Sidewalks, bike trails approved to help Northern Va. commuters ditch cars

WASHINGTON — Eleven construction projects planned for Northern Virginia have been chosen to receive federal funds to help create seamless links for cyclists and walkers between neighborhoods and jobs.

The National Capital Region Transporation Planning Board voted Wednesday to select recipients of more than $5 million through the federal Transportation Alternatives Program. The money will support a wide array of projects that include new and/or improved sidewalks and trails to facilitate safe passage away from speeding traffic.

“This is really fairly small money, but making a big impact,” said John Swanson, principal transportation planner for the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board.

“It could be the best bus service in the world, but if there’s no sidewalk to get to that bus stop, which may be a few blocks away … we’ve lost an opportunity to provide people that option,” Swanson said. “Challenges of walking and biking can really make a difference between whether someone decides they want to walk or whether they’re going to drive.”

Some of the winning applicants have projects that improve safe routes to schools and increase access for people with disabilities. In Arlington County, for example, a project will add curb cuts for wheelchairs and move light poles from the centers of sidewalks to help the visually impaired navigate the terrain more smoothly.

These are the approved projects:

  • Arlington County: Rosslyn-Ballston Americans with Disabilities Act improvements, $392,000
  • Arlington County: Four Mile Run Trail Connection, $241,000
  • City of Fairfax: Judicial Trail Connection, $174,800
  • City of Falls Church, Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority: W&OD Trail Mode Separation, $274,250
  • Fairfax County: Vienna Metro Bike Connection Improvement, $800,000
  • Fairfax County: Fair Lakes Boulevard Walkway, $480,000
  • Prince William County: Sudley Road Sidewalk, $148,000
  • Prince William County: Mill Street Crosswalks, $147,280
  • Prince William County: Gemini Way Pedestrian Improvements, $880,000
  • Prince William County: Colchester Road Sidewalk, $1,527,484
  • Town of Hillsboro: Gaver Mill Trail Shared-Use Path Project, $375,896

Virginia’s Department of Transportation is taking charge of the improvement efforts now.

“VDOT will be working with the localities to implement the projects and hopefully get them done in the next year or two,” Swanson said.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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