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Ox Road Spared From Axe

At 4 p.m. Friday afternoons, the line of bumper to bumper cars southbound on Ox Road seems endless. Every other afternoon of the week is like that as well but the end is in sight after the budget was finalized, leaving the road widening project intact.

This was a victory for Supervisor Elaine McConnell (R-Springfield) who has worked for years on widening the stretch of Rt. 123 from the Occoquan River to Lee Chapel Road.

"The whole road is a choke point, it's probably the most used connector besides I-95," McConnell said.

Outside the Burke Lake Golf Course, just south of the intersection with Burke Lake Road, the clearing is already started. According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, the first of several contracts to widen Route 123 in Fairfax and Prince William Counties to a four-lane divided highway for eight miles between Burke Lake Road and the Occoquan River. The project will improve the flow of traffic with turn lanes, make it safer and easier to access the many housing developments dotting Route 123. About 28,000 vehicles a day now travel the windy two-lane road.

When completed over the next three years, Route 123 will have two 12-foot lanes in each direction, a 41-foot-wide median and pedestrian trails. Signals will be added at Henderson Road, Silverbrook Road, Crosspointe Drive, Hampton Road, Davis Drive, Furnace Road, Hooes Road, Hooes Road and Furnace Road, and Vulcan/Occoquan Regional Park.

Paul Engman is the manager of golf enterprises for the Fairfax County Park Authority. He was familiar with the plans and is in favor of turn lanes and acceleration lanes at both the entrances to Burke Lake Park off Ox Road.

"We reviewed the plans, there's going to be an improved access for both entrances," he said.

PHASE I WHICH goes from Burke Lake Road to Lee Chapel Road is a 2.4 stretch of road which was started in January 2002. It is priced at $10.6 million for construction only. A&W Contracting Corp. is doing the work for that stretch, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2003. The time frame for the rest is yet to be determined.

The land surrounding this project is 43,000 acres that is part of the Occoquan Watershed, according to McConnell and will remain zoned at one house per five acres.

"It will not be developed, you have over 43,000 acres that's part of the Occoquan Watershed," she said.

The remaining phases include the 2.5 mile stretch from Lee Chapel to North Davis Drive, the 1.9 mile stretch from North Davis to Rt. 722, the Fairfax side of the Occoquan bridge to Rt. 722, which is .2 miles, and Commerce Street to the Fairfax side of the Occoquan River.

The 6-year plan was released on Wednesday, May 15, "for comment," according to VDOT information specialist Ryan Hall, and he did not have any information on the situation on Ox Road. According to McConnell, the two road projects that are most likely not going to make it are the widening of Rolling Road and Burke Lake Road. The planning has already been completed on these.

"Those are probably going to axed," McConnell said.