Plan Langston Boulevard: Key Planning Elements Part 5

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Key Planning Elements Series: Part 5

Welcome to Part 5 of this newsletter series on Plan Langston Boulevard’s key planning elements. This week, our newsletter is talking about TRANSPORTATION, CONNECTIVITY, and URBAN DESIGN. Here, we outline the planning element goal and provide a brief summary of what has been shared previously. If you would like to take a deeper dive into all the public feedback received or read the full reports, go to the Documents webpage or click the links throughout this newsletter.

The Key Planning Elements are: 

Have you weighed in on the corridor-wide objectives or neighborhood improvements and benefits that are most important to you? There's a feedback form on the PLB webpage that will close today, March 25, at 11:59 p.m.

Transportation, Connectivity, and Urban Design 

Goal: Transform Langston Boulevard into a ‘Complete Street’, improve streetscape design, and connect the surrounding neighborhoods 

 Since 2000, the population along the corridor has increased, while average daily traffic volumes have gone down, thanks primarily to increased public transportation options.

Land use transformation and mobility are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. The new mixed-use and residential development needed to transform the Langston Boulevard corridor into a main street will increase the number of residents, employees, and visitors over time. To serve this growing population in a sustainable manner, new investments in transit service and a well-connected bicycle and pedestrian network will be needed. Residents along the corridor have called for improved transit in the area, but investment in additional transit services and amenities require additional population and increased ridership to support them. Together, land use and transportation changes create new possibilities.

Currently, Langston Boulevard varies dramatically in character, function, and width. In many places, large parking lots in front of buildings give the visual impression that Langston Boulevard is a wide, high-speed road. Crossing Langston Boulevard is very difficult, particularly, where it is widest. That, along with narrow sidewalks, numerous driveways, above ground utility poles, and a lack of crosswalks and shade create an uncomfortable and unsafe environment for pedestrians and bicyclists. Langston Boulevard needs significant improvements to support multimodal transportation goals.

In close coordination with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), Langston Boulevard will be redesigned into a Complete Street that better serves all modes of travel, while recognizing its continued role as a commuter corridor as designated by VDOT. Improved bus services, protected bicycle lanes, and wider, buffered sidewalks with shade trees will create a safer and more conducive environment for walking and biking. Reducing speed limits and driveways along the corridor will support the Vision Zero goal to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries caused by collisions. Additional bus service between Metro stops and Langston Boulevard will be considered to better connect areas that are beyond convenient walking distance to transit. The street space currently occupied by medians of varying sizes may be re-allocated to meet multimodal transportation needs. Transformation of Langston Boulevard into a Complete Street will require collaboration and shared responsibility between landowners and the County, particularly where the roadway is narrow and there is insufficient space to adequately accommodate all modes of travel.

There are many instances in the planning study area where the street grid is disconnected, creating a pattern of large blocks. In some locations, lack of connectivity is due to topographic challenges between or within neighborhoods. In other locations, it is due to the development pattern over time. Lack of connectivity prioritizes vehicle use over other transportation modes, like walking and biking. North Highlands has the least number of east-west streets that run parallel to Langston Boulevard, making the neighborhoods in this area the least connected and most dependent on Langston Boulevard for accessibility. Achieving new streets, where possible, and creating new walkways or trails, where space is more limited, will help improve accessibility for all travelers, support local circulation, reduce traffic burden on Langston Boulevard, and encourage development in smaller blocks which can help create appropriately scaled buildings.

The plan for Langston Boulevard will propose a a multimodal approach to the corridor that:

  • Reduces travel speed and minimizes collisions
  • Recommends further analysis of critical intersections during the implementation phase to improve safety and operations
  • Adds new streetlights and crosswalks to improve safety and encourage walking
  • Adds protected bicycle lanes and low-stress parallel bicycle routes, where possible, and wider, buffered sidewalks with shade trees
  • Has the potential to increase bus service between Metro stops and Langston Boulevard as the population and transit demand increases
  • Improves bus service reliability
  • Creates space along streetscapes for safe, comfortable transit stops with amenities
  • Increases opportunities for on-demand micro-transit services (i.e., shuttle buses that travel between a group of properties and a transit hub)
  • Provides opportunities for e-vehicles with charging or service stations for buses, cars, and bikes
  • Increases access to Langston Boulevard for neighborhoods north and south of the corridor
  • Enhances street connectivity by constructing new streets and/or alleys with redevelopment of large blocks
  • Improves access to the trail network with key linkages that connect neighborhoods with the corridor, parallel bicycle routes through adjoining neighborhoods, and, where space allows, a separated bike lane along Langston Boulevard
  • Accommodates parking with shared parking resources to support automobile travel and parking needs without cars dominating the transformation of Langston Boulevard
complete streets

Complete Streets are streets designed and operated to enable safe use and support mobility for all users. Those include people of all ages and abilities, regardless of whether they are travelling as drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, or public transportation riders. The concept of Complete Streets encompasses many approaches to planning, designing, and operating roadways and rights of way with all users in mind to make the transportation network safer and more efficient.

U.S. Department of Transportation 

2016 Visioning Study Report + Building Form

According to the 2016 Visioning Study Reportparticipants strongly supported the concept of Complete Streets to enhance safety for all modes of travel, including walking, biking, busing, and driving.

The transportation and connectivity recommendations in the report include: 

  • Establishing a working relationship with VDOT
  • Balancing the need of all modes of travel
  • Enhancing walkability through continuous connections
  • Improving traffic flow
  • Reducing reliance on single occupancy vehicles
  • Reducing travel speed and calming traffic
  • Enhancing cycling routes – either on or parallel to Langston Boulevard
  • Enhancing transit service, improving bus stops, increasing frequency, adding routes

Existing Conditions Analysis Report + Building Form

The Existing Conditions Analysis Report  for the corridor evaluated the traffic and other existing conditions; committed and planned transportation improvements; roadway standards that need additional flexibility and strategies to achieve a multimodal corridor; ways to improve overall pedestrian and bicycle connectivity, including safer routes to schools; existing parking; and access to transit and public spaces throughout the study area.

The ECA shared that in the Langston Boulevard planning area:

  • Character and function changes dramatically along the corridor
  • Conditions aren’t desirable for biking along or across it
  • The eastern part of the study area lacks alternate parallel routes for biking
  • Parts of the corridor have limited right-of-way and shallow lots, making it difficult to accommodate bicycles
  • Multiple modes of mobility are not adequately accommodated
  • All of the planning study area is within a 10-minute walk from a park. While the population directly along the corridor is generally within a 2-minute walk to a transit stop, the population along the edges of the study area are within a 10-minute walk (although the walk may not be particularly pleasant).
  • The east and west ends of the corridor currently have the greatest multimodal access due to proximity to Metro and Capital Bikeshare.
  • The segment of Langston Boulevard in Cherrydale is the only portion currently classified as “highly oriented to pedestrian, bicycle, and transit access”
  • Certain areas are already notable destinations for bicyclists, however, little to no facilities exist to easily access those destinations.

Neighborhood Inspiration Report + Building Form

As reported in the Neighborhood Inspiration Report (see also the NIR Appendix), community desires include improved conditions for walking and biking, and improved and increased transit services. The community identified the following transportation- and connectivity-related priorities:

Area 1: Arlington East Falls Church

  • Create wider sidewalks and safer crossings
  • Add pedestrian cut-throughs that make east-west connections easier and the street network walkable
  • Purposefully slow traffic to make the bridge over I-66 pedestrian and bike friendly
  • Complete sidewalks in neighborhoods
  • Add protected bike lanes, safer crossings, and reduce travel lanes
  • Educate drivers about sharing the road with cyclists
  • Add Capital Bikeshare stations
  • Improve connections to W&OD trail for bicyclists
  • Extend transit hours, increase frequency, and keep it reasonably priced
  • Improve bus stop amenities and access
  • Plan for both current and emerging modes of travel

Area 2: John M. Langston, Yorktown, Tara Leeway Heights, Leeway Overlee

  • Make sidewalks accessible and consistent
  • Improve safety and experience using lights, trees, benches, signage, lower speed limits, and four-way stops
  • Use median strips for pedestrian stop points, beautification, and planting for stormwater
  • Improve crossing safety through signalization, increased road markings, and new crossings
  • Add parallel walking or biking routes to avoid the need to be on Langston Boulevard
  • Request County control of Langston Boulevard
  • Create policy that requires changes to driveways and streetscape
  • Add protected bike lanes, bikeshare stations, and bike parking, and create connections to existing trails
  • Increase ART service, improve bus stops, consider bus rapid transit, and improve access to transit hubs
  • Reduce speed limits

Area 3: Waverly Hills, Donaldson Run, Old Dominion, Glebewood, Waycroft Woodlawn

  • Improve pedestrian experience and safety by improving streetscapes, adding trees, improving lighting, reducing speed limits, reducing curb cuts and driveways, widening sidewalks, and burying power lines
  • Rebalance space allocated to cars with space for bicyclists and pedestrians
  • Increase separation between pedestrians and cars, particularly on routes to schools
  • Add north/south connections to Custis Trail, bike parking at bus stops, and Capital Bikeshare
  • Add protected bike lanes on, and bike paths parallel to, Langston Boulevard and Old Dominion Drive
  • Provide additional crosswalks and make them safer and accessible for wheelchairs and scooters
  • Improve bus stops, increase frequency of service, and add wayfinding for walkability from each stop
  • Provide circulator services that connect to Metro and other key destinations
  • Add dedicated bus lanes on major arterials

Area 4: Cherrydale + Maywood

  • Improve safety by creating continuous sidewalks in neighborhoods, safe routes, and crossings to Dorothy Hamm Middle School, lowering the speed limit, and using clearer road markings for different road uses
  • Add protected bike lanes, improve bike path lighting, and widen sidewalks on local streets
  • Install e-bike lockers at transit stops
  • Plan for dockless bikes and scooters, including spaces for parking
  • Increase bus frequency, give signal prioritization, and add dedicated lanes at peak travel times
  • Consider flexible and adaptable buses, such as smaller buses that use less resources during off peak times

Area 5: North Highlands + Lyon Village

  • Prioritize sidewalk improvements on routes that connect to schools and parks
  • Underground utilities and improve streetscape with more trees and other greenery
  • Enhance safety by widening sidewalks, reducing speed, adding traffic calming measures, providing pedestrian islands, narrowing and removing lanes, and providing better signage, lighting, signaling, and intersection marking
  • Complete gaps in the bike network, including improving connections to trails and green spaces along Spout Run and GW Parkway, and adding protected bike lanes, particularly from Veitch to Adams streets
  • Consider demand and safety together (cyclists and pedestrians do not mix on commuter routes)
  • Remove the slip lane at Spout Run Pkwy
  • Create useful connections, easier transfers, more frequent bus service, fewer stops, and improve bus stop amenities
  • Increase variety of transit offered, including circulators and mini-buses

Land Use Scenario Analysis + Building Form

Through several public feedback engagements with the Land Use Scenario Analysisthe community expressed support for:

  • Acknowledging people will still drive cars in the future
  • Improving parking and pedestrian access at all commercial centers
  • Improving access to nearby shops, Metro, W&OD Trail, Fort Bennett Park, Palisades Trail, Custis Trail
  • Improving connectivity to enable circulation, facilitate evacuation during emergencies, and provide access to underdeveloped parcels
  • Increasing transit ridership and experience
  • Accommodating all modes of travel (in all areas except Area 2) along Langston Blvd. by creating wider sidewalks, safe pedestrian crosswalks, and adding street trees and bike facilities
  • Key intersection improvements including improving safety at Five Point intersection
  • Reducing driveways to eliminate vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle conflicts on Langston Boulevard
  • Flexibility with location/alignment of new streets/connections

The community expressed concern with:

  • Parcel/lot consolidation to achieve improvements to accommodate all modes of travel (Area 2) or new street connections to reduce pressure at key intersections and driveways along Langston Blvd.
  • Removal of the 3rd lane along Langston Blvd (Area 5)
  • Traffic impacts due to increased density
  • Overburdening Metro due to increased density
  • Commercial parking being reduced/eliminated
  • Parking for commercial areas pushed to residential streets
  • 22nd and 26th streets parallel bike routes – removing parking for bicycle lanes