With traffic piled up behind her and commuters hurrying past her, Mychele Brickner stood at a podium at the Vienna-Fairfax Metro station and outlined her plan for transportation Tuesday morning. Flanked by U.S. Reps. Tom Davis (R-11) and Frank Wolf (R-10), Brickner slammed the current Board of Supervisors for letting the county's congestion slip out of control.
"The taxpayers of Fairfax County endure some of the longest commutes in the nation," said Brickner. "The impact of this hits every man, woman and child in Fairfax County and the surrounding areas."
Brickner vowed to put together a "blue-ribbon" panel of experts and community leaders to make recommendations. The group would report back to the board in the first six months of her administration.
Brickner called the commission "the biggest part of this plan."
She also said she would push for a $180 million bond referendum next year for transportation. That money could be used for improving the interchange between I-495 and I-66, widening Route 7, widening Telegraph Road, building the South Van Dorn interchange and the Tri-County Parkway, upgrading interchanges on the Fairfax County Parkway, improving the county's rapid bus network and for spot improvements throughout the county.
She expressed support for “high occupancy toll” (HOT) lanes throughout the county, for a better transit system, telecommuting and carpooling.
The county had added 40,000 more housing units than had previously been anticipated without finding ways to ease the resulting traffic, Brickner said.
"Sadly, instead of listening to taxpayer demands, the Connolly-Hanley administration chooses to blame Richmond," she said.
Brickner criticized the board's decision to devote $6 million to fund the cross-county hiking trail instead of using the money for road improvements.
"What good are parks and trails if you cannot get to them if you are stuck in gridlock?" she said.
Democratic candidate for chairman Gerry Connolly, currently the Providence District supervisor, noted that the cross-county trail was his initiative.
"I think the cross-county trail is something that we absolutely have to complete," he said. "Slogans aren't really a plan."
He called Brickner's plan "a pot-pourri of stuff, much of which we're already working on."
Improvements to Route 7, the Tri-County Parkway, the Fairfax County Parkway and traffic signalization are all current state and county transportation plans, he said.
"I believe that what we have to do in transportation is provide people choices. Telework, transit, HOV, HOT lanes, trails, bike paths, those are all part of providing people with choices so you're not just stuck with a unimodal way of getting to and from someplace."
"I'm glad to see Mychele suddenly get interested in transportation after having no experience in transportation in the previous eight years she served on the School Board," he added.
DAVIS SAID Brickner "has offered a plan of action" to help ease traffic.
"The board has not done enough to resolve the problem," he said. "We can't do it alone. ... The county has to step up to the plate."
Wolf said: "We are in a serious situation and until we clean house and put Mychele in there the situation will continue to be bad."
Widening I-66 through Arlington County ought to be a Fairfax County priority, Wolf and Davis said. Connolly, the chairman of the Board's legislative committee, has never gone to meet with them on Capitol Hill to talk about transportation, they said.
"I can't tell you what it's been like for the last eight years to watch this board," said Supervisor Michael Frey (R-Sully), who joined Brickner at the podium. He characterized the board transportation efforts as "psycho-babble."
"This board has literally done nothing for transportation in eight years."
Other Republican candidates at the announcement included Joan Dubois, candidate for Dranesville District supervisor, Buzz Hawley, who is running for the Mason supervisor's seat, Jim Hyland, candidate for Providence supervisor, Sen. Ken Cuccinelli (R-37) and Sen. Jay O'Brien (R-39). Supervisor Stuart Mendelsohn (D-Dranesville), who is stepping down from the board, also attended.