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Forest Hills Cashes In On Agreement

Forest Hills resident George Alley remembers a day last year when the cut-through traffic coming from the Springfield-Franconia Parkway to Backlick Road overstepped its boundaries.

"They fly through, blow by the stop signs," Alley said. "Last summer, a car knocked down my mailbox and the speed limit sign."

Although it’s not that one incident that caused the recent decision to eliminate the cut-through traffic from Constantine Avenue, the speeding, inattention to signs and an agreement of long ago are reasons the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is eliminating that throughway.

According to a VDOT information, "Constantine will become a cul-de-sac, and motorists will no longer be able to access the Fairfax County Parkway [which is the Springfield Franconia Parkway through there] and Backlick Road via Constantine Avenue." Work began on the project Aug. 18 and will continue through October, at a cost of $150,000.

The agreement was orchestrated by then-Lee District supervisor Joe Alexander. Residents approached Supervisor Dana Kauffman (D-Lee), who was Alexander's chief of staff back then, and Kauffman acted on it.

"We were asked by Dana Kauffman to do this. This was an agreement 20 years ago," said VDOT spokesperson Ryan Hall.

When the parkway opened and Backlick was widened, Alley remembers the community getting the option of opening Constantine to Hooes Road, which they did. They also had the option of revisiting the situation in the years to come, which they also did. Now a majority doesn't want the cut-through any more.

"They came to us with the option of closing Constantine and gave us the option of revisiting the issue at a later time," he said.

Next door to Alley is a house on Hooes Road that is still part of Forest Hills. The family, which chose not to be named, wasn't too happy about it.

"That's not going to be beneficial to me, it will take me 10 more minutes to get to my job. That's just making a circle and wasting gas," said the daughter of the homeowner, who works at Costco off Fullerton Road. "Hysen" the son, recently moved to Dale City but comes home from time to time. He doesn't like it either.

"I'm against it," he said.

Lee District transportation commissioner Bob Heittman looked at ways to include that house, but with the options available, there weren't any.

"We could not figure a way to include it, that was not an easy thing," Heittman said.

Heittman realizes change is a hard thing to accept but once people get used to it, things will be better. Heittman's even noticed cars on Backlick opting for the cut-through instead of taking the turn onto the westbound Parkway, which was not how the road was intended.

"They're neighborhood streets, not really thoroughfares. I think it's going to be a much safer end result," Heittman said.