In 1987, Northern Virginia was at a crossroads. Anti-growth forces were poised to stop major transportation projects in the name of “controlling growth.” A small group of business organizations and private citizens met in early 1987 to discuss and reach consensus on what could be done to ensure that urgently needed transportation priorities were advanced, the region’s economic prosperity enhanced and quality of life protected.
The result was the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance. Its founding members included the Apartment and Office Building Association, the Associated Builders and Contractors, the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Washington Board of Trade, the National Association of Industrial and Office Parks, the Northern Virginia Association (formerly Board) of Realtors and the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association.
Through a major effort that included in-depth research on the failure of past transportation policies and an extensive program of newsletters, a speakers bureau, and television and radio ads focused on a progressive transportation agenda, the Alliance shifted public policy from what could be done to stop previously-planned projects to what improvements must be fast-tracked to support the region’s economy and quality of life in the 1990s.
What followed was an aggressive effort that put in place the major transportation projects—Fairfax County Parkway, Prince William County Parkway, Route 28 and I-66 widenings, the Dulles Greenway and Virginia Railway Express—that supported the region’s unprecedented economic prosperity and quality of life advancements in the 1990s.
More recently, the Alliance has been instrumental in advancing the Woodrow Wilson Bridge replacement, Maryland’s Intercounty Connector, Dulles Rail, the I-95 Fourth lane between the Fairfax County Parkway and Route 123, I-495 and I-95/I-395 Express Lanes, a new Bi-County Parkway connecting Loudoun and Prince William Counties and widening I-66 inside and outside the Beltway. The Alliance continues to champion construction of new Potomac River crossings and a Western Transportation Corridor connecting I-95 in the Fredericksburg area with Washington Dulles International Airport. It also supports providing the power and rolling stock necessary to operate 8-car Metro trains throughout its system.
In 2013 the Alliance led the successful fight to secure new, long-term, dedicated state and regional transportation funding and leads a coalition of more than 20 major Northern Virginia business organizations dedicated to advancing transportation investments of great regional significance.
The true measure of an organization is not simply what it favors, but what it gets done.
Since 1987, the Alliance has been a positive, non-partisan force for advancing performance-based, regional transportation solutions. The following is a list of the Alliance’s major accomplishments.
- New Funding: The Alliance is acknowledged as the leading force in the sustained multi-year effort that in 2013 produced historic new levels of regional and statewide transportation funding.
- Dulles Rail/Silver Line: Phase I: East Falls Church to Wiehle Avenue opened in July 2014. Phase 2, Wiehle Avenue to Route 772 in Loudoun County is scheduled to open in 2019. Silver Line
- I-95 Express (HOT) Lanes: This 28-mile high occupancy/toll facility opened in late 2014, adding additional capacity from I-495 to the Prince William Parkway and extending lanes south from Dumfries Rd/Exit 152 (Prince William Co.) to Garrisonville Rd/ Ext 143 (Stafford Co.).
- I-495 Express (HOT) Lanes: This 14-mile high occupancy/toll facility opened in 2012.
- Woodrow Wilson Bridge Replacement: The Alliance was a major participant in studies, hearings, policy-formulation and private sector mobilization that resulted in successful efforts to fund a replacement. The first new section opened in June 2006. The second span opened in June 2008. The Federal Highway Administration recognized the Alliance’s contribution at the dedication of the second span.
- Intercounty Connector (MD 200): This 18-mile, limited access roadway connecting I-270 in Montgomery County and I-95 in Prince George’s County opened in 2011 and is a major upgrade to the region’s transportation network.
- I-95 4th Lane: This lane expansion between the Fairfax County Parkway and Route 123 in Prince William County opened in September 2011.
- I-66 Inside the Beltway: A new westbound third lane between Fairfax Drive (Ballston) and Sycamore Street opened in December 2011. A similar westbound widening between Washington Blvd and the Dulles Connector road is scheduled to open in late 2015.
- Route 28 Funding and Widening: The Alliance championed creation of a special transportation tax district to expedite the widening of Route 28 from one lane in each direction to three and the conversion of ten signalized intersections to grade-separated interchanges.
- Commuter Rail Service (Virginia Railway Express): The Alliance was an early champion of the Virginia Railway Express system that started service in 1992 and today operates 29 trains and 18 stations and carries over 20,000 passengers per day.
- Comprehensive Regional Planning & Prioritization: The Alliance called for and supported the 1989 Subregional Planning Process and that Plan’s 2000 and subsequent updates. The Alliance believes that the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority TransAction 2040 Regional Transportation Plan lacks the necessary top-down, performance-based project selection and prioritization criteria. The Alliance was instrumental in General Assembly passage of legislation requiring the Authority to assign highest priority to projects determined to do the most to reduce traffic congestion.
- Dulles Corridor Widening and Extension: The Alliance was in the forefront of efforts to widen the Dulles Toll Road and build the Dulles Greenway.
- Fairfax County Parkway: One of the Alliance’s most important original priorities, the Parkway is major regional north-south corridor that has since been improved by construction of several new grade-separated interchanges and has helped transform Fairfax County from a bedroom community into one in which most county residents now work in the county.
- Fairfax County Parkway and Algonquin Parkway Alignment: The Alliance was instrumental in changing local plans to bring these two parkways into a common alignment.
- I-66 Outside the Beltway: The Alliance underwrote preliminary planning costs of an early 1990s study that resulted in widening I-66 from four lanes to six (plus operational shoulder lanes) between the Beltway and Route 50. The Alliance strongly supports additional widening including managed lanes for HOV and Express Bus.
- I-66/Route 29 Gainesville Interchange: The Alliance has been a long-term supporter of this interchange which was completed in summer 2015.
- Metrorail: The Alliance supported completion of the original 98-mile system and was the first private sector organization to call for a sustainable new regional/federal funding source that has been secured. It also was a strong supporter of reform of the Metropolitan Washington Area Transit Authority’s governance structure to make it more professional and less political. The Alliance strongly supports the purchase of additional cars to enable 8-car trains throughout the system.
- Northern Virginia VDOT Office: Believe it or not, in 1987 VDOT’s District office was located in Culpeper. Today and for the last 20 years, thanks to the Alliance’s persistence, it’s in Fairfax County.
- Prince William County Parkway Funding and Construction: The Alliance was a major force in the 1988 county bond effort that funded and built this facility years ahead of schedule. The Alliance is currently leading efforts to extend the Parkway/Route north to US Route 50 in Loudoun County as part of the Bi-County Parkway.
- Regional Bypass Studies (Western and Eastern): The Alliance was instrumental in advancing Eastern and Western Bypass studies in the late 1980s and in supporting successful completion of the Western Transportation Corridor Major Investment Study in 1997. The Alliance continues to champion these facilities which studies continue to show serve an essential function in diverting traffic off I-95 and improving access to Washington Dulles International Airport, BWI/Thurgood Marshall Airport and the Port of Baltimore.