A graphic illustrating BRT from Fairfax County’s website.
The Embark Richmond Highway comprehensive plan amendment was only approved by the county last month, and construction on bus rapid transit (BRT) isn’t slated to start for years, but it’s already time to start talking about the project.
The Fairfax County Department of Transportation is holding its first public information meetings for the BRT project on April 17 and April 18. The first meeting on the 17th will be at West Potomac High School (see map), while the second meeting on the 18th will be at Mount Vernon High School (see map).
The meetings on the 17th and 18th will be held in an open-house format, with a formal presentation by county staff starting at 7 p.m. FCDOT says the purpose of the meetings will be to provide background information on the project and and related studies, discuss features of BRT systems and let the community know how to stay involved in the project.
BRT is a central piece of the Embark Richmond Highway plan to revamp the Richmond Highway corridor. BRT stations are envisioned inside a series of eight high-density community business centers (CBCs) along the highway. The BRT will run 8.6 miles, going up the median area of Route 1 from Fort Belvoir to Penn Daw before cutting over to the Huntington Metro station.
The county also considers BRT key to Embark’s goal of getting Metro extended from Huntington to new stations at the Beacon/Groveton CBC and the Hybla Valley CBC.
“The goal of the BRT system is to increase transit ridership along the corridor and ultimately lead to the future Metrorail extension to Hybla Valley,” the FCDOT says on recently created website dedicated to the project.
Long road ahead
The timeline for BRT actually operating along the highway is a long one, with construction on the first phase not scheduled to begin until early 2025. Environmental evaluation and preliminary design are starting this year, with both anticipated to be done by the end of 2019.
The county has already submitted a $250 million funding request for BRT to the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA), which disburses some of the funding for transportation projects in the region. The BRT funding request, along with a separate request to fund the Route 1 widening project between Jeff Todd Way and Napper Road, topped the county’s request list in December.
Those requests face competition from other projects in the area, and there is also a threat that pending legislation at the state level could pull money from the NVTA to fund Metro. Gov. Ralph Northam is expected to use his power to amend the Metro funding legislation, but it remains to be seen where the funding will come from and how much the NVTA budget will be affected.
The current price tag for the BRT project is $524 million.
A full timeline of the BRT project can be viewed on the county website.