Fairfax County
 Route #1 Corridor Monorail FAQ 

The Virginia Department of Transportation is conducting a Route 1 Location Study that includes the transit needs of the segment of highway between Fort Belvoir and it's intersection with the Beltway.   A needs assessment was conducted which included public hearings.  Designs based on current Federal Highway Administration and American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials recommendations and guidelines, was proposed to accommodate expected motor and non-motorized traffic.   

Proposed dual track light-rail transit in the center of the road has will result in a foot-print of the proposed upgrade that  is significantly wider then the current highway.  Entities negatively impacted by the proposed widening, as would be expected, have successfully argued for a reduced foot-print.   In addition, light rail potentially (if rail is fenced) will negate efforts to provide pedestrian safe crossing refuge and median areas. 

This web page will highlight pro and cons of using mono-rail technology to lessen the foot-print of the highway and lessen the negative impact on pedestrian traffic in this corridor.

Concept photo at right is the downward look of a monorail track over a road in Seattle WA.  Note the limited footprint and minimal impact on surface traffic Seattle  Click here for more info

Click photo for source


Monorail has no major inherent downside for pedestrians or bicyclists except for the elevated nature of the stations. By operating above all street traffic, monorail can move up to 70 MPH between stations, can't delay or collide with street traffic, creates no surface hazards for bicyclists, and requires much less right-of-way than a surface-running dedicated transitway.  
Allen Muchnick President Virginia Bicycle Federation [Email dated 11/13/04]



Grade %(4)
 Foot print
Wait-time Max min(3) Safety(5) Evac(6)  
  Metrorail - Underground 800 n/a n/a no yes 20 good med  
  Metrorail - surface(1)  125 4 - 7 135 yes no 20 good good  
  Metrorail - elevated ??   4 - 7 ?? no med 20 good poor  
  Light Rail(2) 125 4 - 7 135 yes no 20 bad good  
  Dual Mono rail 15 100? no yes 5 good poor  
  Single Mono Beam  25 15 space columns no yes 5 good poor  
  Trolley <25   n/a no yes 15 bad good  
  Rex Bus n/a n/a n/a no yes 15 med good  
1. Dedicated right of way
2. Proposed for Rte 1 shared traffic right of way at intersections only - Pedestrian prohibited crossing
3. Automated driverless monorail cars 

A significant site specific issue for the corridor is the grade of the highway at certain locations.
5. Surface rail interacts with and cannot 'dodge' vehicular and pedestrian traffic 
6. Elevated rail requires rescue with 'hi lift' equipment


Location                               -   Max Grade

North side of Beacon Hill   -  xx %
South side of Beacon Hill   -  xx %
Woodlawn Plantation         -



Excerpts from page 7 of the MVCCA Vol XXXVI, No.1, Jan 2004  (TRANSP.3-04) proposal for Route 1 Location Study concerning the WMATA Light Rail Proposal  

[MVCCA] recommends a 16 to 20 foot wide landscaped Center Highway Median

recommends landscaped parkways along each side of Richmond Highway with large canopy trees every 30 feet with sidewalks not be closer than 8 feet from curbs, to prevent walks to be covered by snow from plowing and being sprayed by cars going 45 mph

the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) completed a Route 1 Corridor Study in 1997 and a current draft Route 1 Location Study based on the Corridor Study that faithfully incorporates the CP Urban Design Recommendations

Public Hearings held by VDOT and heavily attended by hundreds of Mount Vernon citizens did not result in any requests for changes to the median and parkways incorporated by VDOT for landscaping;

(WMATA) in January 2003 published a Richmond Highway Public Transportation Development Program in January 2003 for improving short term bus service (2003-2005) without any input from the MVCCA

WMATA in September amended the Program to add a longer term (2010) Bus Rapid Transit proposal and a long term (2025+) median light rail proposal with overhead wires, which would necessitate the destruction of the landscaped median; or a curb lane light rail proposal which would share the curb with a bicycle lane

the recent light rail proposals of WMATA are not called for in the CP, instead the CP Transportation Recommendations states, "Subject to appropriate studies, consider a rail extension to Hybla Valley with a possible later extension to Fort Belvoir.", obviously the extension of the Yellow Line to the new Army Museum must be a part of any such study; 

the CP Urban Design Recommendations for Richmond Highway envisions that all utilities be underground, a requirement only heavy or monorail can meet; 

requirements for level passenger stops and less than 4% sustained grades presents expensive and land scarring design problems for light rail along Richmond Highway with 7-8% grades up and down Beacon Hill, Mount Vernon and Fort Belvoir

the MVCCA in August 2001, Virginia General Assembly in 2002 and SFDC in May 2003 have previously called for developing a plan for short-and long-term transit improvements in the Route 1 Corridor. 

 the Council expects any proposed changes to the puclic hearing median and parkway proposals be the subject of new public hearings to asssure the integrity of the public hearing process; 

... not adopt any proposals solely for light rail in the WMATA September 2003 publication titled "US Route 1 Corridor: Fort Belvoir to Huntington Metro Station Transit Improvement Study" as not consistent with Transportation Recommendations for the Richmond Highway Corridor in the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan

 ... any light rail proposals be deleted from WMATA proposals for transit on the Route 1 Corridor until a Route 1 Rail Feasibility Study recommended by the SFDC and Virginia General Assembly comparable to the Beltway Rail Study has been completed.

MVCCA Volume XXXVI, No.1, January 2004   (See Page 7)


Route 1 Steering Committee Members Capital Beltway Corridor Monorail Assessment  
MD - VA Monorail Initiative for Route 1

Single Rail (bi-directional) Monobeam Systems
Futrex Inc
Owen Transit Group, Inc
Lockheed Hiwaay 

The Monorail Society   
Las Vegas Monorail
[detail  assessment]   

OTG single rail concept drawing

...was in Morgantown WV this week. I was impressed by and rode on their interesting elevated transit system. It was made up of a continuous stream of small driverless cars. There was almost no waiting which made using the system a preferred choice (vs. driving.) to get around town.

Monorails, Light Rail, and Automated vs. Non-Automated Transit Operation Cost
Monorail vs. Light Rail Austin TX survey
Google Monorail Directory

Recognizing the need for various transit options in the U.S. Route 1 corridor in Fairfax and Prince William Counties.

WHEREAS, U.S. Route 1 in Northern Virginia is congested and home to several key military and commercial centers; and

WHEREAS, the Virginia Department of Transportation has studied U.S. Route 1 for the purpose of increasing its vehicular capacity and bus rapid transit; and

WHEREAS, the funding of transit improvements should be a priority for the Commonwealth; and

WHEREAS, a long-term vision that includes transit-oriented economic development also is needed; and

WHEREAS, rapid transit can serve as a cost-effective and successful means of increasing travel capacity in this congested corridor; and

WHEREAS, it is important to maintain future options in the U.S. Route 1 corridor; and

WHEREAS, the study and development of a phased approach to highway, bus, bus rapid transit, light rail and other transit options that encourages compact, transit-oriented development throughout the corridor would assist the Counties of Fairfax and Prince William in their efforts to bring about pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use revitalization of U.S. Route 1; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED by the Senate, the House of Delegates concurring, That the need for various transit options in the U.S. Route 1 corridor in Fairfax and Prince William Counties be recognized; and, be it

RESOLVED FURTHER, That the Clerk of the Senate transmit a copy of this resolution to the Director of the Department of Rail and Public Transportation, the Chairmen of the Board of Supervisors of the Counties of Fairfax and Prince William, and the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance so that they may be apprised of the sense of the General Assembly in this matter.