Northern Virginia leaders plan wish list of road projects for new funds

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Local,Virginia,Transportation,Liz Essley,Arlington,Metro and Traffic

Northern Virginia transportation officials have a long wish list for the first $180 million expected to flow into their coffers in the next year from tax increases in Gov. Bob McDonnell's new roads package -- including widening traffic-clogged Route 28 and Route 1.

The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority will polish the list and prepare it for a public hearing in June; later that month, it will decide which projects will get funding. McDonnell's $1.4 billion package includes money dedicated to Northern Virginia, expected eventually to generate as much as $335 million for the traffic-choked region.

The list includes major roads projects, like widening Routes 28 and 1, as well as improving intersections along Herndon Parkway. It also includes 22 new buses, including four that will offer a faster commute to Metro Blue Line riders stuck with 12-minute wait times between trains.

The list also includes smaller items like bus shelters in Arlington, trail lighting in Falls Church and a pedestrian bridge.

Those smaller items worry some leaders. Del. Jim LeMunyon, R-Chantilly, said when he voted for the transportation tax package, he wanted Northern Virginia to use the money for projects that will help commuters get home faster.

"Of the 34 projects, there's no indication that any of the projects will expand capacity or reduce congestion," LeMunyon said Wednesday at a transportation event with regional leaders. "That's not why I voted to raise taxes."

Some local officials assured him they also were concerned about congestion.

"I heard a concern that some of these projects aren't congestion relievers, and I think that's going to have to be more a part of our discussion over the next month as we look at this list," said Prince William County Supervisor Marty Nohe.

But Arlington County Board Chairman J. Walter Tejada defended the trail lighting.

"As we become increasingly densely populated, trails, bike lanes become increasingly critical for moving people around," he said. "My recommendation is to be focused on trails. And sometimes lighting is appropriate ... Imagine all those thousands of people [biking] to be in cars."

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

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Liz Essley

Staff Writer - Transportation
The Washington Examiner