As Springfield increasingly becomes a destination for residents and workers, the amenities available in the area multiply as well. What was once a railroad station and highway crossroads, is now a community with arts, cultural activities, recreation and self-sustaining infrastructure.
<bt>The multi-million dollar highway interchange project continues to hover around the Springfield area, but with the completion of Phase II and III last year, residents can breath a little easier. Springfield has now gained several new bridges, including the expanded Commerce Street bridge, the Veteran's memorial bridge at Amherst Avenue, the raised roadway on Franconia Road in front of Springfield Mall, and the three bridges carrying traffic north and southbound on I-95.
Virginia Department of Transportation's information specialist Steve Titunik has heard the raves since those phases were completed.
"A lot of folks talk about how neat it is, certainly getting onto I-95 is a lot easier," he said.
Phases IV and V are now underway on the actual interchange of I-95/I-495/I-395, slightly north of Springfield. The project is on schedule to be completed in 2008.
<sh>Metro Parking Lot
<bt>The popularity of the Springfield/Franconia metro station can be seen on weekday mornings around 8:30 a.m. when the parking garage fills up. Another lot is on the way though, and will be located in the area where the short-term parking and taxi cab stand is now.
Fences are already up and construction should start soon for the new lot which will be connected to the existing lot. Completion of the structure should be in 2003. Until then, there is extra parking at Springfield Mall in the parking garage by Macy's. A shuttle is available as well.
<sh>TAGS Bus System
<bt>To get away from cars clogging the streets of inner Springfield, the Transportation Association of Greater Springfield, got together and brainstormed for a inner city transportation system. The result is the TAGS bus system, which circles around central Springfield, helping commuters leave the car at home. Last summer, a stop at the new S80 and S81was included in their route. TAGS buses are 16-passenger, green buses but Metro buses numbered S80 and S8, are sometimes used as well.
The bus runs 6 a.m. - 7 p.m., Monday through Friday and it is free. For more information, call 703-921-5425 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
<bt>Inova health systems opened the Inova HealthPlex in 2000 along the Springfield-Franconia Parkway, east of Springfield Mall. The medical center was only accessible from Beulah Street until a turn was added off the parkway, from both east and westbound lanes.
<sh>Cross County Trail
<bt>A multi-use trail crossing Fairfax County from the Occoquan River near Route 123 to the Potomac River at Great Falls is becoming a reality. According to information on the county website, the Cross County Trail (CCT) will ultimately be almost 40 miles long. On National Trail Day in early June, the Fairfax County Park Authority trail expert, Jenny Pate, was on hand at Wakefield Park with maps and information as they cut the ribbon on the new map kiosks for the parks.
Major trails in the Springfield-Burke area include Burke Lake Park bicycle trail, which is 4.68 miles of trail encircling the lake, the Accotink Creek trail which winds up the creek, circles the lake, and goes through Wakefield Park, and the South Run Trail, which is
1.6 miles, asphalt bikeway. From Burke Lake Dam southward, crossing Lee Chapel Road, leading to South Run RECenter.
The southern section through the Lorton/Laurel Hill Greenway and to the Occoquan will be completed in future years as that property, which was formerly the Lorton Prison, is turned over for county use. In the interim, the trail will connect from Pohick and Alban Roads in the southern part of the county to Great Falls on the Potomac River.
The proposed route connects three major stream valleys/greenways: the Pohick, the Accotink, and Difficult Run. The existing trails within these stream valleys will be connected using trails along the Fairfax County Parkway and along Pickett Road, Blake Lane, and Jermantown Road. Additional trails, stream crossings, and road crossings will be constructed in the next few years.
<bt>Highlighted by carnivals, parades, art shows and the crowning of Miss Springfield, the Springfield Days festival is a celebration of the community. This year, it began on Thursday, May 30 with the Miss Springfield pageant in the JC Penney court of Springfield Mall. Contestants participate in a week-long schedule of community activities before the pagent, which kicks off Springfield Days. Miss Springfield is then expected to represent the community at events throughout the year.
On Friday night, there is a carnival, followed by a parade, art show and cardboard boat regatta, which is on the waters of Lake Accotink. It has grown each year.
<bt>Coming to grips with commuting in Springfield was made a little bit easier with the introduction of the Interchange Information Center on the first level of Springfield Mall. It offers information on routes, current road projects, bus and rail information, human services, and historical information on the area. Tickets to metro, the Virginia Railway Express and "Smart Cards," a metro debit card, can be purchased here.
"This is definitely a newcomers place," said VDOT information specialist Patricia Rodriguez.
Springfield resident Amy Armstrong was in putting more money on her Smart Card.
"When I first moved here I came here for information on public transportation," she said.
Live shots of the interchange traffic are constantly on the monitors so commuters can check their routes.