Trail Waiver #026601:
Franconia Elementary School
6043 Franconia Road

 
  Article Prepared By Robert Michie
NMTC, Lee District
Last Reviewed: 14 June 2004
 
 

Summary:

The subject area is a Fairfax County elementary school located at the corner of Franconia Road and Beulah Street. No new construction or additions are proposed in their site plan. Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) wants to construct a "Kiss and Ride" driveway loop which will improve and provide safer parental access for dropping off and picking up young children, as well as to improve ADA access. The applicant is required to provide an 8-foot wide Type 1 trail along its property frontage. Applicant’s request: wave the trail requirement for the following reasons:

1.      Sidewalks already exists along the frontage.

2.      Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will rebuild the sidewalk along Franconia Road in the next few years as part of a Franconia Road improvement project.

[ Franconia Elementary School ]

Figure 1: Photo of Subject Area

Discussion:

Franconia Road has substantial sidewalk on its North and South sides from the intersection of South Van Dorn Street to Commerce Street. Approximately two miles of these sidewalks were constructed with widths varying from four feet six inches to five feet. In the vicinity of Lee High School, the width jumps to eight feet.

Beulah Road has a substantial sidewalk on its East side. The West side has a couple of missing segments. The East sidewalk is mostly a five-foot asphalt path from Franconia-Springfield Parkway to Franconia Road, a distance of approximately 1.3 miles. This area of Beulah Street is currently part of a VDOT improvement project, due to be completed in the Summer of 2004.

The sidewalk on Beulah Road along the School property is a five-foot concrete construction from Kathmoor Drive to Franconia Road. The sidewalk becomes seven feet wide as it turns the corner at Franconia Road and goes East in front of the School. It reduces to five feet wide as it leaves the School property. Unfortunately, a pending VDOT plan (#613-029-319) is going to reduce the seven foot width to five feet along Franconia Road in a few years. Both sidewalks are relatively new (less than ten years old) and have modern features, particularly with curb cuts.

Construction History

At a recent Non-Motorized Transportation Committee meeting, I met with a representative of Fairfax County's Department of Transportation Planning and Operations Division. The design of Beulah Road is a compromise with Virginia State's  DOT.  The County in fact requested during the Design Phase (1999-2001) that Beulah receive both eight-foot wide Type 1 trails and bicycle lanes. Unfortunately,  the State-owned right-of-way was not wide enough to support both features. Buying or condemning land along Beulah for additional right-of-way was not considered feasible because of the construction schedule and budget constraints. Therefore, in order to include the bike lanes, the County and the State compromised and reduced the width of the trails to just five feet on both sides of Beulah Road.

Field Check  5 June 2004

These photographs show existing sidewalks at Franconia Elementary School:
[ Beulah Road facing South. ] Photo 1: East side Beulah Road, facing South. This is a relatively new five-foot sidewalk. An eight foot sidewalk width may require removal of the brick school sign, and the shrubs on the left in the distance. Note the bike lane stripe on the pavement.
[ Franconia Road facing West showing the 7-foot sidewalk. ] Photo 2: South side Franconia Road, facing West. This is a seven-foot concrete sidewalk, approximately ten years old. Note the grade of the property and the retaining wall being constructed in the vicinity of the signal light.
[ Beulah Road, East side, facing North. ] Photo 3: East side Beulah Road, facing North. Franconia School is on the right. The sidewalk in this area is under construction. Note the grade issues, the retaining wall, and the constricted area that will force construction of a very narrow sidewalk.

Recommendation:

Grant the Waiver  on condition of a contribution to the District Walkway Fund by FCPS (to be based on a reasonable percentage of the money saved from not having to widen the walkways) for future mitigation projects for the following reasons:

  1. The Beulah Road design is a result of a compromise by Fairfax County and Commonwealth of Virginia that resulted in the addition of bike lanes.

Additional Recommendation:

  1. NMTC should enlist the support of Fairfax County DOT, BoS and the Lee District Land Use Advisory Committee to prevail upon Commonwealth of Virginia DOT not to reduce the width of the sidewalk along Franconia Road in front of Franconia Elementary School.

 

 
 

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