Trail Waiver #6561-WTL-001-1:
Waterford at Springfield LLC
6715 Commerce Street

 
  Article Prepared By Robert Michie
NMTC, Lee District
Last Reviewed: 23 March 2005
Release 2.0
 
 

Summary:

The subject area is a commercial property inside the Commercial Revitalization District in Springfield VA. This property, once occupied by Toys R Us and currently occupied by a mattress store, is going to be remodeled as a banquet hall. There will be considerable work done on the parking lot, including the construction of a new parking deck. The trail requirement is for an 8-foot wide Type 1 trail along the frontage and an on-road bike lane. Applicant's request: waive the bike lane requirement for the following reason:

  1. VDOT, as part of the Springfield Interchange Project Phase 2, rebuilt Commerce Street in 2001. The 8-foot walkways were added as a feature, but there is no room for a bike lane.

[ Map of Subject Area: 6715 Commerce Street ]

Figure 1: Map of Subject Area: Fairfax County Contour Map 80-4

Discussion:

Figure 1 is a map showing the subject Commerce Street area as of January 2004. The requestor's property, Waterford at Springfield, is labeled as Area 1. The map is based on 1997 data, and two buildings on the west side of Commerce Street at Franconia Road do not exist anymore. Photographs from the Field Check below shows a Commerce Street that is considerably wider than the one shown in in the map. Commerce Street and its bridge across Shirley Highway (I-95) is now four lanes wide, and it fans out to six lanes as the street intersects with Franconia Road.

There are five points to cross Shirley Highway within Lee District. Commerce Street is one of only two points where a substantial effort was directed to accommodating non-motorized transportation. As seen in other VDOT projects, such as South Van Dorn Street Phase III and Beulah Road, a number of compromises were made between VDOT, Fairfax County, property owners, and other agencies to get the project built. Bike lanes were not added because additional space was needed for turning lanes at Franconia Road. On the other hand, Fairfax County demanded and got eight-foot wide Type 1 sidewalks added on both sides of Commerce Street within the subject area. The extra ornamentation, such as the brick trim and the decorative street lamps, are a function of the location being within the Springfield Commercial Revitalization Area.

Retrofitting a bike lane along the frontage will mean moving the curb about four feet towards the interior of the property. This is also going to force relocation of the decorative street lights. The Revitalization District managers can be expected to ask that the sidewalk be restored to its present appearance, too. At an estimated cost of $120 a foot, relocating the sidewalk is likely to cost more than $100,000, assuming that Waterford and Fairfax County can successfully get the construction permits from VDOT in Richmond. Besides being inside the Revitalization Area, Commerce Street is also a key location within the Springfield Interchange project.

Field Check  13 February 2005

These photographs show existing sidewalks at 6715 Commerce Street:
[ Waterford Property at Commerce Street, facing east ] Photo 1: West side Commerce Street, facing East. This is a brand-new eight-foot sidewalk. There is a two-foot wide ornamental brick trim adjacent to the curb. Note the decorative street lights along the frontage.
[ Waterford Property at Commerce Street, facing north ] Photo 2: West side Commerce Street, facing North. The eight-foot sidewalk and decorative streetlights continue around the Waterford property all the way to Franconia Road, approximately a sixth of a mile.

Opinion from Fairfax County Department of Transportation (March 21 2005)

During consultations with other members of the Non-Motorized Transportation Committee in February, a suggestion was made that the traffic lanes could be repainted to accommodate bicycle lanes. We asked FC-DOT to give us an opinion on the feasibility of this approach. Karyn Moreland of FC-DOT responded:

  1. The pavement width is not currently adequate to allow re-striping to accommodate an on-road bike trail. 
  2. Pavement widening would be required. Commerce Street was recently reconstructed (2001), and it is not desirable for this very heavily-used road to be put under construction again, especially while the Springfield Interchange construction is still ongoing. 
  3. The intersection of Commerce Street/Loisdale Road and Francolnia Road is very complex, with multiple left turn lanes, and entrances to the I-95/395/495 ramps.

In addition, County Staff believes that it is difficult for the County to ask for a contribution when the development doesn't have frontage improvement requirement, particularly the on-road bike lane was added to the Trails Plan after VDOT completed the Commerce Street reconstruction.

The recommendation in the next section is my original opinion from February 18 2005. I see no reason to change it.

Recommendation:

Grant the Waiver for the following reasons:

  1. The Commerce Street design is a result of a compromise by Fairfax County and Commonwealth of Virginia to get an efficient intersection at Franconia Road, and to get safe walkways over Shirley Highway (I-95). There is insufficient room for on-road bike lanes.
     
  2. The cost to retrofit a bike lane into Commerce Street is prohibitive, and it will cover only one side of the street.
     
  3. The permit process to get a VDOT okay to reengineer Commerce Street is likely to take years.

 

 
 

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