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Bond Defeat Impacts Road Projects

Transportation projects that were lumped under the half-cent umbrella are on hold now that the referendum did not pass, leaving much in limbo about the gridlock resolution that some of the district supervisors were banking on.

Young Ho Chang, director of the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT), didn't have much hope for some of the upcoming transportation projects.

"Many of the new projects proposed are probably not going to happen. I'm not sure how transportation ranks next to education and public safety. We're going to have to make some hard choices," he said.

The FCDOT came up with a list of projects in the south county area, part of the $90 million, that were to be paid for by the referendum. The $90 million figure was Fairfax County's share of $150 million set aside for secondary roads in the transportation referendum. The number is derived from population, according to Chang. The list includes the improvement of Telegraph Road from Beulah Street to South Van Dorn Street; Braddock Road realignment with eastbound lanes through Little River Turnpike Intersection; dual westbound left turn lanes at Braddock Road and Ox Road; adding pedestrian access and safety improvements at Metrorail, VRE and other transit centers (build missing sidewalk and trails, pedestrian signals, crosswalks, signs, etc.); bus stop safety enhancements, pedestrian signals, pedestrian crosswalks, trail and sidewalk projects;Telegraph Road (South Van Dorn Street to Old Telegraph Road); intersection of Sydenstricker Road and Hooes Road, according to Chang.

"Everything here is gone," he said.

IN LEE DISTRICT, Jeff McKay, the chief of staff in the office of Supervisor Dana Kauffman (D-Lee), looks at the situation in Lee District.

"All the projects that were put on there were already on the plan. They will just get pushed back. Who knows when they will be funded? The referendum was our opportunity to move them up faster," he said.

"Telegraph Road has been on the six-year plan for almost 20 years," McKay said.

Although Telegraph will not be widened anytime soon, a proposal by Centex Development for 22 homes on 9.3 acres, just south of the Hilltop Driving Range, is going before the Board of Supervisors on Nov. 18. This is at less density than Centex wanted with their original proposal at three or four houses per acre.

"The land-use committee and planning commission have already recommended approval. They're doing exactly what we saw fit under the plan language. It's usually at least a year before any work takes place after approval," McKay said.

North of that property is a six-acre site where Equity Homes is proposing 18 homes. That is less than Equity originally proposed, so it is a victory for Kauffman's office. Eventually it will mean more vehicles on that two-lane portion of Telegraph Road.

Beulah Street parallels Telegraph Road, and widening it is still going to happen, according to McKay.

"Funding was already committed to that project. It will probably be starting [in] the next couple of weeks," he said.

IN SPRINGFIELD, widening Burke Lake Road from Burke Centre Parkway to Fairfax County Parkway, as well as widening Rolling Road, is still on the six-year plan, according to Steve Edwards in Supervisor Elaine McConnell's (R-Springfield) office. Although the tax referendum wasn't directly connected to those projects, it might have accelerated the process.

"Depending on the amount of available funding, it's very possible," Edwards said.

A couple of projects that were on McConnell's list were at the Popes Head Road and Fair Lakes Road "at grade" intersections with Fairfax County Parkway. The backups and high speeds lead to a dangerous combination in that area. McConnell wanted to eliminate the intersections with overpasses and exit ramps.

"She wanted to eliminate some of those choke points," Edwards said.

McConnell didn't limit it to those two intersections, though. The intersection with Route 29 was looked at as well.

"Twenty-nine, I wanted to get on some list," she said.

The Lee Chapel Road improvement between the Fairfax County Parkway and Ox Road, as well as the Old Keene Mill Road improvement between Lee Chapel Road and the Fairfax County Parkway, was looked at by McConnell as well.

Projects that are still going through include widening Ox Road from Davis Drive to the Occoquan River bridge, and the widening of Rolling Road, which is scheduled for 2008.

"That's [Rolling Road] been on the books for 12 years now," McConnell said.

She is skeptical about talk of adjusting the current state formula to get Northern Virginia more transportation money. Bonds will not be available either, according to McConnell.

"We don't have any more bonding capabilities," she said, noting that education, parks and the police communication center used all the bonds.

BRADDOCK DISTRICT is smaller and less wooded, but Supervisor Sharon Bulova had some projects in mind as well. Widening the 1.5-mile stretch of Guinea Road from the Colony Park Pool to Pommeroy Drive was looked at, as well as dual left-turn lanes from Braddock Road to southbound Ox Road.

"These would have been funded. Now they're nowhere," Bulova said.

Bulova is on the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) operations board. She was looking at additional cars to meet the growing demand but is now short on options. According to the "Proposed Northern Virginia Referendum Projects" map that was the go-to list for the pro-referendum side, $100 million was earmarked to new VRE cars.

"The ridership won't continue if people don't have a place to sit," Bulova said.

There is a meeting scheduled with the VRE board on Friday, Nov. 15.

"I'm sure that will be discussed in the meeting," Bulova said.