WABA (dang, still haven't renewed my membership) just sent out a bulletin urging folks to write in to demand bicycle facilities as a part of the planned refurb of many of the bridges over the Beltway. The impetus for the work is the plan to sell the roads to a private company, who will turn it into a volume-based variable toll road. Currently, the WO&D is about the only bike-accessible way to escape outside the Beltway on the west side of Virginia. Anyway, I've copied the full text of WABA's note further down....
....But first, it's time for a rant. People talk of a lack of accountability with government. True enough, but turning a vital piece of public infrastructure over to a company who is only accountable to the bottom line and the strict wording of a contract written by that same unaccountable government hardly seems prudent.
Here's a recent article from Business Week on the privatization of what used to be public facilities, highlighting the tremendous outlays being made to acquire things like bridges and highways. Given the amounts being paid out upfront (lease the PA Turnpike for $30B!), is there a lot of incentive to be responsive to the needs of the taxpayer, or rather, to comply as minimally necessary to keep the overseers happy?
Anyway, therein lies the importance of getting bike facilities into the contract. If it ain't in there, Fluor-Transurban sure won't be answering our emails. Bicycles reduce congestion. Revenues increase with congestion. And every little bit helps when you're laying out $913M.
Get Bikes over the Beltway
The Virginia Department of Transportation is currently negotiating with the private firms Fluor/TransUrban on all aspects of the proposed High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes on the Beltway in Virginia. Due to the nature of the public-private partnership under which this proposal is being considered, these negotiations are being conducted in secret. A number of the bridges along and crossing the Beltway will be reconstructed as part of the project. These bridges currently pose major barriers to bicycle travel in Northern Virginia.
Now is the chance to provide bicycle accommodations on all bridge crossings affected by the project. WABA and Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling urge Fairfax cyclists to contact VDOT and demand that bicycle accommodations be included in all Beltway HOT lane bridge projects. Write to Dennis Morrison, Northern Virginia District Administrator, at Dennis.Morrison@VDOT.Virginia.gov. Copy firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consider including these points in your message:
The Fairfax County Trails Plan calls for bicycle routes on many of the Beltway crossings. The HOT Lanes project provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build these routes.
Providing bicycle and pedestrian access on the crossings is consistent with VDOT policy to "accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians?in the planning, funding, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of Virginia's transportation network."
Crossings on roads such as Little River Turnpike in Annandale, Chain Bridge Road in McLean, Route 7 in Tysons Corner and Gallows Road in Dunn Loring are key bicycling corridors.
Providing bicycle accommodations is critical to making bicycling a more viable transportation option and reducing traffic congestion.
For more information, visit http://www.fabb-bikes.org/.