Sidewalks, Trails Get Attention in New Capital Projects Plan

When they adopted next year’s budget, county supervisors also made some changes to their long-range capital projects plans, and much of that focused on pedestrian and bike-friendly projects.

Supervisors have rearranged plans for $20.1 million dollars over the next six years to move up a new sidewalk and trail program and trade funding for an Atlantic Boulevard shared-use path for pedestrian improvements at three intersections on Rt. 7 near Northern Virginia Community College.

The sidewalk and trail program, which will construct three miles of sidewalks and trails every year, is scheduled for $69.5 million in total, most of that beyond the plan’s six-year horizon. It was originally scheduled to start in fiscal year 2024, but was moved up two years.

Board finance committee chairman Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) said that’s a reflection of the county taking a more systematic approach to its sidewalk and trail system.

“I think it’s probably accurate to say that there is more funding, but it’s maybe more accurate to say that we’re kind of reforming the way that we’re going to approach these missing links in the future,” Letourneau said. “We recognize how important they are, and we’re trying to be more organized and deliberate.”

The updated capital budget also including funding for school safety improvements, including $14.3 million over the next two years for school security vestibules. And it switches funding between two roundabouts on Rt. 50, meaning Trailhead Drive will get funding for design starting fiscal year 2022 and Everfield Drive will get funding starting in 2024.

And it moves up Letourneau’s plans for a Rt. 50 northern collector road between Loudoun County Parkway and Rt. 28 on Dulles Airport property, bypassing the Rt. 50/Rt. 28 intersection and reaching into Fairfax County.

The budget also now includes $50,000 for playground equipment at Hamilton Community Park in fscal year 2019.

This year’s Capital Improvement Plan marks the first time that transportation has taken up the majority if Loudoun’s capital budget, although transportation needs have taken up more and more of Loudoun taxpayers’ dollar for years. As the state has lagged farther and farther behind on the region’s transportation needs, localities have had to pick up the slack.

“I still view us as being in catch-up mode right now,” Letourneau said. “We’re making progress, but it’s more to alleviate problems that have existed for a long time more than really adding new things and enhancing and improving.” He said he’ll be “looking forward to the day where I feel like we’re more out of catch-up mode” and instead looking to the future. But he said it will be a while.

rgreene@loudounnow.com
@RenssGreene

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