Fullerton Road's intersection with Rolling Road seems like a natural thoroughfare for commuters in southern Springfield, yet a fence stands between the traffic on Rolling Road and a straight shot to I-95. The potential of cut-through traffic worried business owners on Fullerton, and Saratoga neighborhood residents worried about the trucks, so Del. Dave Albo (R-42nd) took action recently and temporarily closed it to trucks when it opens in January.
"The gate's supposed to open in January. I just don't want all the industrial traffic coming out of that gate," Albo said.
Fullerton Industrial Park, which contains hundreds of businesses, is accessible only via Fullerton Road off Backlick. At the end of the industrial park, the road hits Rolling Road, but a gate makes it impassable.
Although most agree that it should be open, the "no trucks" clause gets mixed reactions. Ryan DalPezzo drives a truck for Lighting Maintenance Inc. in Fullerton and doubts his truck would be allowed, but he isn't concerned.
"I don't disagree with that. If cars can go through, it would make it a whole lot easier to get home. There's a lot of tractor trailers coming through here," he said, leaning on his truck. "This wouldn't be able to go through there," he said.
Albo isn't sure of the truck definition either, but wants the limit to be somewhere in the 10,000-12,000 pound range and more than two axles.
NEXT DOOR at Axtron, a computer technology company, Leigh Renfrow isn't looking forward to increased traffic on Fullerton.
"If they open it up, it's going to suck during rush hour. It already backs up at the bridge," he said.
Across the road at Arlington Armature, Mike Pizzi remembers when it was briefly open in the early '90s.
"When that gate was open, there was all kinds of traffic. You couldn't believe how many people used it," he said. Pizzi thinks the residents of Saratoga across from Fullerton Industrial Park initiated the latest push to get the road through.
"Saratoga's biggest complaint was they couldn't get to the Price Club," he said. The Price Club is now Costco.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) plan is to alter the existing path of Fullerton slightly so that it aligns with Edinburgh Drive to create a four-way intersection. That would mean having a traffic light as well, which is included in the secondary road plan within the existing budget, according to VDOT communications coordinator Jennifer Finstein.
"It is in the budget. It is funded in the secondary road plan," she said.
ISHTIAGUE ALAM works for Reimers Systems, which is on Fullerton next to the gate. He looked at it as good and bad, even entertaining the possibility of a gate to allow Fullerton traffic only.
"We like it to open, but we are afraid of heavy traffic. A gate, that will not work, but it would be nice," he said.
Albo had received the suggestion of an archway that would restrict the height of certain trucks, possibly weeding out the tractor trailers.
"I don't know if that's necessary," he said.
Dudley Moorhous is a Saratoga resident who goes to Costco. He was aware of meetings held at the nearby school about the issue, though he did not attend. He was more concerned with the traffic on Rolling Road. Work has already started on an additional 1,500 houses on Rolling Road, just south of Saratoga.
"People here can hardly get out of Edinburgh," he said.
Albo is aware of the stores and knows the street-opening might change the nature of Fullerton, which is now full of commercial construction businesses, auto shops and lunch-time delicatessens.
"It might lead to more retail-oriented businesses," he said.
Maureen Brody is also a Saratoga resident who lives a few streets back. She doesn't like the thought of more truck traffic but hopes it opens up a straighter shot to I-95.
"We don't want to see a zillion trucks rolling up and down, cutting through to 95. We all are going to use it as a cut-through to 95. I really think it will benefit the community ultimately," she said.
Saratoga resident Drucie Medrano does notice the traffic that currently backs up on Rolling where it intersects with Alban Road. "Especially during school time, it backs up with the buses," she said.
Medrano also remembers when it was open.
"It was such an easier way to get around," she said.
Albo remembers it being an issue when he was elected in 1993, and he recently got involved when VDOT talked about opening the road.
According to information released by Ilona Kastenhofer, a Virginia traffic engineer in the Northern Virginia District, "The goal of the community can be achieved by restricting truck turning movements to and from Fullerton Road, which VDOT can implement without requiring additional public process."
They are conducting a study providing specifics on safety, operational, land use and physical conditions, according to an e-mail received by Finstein. A permanent restriction will be decided based on the study.