Authority Meeting Highlights
November 13, 2020
The Authority reconvened electronically last evening once again for its regularly scheduled business meeting. While there was a lot to cover, we're bringing you the highlights today to keep you in the know. Continuing to keep safety top of mind, the Authority began the evening by adopting a resolution on finding the need to conduct the meeting by electronic communication means during Governor Northam's declared State of Emergency during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Authority was provided several updates on transportation initiatives happening across Northern Virginia and the Commonwealth. First, Rob Cary, Chief Deputy Commissioner, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), and Susan Shaw, Mega-Projects Manager, VDOT, briefed the Authority on the I-495 NEXT Project, which focuses on the most congested corridor in the Washington, D.C. region.
I-495 NEXT is a multimodal project with the goal to reduce congestion, provide additional travel choices, and improve travel reliability and safety. Through improvements, new capacity will be added, travel times during peak periods will be decreased, and the need to weave in and out of traffic to access the George Washington Memorial Parkway will be reduced.
Authority members strongly encouraged a commitment to including transit options in the integrated plan to achieve the goal of tackling congestion and providing more modal options.
As the current traffic volumes are at 80% to 90% of pre-COVID levels, VDOT is conducting sensitivity analyses to assess the impacts of the pandemic on future traffic in the corridor. To continue to follow 495 NEXT status and activities, a Joint Public Meeting on the "Transit Study, I-495 NEXT" hosted by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) and VDOT, will be held on November 18th.
Next, Ciara Williams, NOVA Transit Planning Manager, DRPT, provided an update on the I-495 American Legion Bridge Transit and Travel Demand Management (TDM) Study. In the Fall 2019, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, announced the Capital Beltway Accord to Rebuild the American Legion Bridge and Connect Interstate Highway System. This project complements the I-495 NEXT project and Maryland's Managed Lanes Study for a seamless network of reliable travel options around the Capital Beltway, I-270, I-95, I-395 and I-66.
The study includes looking at technology and commuter assistance program options. In Northern Virginia, most of this work aligns with the Regional Multi-Modal Mobility Program (RM3P) currently under development. You can view I-495 American Legion Bridge Transit and TDM Study project details and provide comments, here.
Following the I-495 American Legion Bridge Transit and TDM Study presentation, Jitender Ramchandani, AICP, PMP Virginia Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment, shared with the Authority, an update on the Draft Policy for the Prioritization of VTRANS Mid-Term Needs. VTRANS is Virginia's Transportation Plan that includes multimodal transportation solutions for the Commonwealth.
VTrans benefits from and intends to inform local and regional transportation plans and planning processes. Based on the guidance from the Commonwealth Transportation Board, the Policy for the Prioritization of VTrans Mid-term Needs may form the basis for: 1) Allocation of limited state dollars for studies, project development, or advanced activities; 2) Other planning and programming purposes.
VTRANS NoVA Construction District Priority Locations Map
Next, Tracy Baynard, McGuireWoods Consulting, LLC, reviewed the draft 2021 Legislative Program and summary document, discussed by the Governance and Personnel Committee (GPC), prior to last evening's Authority Meeting. The preliminary draft includes two major priorities for the 2021 Legislative Program:
- Protective language regarding NVTA funding and the Authority - The Authority and member localities need stable and predictable revenue sources and powers in order to make decisions that reduce traffic congestion for residents and businesses of the region. NVTA staff will work with members of the General Assembly, who are also members of the Authority, on crafting this language.
- Flexibility for continued virtual meetings - In response to the COVID-19 health and safety emergency, the General Assembly and Governor approved budget language allowing public bodies to hold meetings virtually in times of health and safety concerns to conduct ordinary business. We support permanent flexibility to hold meetings electronically that are accessible to the public when health and safety concerns are present.
In addition to the aforementioned priorities, Authority members also discussed adding COVID-19 federal relief funding for transit agencies as part of the legislative package.
Following the legislative update, NVTA Executive Director, Monica Backmon, presented to the Authority the 2020 Annual Report to the Joint Commission on Transportation Accountability (JCTA). The Authority is required to submit an annual report to the JCTA regarding the usage of funding generated pursuant to the provisions of HB2313. The report includes FY2020 revenues, allocations, and an update on the use of the Authority's 70% Regional Revenue Funds for FY2021- 2025 (focused on the revenues programmed and appropriated for the Authority’s FY2018-2023 and FY2020-2025 Six Year Programs), and 30% Local Distribution Revenue Funds for FY2014 to FY2020, which the NVTA jurisdictions used for various local transportation projects and programs. The report also provides the revenue estimates for the period FY2021-2025.
Monica Backmon also informed the Authority that the request for proposals from qualified firms to update NVTA's TransAction, the long-range transportation plan for Northern Virginia, has been posted. More details, here.
The meeting wrapped up last evening with Chair Randall selecting Authority members Ann Wheeler, Chair Prince William County, and Derrick Wood, Mayor, Town of Dumfries, to serve on the Nominating Committee for recommendation of an Authority Chair and Vice-Chair for calendar year 2021.
Couldn't tune in last night? The full archived live-stream can be viewed on our YouTube Channel.
Click here to see the November Authority Meeting Agenda, topics discussed, and meeting materials.