A picture of construction from when Fairfax County Parkway was extended from Springfield to Newington.  Image by VDOT licensed under Creative Commons.

Fairfax County Parkway is a major north-south road in Fairfax County that functions in some ways like a mini outer beltway. Some parts are built like a highway, and other parts are still a local road. That combined with the way the road connects so many communities can make it very congested, especially around rush hour.

Have you taken the time to tell county officials what you think about the future of the Fairfax County Parkway? You have until November 30 to let your voice be heard. The survey also covers the Franconia/Springfield Parkway which connects Springield Metro and the Kingstowne section of Fairfax County to the main parkway.

The county is considering some big changes, including new High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) or High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes. A big change like that has led to a huge response from the community.

According to the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT), so far the survey has more than 10,000 responses (11,617 to be exact), which is far beyond original expectations. In fact, it's one of the biggest survey responses recorded by the company that helped FCDOT design it, and the county has decided to extend the original deadline of November 17 to November 30.

Fairfax County Parkway and the Franconia/Springfield Parkway are highlighted in green. 

A lot has been made of the road proposals in the survey, but it also asks participants what they think about other issues like transit or trail plans. I spoke with Gregg Steverson, one of the FCDOT planners working on the project, and he said that new ideas for improving transit on the parkway are almost as popular as ideas for new highway lanes or interchanges.

That points to a big desire for improved transit on a road that doesn’t have much of it today. So far there are only a few proposals to add transit to the parkway, but if people keep asking and pushing for transit in the survey, that’s a clear signal to Fairfax County that it should do more.

One of those ides is the 496 bus route, which would take its cues from other connector express routes like 495 and 494 which run between Burke and Springfield to Tysons. The 496 would build on that, providing new transit connections between Springfield and Reston/Herndon.

Potential route for a new express bus along Fairfax County Parkway. 

If you haven’t taken the survey yet, you have until November 30 to add your thoughts. Despite some issues with a section on the county's master plan, there are lots of opportunities to add specific feedback about what you’d like to see. That makes it an important tool for anyone who wants to be heard.

After this, the county will look at the survey and other data and come up with a list of preliminary alternatives. That's why its critical to let officials know that you want transit or other things like trails to be at the front of their minds and not make this just another highway project.