Several Vienna residents attended a public hearing on Beulah Road last Tuesday, to give feedback on Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) plan to widen the road and add sidewalks. Although construction for the project won’t start for another two years, the process to fix the road has been going on for 12 years.
"Now it’s time to get started building it," said Vienna mayor Jane Seeman, who attended the hearing and was carrying documents about Beulah dating from as early as 1970.
The town asked VDOT in November 1995 to improve the road, which serves as a commuter route between Vienna and the Dulles Toll Road. Since then, the town, VDOT and residents of the North East Vienna Citizens Association have worked together on a plan that would serve both existing and future traffic while preserving the trees that line the street.
"It’s been hammered out block by block, by VDOT and the citizens," said Vienna Council member Al Boudreau.
Once VDOT reviews residents’ comments and the Town of Vienna sends its recommendations in early 2003, VDOT will finalize plans for project development and begin right-of-way acquisition in mid-2003. Construction advertisements will be posted in late 2004, with construction beginning and ending in 2005.
The current proposal seeks to create a uniform width for Beulah, by providing two lanes with 27 feet between the curbs. On each side of the road, a 2-foot curb and gutter will be constructed for drainage and protection of pedestrians. On the east side of the road will be a sidewalk with a width of 5 feet.
After VDOT completes the $5.8 million project, the town will maintain the road. During construction, detours will be put into place, although residents who live along the street will be allowed to enter and exit, according to VDOT urban project engineer R.H. Beasley.
"This has been going on for so long that this has gone from a one million dollar project to a five million dollar project," said Ron Kollar, who lives on the corner of Cynthia Lane and Beulah. He came to the hearing to ask VDOT if he could back out onto Cynthia instead of Beulah, as he currently does.
Although Kollar liked the proposal overall, he said he was concerned that straightening the road would increase speed as well. He was also concerned about the lack of a left-turn lane at the intersection of Beulah and Church Street. Kollar, who has lived on Cynthia and Beulah since 1971, has seen the traffic increase a hundredfold.
"We do need the road, the road needs to be fixed," Kollar said.
Vienna resident George Dillon can’t wait for the project to begin.
"I think the town and VDOT have come up with a good compromise," Dillon said.
To submit comments about the project, send them by Jan. 31 to Virginia Department of Transportation, Northern Virginia District Office, Acting Preliminary Engineering Manager, Michael Estes, P.E., 14685 Avion Parkway, Chantilly, VA 22151-1104.