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Reston Road Improvements Advisory Group to Meet Tonight

crosswalk/trafficA Reston advisory group studying how to raise $2.6 billion for road improvements over the next 40 years is set to hold a pubic meeting tonight.

Members of the Reston Network Analysis Advisory Group are scheduled to gather in the lecture hall at South Lakes High School (11400 South Lakes Drive) at 7 p.m., according to an announcement.

RNAG, created by Fairfax County’s Hunter Mill District supervisor, is a group of locals who seek feedback from people who are the most affected by local development and changes to the transportation system. Through the Reston Network Analysis, the county seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of pedestrian friendly streets and paths around the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station, as well as the future Reston Town Center and Herndon stops.

The advisory group works with the county and the Virginia Department of Transportation to come up with ways to secure funding for Reston’s network and maintaining local roadways. This fall, RNAG expressed strong opposition to creating a special tax district, in which residents who live near the Metro stations would get taxed to help with road improvements.

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Op-Ed: Don’t Tax Reston Residents for Transportation Improvements

Reston Transit Areas/Fairfax CountyThis is an op-ed by Reston resident Terry Maynard. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

On Monday, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) and Reston Network Analysis Group (RNAG) once again offered several proposals that would create a transportation tax service district (TSD) for the Reston Metro transit station areas (TSAs) along the Dulles Corridor that would add to the tax bills of Restonians living there.

At the meeting, FCDOT detailed three TSD tax rate options: $0.017/$100 assessed valuation, $0.20/$100 assessed valuation, and $0.27/$100 assessed valuation to be paid for 40 years largely based on mindless comparisons with Tysons.

Ostensibly, these funds would close a $350 million “gap” in funding new and improved streets and intersections throughout the TSAs to accommodate the traffic added there by new high-density development.

What FCDOT and RNAG failed to do, indeed, they did not even discuss, was why TSA residents should pay any extra tax for roadway improvements to accommodate added commercial for profit high-density development.

As calculated by Reston 20/20 earlier this year, developers may reasonably expect to have net operating profits exceeding $50 billion over the next 40 years from their development around Reston’s TSAs –more than one billion dollars per year over the timeframe for the proposed TSD. On the other hand, residents of the TSAs will not see an added penny in income because of the improvements.

Worse yet, FCDOT has stated outright that it intends to make traffic congestion worse in the TSAs. Instead of a peak hour intersection traffic Level of Service (LOS) “D”, they’re aiming at LOS “E”. LOS “E” means the intersection is operating “at or near capacity,” typically with 55-80 second delays, with traffic occasionally queueing back through the previous signaled intersection. And that’s a decision that affects all Restonians and others who need to travel to or through the corridor.

To further stick a finger in Dulles Corridor and other Restonians’ eyes, the FCDOT has told RNAG and the community that its plan calls for no additions to bus service to offset the planned worse traffic conditions over the next 40 years, just the re-routing of existing bus routes. That’s despite the fact that County development plans call for roughly a doubling of the number of jobs and residents along the Dulles Corridor over the 40-year period.

The bottom line is that the County and RNAG are proposing to force Reston residents of the TSAs to pay extra taxes for worse traffic and bus service. Only Fairfax County would offer that proposal as reasonable.

Ultimately, however, the County’s TSD proposal is really no more than a scam to get another foot in Restonians’ doors (or, more accurately, a hand in Restonians’ wallets) for a new County property tax revenue stream. The so-called $350 million funding “gap” is a ruse generated by FCDOT to justify the creation of the TSD that FCDOT created by manipulating the forecast funding contributions of developers and the County. The imaginary $9 million annual funding “gap” could easily be covered by small additional developer and/or County funding contributions.

To begin with, there is no reason that the developers should not pay all the costs of these new roadways and improved intersections that will enable them to earn over $50 billion in the next four decades.   The so-called $350 million funding “gap” total is less than one percent of the likely profits developers will garner over the next four decades. Developers could dig just a little deeper to come up with that sum and their stakeholders probably wouldn’t even notice, despite the yelping of the executives.

Moreover, an additional small County investment of $9 million per year in Reston to facilitate successful new high-density development would generate additional billions in County property tax revenues over the years. But then why should the County invest even an additional one one-thousandth of one percent (0.001%) of its current $8 billion in annual revenues in Reston when it can persuade Restonians to fork over more money to a new County tax revenue stream?

In fact, it is highly unlikely that the County Board will carry out its funding plan as it has been laid out to the RNAG now in more than ten different scenarios. To start with, FCDOT Chief Tom Biesiadny would not rule out extension of the TSD at this week’s meeting beyond the 40-year plan. Moreover, the Tysons task force endorsed a TSD ostensibly for the same “gap” filling purposes several years ago, and its tax rate increased the second year it was in force from $.04/$100 assessed valuation to $.05/$100 valuation.  A Tysons TSD tax rate increase to $.06/$100 assessed valuation is already baked into the County budget for next year.

In short, there is absolutely no reason for Restonians to believe that whatever TSD tax rate FCDOT, RNAG, and the County Board choose will not increase, that all the funds will be used for Reston transportation improvements, nor that the tax will end after four decades.

The Reston transit station area TSD is merely a placeholder based on deceptive analysis for generating more County property tax revenues from Reston homeowners in addition to the Reston Community Center Special Tax District No. 5.

Reston needs your help in stopping this continuing County scheme. FCDOT has said that it wants feedback on its funding proposal, so please let Tom Biesiadny ([email protected]) and Project Manager Kristin Calkins ([email protected]) know what you think of yet another additional County property tax on Restonians.

When you do, please be sure to copy Supervisor Hudgins ([email protected]) and RNAG Chair Andy Sigle ([email protected]) on your message.  We will be unable to stop this deceptive and unnecessary new property tax without the involvement of Restonians both in and beyond the Dulles Corridor.

Terry Maynard

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Public, Private Funds Expected to Split Reston Transportation Improvement Costs

Reston Transit Areas/Fairfax County

The Fairfax County Board of Transportation is looking at a variety of funding sources to pay for more than $2 billion in Reston road improvements over the next 40 years.

FCDOT officials outlined some of their ideas at a community meeting in Reston on Monday. They stressed all proposals are in the idea stage and still being discussed with the Reston Network and Funding Advocacy Group (RNAG). They are also seeking public feedback on ideas, but hope to have a solid plan to go before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors by the end of 2016.

Here is what you need to know:

The $2.27 billion cost would be split between public and private funds over three categories.

  • Reston Roadways: $1.2 billion – 100 percent paid for by public share
  • Reston Intersections: $45 million – 100 percent paid for by private share
  • Urban Street grid near Metro Stations: $1.021 billion – 100 percent paid for by private share.

Reston Road Improvement Funding/Credit: FCDOTThat works out to 53 percent paid for by public funds; 47 percent paid for by private funds. However, even using those estimates and in-kind contributions, FCDOT estimates a $355 million shortfall.

That’s why they are considering a tax district for commercial properties or a special service district for all properties located in the Reston Transit Service Areas (TSAs). TSAs are the new construction within about a quarter-mile of Reston’s eventual three Metro stations.

Here’s some of the models they are considering for that:

Road Funding/Credit: FCDOT

And here are some of the models for a Road Fund comprised of developer contributions:

Reston Road Funding/Credit: FCDOT

In several of the Road Fund scenarios, there would still be a shortfall.

Read more about the process and provide feedback on FCDOT’s web page.

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Special Reston Transportation District Tax Options Taking Shape

Traffic on Reston Parkway/Credit: Reston 2020The Fairfax County Department of Transportation is still considering a special tax or special service district to fund $2.6 billion in transportation improvements in the Reston area in coming years.

Two ideas mentioned in a briefing to the Reston Network Analysis & Funding Plan (RNAG) Advisory Group this week include a tax district: $0.03/$100 of assessed values for commercial and industrial properties in Reston transit station areas or a service district of $0.015/$100 of assessed values for all properties in Reston transit station areas.

The suggestions will be further discussed at a community meeting Monday, 7-9 p.m., at the North County Government Center, 1801 Cameron Glen Drive, Reston.

The presentation uses the example of a .015 cent tax to show how it would affect homeowners. A service district homeowner with a $400,000 home would see a rise of about $60 in annual taxes. An owner with a $900,000 home would be taxed about $135 more.

Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) officials have previously said a service district would only include properties within the Reston’s transit area, or about one-quarter of a mile or less from Metro stations.

The transit areas are expected to see the greatest level of development — and will need the most street grid, lane additions and traffic signals, among other improvements — as Reston grows over the next three decades.

FCDOT’s Janet Nguyen said last month that $1.34 billion to fund transportation projects will likely come from shared public and private contributions. That money would go for road widening, intersection improvements, the Soapstone overpass, and an Dulles Toll Road underpass near Reston Town Center, among other projects.

The $1.28 billion grid network in the transit station areas — which the RNAG is currently studying — would likely be paid for mostly by developers and the possible service tax district. An urban grid is important to improve walkability and slow traffic, transportation officials said.

A service district is a special tax that pays for improvements in a defined area. It is established by the Board of Supervisors and does not need to be approved by residents. In Tysons, the rate is per .05 cents per $100 of home value.

The Tysons special service district assessment will pay for $253 million of improvements, or about half of the Tysons’ urban improvement costs. Overall, the urban grid in Tysons will cost $865 million. More than $561 million will be covered by developers, said the county.

Nguyen has used the recent Tysons service district as a model, though she said Reston’s might look different because some infrastructure is already in place.

See more information, as well as some of the high-priority Reston transportation improvements, in the presentation below.

Reston Funding Plan June 2016

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Potential Transportation Tax District Won’t Include All of Reston

Reston Transit Areas/Fairfax CountyIn looking for ways to fund about $2.6 billion in transportation improvements in Reston, there has been talk among officials of creating a special tax district to cover some of the costs.

At a community meeting Wednesday, Fairfax County Department of Transportation officials said that idea is still on the table — but only for residents and businesses in developments within the Reston’s transit area. Transit areas are considered within one-quarter of a mile or less from Metro Stations at Wiehle-Reston East and (in 2o2o) Reston Town Center.

The Reston Network Analysis Group (RNAG) and FCDOT mentioned in February the possibility of taxing all of Reston or all of Special Tax District 5 (the Reston area that is already paying annually to fund the Reston Community Center). That idea has been discarded, FCDOT says.

The transit areas are expected to see the greatest level of development — and will need the most street grid, lane additions and traffic signals, among other improvements — as Reston grows over the next three decades.

FCDOT’s Janet Nguyen says $1.34 billion in transportation projects will likely come from shared public and private contributions. That money would go for road widening, intersection improvements, the Soapstone overpass, and an Dulles Toll Road underpass near Reston Town Center, among other projects.

The $1.28 billion grid network in the transit station areas — which the RNAG is currently studying — would likely be paid for mostly by developers and the possible service tax district. An urban grid is important to improve walkability and slow traffic, transportation officials said.

A service district is a special tax that pays for improvements in a defined area. It is established by the Board of Supervisors and does not need to be approved by residents. In Tysons, the rate is per .05 cents per $100 of home value.

The Tysons special service district assessment will pay for $253 million of improvements, or about half of the Tysons’ urban improvement costs. Overall, the urban grid in Tysons will cost $865 million. More than $561 million will be covered by developers, said the county.

Nguyen has used the recent Tysons service district as a model, though she said Reston’s might look different because some infrastructure is already in place.

Reston Association recently surveyed members to see how they felt about an additional tax. RA says nearly 700 individuals completed survey, with 86 percent saying no to paying more. The survey was merely for informational purposes — while RA has a representative on the RNAG, it has no authority to implement the tax.

Graphic: Map of Reston’s transit areas.

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Get an Update on Street Grid, Potential Transportation Tax Tonight

Reston Transit Areas/Fairfax County

The Reston community can get an update on the planned urban-style street grid — and the potential of a special tax to help pay for it — at a community meeting Wednesday.

Join Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) for another in a series of discussions on the Reston Network Analysis from 7 to 9 p.m. at South Lakes High School.

Residents will be able to learn more about the analysis, which is evaluating the concept of urban-style grids of streets in the areas surrounding the Reston Metrorail Stations, also known as the Reston Transit Station Areas. County staff will give a presentation on the status of the Network Analysis and potential recommendations for the transportation network. Staff will also answer questions.

The Reston Network Analysis Advisory Group has most recently discussed Tier 2 mitigation (see presentation below). The group is looking at ways to reduce congestion and waiting times at traffic lights. The presentation points out some of the worst trouble spots in the Reston area. The goal is adding traffic lights and turning lanes, but patience is needed as the plan covers mitigation over the next several decades.

At a February meeting, Fairfax County officials said Reston is going to need more than $2.6 billion in transportation improvements to keep up with development and population growth in the next 40 years.

Officials said Reston roadway improvements (overpasses, widening, extensions, and interchanges) will cost $1.28 billion. Intersection projects will cost $65 million and the enhanced grid network will cost $1.28 billion, the report said.

In February, the word “special transportation tax” was also mentioned. The RNAG Advisory Group said money to pay for those infrastructure improvements may come from a wide array of sources. Among them: a transportation tax, but also developer proffers, taxes, bonds, federal transportation grants and state funding, as well as a potential county meals tax.

Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said a special tax district is just one of the “tools we are exploring in transportation improvements. We have done it with rail; we are doing it in Tysons.”

Tysons has had a special tax since 2013 to pay for transportation improvements there.

In addition to the meeting, the county has website to help gather comments from the community. If you are unable to attend meetings, you can still submit your comments on the project website.

Photo: Reston Transit Areas/Fairfax County
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