Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Private Sector Invited to Share Qualification to Deliver I-66 Outside the Beltway Project

The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) approved this week a resolution allowing the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to issue a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for interested private sector teams to share their resources, qualifications and experience to deliver the $2.1 billion I-66 Outside the Beltway project in Northern Virginia under the Public-Private Transportation Act (PPTA).  
Issuing the RFQ will give VDOT, the Virginia Office of Public Private Partnerships and the Department of Rail and Public Transportation the information required to determine the preferred delivery method that will advance to development of the project under the PPTA. 
Part 1 of the RFQ is due to VDOT by October 1, 2015 at 2 PM, with shortlisted teams notified by October 15. Shortlisted teams will then be asked to respond to the second part of RFQ that asks for indicative financial models. Those responses are due by November 30. Based on their responses, VDOT will choose a preferred delivery option.
The VDOT would then issue a Request for Proposals for the preferred delivery option, which would seek detailed information on the private sector’s technical approach to develop the project and binding price proposals.
Online sources:
I-66 Outside the Beltway P3 information:                                   
I-66 Outside the Beltway project:

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

CTB Awards 3 Contracts Worth $112 Million

The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) awarded three contracts this week worth approximately $112 million for major infrastructure improvements.
The projects – in the Hampton Roads, Northern Virginia and Culpeper districts of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) – will improve mobility, enhance safety and extend the life of the state’s transportation network.
The contracts are for projects that will:
  1. Install a “continuous-flow intersection” at U.S. 13, Route 165 and Route 166 (Military Highway, Northampton Boulevard and Princess Anne Road) in Norfolk
The CTB awarded a design-build contract worth approximately $59.8 million to Corman-E.V. Williams, a joint venture in Virginia Beach, Va., to improve the intersection of Military Highway, Northampton Boulevard and Princess Anne Road in Norfolk to improve traffic flow.
The continuous-flow intersection will direct vehicles turning left from Military Highway either to Princess Anne Road or Northampton Boulevard away from the main intersection.
The new configuration for the intersection will increase safety and reduce congestion by allowing motorists to avoid the conflict that arises when their left-turning vehicles face opposing traffic directly at the main intersection.
CFI image from brochure
Illustration shows how signals control left-turning traffic as it moves through a continuous-flow intersection.

With the continuous-flow intersection, vehicles turning left will cross over the lanes with the through traffic heading toward them at signals several hundred feet before the main intersection.
The left-turning vehicles then can proceed through the intersection at the same time as the opposing through traffic without the direct conflict at the main intersection.
Along Military Highway, the widening and improvement project will extend about 1.58 miles, from 0.23 miles north of Interstate 64 to Lowery Road to the south. Along Princess Anne Road, the project will extend 0.24 miles west of Military Highway, while on Northampton Boulevard, it will run 0.2 miles east of Military Highway.
The project is scheduled for completion in May 2018.
  1. Reconstruct and widen a section of Route 659 (Belmont Ridge Road) in Loudoun County
The CTB awarded a design-build contract worth nearly $45.5 million to Shirley Contracting Company LLC of Lorton, Va., to improve Belmont Ridge Road between Route 2150 (Gloucester Parkway) and Route 642 (Hay Road).
The project will widen Belmont Ridge Road from two to four lanes and add a dividing median. It also will have curbs and gutters, a bridge over the Washington and Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail, shared-used paths on both sides of Belmont Ridge Road, direct connections from the shared-use paths to the W&OD Trail and a parking lot for trail users.
The project is scheduled for completion in May 2018.
  1. Improve part of Route 229 in Culpeper
The CTB awarded a contract worth nearly $6.7 million to Fielder’s Choice Enterprises Inc. of Charlottesville, Va., to widen a 0.8-mile section of Route 229 to four lanes in the town of Culpeper.
The improvements will add right- and left-turn lanes where warranted, replace the signal at Grandview Avenue and construct a shared-use path on the east side of the road and a sidewalk on the west side.
The project will connect to the Route 229 improvements in Culpeper County completed in 2010 and a roundabout that opened to traffic in July.
More information about the project is at
The project is scheduled for completion in August 2017.
The following chart tracks the dollar amount of major contracts the CTB has awarded in calendar year 2015 (the CTB did not meet in August):

2015 CTB Major Contract Awards
In advance of each CTB meeting, VDOT Commissioner Charlie Kilpatrick also approves contracts worth up to $5 million in value.
Appointed by the governor, the 17-member CTB establishes the administrative policies for Virginia's transportation system. The CTB allocates highway funding to specific projects, locates routes and provides funding for airports, seaports and public transportation. The board normally meets on the third Wednesday of the month in months when action meetings are scheduled,
For more information:
  • Final bid results and projects:

Monday, September 28, 2015

I-66 Outside the Beltway Design Concept Presented to Transportation Board

BRISTOL, Va. – The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) briefed today the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) on the recommended design concept for Transforming I-66 Outside the Beltway.  Referred to as the project’s “preferred alternative,” the recommended approach consists of multi-modal improvements to 25 miles of I-66 from I-495 in Fairfax County to Route 15 in Haymarket. These improvements include two express lanes alongside three regular lanes in each direction, with space in the median for future transit; dedicated express lanes access points; safety and operational improvements at key interchanges throughout the corridor;  new transit services such as new and expanded park and ride lots and bus service, and corridor-wide bikeway, trail, and sidewalk improvements.
Recognizing the cost and complexity of the proposed improvements, VDOT recommends the project be implemented in phases. The proposed first phase extends the express lanes for 22 of the original 25 miles, from 495 to Gainesville, (University Boulevard), and then transitioning to a traditional HOV lane in each direction. An HOV lane from Gainesville to Route 15 in Haymarket is under construction as part of VDOT’s I-66 Widening Project. Phase 1 also proposes retaining existing ramps and bridges, and converting them to express lanes access points, at Monument Drive and Stringfellow Road, rather than rebuilding these interchanges. Extending the express lanes to Route 15 in Haymarket and rebuilding the Monument Drive and Stringfellow Road interchanges would be implemented in the future as funding becomes available and demand warrants.
The recommended preferred alternative is a hybrid of the various alternatives that were evaluated over the past year. The combined package is recommended due to its multimodal approach and ability to move more people throughout the corridor, reduce hours of congestion per day, and reduce cut-through traffic on local roads. The preferred alternative reflects extensive public input received at more than 160 public meetings and several other communications channels such as formal comments, website, email, and social media.
The design concepts have been evaluated in a draft Environmental Assessment, which was presented at public hearings in May and June 2015, and also reflect revisions that have minimized the project’s footprint and significantly reduced the number of potential residential relocations by more than half of the original concepts.
The recommended preferred alternative will be will be presented to residents for their input during  public meetings  in October.  Following that, the CTB will vote whether or not to approve the recommendation during their board meeting on Oct. 28. 
The final environmental document is expected to be completed and a procurement approach determined for I-66 Outside the Beltway by late 2015. Construction of the project is slated to begin in 2017, with the improvements open to traffic in 2021.    For more details, visit
Project video:

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Seven Keys to a Great Bus Rapid Transit System

Montgomery County is looking at a new bus rapid transit system. How can we make it great? We looked at examples of successful BRT systems around the country.

Photo by Wolfram Burner on Flickr.
Montgomery County's unanimously-approved Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan calls for a bus rapid transit (BRT) system, also called RTS, that can serve as an alternative to driving and begin to manage the county's unsustainable traffic problems. Planning for routes along Route 355, Veirs Mill Road, and US 29 are now in "Phase 1," meaning the county is moving forward with their respective studies and designs.
County Executive Ike Leggett is still deciding how to fund the overall system. Leggett's decision will affect key components of the network, from the features it will have to when it will get built. There are more than 30 bus rapid transit systems currently running across the US and Canada-- many since the early 2000s-- and a lot of them have far exceeded expectations.

Below are seven characteristics of great BRT systems from around the country. To ensure a successful BRT system for Montgomery County, Leggett's plan should allow the county follow their leads.
Read the rest of the story at Greater Greater Washington.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Uber’s New Wave of Urban Design. Are Cities Ready?

As far as billion-dollar companies go, if Walmart is the poster child of sprawl, could Uber be the new face of smart growth?

Uber, best known for its smartphone-based taxi service, is expanding rapidly with initiatives less about individual rides and more about mass mobility. So far, reactions to Uber’s plans for driverless vehicles, “smart routes,” and shared rides seem pretty wary. Gizmodo’s Alissa Walker recently summarized concerns regarding equity, wages, and potential declines in public transit ridership.

While it is helpful to anticipate what can go wrong, it is even more important to get in front of trends to harness the benefits of tech-enabled mobility. Here is a short outline of what cities and suburbs need to do now to prepare for systems that are both public and private, driver and driverless, and solo and shared.

Read the rest of the story here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Motivate Puts Bike Share in the Fast Lane

Bike sharing in North America has been a roller coaster ride for the past few years. In 2009, the first Bixi launch in Montreal, Quebec, had 3000 bikes. In 2013, Citi Bike in New York, NY, the largest in North America with 6000 bikes, was delayed for months because of software problems. Persistent software glitches dogged their system after opening. A month later in Chicago, Il, Divvy opened with 750 bikes. A couple of months after that, San Francisco, CA, Bay Area Bike Share had to make do with 700 bikes instead of a planned 1,000 because of problems with the bicycle manufacturer, Public Bike System Co. (PBSC or Bixi). Then, in January of 2014, PBSC filed for bankruptcy.

The good news comes from the entry of a new player on the North American bike share scene. Motivate, a company backed by investment from fitness company Equinox and real estate firm Related Companies, took over Alta Bike Share and now operates ten bike share systems across Canada, the US, and one in Melbourne, Australia.

In March 2015, Motivate changed the software that powers the Citi Bike system in New York and upgraded the stations and docking points, explained Motivate Communications Director, Dani Simons. Citi Bike will also double in size from 6,000 to 12,000 bikes. The expansion will begin this year and be completed by the end of 2017.

Read the rest of the story here.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Gov. McAuliffe Dedicates New Washington Boulevard Bridge in Arlington

RICHMOND - Governor Terry McAuliffe dedicated today a new bridge that carries Washington Boulevard (Route 27) over Columbia Pike (Route 244) in Arlington, as the “Freedmans Village Bridge,” in honor of Freedmans Village, a historic community that once occupied the surrounding land and was a refuge for freed and fugitive slaves during the Civil War. Transportation, community and local leaders, and descendants of Freedmans Village families, joined the Governor in celebrating the new transportation asset, while paying tribute to the historical significance of the Freedmans Village Community.
“Today’s dedication ceremony celebrates the completion of a new bridge that connects a vibrant and busy travel area in Northern Virginia, connects communities, and connects the present time with a rich, historical past in Arlington,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Community input and partnership was critical to this project’s development, and resulted in adopting the best available design options, and most importantly, led to the naming of the bridge as the Freedmans Village Bridge. The bridge is a model for the ommonwealth of how partnership and cooperation can produce positive results and critical improvements to our infrastructure.”
Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne added, “The new Freedmans Village Bridge is a great example of Virginia’s commitment to replacing aging and deteriorating infrastructure. Through the efforts of our project team, federal, local and contractor partners, and the local community, the new bridge and interchange accomplish our operational and safety goals, enhance travel for vehicles, buses, bicyclists and pedestrians, and preserve access to the local neighborhoods.”
The new bridge was built in an historical area where the federal government established the Freedmans Village in 1863 for newly freed slaves. On April 16, 2009, the Commonwealth Transportation Board designated the bridge as the “Freedmans Village Bridge.” The new bridge has features that reflect the historical significance of the area including bronze medallions depicting a house and a family from Freedmans Village.
The bridge has four 12-foot lanes, improved shoulders and an open area separating the westbound and eastbound spans, allowing natural light to illuminate Columbia Pike below. The bridge is built wide enough to accommodate growth, and bicyclist and pedestrian paths, along Columbia Pike.
The original bridge, built in 1942 as part of the Pentagon Roadway Network, was deteriorating to the extent that it rated as structurally deficient. Planning for the new bridge began in 1996, but faced budget delays and constructability challenges. A citizens’ task force was created in 2006 to address the aesthetics and accessibility of the bridge, as well as safety and operational issues. VDOT engineers worked with the task force and surrounding community to keep local South Queen Street open with full access to and from Columbia Pike.

Construction on the design-build project began in 2011 by Shirley Contracting Company. Landscaping around the bridge and interchange is scheduled to occur this fall.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Oregon Plans To Rebuild An Iconic Tunnel For Bikes And Pedestrians

Oregon is rebuilding the 73-mile Historic Columbia River Highway, which runs through the beautiful Columbia River valley, as a bike and pedestrian trail. Check out this video of their plans to dig a new tunnel through a mountain along the river to complete the trail.
The planned about a quarter-of-a-mile Mitchell Point Tunnel would recreate the former tunnel on the site that was demolished to make room for the construction of Interstate 84 in the 1960s.
Read the rest of the story at Greater Greater Washington.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Gov. McAuliffe Kicks Off Construction for Widening I-64 on the Peninsula in Hampton Roads

Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today construction has started on the first of three segments to widen Interstate 64. The first segment is a $122 million project that will add a lane and shoulder in each direction for 5.6 miles between Jefferson Avenue and Yorktown Road. About 100,000 vehicles travel this section every day.
“As we break ground on the first segment of an expanded I-64, we are on our way to reducing congestion and delays, improving traffic safety, and providing better access for emergency evacuation on I-64 in the Hampton Roads region,” said Governor McAuliffe. “This important project is also a critical step forward in our efforts to build the transportation system businesses and families need to thrive in a new Virginia economy. This project is a perfect example of making decisions at the local and regional level so that transportation funds get spent in a way that truly makes peoples’ lives better.”
Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne added, “For years, the public has been asking for improvements to this corridor. And now, we can begin the work to deliver this long sought-after project. This would not be possible without the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization (HRTPO), who identified it as one of the region’s top transportation projects, and the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission (HRTAC), whose support of the first two segments of the project provide approximately 250 million dollars from the Hampton Roads Transportation Fund revenues.
“These revenues supporting sound, responsible transportation initiatives will help build reliable transportation projects for our citizens,” said HRTAC Chairman Will Sessoms. “Segment I is HRTAC’s first investment. It is also aninsurance policy for long-awaited congestion relief and emergency evacuation improvements.”
The Virginia Department of Transportation will deliver the first segment as a design-build project by Shirley Contracting Company, LLC. This is a more streamlined process that helps to expedite construction. The design-build team constructs the project while design is still underway, which greatly reduces the overall time necessary to complete the project. The project is estimated to be completed by winter 2017.
Work will occur in the median of the existing interstate. This limits the amount of right of way required to construct the project and avoids impacts to existing interchanges. In addition to roadway improvements, existing bridges will be widened to the inside.
The second section of I-64 improvements stretches to Route 199 in Williamsburg. That contract is scheduled to be awarded this December.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

How San Francisco Got Its New Rider-Friendly Transit Map

Jay Primus still remembers the first time the Muni map got the best of him. It was 1999, and he’d just moved to San Francisco. He was deciding between the 2-Clement and the parallel 38-Geary bus lines. Both looked more or less the same on the Muni map so he went with the 2. Big mistake: that was a much less frequent line, and Primus recalls a wait that felt like approximately “forever.”

The lesson stayed with him over the years: a transit map should not only show where trains or buses go but how often they come, and it should convey that information quickly even to novice riders. “I wanted a map that, at a glance, you can get a sense of what service will be most useful,” he says. “You shouldn’t need a secret decoder ring to figure it out.”

Read the rest of the story at City Lab.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Millennials Have Transformed Arlington, But Will They Stay?

The condominiums on the cul-de-sac in Fairway Village have sold steadily over the past eight years, transforming a solidly middle-aged enclave into a community of starter homes for the oldest members of Arlington’s millennial boom.
And now the young adults who have enlivened and enriched this urbanizing suburb just across the Potomac River from the District are starting a new generation; there have been 10 infants born to the 37 households on the cul-de-sac since 2008, five in the past year.
With the babies come questions, for Arlington and for other millennial-dependent cities and suburbs: Will the newcomers stay as they age out of young adulthood? Can a place that lured this large generation with walkable neighborhoods and convenient transit now offer the classroom space and affordable housing that they say they will need to remain?
Steve and Aneliz Sipe bought one of Fairway Village’s townhouse-style condos in 2012. They loved their short commutes and the easy walk to restaurants on Columbia Pike. But they moved recently to a single-family house in Fairfax County that offers more room for their infant son, a yard and proximity to Aneliz’s family. Their two-bedroom condo sold 10 days after they put it on the market to a couple that Steve described as “us, three years ago.”
Read the rest of the story at the Washington Post.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Five Reasons Demand for Walkability is Growing Across America

To continue our discussion of walkability, today we’re taking a look at the some of the leading reasons behind the growing demand for walkable community design across the country. Walkability is not a new value: in fact, it’s an old one. But, with the rise of the automobile in the 1920s came the decline of walkability in America, and suburban sprawl became the defining feature of 20th-century development. Only recently has the tide started to turn back toward urban development patterns that focus on the creation of walkable, transit-oriented neighborhoods.
The good news: this shift in living preferences and development patterns doesn’t seem to be a passing trend. Increasingly, Americans from big cities to small towns alike are demanding communities designed for walking, where daily errands can be accomplished without the use of cars and foot travel is appealing and safe. In a 2013 survey by the National Association of Realtors, 60% of Americans reported a preference for a neighborhood with a “mix of houses, stores and businesses that are easy to walk to,” while only 35% said they prefered a “neighborhood with houses only that requires driving to stores and businesses.” Among young people, the trend is even more pronounced, with 77% of millennials expressing a desire for a walkable lifestyle.
Americans aren’t only reporting a desire to drive less: the data shows a real change in their behavior. Suburban sprawl, and the excessive car use that come with it, have peaked and the demand for this type of development is tapering off. Since 2005, miles driven per capita have plummeted.
As the data shows, highly walkable urbanism is the model for the future development of many — and possibly most — of the 30 largest U.S. metropolitan areas. The reasons for this trend are many and various, but for now let’s take a look at just five:
Read the entire list here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

I-66 Draft Request for Qualifications Posted

RICHMOND – The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) posted today a Draft Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for interested private sector teams to share their resources, qualifications and experience to deliver the $2.1 billion I-66 Outside the Beltway project in Northern Virginia under the Public-Private Transportation Act.  
The Commonwealth Transportation Board will consider if the RFQ will be formally issued during their September 16th  meeting.
Issuing the draft RFQ will give the VDOT and the Department of Rail and Public Transportation the information required to determine if there would be enough benefit to move forward as a possible P3 project.  The state would then issue a Request for Proposals, which would go into more detail on what the private sector could offer.
Online sources:
Draft RFQ:                                                                                                   
I-66 Outside the Beltway P3 information:                                   
I-66 Outside the Beltway project: