Traffic Calming project on Route 50 continues to gain national and regional recognition.
On January 24, 2002 in San Diego, CA at the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference organized by Penn State University and the Local Government Commission (LGC), the Federal Highway Administration had a two and a half hour Focus Group Session. This session was their Transportation and Community and System Preservation Pilot Program (TCSP) and the Route 50 Traffic Calming project was used as an example of an “innovative initiative that is underway across the country”.
On Monday March 25,2002 the Lochner engineering staff will be presenting the Route 50 Traffic Calming Project in Loudoun and Fauquier Counties at the Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association annual meeting in Roanoke, Virginia. This presentation will be an example of a Federal Demonstration project.
The Route 50 Corridor Coalition presented their Traffic Calming plan at the Preserving the Historic Road in America conference on April 6-9 2000 in Morristown, New Jersey. This year the Route 50 Traffic Calming plan will again be presented at a National Trust conference. Jim Klein of Lardner/Klein Landscape Architects will be making a presentation named “Traffic Calming in Historic Districts: The Route 50 Traffic Calming Project”at the National Trust Historic Roads Conference in Omaha, Nebraska on April 11-14. For more information on this conference please visit www.historicroads.org
Task Force to Oversee Route 50 Project
The Rte. 50 Traffic Calming Task Force was established officially in March 1999 under the authorization of the Commonwealth Transportation Board. The Task Force will oversee the project and is composed of 12 members appointed by Virginia's Secretary of Transportation and the Boards of Supervisors of Fauquier and Loudoun Counties.
The members include elected officials of the 3 jurisdictions through which the road passes, a member of the Rte.50 Corridor Coalition that developed the project and representatives of local business, tourism, historic preservation, farmers, commuters and VDOT. The co-chairs are Jim Rich of The Plains and Hobie Mitchel of the CTB.
In 1998 the Route 50 Corridor Coalition enlisted the support of Senator John Warner who secured $13 million in federal funds for implementation of the project. The Commonwealth of Virginia has agreed to provide the 20 percent matching funds required by the federal appropriation. The Task Force is working closely with VDOT to be sure the project complies with state and federal statutes and that it reflects the project's community support.
Task Force and VDOT Join in Selection of Engineering Firm
After several months of intense discussion, state and federal officials agreed that the Task Force had the right to direct participation in the process for the selection of design and engineering consultants to implement the traffic calming project. Last April a selection committee was formed for this purpose with 3 Task Force representatives and 3 VDOT representatives.
The Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued on May 1 and the selection committee thoroughly evaluated the responses received. The committee reached a unanimous decision in favor of the team headed by Lochner Associates and the well-known traffic calming firm Glatting-Jackson. The final contractual details are now being worked out with them.
The Coalition sees this cooperative effort between VDOT and the Task Force as reason for some optimism that construction will begin without undue delay. However, experience indicates that the way may not be smooth. Citizen involvement in every step of the implementation will be essential to ensure that the traffic calming project is completed satisfactorily.
Traffic Calming Phase 1 Implementation
Thanks to the seemingly positive working relationship hammered out between VDOT and the Rte. 50 Task Force, contract negotiations are almost complete with an outstanding engineering firm for Phase 1 of the implementation process. If all goes as expected, the consulting team will begin work not later than March to refine the original plan in a way that expresses the views and needs of the community. This will be done in part through workshops and a public hearing and will lead to the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) approval.
Phase 1 should take about eight months. Further negotiations at that time will lead to a Phase II contract which will develop detailed construction drawings and specifications. Bids will then be sought for project construction to begin possibly in 2002.
Ox Cart Calms Traffic in Middleburg Parade
The Rte. 50 Corridor Coalition's ox cart was one of the biggest attractions in the Middleburg Christmas Parade. The powerful oxen, Buck and Tom, when yoked together have a combined horn span of about 8 feet. They could be seen and petted prior to their maneuvering through the narrow and crowd-ed parade route. Valli Arader arranged for the return of the pair from North Carolina for this event. She personally served as their handler throughout the festivities. The oxen are veteran performers. They appeared in the film "The Crucible" several years ago. Many thanks to Valli for her extremely generous contribution to the traffic calming effort.
Traffic Calming in New Comprehensive Plan
Loudoun County has included the Rte. 50 Traffic Calming Project in the transportation section of the new draft comprehensive plan. In doing so, the county joins the Town of Middleburg, which strongly supported traffic calming on Rte. 50 as part of its comprehensive plan passed last year.
The Loudoun Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission continue to struggle with critical well-publicized development issues that, if not resolved, could lead to increased development along the Rte. 50 Corridor. There are deep concerns about the so-called transition area where the many proposed roads would impact the Mt. Zion Church, the Mosby Heritage Area and Gilbert's Corner. The controversy seems complex but the Board needs to hear from the citizens that more roads through existing rural neighborhoods and the historic area are not acceptable. The Board also needs to receive a clear message that we need open space and livable communities in the eastern part of the county and downzoning in the western part. Please express your views to your supervisor.
Snickersville Turnpike Progress
Recent working sessions on the design of the entire Snickersville Turnpike point toward improved cooperation and communication between the citizens and VDOT. An understanding seems to have emerged with respect to how some safety issues can be addressed without overbuilding the road.
The sale in 2000 of Gilbert's Corner to real estate developers made real the threat of development to this intersection. Due to the outcry of concerned citizens' groups the new owner has said he will modify his plans. We continue to work with the Defenders of Gilbert's Corner on design solutions that are compatible with the rural area.
Increased Safety on Rte. 17
Safety has greatly increased on Rte. 17. Due to the efforts of the Crooked Run Valley Association working together with Congressman Frank Wolf and VDOT, the speed limit has been reduced to 45 mph from I-66 to Paris. Also, the highway from I-66 to 50, and continuing west to Rte. 340, is no longer a designated truck route. Trucks longer than 65 feet and tandem trailers are not permitted except for local deliveries. This greatly diminishes traffic hazards.
Bon Voyage, Carol and Frances Bowersock
The Rte.50 Corridor Coalition joins the rest of the community in extending best wishes to Carol and Frances Bowersock as they prepare to relocate in Oregon. As part of their myriad public service activities they have provided invaluable guidance to the traffic calming project from the perspective of emergency service activities and as people who know and care deeply about their community. Thanks Carol and Frances!
First Meeting of the Traffic Calming Task Force
On June 28, 1999 Route 50 Traffic Calming Task Force held its first meeting since the group was announced in March. The meeting was attended by all but one of the Task Force members and an audience of about 25 people, including interested citizens and community leaders, the press, and VDOT personnel. Along with establishing a community-based process to govern the work of the Task Force, the meeting brought two additional and very positive outcomes.
Task Force Adopts Mission Statement
At its first meeting, the Task Force voted without dissent to adopt the following mission statement: The Task Force will provide governmental and community leadership and project oversight through a public, community-based process to ensure the successful implementation of the traffic calming plan and safety enhancements for Virginia’s Rural Route 50 corridor between Lenah in Loudoun County and Paris in Fauquier County.
In 1998 the Coalition enlisted the support of Senator John Warner, who secured $13 million in federal funds to implement the project. The Commonwealth of Virginia has agreed to provide the 20 percent match required by the appropriation.
State to Provide Matching Funds
Chip Nottingham, Assistant Secretary of Transportation, announced that the Commonwealth would provide matching funds required by the federal appropriation. Although the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) authorizes $13 million for the project, under the current federal funding formula, only 88% or $11.4 million, will actually be allocated for Traffic Calming on Route 50. According to federal guidelines, 20% of the allocation or $2.3 million must come from non-Federal sources. While Richmond will ante-up the $2.3 million, the Coalition’s award-winning traffic calming plan for Route 50 calls for an expenditure of about $15 million. The difference between the federal and state appropriations and the projected cost of project implementation must come from other sources.
Who Are the Members of the Task Force?
As originally set up by Senator Warner, the Task Force was organized with co-chairs — Jim Rich, a local resident and a past member of Virginia's Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB), and Kevin Sabo, a CTB member at that time. Mr. Sabo was later replaced by Hobie Mitchel both as co-chair and on the CTB.
In addition to the two co-chairs, Jim Rich and Hobie Mitchel, the other members of Task Force are as follows:
Task Force Builds Committees
As an organizational foundation, the Task Force formed four committees and assigned chairs for each. Some of the work to be performed by the committees follows.
The Design and Engineering Committee, chaired by Susan Van Wagoner and Jim Burton, will refine the design, research materials, and work on specs and input from selected engineers and contractors and from the community.
The Safety Committee, chaired by Tim Dimos and Ann Coyner, will research safety issues and statistics and interface with fire and rescue, police, and schools and other stakeholders.
The Management/Administration Committee, chaired by Harry Atherton and Stephen Wolf, will develop and monitor the budget, coordinate with government entities, manage the bidding process, and schedule construction.
The Community/Public Process Committee, chaired by Chris Malone and Childs Burden, will organize and plan the community workshops and public education sessions, coordinate with local business, through travelers, and the tourism and farming industries, and coordinate the construction schedule with the community.
These are just some of the responsibilities of each committee. Citizens who would like more information, or those interested in participating in the Traffic Calming project at this stage should contact the Route 50 Corridor Coalition at (540) 687-4055. Fax: (540) 687-3779 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Task Force Meetings are Open to the Public
Route 50 Traffic Calming Task Force meetings will be held on the fourth Monday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Middleburg Town offices.
Middleburg’s New Comprehensive Plan Supports Traffic Calming
In February, The Middleburg Town Council passed its new Comprehensive Plan which includes a specific policy to "Promote traffic calming as a means of addressing pedestrian and bicycle safety, traffic noise, and street design concerns and as an alternative to a bypass." The plan also calls for the Town of Middleburg to "Participate in the implementation of traffic calming along Route 50."