From A To B: Welcome To... SuperNoVa? | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : Metro Connection

From A To B: Welcome To... SuperNoVa?

Play associated audio
The Commonwealth has embarked on a plan to help ease traffic congestion in northern Virginia.
Super NoVa Plan
The Commonwealth has embarked on a plan to help ease traffic congestion in northern Virginia.

Transportation planners are expected to publicly release recommendations in September on improving public transportation throughout northern Virginia as part of the Commonwealth's Super NoVa vision plan for the next three decades.

The unofficial border of northern Virginia as outlined on a map today contains several counties including Fairfax, Alexandria, Arlington, and Loudoun, among others. Under Super NoVa, northern Virginia would extend as far south as Caroline County and as far west as Culpeper and Frederick counties.

Planners envision the construction of cross-jurisdictional networks of light rail, bus rapid transit, car and van pooling, and bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure to connect people to their jobs in the metropolitan Washington area, and to employment and tourist locations within northern Virginia and neighboring states. The goal is to help commuters avoid the region's notorious traffic congestion.

"It's really looking at the major travel patterns of people throughout this region and trying to understand where they are and where they want to go," says Amy Inman, the manager of public transportation planning at the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, a post she has held for four years. Inman is the head planner for Super NoVa.

With the growing realization that only paving more highways would not satisfy the demands of region's population and job growth projections, Inman says localities 50 or 75 miles away from Washington need more public transportation options. The study will evaluate the needs of future population and employment centers.

"We are envisioning mobility beyond boundaries," she says. "As we all know, there isn't just one mode of transportation that's going to be the solution, but we want to be able to provide people with travel options."

Inman says planners are focusing on maximizing the capacity of existing infrastructure in current corridors; for instance, transforming part of a major roadway into a bus rapid transit corridor instead of building a new road.

Super NoVa is gathering information from people traveling to Virginia from Maryland, West Virginia and Washington. A second round of public hearings has been held this month; officials held their first round of hearings in February. The public will get another chance to weigh in after September when the first recommendations are released. The study is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Inman says the public feedback has been useful.

"We have learned that the growth of this region is very great," she says. "In the future, the areas of Fauquier, Culpeper, and Winchester will have a developing demand for different types of public transportation, so we're learning from the localities what kinds of solutions will be necessary to address their particular transportation issues."

In some places, bus rapid transit may work. In others, light rail or increased car-pooling may be the answer. Super NoVa is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Planners are trying to ascertain which modes of transport are supportable in a given location.

"Even beyond Culpeper County there are folks who are traveling 100 miles or greater into D.C.," she says. "It's phenomenal the distance people will travel to get to their employment. We also know that we're reaching or exceeding the capacity of many of our transportation transit systems today."

Inman says Virginia's political leaders, including Gov. Bob McDonnell, have been supportive of the plan.

"Everyone understands we have to think of multiple solutions to address the transportation issues, especially in the Super Nova region, an economic engine for the commonwealth and neighboring states," she says.

Although Super NoVa is not planning new highways, Inman says the group's recommendations will square with the plans of the Virginia Department of Transportation for new roadways.

"VDOT has plans in place that we are building upon," she says, referring to VDOT's proposal to increase roadway capacity along the I-95 corridor.


[Music: "A to B" by The Futureheads from The Futureheads / "Supernova (In The Style of Liz Phair)" by The Karaoke Channel from The Karaoke Channel: Rock, Vol. 9]

NPR

Advice For Trevor Noah From The 'Jon Stewart Of South Africa'

The Daily Show isn't the only fake news show around. South Africa has Late Nite News, starring comedian Loyiso Gola. We asked him how he feels about Noah's new job — and what advice he has to offer.
NPR

The Revival Of Lamb Ham: A Colonial Tradition Renewed

British colonialists brought lamb ham to America, where a sugar-cured, smoked variety became popular. Easier-to-cure pork ham eventually took its place, but now two Virginians are bringing it back.
WAMU 88.5

Legal Cloud Lifts For Controversial Alexandria Waterfront Plan

Thanks to a recent ruling of the Virginia Supreme Court in Richmond, developers now have a green light to start demolishing a series of old abandoned warehouses and building structures in Alexandria that are much larger than what's there now.
NPR

If Drones Make You Nervous, Think Of Them As Flying Donkeys

In Africa, where there aren't always roads from Point A to Point B, drones could take critical medicines to remote spots. But the airborne vehicles make people uneasy for lots of reasons.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.