Transportation group gives tentative OK on narrower D.C. roads, widened Virginia roads

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Increased access to Washington Dulles International Airport, narrowed roads in the District and widened roads near Tysons Corner were among the proposals given initial approval by regional transportation planning officials Wednesday.

The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board voted to allow 12 proposals to move forward and to be studied for their effect on the region's air quality.

In July, the board will vote on whether to incorporate the projects into its long-range plan. But this week's vote was the first checkpoint the proposals must clear, according to Transportation Planning Director Ron Kirby.

"Basically, this is the screening point right here, and to the extent that projects have sort of not made it, it's been at this point," Kirby said. "Because what we're really saying here is, 'Do these projects make sense? Are they properly defined? Is there funding for them? Do people support them?' "

The District's proposals include plans to make roads friendlier to bikes and pedestrians by reducing the number of lanes for cars on some roads, such as East Capitol and South Capitol streets.

Maryland did not submit any new transportation projects for the board's review.

Virginia's proposals would widen roads related to the Tysons Corner development project and include options for improving access to Dulles Airport, which would help to expand the airport's cargo capacity.

"From the state perspective, we're looking at Dulles Airport being the economic engine for this region as well as the other national airports in this region," said Renee Hamilton, an assistant district administrator at the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Virginia added additional possibilities to its Dulles proposal after local residents raised environmental and financial concerns with its original two alternatives. The Virginia Department of Transportation will settle on one of four Dulles-related proposals -- including building new roads, expanding existing roads or doing nothing -- after it conducts additional environmental studies this spring.

The Dulles proposal and the other long-range projects will be up for another period of public comment in June, after the board's air quality study is completed and as the board prepares for its final vote.

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April Burbank

Special to the Washington Examiner
The Washington Examiner