Transportation Planning for Independent Cities in Northern Virginia

Since 1871, all cities in Virginia have been independent cities, which means they are not part of counties and are considered “county-equivalents.”  There are 39 independent cities in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Five of these are in Northern Virginia: Alexandria, the City of Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park. 

These cities are responsible for their own land-use planning and zoning, and are not under the administrative authority of any county departments or agencies.  Some of them also operate and fund local transit services directly.

In most counties in Virginia, the state DOT is responsible for the construction and maintenance of most public streets and roads.  (Arlington County, an exception, does have control over the majority of its streets and roads.)  In contrast, independent cities in Virginia have control over local roads and streets, including fixing potholes and other maintenance.

City of Alexandria

The Alexandria Master Plan was adopted by the City Council on June 13, 1992.  The Master Plan is made up of 18 Small Area Plans (SAPs) covering neighborhoods throughout the City, plus substantive chapters on topics of citywide relevancy. On an ongoing basis, the Department of Planning and Zoning updates the Master Plan as needed through amendments. 

The Transportation Master Plan, a chapter of the Master Plan, was adopted in 2008.  The transit section was amended in 2013.  The Pedestrian and Bicycle Mobility Plan was adopted in 2008. 

The Transportation Planning Division of the Department of Transportation & Environmental Services (T&ES) oversees the Transportation Master Plan and is also responsible for the transportation elements of Small Area Plans that make up the overall city Master Plan. For example, the city is conducting a package of multi-faceted planning activities related to the Potomac Yard Development, which will include a new infill Metrorail station, bus rapid transit service, and improvements in connections for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists.

The Department of Transportation & Environmental Services (T&ES) is responsible for maintaining most streets and roads in the city.  It also coordinates operations of the city’s Dash Bus system.

Learn more about transportation-realted meetings and opportunities for public comment.

City of Fairfax

The City of Fairfax adopted its most recent Comprehensive Plan in 2012.  The Plan, developed by the Planning Commission and the Department of Community Development and Planning, includes a transportation element that emphasizes the importance of the regional context and makes recommendations for tranpsortation improvements. The Department conducts other focused planning activities, such as the Fairfax Boulevard Master Plan.

The Public Works Department maintains the streets and oversees operations of the CUE bus system, among other responsibilities.

The Comprehensive Plan for Manassas Park was last updated in 2012.  Among other things, the plan encourages higher land-use densities near transit stations and seeks to promote the development of retail, recreation and other destinations.  The Office of Planning is responsible for administrating the City Zoning Ordinance, Subdivision Ordinance, and Comprehensive Plan.

The Comp Plan’s Transportation Chapter provides a multi-modal package of goals and strategies.  The Department of Public Works is responsible for maintaining most city streets, sidewalks and trails.

Photo of King Street courtesy of the Metropolitan Washington Coucnil of Governments.