Dear Fellow Manassas Park Residents,
It’s newsletter time again, and I hope this brief summary of issues will be informative.
If you would like to receive updates between newsletters,
please email me at:
or call: 703-401-0498
My Best Regards, Jeanette
Manassas Park Councilmember
Park Center Community Development Authority (CDA)
In 2007 the Mayor and City Council adopted an ordinance authorizing the creation of the CDA, the purpose of which was to move forward economic development in parcels located in City Center. Earlier this year, there was an appointment of a new CDA member. Of the five CDA members, two were residents of our City and the rest were residents of other jurisdictions. Despite the fact that the CDAs founding documents do not require members to live in our City, I favored the appointment of a City resident. My view did not prevail and the appointment went to a non-resident, thus maintaining residents in the minority with 2 members.
I will explain why I believe more residents are needed on the CDA. First, all the parcels in the CDA District are in the City of Manassas Park. Second, it was set up to levy a special assessment on those parcels for the purpose of infrastructure. Third, the CDA was set up with the power to issue bonds and incur debt. Given the scope and the powers of the CDA, I believe it’s important for residents to be in the majority. I also believe oversight is important, and given the ability to levy an assessment and incur debt, another councilmember should be added to the CDA (it has only one now).
Some have described the CDA as an independent entity, therefore not needing more resident representation. I do not accept this because: the CDA was created by Council; members are approved by Council; and the CDA Audit Report for FY11 and FY12 states “The Authority is a governmental entity..."
Transportation – Route 28
As mentioned in my last newsletter, the Phase Two Route 28 long-range congestion relief study was placed on hold. This was because Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) funding was not authorized due to House Bill 2 (2014). That bill required the CTB to develop a project selection process before further funding was provided to any project. Another funding source had to be found.
I have continually lobbied (with cooperation from the rest of council) for Route 28 study funding as well as other items that would benefit Manassas Park. I’m our City’s representative on the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) and I also sit on the Route 28 Steering Committee, which will review congestion relief measures recommended by VDOT and their consultant Parsons Brinkerhoff.
The Phase One study is reaching completion and will contain quick fixes such as signal timing, turn lane extensions, signage and similar items. Signal timing is currently in progress. It was the consensus of the Route 28 Steering Committee that all Route 28 jurisdictions cooperate in order to coordinate traffic signals throughout the length of the corridor, and this is now happening.
Phase Two is a necessity and there is good news. Several weeks before approval of the current NVTA project list, the NVTA decided that one of the existing Route 28 projects would have its scope expanded to include the Phase Two congestion relief study between Liberia Ave and the Fairfax County line. NVTA added $2 million to accommodate this increased scope. This is important because Phase Two will study long-term solutions such as reversible lanes, flyovers and the widening of Route 28. Included are aspects of both safety and cost effectiveness.
Independent of the Route 28 Study, Fairfax County has already programmed the widening of Route 28 North of Bull Run. This will assist the northbound AM peak congestion, and per Fairfax County, has a completion date in 2020.
All findings from the Route 28 study results will eventually go to the Boards and Councils of the jurisdictions involved for their input. If, for example, widening of 28 south of Bull Run is recommended, then adjustments to the Prince William County comp plan will be made in order to accommodate that widening. Also the recommended approach(es) for congestion relief would then be submitted for inclusion in the update of the NVTA’s TransAction 2040; that TransAction update process will begin in the coming months. Projects must be included in that update in order to receive any NVTA funding.
After approval by the jurisdictions, then a search for numerous funding sources would begin in order to actually implement the recommendations. Some of the improvements would qualify for NVTA funding and some would not, so it depends upon what is recommended. There will very likely be a number of sources of funding that combine for improvements to Route 28.
VRE Parking expansion
Another project vital to Manassas Park is the expansion of parking at our VRE Station, and includes both the Study and the Preliminary Engineering. It was, however, in danger of being downgraded on the final list of NVTA recommended projects. Downgrading would have resulted in no funding for the project. After significant lobbying, this project was retained on the NVTA Recommended Project List and will receive $500,000 in funding from the NVTA. It’s important to the City for several reasons: the ridership of the VRE is projected to increase in the future; a considerable percentage of Manassas Park VRE Station users are from outside our City; the parking expansion has the potential to alleviate congestion on Route 28 by having some commuters elect to not drive but instead take the VRE if they can find accessible parking; and this expansion is warranted due to the future growth projected for all of Northern Virginia. It was also pointed out to the NVTA that lack of funding for this study would have affected the highway to transit ratio at a time when the Northern Virginia region as a whole should be encouraging transit in order to alleviate congestion. Implementation of this project will very likely require a number of funding sources.