Fairfax County supervisors on May 18 unanimously approved, and authorized County Executive Bryan Hill to execute, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Dominion Energy regarding installation of electric-distribution ductbanks and ancillary equipment in Tysons.
The Tysons Corner Comprehensive Plan Amendment, approved by supervisors in June 2010, calls for creation of a multi-modal street grid in Tysons.
Dominion is updating its infrastructure in Tysons as new development occurs, with builders installing electric-distribution ductbanks and related equipment that connect to their new buildings. Such equipment usually runs parallel to streets and is located below sidewalks or parking lanes, officials said.
Because Dominion requires easements for ductbanks and equipment placed outside of vehicular lanes, and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will not accept for maintenance new streetscape areas with easements, developers are left in an uncertain position.
The MOU, for which VDOT is not a signatory but endorses, will attempt to resolve some of that uncertainty. Fairfax County will pay for future relocations of ductbanks and equipment needed by the county or VDOT, if necessary requirements are met.
Dominion will pay for relocations that the utility requests, and private developers will keep on financing new and relocated ductbanks associated with their projects, officials said.
Because the MOU will keep Dominion from requiring easements for streetscape areas in the county’s right-of-way, those areas then can be accepted into VDOT’s secondary-street system.
County staff members do not expect the new arrangement to have significant financial impact. The Fairfax County Department of Transportation, which coordinates closely with VDOT on that agency’s Tysons roadway improvements, will assess proposed utility relocations and try to minimize costs.
Because design standards for Tysons streets optimize traffic flows, there is a reduced chance that the county or VDOT in the future will need to widen roadways there and relocate the electric-distribution ductbanks, officials said.
County staff cautioned that the MOU may increase the chance of the county’s having to relocate electrical infrastructure and that doing so could have unintended consequences, as multiple utilities often have to share smaller spaces in urban zones. Staff will coordinate with Dominion to anticipate better the electric-distribution requirements for Tysons builders’ redevelopment proposals.