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Public hearing to address improving Va. commutes

Saturday - 5/25/2013, 7:31am  ET

FAIRFAX, Va. - The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority will hold an open house and public hearing on how to best ease congestion for commuters.

The event will take place on June 20 at 5:30 p.m at Fairfax City Hall.

"It's going to be a great opportunity for citizens to interact with Authority members and understand how it affects them," says NVTA Chair Martin Nohe. "Things we talk about on radio programs are often very condensed. They don't address people's personal questions. What we want to do on June 20 is to allow people to ask questions about how it will affect them."

NVTA officials set the public hearing at a meeting on Thursday, after debate about whether to approve projects on July 1 or wait another month or two before making a final decision. Ultimately, the group decided to hold the wait until August or September.

Delegate Jim LeMunyon wrote a letter to the NVTA earlier this week, calling on the group to take a cautious approach and give citizens a chance to fully understand how each project would improve their commute.

So far, the current project list does not contain that information, although Nohe tells WTOP that specific traffic data will be available soon. The short list contains about 12 road and 21 transit projects, although the NVTA will take comments on other projects too.

A second hearing will be held in July, although a final date and location have not been set.

"The second hearing will allow people to review the list of projects, sleep on it a little and then give us any refined comment," says Nohe.

Loudoun County Board Chair Scott York, who pushed fellow NVTA members to take a cautious approach, tells WTOP that he hopes the two public hearings will allow citizens to fully grasp how each project can help their commutes and give informed feedback.

York points out that money from the new transportation bill will not likely be available to spend until August or September, allowing more time for public input to help make sure the best projects are approved.

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