Livability22202 Detailed Feedback to VDOT on Feasibility Study (January 11, 2021)

On January 11, 2021, the presidents of the three civic associations in 22202–Arlington Ridge, Aurora Highlands, and Crystal City–forwarded to VDOT the Livability22202 comments on the VDOT feasibility study. These comments provide feedback to the VDOT Public Information Meeting on the Multimodal Improvements Study for Route 1 on 16 December 2020. The covering letter and the four extensive Appendices are linked here.

The Livability22202 community is vitally interested in the outcome of the study and how the principles we have enunciated in our Framework and Action Plan of November 2019 will be addressed in the final VDOT recommendations.  Providing safe, convenient, connected, comfortable east-west Route 1 crossings for people of all ages and abilities and for all modes of transportation is a Livability22202 priority and the most important goal of the Working Group. 

We are pleased that VDOT described that the feasibility study “aims to provide sufficient information to make the best decision on a future project on Route 1 in Crystal City” in the VDOT Public Information Meeting No. 1, December 16, 2020. And we are also pleased that the study will include both an “analysis of existing configuration and analysis of concepts presented in the Crystal City Sector Plan,” along with exploring an at-grade urban boulevard. We are also in agreement that if the study develops an understanding “of potential costs and issues/solutions for constructability and multimodal access,” the Crystal City community and Arlington County will be able to make informed decisions about the future of Route 1.

With these goals in mind, we believe that the formulation of the alternatives for consideration, and the nature of the modeling undertaken to evaluate them will be critical to the outcomes of the study. Issues will include the selection of design concepts for Route 1 as a whole, as well as concepts for individual intersections and cross streets. Assumptions in the study regarding projections for future traffic volumes, peak hour volumes, transit use, and modal splits will also be critical. Because of the importance of the existing conditions data and planning assumptions, it is important that these be shared with the public now, during the early stages of the study formulation, rather than at the end of the study, or worse, not at all. While we are aware that sharing this background information and judgments about the future requires a little more effort from your consultant team up-front, we believe that it will save time overall and build public trust in the results of the study.

The Appendices, which address our concerns and explore some of our ideas, are divided into four broad sections:

  1.  Livability22202 Community Goals and Priorities
  2.  Missing information and Data in the “Existing Conditions” Presentation
  3.  Clarification of VDOT Study Concepts
  4.  Livability22202 Alternative Concepts

Livability22202: Route 1

  1. VDOT Feasibility Study for Route 1: VDOT has been tasked by the State to conduct a feasibility study for Route 1 multimodal connectivity in the vicinity of Crystal City and Pentagon City over the course of the next year, with a report due June 2021. The tasking stems from an MOU between the Commonwealth and Amazon in 2018 to improve safety, accessibility, and the pedestrian experience crossing Route 1.  Two reasons for this study:  1) transportation demand will increase with Amazon and development growth; and 2) the areas to be studied are already heavily developed with limited space for expanding the footprint of the transportation network. The study on Route 1, from approximately 12th Street to 23rd Street South, will explore an at-grade urban boulevard, but also review and compare potential improvements to the current elevated condition, and the elevated urban boulevard described in the Crystal City Sector Plan. Ultimately, the study aims to provide sufficient information to make the best decision on a future project on Route 1 in Crystal City. The first virtual meeting of the project Task Force took place Monday, September 28, and 22202 residents were well represented.  See the website and sign up for updates.

2. Livability Working Group Response: Obviously the VDOT study will have an impact on residents of 22202.  The working group is concerned that the scope of the study is very narrowly limited to the feasibility of bringing Route 1 down to grade, including at 15th and 18th Streets, and is not considering other alternatives. The 2010 Crystal City Sector Plan envisioned “the transformation of the highway into an urban boulevard with wide landscaped usable sidewalks and real building frontages,” but without specifics.   A Livability22202 working group has been studying the issue and conducted a survey of residents (with almost 300 responses) and two community meetings August 26 and September 30.  The results of the survey as well as the presentations from both meetings, including a study done by the National Landing BID, are posted below.  The live recordings of both meetings are posted to the CCCA Facebook page and linked below.  The major community concern is to preserve safety of the pedestrian/bike crossings at 15th and 18th Streets and avoid another bad situation like 23rd Street.  We will be inviting VDOT to a future 22202 community meeting.

September 30 Livability22202 Meeting: You can view the entire 2 hour meeting here. You can see the Working Group presentation here and the BID study presentation here. The results of the Route 1 survey conducted by the Working Group can be seen here. You can also see the referenced links, comments, and questions from the chat room here.

August 26 Livability 22202 Meeting: You can view the meeting here. The presentation is here.