Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)
Funding Sources and Amounts: $40 million (design and construction);
$500,000 (initial visioning and outreach)
FHWA funding of $35 million, including funding from initial Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) demonstration of $13 million. State funding of $5 million including initial local match of $2.8 million. $500,000 of private funds raised by Route 50 Coalition.
Agencies/Organizations Involved: Route 50
Corridor Coalition, Commonwealth Transportation Board, Loudoun and Fauquier counties, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), Virginia Department of Historic Resources (SHPO), Virginia Outdoor Foundation, Piedmont Environmental Council.
Geographic Area: 20-mile stretch of U.S. 50 from Paris, VA, in Fauquier County to Lenah, VA, in Loudoun County.
The Route 50 Corridor Coalition was formed by local citizens who were concerned about a possible widening and bypass project for Route 50 in Loudoun and Fauquier counties.
The primary focus of the community-led effort was to develop a common vision among local residents, businesses, elected leaders, and other interests for the Route 50 corridor. Key to this is defining a solution that would accommodate commuter traffic through Route 50 while maintaining the character of the
town and village centers along the corridor.
This project is an example of a corridor visioning process that led to successful implementation of traffic calming measures on a State rural highway. The project is recognized as a leading example of context-sensitive design of a highway that functions as main streets of rural villages. The resultant plan was adopted by the counties and the town of Middleburg, and elements of the plan were subsequently incorporated into local comprehensive plans.
Fauquier and Loudoun County area residents; vehicular and pedestrian/bicycling.
Route 50, also known as the John Mosby Highway, is an important corridor, tracing its history from being a Native American path, to being a trade route between Alexandria and Georgetown, to being an important roadway during the Civil War where significant battles occurred. The towns and villages along Route 50 have grown to become thriving communities, with agriculture as its main industry. The area is also known for its abundant natural resources typical of the Virginia Piedmont. However, as suburban growth beyond the Route 50 corridor continues, the roadway has experienced increased commuter pressure from traffic going to and from Washington, DC.
In 1994, VDOT brought forth an idea to widen Route 50 in Loudoun and Fauquier counties, and to build a bypass around the towns of Middleburg and Aldie. Although a widening project was not likely to advance because of funding constraints, discussions of the widening and future right-of-way purchase concerned the citizens and community leaders.
They knew the community was at a critical juncture for defining what the roadway's role could be for the community and for the region. Most residents disagreed about the widening project because of its impact on the corridor's character and potential to invite suburbanization, but recognized there was a need to address the safety and congestion problems brought by increased traffic.
In 1995, the Route 50 Corridor Coalition was formed as a partnership of five existing local nonprofit groups. The coalition was led by a 15-member Steering Committee, and the Piedmont Environmental Council dedicated staff time and became its fiscal sponsor.
The coalition's main goals were to develop a corridor-wide vision that would facilitate preservation and enhancement of Route 50 and the John Mosby
Heritage Area's unique natural and historic resources and community character. The vision will take into consideration a long-range view of transportation and land use, and will provide alternatives on how to address Route 50's traffic issues that accommodate the needs of and increase the safety for multiple users for the roadway.
In 1995–1996, the Route 50 Corridor Coalition initiated community workshops resulting in a final vision statement and community goal to move forward with a traffic calming plan. The effort was successful, as significant numbers of attendees participated in the visioning and planning workshops. The plan was guided by the following design principles for the roadway:
The preliminary traffic calming plan was developed in a highly participatory approach with a series of town-hall style as well as hands-on charrette workshops, each focusing on a segment of Route 50. During the charrettes, more than 300 community members engaged in the conceptual design of various traffic calming elements. In 1996 the traffic calming plan was completed for the towns of Aldie, Middleburg, and Upperville.
The traffic calming plan was adopted by the Middleburg Town Council and Loudoun and Fauquier county boards of supervisors in 1997, which led to changes in VDOT's 6-year plan. In that same year, VDOT was recognized by the American Institute of Transportation Engineers with its President's Award for Excellence. In 1998 the coalition brought the Route 50 traffic calming plan to Senator John Warner and secured $13 million in congressional funding for the project to be a traffic calming demonstration project under TEA-21.
In 2000 a second round of planning and design began, with VDOT and the Route 50 Corridor Coalition working together and each participating in the Route 50 Traffic Calming Task Force. The task force is responsible for overseeing the traffic calming plan's implementation as it goes through project development, final design, and construction. The task force also oversaw the hiring of the consultant who conducted more detailed planning and design of the traffic calming features. A design memorandum was produced in 2003, followed by full construction design documents. Project construction began in 2007; various elements of the project are completed and some are still underway.
1994: VDOT issued proposal to widen Route 50 and create a bypass around Middleburg.
1995: Route 50 Corridor Coalition was formed.
1995: Community visioning workshops were held and called for traffic calming plan.
1996: Traffic calming plan completed.
1997: Traffic calming plan was adopted by the Middleburg Town Council and Loudoun and Fauquier county boards of supervisors.
1998: Congress passed TEA-21, which included $13 million in demonstration project funding for the Route 50 traffic calming project.
1999: Route 50 Traffic Calming Task Force was established under the authority of the Commonwealth Transportation Board.
2003: Virginia's Route 50 Traffic Calming Design Memorandum completed.
2007: Construction began.
2008: Upperville Traffic Calming Measures completed.
2009: Gilbert's Corner roundabouts completed.
2010: Aldie traffic calming project will be bid out in spring 2010.
Livability Principles Promoted by Project
|F||Increase transportation choices|
|Promote affordable housing|
|Enhance economic competitiveness|
|F||Support existing communities|
|Coordinate Federal policies and leverage investment|
|F||Value communities and neighborhoods|
P: Partly Supports
F: Fully Supports
Although the traffic calming plan enjoyed widespread community support, including support from local and county officials, VDOT initially was not open to the proposed traffic calming plan as an alternative to the widening project. Unfortunately, because of this initial conflict, VDOT was not actively engaged in the visioning process. This changed when, after the Congressional funding allocation was secured, the Commonwealth Transportation Board directed VDOT and the Route 50 Corridor Coalition to work together through the Route 50 Traffic Calming Task Force.
The Task Force was a way for VDOT and the Route 50 Corridor Coalition to work together; and although the ensuing process was not without challenges, the Task Force provided a venue for collaboration between the two entities. Due to the highly participatory nature of the visioning process, VDOT was also able to build on this, and continue a similar approach throughout the project development. For instance, an email listserve for residents, businesses, and other stakeholders in the corridor was developed that proved helpful in increasing information sharing and coordination. VDOT also maintains project blogs and other communication tools to inform the public of design and construction progress, proactively addressing potential issues and avoiding negative public comment or confusion.
Sources and Other Resources: