The east-west commute in Lee District is about to get easier when the Van Dorn extension is completed, extending Van Dorn Street through to Telegraph Road.
The project’s been on the books for 38 years, according to Supervisor Dana Kauffman (D-Lee), and was on the first comprehensive plan in 1974. Kauffman's been involved since he worked with then-Supervisor Joe Alexander. He remembers looking at it with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers because of the area's proximity to Dogue Creek, wetlands that run between Tartan Village and Greendale Golf Course.
"In December '95, I walked the area with the Corps of Engineers, deciding what we needed to do. All the pieces are finally coming together," he said.
A lone rainstorm on Aug. 28 delayed the construction by one day, but the project will be completed by January, according to Jeff McKay, chief of staff in Kauffman's office.
"They were supposed to start clearing yesterday, and they got rained out. It's the single most important transportation issue in the area right now. It's going to help traffic on Telegraph Road tremendously," McKay said.
RIGHT NOW, any westbound traffic coming down South Kings Highway has to go through Rose Hill to get to I-495 and I-95, and traffic from the Hayfield-Wickford area goes up Hayfield Road to Beulah and then Franconia. Eastbound traffic from Kingstowne to Route 1 has to go around on Rose Hill Drive and Hayfield Road, as well. Closing Woodlawn Road to regular traffic through Fort Belvoir was a blow to commuters going to and from Route 1, although it is open to cars with military stickers on a limited basis and trucks under one ton.
The connecting road is going to be paid for by Kingstowne and is part of a proffer dating back to 1985.
"It's the best east-west connector we're going to see here. There will never be an east-west connector between these points," McKay said, although there have been remote discussions of going through Fort Belvoir on Old Mill Road to Route 1, but that's not in the plan; and if they start to consider it, it's a long way off. An environmental impact study alone is five years off, according to McKay.
IN TARTAN VILLAGE, Al Meredith followed developments on this plan since he moved into Tartan Village 18 years ago. He got the homeowners together when then-supervisor Joe Alexander was involved.
"The plan was on the books. I'm one vehemently opposed to it, to empty out on Telegraph Road is kind of ridiculous," he said.
That portion of Telegraph will not be widened this year because of statewide budget cuts.
Vince and Lisa Archibeque just moved into Tartan Village but were told about the road before buying. Their townhouse is on the end, which borders the fence the county put up as a sound barrier. That was the only part of the project paid for by the county.
"I heard them doing something in there yesterday. I kind of like the quiet," she said.
Meredith thinks there were other factors involved besides the county's concern about the flow of traffic.
"Joe Alexander lives in Rose Hill. He drove that thing on his own agenda," he said.
Tartan Village resident Jennifer Staats timed her commute from her home in the back of the community, via Rose Hill Drive, to the intersection of Franconia and Van Dorn Street, which leads to I-495 access.
"It takes me about eight minutes to get up to the intersection. When the road comes through, it might be quicker, but is it worth it?" she asked.
Hayfield resident Anita Lamaalle frequently travels on Hayfield Road to Kingstowne and probably won't use the new road much.
"It will alleviate traffic somewhere. Telegraph Road is pretty heavy, too heavy. That's [widening Telegraph] what they need to push for," she said.
STONEYBROOKE RESIDENT Dona Saver shops over in Kingstowne. Normally, she takes Kings Highway to Telegraph and then Rose Hill Drive.
"We can get here five minutes sooner. All my shopping is over here," in Kingstowne, she said.
Jeff Wood is a barista at Kingstowne Starbucks.
"I think they'll find it more convenient. It will lessen congestion on 395 and 495," he said.
Originally, there was a plan to go through to the main road in Tartan Village, but the Millan family were in the way. They were a prominent family in the area in the early 1800s, and the only sign of their presence is a graveyard along the main road in the rear of the development. The only one of the 11 graves that could be recognized due to weathering was the grave of daughter Elizabeth Millan, who passed away in 1831.
Kauffman knew about the graveyard but insisted it was not a factor in the decision to make the road go to the north of the community instead of through the middle of it on existing Lake Devereux Circle.
"It could have connected there [Lake Devereux Circle and Telegraph Road], but the community didn't want it going through," he said.