Arlington County wants to own State Route 237 (Fairfax Drive/10th St. North) from roughly Ballston to Courthouse.
The County Board voted at its July 18, 2017 meeting to request that the Commonwealth transfer ownership of the stretch of road to Arlington. If approved, the move would put 6.61 lane miles from the state route’s intersection with North Glebe Road to its intersection with North Barton Street under Arlington’s control.
As part of its response to the Transform I-66 project, the County has asked Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) for flexibility in managing lanes on several corridors parallel to I-66 to most efficiently move more people.
The Commonwealth tentatively agreed to the transfer in a March 2017 letter to the County – but the County’s request would be the first step in a sequence of reviews by the Commonwealth Transportation Board and VDOT before the transfer could be finalized. To read the staff report, visit the County website.
The County is seeking the transfer because it believes it is better poised to continue multimodal investment in the mostly urban Metrorail corridor than is VDOT. Removing duplicate reviews of projects along the route would save the County money on capital projects along the corridor. Instead of each local project on the route being reviewed and approved by both the County and the Commonwealth, they would be designed and reviewed only by the County, except in cases where state funding is used.
The transfer also would give the County more flexibility to make tweaks to the road as travel patterns change and in order to move more people more safely. Although Arlington has no plans to make major lane modifications at this time, it could, in the future, opt to change lane width, turn lanes, bikeways, sidewalks and crosswalks, transit stops and more.
Projects now planned for the corridor in the County’s Adopted FY 2017-2026 Capital Improvement Plan include Ballston Multimodal Improvements, a west entrance for the Ballston Metrorail Station and improvements to the Wilson Boulevard/10th Street North intersection.
VDOT’s per-lane payment to the County for FY 2018 is $18,515.71. The County pays an average of $28,000 per lane-mile to maintain and operate its roads, so the transfer, should it be approved, would result in a net increase in local tax support for maintaining and operating this portion of State Route 237 of $60,000 to $70,000 per year. The County would save money in the long term, however, by reducing delays for capital projects along the corridor.