.8 million passengers flew through Reagan National Airport in 2005. By 2014, that number of Reagan passengers had become 20.8 million. Three times in 15 years, Congress has lifted the 1,250-mile perimeter and added new flight slots at National.

#Some travelers have said Dulles Airport is difficult to navigate through. It has also been getting a bad reputation for luggage issues. Dulles had 1,086 total claims, out of which 331 were approved or settled for a total of $67,952.16 between 2010 and 2014. A USA Today investigation found the TSA is taking a hit for damaged bags, paying out $3-million in claims for lost, broken or stolen items.

#TSA PAID OUT 7.6 claims per million passengers at Washington Dulles International, about two and a half times the number of losses paid at nearby Reagan National and nearly four times more than the airport ranked with fewest complaints among the 30 busiest Airports in America, Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

#In the meantime, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) is trying to increase revenue while more passengers are using Reagan National. Dulles is expensive for airlines. Most large airlines fly a “hub-and-spoke” network where they fly almost entirely to and from their hubs. Without a United hub, there are no flights to smaller eastern cities from Dulles, since United depends on connecting passengers to fill them.

#United CEO Jeff Smisek said United is reluctant to expand at Dulles because it is more expensive than other airports. Airports have to be self-sufficient and pay for their facilities and operations through revenue they earn inside the airport (like restaurants, concessions) and fees airlines pay. When an airport wants to build new facilities, it must take on debt that raises the costs for the airlines.

#In January of 2015 Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe unveiled new, large versions of the “Welcome to Virginia” signs at Dulles Airport. In April, a seminar was held at the Sterling AOL Campus, titled Dulles Matters. The event was sponsored by the Committee for Dulles. Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, said although Dulles is a key regional asset, the public must be sure leaders are making the smartest choices when it comes to spending taxpayer money.

#A study commissioned by the MWAA showed Dulles generated more than $1.2 billion a year in tax revenue and nearly $10 billion in labor income. More than 19,000 people work at Dulles, but nearly 250,000 jobs are tied to the airport. MWAA operates National and Dulles. “We need to rally and put Dulles and this region onto a positive growth path,” said Keith Meurlin, president of the Washington Airports Task Force and former Washington Dulles International Airport manager.

#Phase 2 of Metro’s new Silver Line will include a station at Dulles, and construction may be complete by 2020. The MWAA may amend its ground transportation policy to allow Uber, Lyft and similar services access to airport property at National and Dulles. The Maryland Aviation Administration, which oversees BWI, studied practices at other airports to develop a “comprehensive review” of its ground transportation service, and plans to update regulations in coming months, officials said.

#Traditional cabs pay a $3-per-fare fee to operate at National, unless it’s a prearranged trip, and they must wait in line to be dispatched. Uber and Lyft drivers can pull up to the curb to collect passengers. “They are popular with a certain segment of the population,” said John Massoud, vice president of M&R Taxi Company, Inc., trading as Arlington Blue Top Cab, which has provided taxi service to Northern Virginia since 1984. A locally owned family business, M&R Taxi Company, Inc. has potential taxi drivers go through a detailed screening process including a drug test, training and an exam. “Only then we do allow someone to drive a Washington Flyer taxi,” said Massoud. Although taxi companies have few worries for the Metro Silver Line, they have expressed specific concerns regarding rider services such as Uber.

#DULLES AIRPORT has been reviewing three potential sites for hotel development including a 2.6-acre site used as employee parking at the east end of the terminal. The other two sites include: a 5.6-acre site behind a daily garage facing the main terminal, near the future Metro station; and a 13.7-acre lakefront site near the existing Dulles Airport Marriott hotel, which has a lease to operate at Dulles through 2027. On-airport hotels have been popular for travelers who have early flights.

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Officials to consider road widening, HOT lanes through Arlington portion of I-66

The state’s plans for an environmental assessment come as transportation officials are also moving forward on improvements outside the Beltway — plans that include building new high-occupancy toll roads in place of HOV lanes, creating space for rail and implementing other traffic-calming measures.

Virginia to study HOT lanes inside the Beltway

While HOT lanes in the peak hour merit study along with HOV in both directions and transit, HOT lanes may still lead to too many cars trying to fight their way into D.C. or the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor. The focus should be on moving the most people at the peak hour, and transit offers the best opportunity to do that

Arlington County Board cancels streetcar; Fisette cites “political realities”

The proposed streetcar would have run a 7.4 mile path between Fairfax County and Arlington, much of it along Columbia Pike in Arlington. The route was estimated to cost between $250 million and $400 million.

“The Coalition of Smarter Growth is disappointed by the Arlington Board’s decision,” said Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the group, in a statement following the announcement, “but far more so by the deeply negative and frequently inaccurate campaign against the streetcar.”

For Fisette and Hynes, streetcar vote was painful but necessary

The Coalition for Smarter Growth, which backed the project, trained its anger not so much on Fisette and Hynes as on “the deeply negative, and frequently inaccurate, campaign” by opponents. “Failure to invest in modern, high-capacity transit will mean more traffic and less economic development,” the group said in a statement.

Arlington officials halt efforts on streetcars for Columbia Pike, Crystal City

Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth in the District, said that opposition to the streetcars went against Arlington’s history as a place that has fostered transit-based development. “Arlington represents, perhaps, the top national smart-growth story,” Schwartz said. “It went from a declining inner-ring suburb to a very economically successful community.”

Opposition was rooted in resistance to the idea of streetcars in general, Schwartz said, and public transportation projects’ reliance on local tax dollars. “Unfortunately, transit projects face many more hoops and require more local funding than highway projects,” Schwartz said.s