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The Authority Report

Authority Meeting Highlights
 

March 12, 2021

The Authority reconvened virtually last evening once again, and began the meeting with the adoption of a resolution on finding the need to conduct the business meeting by electronic communication means during Governor Northam's declared State of Emergency during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Authority business meeting began with a presentation from Authority member, Justin Wilson, Mayor, City of Alexandria, who provided a project status update on the Potomac Yard Metrorail Station (PYM)

It is hard to believe it has been just a little more than a year since we broke ground on the PYM Station.

The PYM project construction is quickly moving forward and substantial completion is anticipated for March 2022. In fact, the final NVTA reimbursement for the project was received by the City of Alexandria last month. The $370M project has several funding sources, including NVTA ($69.5M); City of Alexandria ($200M); VDOT Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank Loan ($50); Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) ($30M); and the Federal Highway Administration's Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) ($20M). 

Mayor Wilson outlined the Authority's Return on Investment (ROI), which included:

  • Primary Benefit: New Metro system access point
  • Secondary Benefits: Catalyst for transportation, economic development, environmental, and community infrastructure

Mayor Wilson continued with the ROI for the greater local and regional mobility, including:

  • Transit-rich area of the City of Alexandria benefiting travelers in region, including those right across the border in Arlington County 
  • Encourages use of alternative modes of travel - Region's first Bus Rapid Transit system (Metroway) on Route 1; expanded DASH Bus services to come with opening of new PYM Station; and bike and pedestrian infrastructure

The PYM project also brings economic benefits to the region, as it's a catalyst for Potomac Yard and Route 1 Corridor transformation, and part of the greater development in National Landing.

Continuing the National Landing development conversation, Jay Corbalis, Vice President, Government Affairs, JBG SMITH, provided the Authority a transportation update focused on the area. JBG SMITH is a development partner on Amazon's HQ2 and Virginia Tech's Innovation Campus. 

Mr. Corbalis provided an overview of National Landing's connectivity and how it is at the forefront of urban mobility. JBG SMITH worked with the National Landing BID on a Mobility Next report, which provides snapshots of key planned projects in National Landing and describes how those projects make the area "America's Most Connected Downtown", thanks to strategic planning and investments.

The full Mobility Next report, including transportation projects in National Landing (e.g. 3 Metrorail Stations; BRT dedicated lanes; multiple bus routes; and two trailheads accessing hundreds of miles of regional trails), can be found, here

 
 
Two specific NVTA-regionally funded projects highlighted last evening, were:
  • Crystal City to DCA (CC2DCA)
    • Estimated completion: 2028
    • Funding:
      • NVTA: $18M
      • Arlington County
      • Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Virginia Railway Express (VRE) Crystal City Station
    • Estimated completion: 2024
    • Funding:
      • NVTA: $20.2M
      • Commonwealth of Virginia
      • VRE 
      • JBG SMITH
The projects will physically intersect and create one continuous multimodal facility. With these highlighted projects, and a number of additional multimodal options in National Landing, travelers will be offered expanded access to the Washington, D.C. region, including those traveling to and from Maryland.
Watch the JBG SMITH video highlighting National Landing development and the area's connectivity.

As NVTA is in the midst of updating Northern Virginia's long-range transportation plan, TransAction, the Authority unanimously approved the proposed TransAction and Six Year Program Update Contract award to Cambridge Systematics Inc., authorizing Monica Backmon, NVTA Executive Director, to sign the Contract Award Notice. A Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued on November 12, 2020. A full rundown of the RFP review process, can be viewed here.

Additionally, Tracy Baynard, McGuireWoods Consulting, LLC, provided an update on the 2021 General Assembly Session, including the status of various bills. 

Key policy discussions have focused on the role of transportation infrastructure impacting greenhouse gases and carbon emissions, as well as transportation resiliency. Additionally, the General Assembly has been having a lot of discussions on the electrification of transportation infrastructure, including a bill patroned by Authority member, Senator Jennifer Boysko, regarding electric vehicle charging infrastructure (Senate Bill 1223). 

Ms. Baynard continued with noting funding opportunities for transportation projects of interest to Authority members:

  • Expanding Commuter Rail Service - $83.5M to improve VRE service on the Manassas Line;
  • Money dedicated to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) needs - Both for Commonwealth to fill funding gap for State of Good Repair, and also funding as much as $10M to help NoVA Metro Compact Members fulfill FY22 subsidy;
  • Regional multimodal trails - $10M for multimodal trails; there's also an effort to establish policy;
  • Transit access - $10M to establish fare-free pilots for transit, for both rural and urban communities; and
  • Falls Church received $10M for a pilot connected demonstration project the City is doing with Virginia Tech.
Governor Northam has until midnight on March 31st to sign these legislation items. 

Additionally, Monica Backmon highlighted two items in her Executive Director's Report, including the development of the Transportation Technology Committee's Transportation Technology Strategic Plan (TTSP). The draft TTSP is currently being reviewed by the Authority's Committees, and is anticipated to be adopted by the Authority at its April 8th meeting.

Ms. Backmon also highlighted the March 10th 6th Annual Northern Virginia Transportation Roundtable, hosted by NVTA and ITS-VA. More than 100 people participated in the event virtually, whether on WebEx or YouTube. Several Authority members joined the event. There were two panels, "Smart Future" and "Resilient Future", both moderated by Jordan Pascale, transportation reporter, WAMU and DCist. Additionally, live-polling was conducted during the informative, interactive event.

The first panel focused on traditional and emerging technologies, such as electric buses like the ones unveiled in the City of Alexandria, and autonomous shuttles, like the one launched in Fairfax County's Mosaic District. The second panel discussed a resilient future, how climate change is here, the vulnerability of the NoVA region, and how to mitigate impacts. A full list of panelists, presentations, live-polling results, and a recording of the event are now available

As the meeting was coming to a close, members of the Authority and NVTA staff showed our gratitude for VDOT NOVA District Administrator and Authority member, Helen Cuervo, who is retiring after 33 years of employment at VDOT, and eight years of service on the Authority. She has watched the Authority grow during that time...from one funding program to five! Ms. Cuervo is VDOT's first female NOVA District Administrator and a true advocate for women in the transportation industry. In fact, she was named 2018 Woman of the Year by the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS), for her leadership and contributions to transportation in the region spanning more than three decades.

We are so thankful to have had the opportunity to work with Ms. Cuervo over the years, and wish her a happy retirement. She will be missed!

Wrapping up the evening, David Snyder, Vice Chair of the Authority, and Council Member, City of Falls Church, who chaired the March 11th Authority Meeting, offered some final thoughts:

"I was thinking over the past year how lucky our colleagues were who ended their public service at the end of 2019. And then I thought, they were the lucky ones, but we were the fortunate ones, because we're the ones who get to help the public through this really historic, unprecedented challenge." 

Couldn't join us last night? The full archived live-stream can be viewed on our YouTube Channel

Click here to see the March 2021 Authority Meeting Agenda, topics discussed, and meeting materials.

UPCOMING MEETINGS and EVENTS
 
Authority Meeting *
April 8, 2021, 7:00 p.m. | Virtual: NVTA's YouTube Channel
***
Technical Advisory Committee
March 17, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. | Virtual: NVTA's YouTube Channel

Finance Committee Meeting
March 18, 2021, 1:00 p.m. | Virtual: NVTA's YouTube Channel

Transportation Technology Committee
March 24, 2021, 2021, 8:30 a.m. | Virtual: NVTA's YouTube Channel

Planning Coordination Advisory Committee
March 24, 2021, 6:30 p.m. | Virtual: NVTA's YouTube Channel

Planning and Programming Committee
March 25, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. | Virtual: NVTA's YouTube Channel

Governance and Personnel Committee
April 8, 2021, 5:30 p.m. | Virtual: NVTA's YouTube Channel
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