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Transportation, Revitalization Slated for 2003

Growth continues around Springfield as the Supervisors Elaine McConnell (R-Springfield) and Dana Kauffman (D-Lee) juggle projects, money and needs of the area.

The central Springfield revitalization plan is evolving, with construction into final stages on the extended stay Marriott on Brandon Avenue. In addition to that structure, an Italian restaurant will be included in that area. Over in Springfield Plaza, a Trader Joe's grocery store is going in the vacant pet store space providing another grocer in that area as well. Kauffman has been in touch with residents in that area who have relied on the Giant Foods in the same shopping center. This will give them an option.

"They want another grocery store," Kauffman said.

Transportation wise, the highway interchange project still dominates the landscape at Springfield. Engineers are in the midst of phases IV and V which are extensive phases that involve bridges over railroad tracks and roads under I-495. These are time consuming, according to VDOT interchange information specialist Steve Titunik.

"Nothing is really going to be complete, nothing major," he said, but noted some bridges will be completed and traffic shifted so they can work on the existing bridge.

Those bridges include the railroad overpass near the Van Dorn Street exit, the bridges on the other side of I-495 over Backlick Road and Heming Avenue, as well as the most visual bridge from I-495/I-95 to I-95 south. That overpass is 120-feet high in the highest part. It will be done in 2003 but the connecting lanes will not so it will not be in use, according to Titunik.

"Once it's all done, the alignment will take place," he said.

The traffic choke point involving the traffic from I-495 to I-95 south will not be improved anytime soon. Titunik estimated at least a year.

"It will happen by the end of phase V, it will probably be a good year [until it's improved]," he said.

According to Titunik, phase IV is 40-45 percent complete, and phase V is 60 percent complete.

Other transportation improvements to Lee District include the Van Dorn Street extension to Telegraph Road. Construction was originally supposed to be completed by January but has now been extended to the late spring, early summer timeframe because of inclement weather, according to Kauffman.

"It takes three days to dry out," he said of the December snow and rain.

Another area of both Kauffman and McConnell's concern is finishing the Fairfax County Parkway through the land that was the engineering proving grounds.

"The key is for the Army to step up and fulfill their commitment," Kauffman said, referring to their tentative promise to turn the land over.

It is something on McConnell's mind as well.

"I have written letters to the Army. Congress gave us the land last December," McConnell added.

Construction on the six-level parking garage at the Springfield-Franconia Metro Station is into full swing and is scheduled to be completed in the late summer-early fall of 2003. This garage is in the area where the taxi cab line used to be and will connect to the existing garage, according to Kauffman's administrative assistant Linda Waller.

"It will be connected at all levels to existing parking structure," Waller said.