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Kauffman Addresses Transportation

Solutions can be developed but can the money be found?

Transit systems will only work if they get passengers to their destinations safely and expeditiously. "There are no silver bullet projects or solutions," Supervisor Dana Kauffman (D-Lee) told the audience assembled in Mount Vernon High School's Little Theatre Saturday, Feb. 3.

"That safety also has to extend to the bus and rail stops so that people will feel comfortable waiting," he said to the more than 400 Mount Vernon District residents attending Supervisor Gerald Hyland's (D-Mount Vernon) 20th Annual Town Meeting. "Our new bus stops are equipped with transit schedules and lights that indicate passengers are waiting."

During his portion of the Town Meeting entitled "Mount Vernon Area Transportation Plans for the Coming Year," Kauffman, making his last appearance in the role of an elected county supervisor at a Hyland Town Meeting, noted that his Chief of Staff, Jeffrey McKay, will be seeking his seat on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in the fall elections. Hyland presented Kauffman with a gift from Mount Vernon residents for his years of service in county government.

Citing the completion of the Fairfax County Parkway across the Engineering Proving Grounds as "one of the greatest investments in this part of the county," Kauffman pledged to make this a priority during his remaining months in office. "We will make this happen," he said.

He then walked the audience through the following synopsis of transportation initiatives impacting southeastern Fairfax County during 2007:

* Richmond Highway Public Transportation Initiative: A $55 million program to upgrade transit services and facilities. Started in 2004, this multi-year project includes REX and Fairfax Connector bus service. The latter has added 40 percent more service. Both services have resulted a 6.6 percent increase in weekday ridership and a weekend increase of 15.7 percent. An on-going endeavor it involves a host of projects such as improved bus stops, intersection improvements, and walkways.

* Woodlawn/Old Mill Road Replacement-Connector Road: Design, initiated in January 2007, is scheduled for completion in July 2008 along with right-of-way acquisition. The finished product is planned for October 2010.

* Route 1 Transit Study: This involves the Route 1 corridor between Fairfax and Prince William counties. The Fairfax County Transit Board approved the section from Route 1 south to Lorton Road along with the section in Prince William County. The Board of Supervisors has requested VDOT include transit options from Fort Belvoir to Huntington/Alexandria.

* EPG Section of the Fairfax County Parkway Project: As a result of BRAC, VDOT has requested the Army construct the Parkway portion of EPG development. That is now being negotiated between the Army and VDOT.

* BRAC: $1.6 billion in road and transit improvements are necessary to "prevent gridlock" as a result of increased traffic in the area due to BRAC. However, only an estimated $200 is available. Transportation projects require "a great deal of time to plan, design and construct." BRAC deadline is 2011.

* Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project & Telegraph Road Interchange: Upcoming milestones to meet the total project completion date of 2011 for both the bridge and Telegraph Road Interchange are: first quarter 2007 — partial completion of new Route 1 bridge over the Beltway and opening of new ramp from I-95 North/Outer Loop to both northbound and southbound Route 1; Second quarter 2007 — Open new flyover ramp from northbound Route 1 to I-95 South/Inner Loop and demolition of existing Route 1 bridge overpass; fourth quarter 2007 — Award I-95/Telegraph Road Interchange improvement construction contract.

Finally, Kauffman identified a variety of "other Mount Vernon transportation initiatives" presently underway noting that "another transit bond is scheduled to be on the ballot this fall." The last one passed with a 78 percent plurality.