Fairfax County supervisors on Oct. 6 unanimously approved a resolution asking the Virginia Department of Transportation to hold more public-information meetings – and solicit more residents’ views – regarding the 495 Express Lanes Northern Extension (NEXT) project.
Many residents have expressed concerns regarding how few public meetings there have been to discuss the project, said Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay (D), who pressed for the resolution along with Supervisors John Foust (D-Dranesville), Dalia Palchik (D-Providence) and Walter Alcorn (D-Hunter Mill).
“Recognizing that COVID-19 has made public meetings more difficult, we still believe there are ample means to collect more public input prior to making any decisions about this major project,” McKay said.
The board directed the Fairfax County Department of Transportation to draft a letter, signed by McKay, asking the Virginia Department of Transportation hold more public-information and comment sessions.
The county’s Department of Transportation will provide further technical information about the project to the board at its next meeting.
“We all know the importance of this project to the county and the region,” McKay said. “Frankly, making sure that the public has plenty of opportunities to comment on it will certainly make the project better and ensure its success as we move forward.”
VDOT “maybe hadn’t had a meeting this year, and we’re going forward with the public hearing, which they held last night,” said Foust, who added the transportation agency had arranged two ‘virtual’ meetings about the project recently at his request.
At one of the recent meetings, “it was so obvious that due to the COVID and the complicated nature of this project, the community doesn’t know what is being proposed,” Foust said. “They have the right and this will give them the opportunity to learn the true facts and to form informed opinions.”
“This is such a big project,” Alcorn said. “I do hope that there is enough time for the public to actually digest all of the information out there that needs to be digested and then have an opportunity to comment.”
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