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Road By Road, Projects Fall By the Wayside

When the road project to widen the stretch of Burke Lake Road from Burke Centre Parkway to the Fairfax County Parkway fell victim to the state budget cuts, Erika Hill wasn't worried. Although she hates the merge area in front of Kindercare, where she picks up her son every afternoon, she'll only have to fight with the other cars for a few more weeks, because she's moving to Arizona by the end of June.

"I hate this part right here. When I take a right, it's backed up. I've seen a lot of people brake right here, hard," she said, pointing to where Burke Lake Road narrows to one lane, 200 yards from the intersection with Burke Centre Parkway.

Hill is tired of all the traffic she's seen in the 10 years she's lived in the area.

"I have no problem with getting away from this area," she said.

Allison Kelly also knows about the merge area but doesn't like to see every road widened and all the country atmosphere taken out of the area. Her child is also at Kindercare.

"I'll tell you what is sick is that merge right there," she said, pointing.

"As a resident of Burke, I don't want to see them build more, but as a commuter, people have to get where they're going. There's no easy answer," she said.

The no-easy-answer part is what all the county officials have been facing when they decided which projects to shelve and which to fund. Burke Lake Road is on the border of the Braddock and Springfield districts. All the districts have had a certain number of projects put on hold due to the state budget, according to Ryan Hall, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) public information specialist.

OTHERS THAT MADE the "shelved" list in the Braddock District included a 2-mile Little River Turnpike "spot capacity and safety improvements" project, widening a portion of Ox Road (part of it will continue to be widened), Shirley Gate Road extension, and widening projects along Guinea Road.

Supervisor Sharon Bulova (D-Braddock) recently acquired part of Burke Lake Road in her district, so she's not as familiar with the situation, but she did know the impact of funding. That project has been researched, and now that it's taken off the six-year plan, she doesn't want to see the money and efforts get wasted.

"Once so much work has gone into a project, you really don't want to put it off too long," she said.

Supervisor Elaine McConnell (R-Springfield) has been active in the road project and is disappointed it is being put on hold after all the work that she's done.

"I've had all the meetings and public hearings. It was a major bottleneck. We're very upset," she said, but she hopes alternate funding might be available.

"The word out from Richmond is they may find funding, but we don't know when," she said.

Other major projects put on hold in the Springfield District are the widening of Rolling Road, a Popes Head Road improvement project, and Clifton Road widening.

McConnell transportation expert Steve Edwards is eyeing the release of the six-year transportation plan, which he suspects will be finalized and released soon.

"We suspect that these will not make the final cut," he said.

THE PROPOSED SALES tax money for transportation won't help those projects either, according to Bulova. That money is for regional projects, and everything except maybe the Little River Turnpike project is local.

"Guinea Road is not a road with regional significance. Little River Turnpike could potentially have regional significance," she said.

"Little buck, big bang spot improvements" as they were called in Bulova's "Braddock Byline" newsletter, include lengthening a right-turn lane at Braddock Road and Route 123, westbound and eastbound; a left-turn lane from the Fairfax County Parkway at Burke Lake Road; and a right-turn lane on northbound Roberts Road approaching Burke Centre Parkway.

"There's some little things I think we can do to help," Bulova said.

Sue Mayo watched Burke Lake Road go from two to four lanes up on the other end, about 15 years ago. At the time she didn't think it needed it, but now she does.

"Burke Lake Road is a heavily traveled road. It probably does need it. We're building the roads after the bottlenecks occur," she said.

Virginia Ashbrook, a Burke resident for over 30 years, isn't for the road project.

"I hope they don't. My thought is we don't need it," she said.

Timarron Cove is a community right on Burke Lake Road that would be affected by the project if it ever gets funding. One resident, who chose not to give her name, lives a few houses from the road. She avoids Burke Lake Road when possible and thinks the widening is a good idea, but she is glad she doesn't live near where the actual construction would be.

"There's a lot of traffic on it. That's why I don't use it. Sometimes you go over those blind curves, and there's somebody stopped dead. I wouldn't want to be the people in lot No. 1," she said, referring to the first house on the street.

Some felt the Lee Chapel Road-Old Keene Mill Road intersection deserved more attention than Burke Lake Road.

"That's taking so long," said Kindercare assistant manager Jyotsna Surendra.

"Lee Chapel needs it worse," said a Timarron Cove resident.