Blog

Dynamic Use of Shoulder Lane to Ease I-66 Congestion Finally Becoming a Reality:

September 14th, 2015

Next week VDOT plans to open the first phase of the I-66 Active Traffic Management Project (ATM) which will finally bring us the long sought after ability to use the shoulder lane as an extra driving lane during periods of non-peak I-66 congestion. This use of this existing infrastructure (the shoulder lane) should bring some short term relief to the ever present non-rush hour congestion on I-66. The concept is simple – open the shoulder lane when traffic congestion forces speeds to drop to a point where it is safe to open the shoulder lane in order to get people moving again. When traffic is moving at speed, the breakdown lane is needed in case of emergencies and the shoulder lane will be closed. Currently the shoulder lanes are only open during certain posted times when VDOT knows there will be enough congestion to reduce the speed limits. The ATM project will provide other benefits, but the major one should be the ability to instantly add more roadway capacity and get people moving outside of the currently posted shoulder lane use hours.

I first started advocating for added use of the shoulder lane when I joined the Board in January of 2008 as constituents asked why we could not just change the old X’s to green arrows and use the shoulder lane during periods of weekend congestion. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/springfield/pdf_files/i66_shoulder_hov_ramps.pdf . Over the next year, VDOT engineers studied the ability to use the shoulder lane but figured out that the congestion was not predictable enough to set regular additional shoulder lane hours on weekends and it would have to be done dynamically through the use of the X’s. Unfortunately the price tag was $6 to $8 million to upgrade the then current X’s to meet the federal standard and allow for the shoulder to be dynamically opened and closed.  At the time VDOT did not have the funds to proceed with the project. Undeterred these two engineers, Hari Sripathi and Kamal Suliman identified a federal “Active Traffic Management” program that would provide funding for a project that would allow the dynamic use of the shoulder.  After a long federal process we should see the first phase of the $38M ATM project opening next week on I-66 outside the beltway.

In 2008, I laid out a 4 point plan to address short term solutions to reduce I-66 congestion while we worked forward a longer term solution.  We were able to get additional posted hours approved for the shoulder lanes in 2008, in February, 2011 we were able to open the ramps at Stringfellow and Monument during non-HOV hours (at least in one direction), and very soon we will finally be able to use the existing shoulder lanes during period of congestion.  Now, as I have said in my last Herrity Report, we need to expeditiously move forward with a longer term solution for I-66 congestion and turn dirt on an Express Lanes solution in 2017 to give commuters more transportation choices – HOV, express bus or tolled trip with guaranteed travel times, or a free car ride in regular lanes that are less congested due to the capacity added by the Express Lanes.

Annual Saint Patrick’s Day Party

February 18th, 2015

Please mark your calendar for Supervisor Herrity’s annual Saint Patrick’s Day Party on the 15th of March at 6 pm at the Springfield Golf and Country Club, 8301 Old Keene Mill Road, Springfield.

More details and how to RSVP will be available soon. Hope to see you there!

Proposed Group Assembly in Residential Dwellings Public Meetings

May 5th, 2014

There will be 3 public meetings regarding the proposed ordinance they are listed below. For details of the ordinance visit the county’s website here – http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/zoning/groupassembly/.

 

 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 from 7 – 9 p.m. at South County Government Center, 8350 Richmond Highway, Alexandria, VA  22309, in the Main Conference Room (SCC221)

Monday, May 12, 2014 from 7 – 9 p.m. at Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA  22035 in the Board Auditorium

Monday, May 19, 2014 from 7 – 9 p.m. at Lemon Road Elementary School, 7230 Idylwood Road, Falls Church, VA  22043 in the school cafeteria

New Tax District for Reston?

February 21st, 2014

Reston May See a New Tax District
At the February 11th Board of Supervisors’ meeting, the Board voted 7 to 2 to approve a new master plan for Reston. I voted against the plan because yet again, I believe the plan ignores our priorities when it comes to where developer contributions are spent. Not too dissimilar to the Tysons plan, this plan results in over $700M in transportation needs that come with the increased density. It is my fear that just as we did in Tysons, these requirements will be funded by a new tax on the residents and businesses in Reston. I believe that much more of these transportation requirements should have been funded by developer contributions from the increased density instead of many requirements in the plan. A new tax district in Reston, coupled with already rising tolls on the Dulles Toll Road, will adversely impact the residents and businesses of Reston. This is something that could have been avoided if we had focused more of our developer contributions on transportation.

 

Reducing our Facilities Cost
At the Board meeting on February 11th, the Board supported my request to look at reducing the county’s facility cost – one of the county’s largest expenses – by further exploring the use of hoteling. The concept of hoteling in the workplace, or providing office space to employees on an as-needed basis, dates back to the early 1990s. The Board will also look at increasing our use of teleworking as another tool to reduce facility cost.
Hoteling is used by major companies throughout the country, and even in the federal government. A recent report from the GSA, where hoteling was put into place a few years ago, showed that a $600,000 savings was generated by cutting office space in half, eliminating 15,000 square feet of office space at GSA using the hoteling concept. Similar experiences have taken place at the Treasury Department, the Patent and Trademark Office, and the Department of Homeland Security.
Fairfax County is no stranger to hoteling as it is currently used for some field based employees. My recommendation would look to see if the County’s hoteling practice could be expanded and reduce our facilities cost.
With more than 3.5 million square feet of space in our government buildings and more than 600,000 square feet we spend $14 million per year to rent. Our facilities costs are second only to personnel costs in our budget. Looking into savings in such a large part of our budget is a no-brainer and I look forward to the results of the study

Save the Date: Annual St. Patrick’s Day Party

February 4th, 2014

Please mark your calendar for Supervisor Herrity’s annual Saint Patrick’s Day Party on the 15th of March at 6 pm at the Springfield Golf and Country Club, 8301 Old Keene Mill Road, Springfield.

More details and how to RSVP will be available soon. Hope to see you there!

Fixing the Cadillac Tax – An Unfair Excise on the County’s Residents, Businesses, and Government

February 4th, 2014

In 2018 Fairfax County, along with its citizens and businesses, will be subject to what is known as the “Cadillac” tax, a 40% excise tax which targets healthcare plans that are viewed to offer too much coverage in an attempt to encourage employers to reduce benefits. However, the tax is based on plan premiums, not plan coverage. In effect, a plan is labeled “Cadillac” because of its high premiums resulting from higher health care costs not necessarily because of its high coverage. This is not what the policy was intended to target.

Although county staff are yet to do an analysis on how much this tax will cost Fairfax County, an independent benefits broker has put the county government’s liability as high as $40 million – a significant amount of money.  Many of our businesses and citizen’s will be similarly impacted.  This is another Affordable Care Act tax that has received little attention as it is still several years away.

Since healthcare premiums are largely determined by the local economies in which the plans are bought and sold, the local cost of living plays a large role in the cost of the premiums. The federal government’s own website, HealthCare.gov, characterizes geographic location as having a “big effect” on premiums. What this means for those individuals, businesses and governments in high cost of living regions, such as the Washington metropolitan area, is an unfair classification of our healthcare plans as “Cadillac”, and thus being subject to an inequitable tax—a tax that is/and or will result in employers terminating coverage.

In order to remedy this lack of equity, I asked the Board last Tuesday to support an effort to index the classification of a plan as “Cadillac” by applying a local cost of living measure to adjust for increased healthcare premiums associated with some metropolitan regions’ cost of health care. I requested the Board include this concept in our Federal legislative package and contact our legislative representatives in the event the Cadillac tax is not repealed.

The inequitable “Cadillac” tax will impact our county health plans and our budgets significantly if this inequity is not addressed. Not only will it unfairly impact the county but it will unfairly impact our businesses and residents and potentially their ability to get employer provided health care or the coverage’s available to employees in other jurisdictions that have a lower cost of health care. Ideally, the Cadillac tax should be abolished in its entirety.  In the very least it needs to be indexed to cost of living. This is clearly a basic fairness issue and another large problem in a long list of problems with the Affordable Care Act.

Sign Up to Volunteer Today

March 25th, 2011

Grassroot volunteers are the basic foundation for any campaign.

Please get involved in my campaign and sign up to volunteer today! Together, we can make Virginia a better place for us all.

Paid for by Friends of Pat Herrity