Urges a Variety of New Transportation Choices and Transit-Oriented
Communities for Northern Virginia
3, 2000 -- If booming Northern Virginia is going
to continue to prosper, it will need other means of transportation
than the automobile to structure new living and working patterns,
a new study warns.
second only to Los Angeles in time lost to automobile congestion
each day, the high-tech suburban area around Washington, D.C. will
find it increasingly difficult to thrive without new public transit
systems including various rail and bus networks linking transit-oriented
communities, according to the study, prepared by the Community Design
Group at the University of Virginia's School
economic development has changed the patterns of commuting and brought
about an increase in commuting between the suburbs, the study, undertaken
for the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, says.
transit systems would encourage community life by promoting the
development of compact communities where people work, live and shop
and provide alternatives to more road and highway construction,
said Warren Boeschenstein, U.Va. professor of architecture and one
of the authors of the study.
north-south movement is of particular concern in the area,"
he said. "By creating activity centers' with compact,
mixed use, pedestrian-oriented communities with multi-modal transportation
choices, regional mobility will be improved and growth in these
locations will be stimulated."
automobile and highways have dominated land use and growth patterns
in the area. Boeschenstein, along with co-authors Gary Okerlund,
adjunct professor of planning at U.Va., and Morton Gulak, associate
professor in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at Virginia
Commonwealth University, urges a network of "activity centers" and
centers could be a district, town, village or hamlet. The common
feature is that they would serve as origins or destinations for
various means of public transportation including a combination of
Metrorail, Virginia Railway Express (VRE), light rail, highways,
buses, and bike trails that would link these centers through proposed
transit corridors. The researchers have identified 10 existing and
potential activity centers in the Northern Virginia area.
Route 28 Corridor, Manassas and Baileys Crossroads
are three of the potential centers.
study of the Route 28 Corridor recommends a light-rail connection
between the city of Manassas and Dulles Airport. With the heavy
development in this area and the growth of Dulles Airport, the fastest
growing of the world's 50 largest airports, and the influx
of high-tech industry which has attracted housing and commercial
development in the area, alternative means of transportation and
compact development will be needed. The Route 28 Corridor would
extend a distance of 15 miles and would bypass congestion and strengthen
existing centers as well as encourage new compact mixed-use community
development in new activity centers. This would reduce the current
spread of low-density residential development and promote open-space
Manassas activity center would link the Manassas intercity
rail to Washington, D.C. and the proposed light rail in the Route
28 Corridor. Historic Manassas has come to depend exclusively on
the automobile since World War II, resulting today in major congestion
and air pollution and contributing to the reduction of quality of
life in the area. The study's proposal focuses on promoting
economic growth by expanding and diversifying the city's economic
base, drawing tourists to the historic and cultural attractions
and developing downtown Manassas into a telecommunications center.
Crossroads, a declining inner suburb in Fairfax County, was
developed haphazardly in the 1950s. Today it is characterized by
poor circulation and lack of cohesion between the existing commercial,
business and residential sectors. In addition, Baileys Crossroads
is bisected by two major highways. The area is poised for revitalization.
The study proposes the introduction of light rail that would provide
the catalyst for development strategies that encourage compact mixed-use
redevelopment. The improved transportation would facilitate the
transformation of the area into an important transportation interchange
and unify the area.
each of these areas improved regional mobility would stimulate growth,
the researchers say. The proposals encourage taking advantage of
the built infrastructures, often developing public transportation
along existing rail lines, in medians and rights-of-way to revitalize
existing communities by providing choices of transportation to decrease
dependence on the automobile.
says he is well aware that these kinds of changes occur incrementally.
His 1994-95 proposal for transit centers along the Richmond-Washington,
D.C. high-speed rail corridor has just been funded. That project
won awards from the Virginia Chapter of the American Institute of
Architects (AIA) and from the National Department of Transportation.
more information or interviews contact Warren Boeschenstein at (804)
924-8921 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To obtain copies of the study contact the Virginia Department
of Rail and Public Transportation at (804) 786-7948 or fax (804)
Jane Ford, (804) 924-4298