Road Widening Plan Includes Public Input

Road Widening Plan Includes Public Input

Burke Centre resident Sam Millick pictures bumper-to-bumper cars flying down Burke Lake Road to outer destinations when the road is widened to four lanes.

"It makes sense to widen it, but all it's doing is for the development in Prince William," Millick said. "All that traffic is using this to get to the Beltway. It makes a mess. Manassas traffic, it all cuts right through here."

Millick is a land developer as well, so he talks from experience.

Burke Centre resident Neal Norman has a cheaper plan for the road.

"Turn lanes would have solved it for much less money," Norman said. "I went to VDOT [Virginia Department of Transportation] and talked with the project engineer."

Despite the varying opinions, tree limbs have already been cut for the project. In April, the 14-member Burke Lake Widening Task Force submitted its comprehensive plans for the widening of Burke Lake Road, which is a funded project that will widen the stretch of Burke Lake Road from the Lee Chapel intersection to the Fairfax County Parkway. Those plans were for a four-lane, divided highway with turn lanes, sidewalk, multi-purpose trail, retaining walls and the enlargement of an existing retention pond. The project will begin in the spring of 2004, the task force report stated.

Tom Wade, executive director at Burke Centre, noted how citizen input played a role in VDOT projects.

"They [task force] meet with VDOT to give them their input," he said. The process consists of several steps. VDOT begins with a plan, which is submitted to members of the community for review. They make suggestions and give the plan back to VDOT.

Duwain Ketch is an at-large officer on the Burke Centre Board of Trustees. He was familiar with the task force's findings.

"It was on the county's road improvement plan for a long time," Ketch said. "The community had an opportunity to provide input."

"Typically, citizens are involved every stage of the process," said Ho Chan, spokesperson for the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.

THE SOUTH SIDE of that stretch of Burke Lake Road is in the Springfield District and the north side is in the Braddock District. Before redistricting, all of Burke Centre used to be in the Springfield District. Since the change, Supervisor, Sharon Bulova (D-Braddock) has adopted the project.

"We have worked with the county staff, VDOT and Blake Myers to try to address the concerns," said Florence Naeve, Chief of Staff in Bulova's office.

Burke resident Blake Myers headed the task force but could not be reached for comment.

Andrea Kroll is the director of a day care center on the north side of Burke Lake Road. She grew up in Burke Centre and isn't sure the amount of traffic on the road warrants widening.

"I don't think the road has that much traffic," she said.

According to Chang, the project is $9 million, but the completion date has not been stated yet. From the scope of the project, Chang made an educated guess.

"I don't see it lasting more than a couple of years," he said.

The project is similar to the widening of Burke Centre Parkway that was completed a few years ago. Resident Alvin James attended some of the meetings before the Burke Centre project and addressed the retention pond location. VDOT originally had it in a location that was not an optimal location.

"That worked well. The community got together and we were able to convince VDOT and the county that there was a better alternative. I put my two cents in," he said.

Regarding the retention pond on Burke Centre, Wade felt that VDOT had not fulfilled some of its obligations. The fence around the pond was never built, although it was part of an agreement before Wade took the position with the Conservancy.

"Although someone somewhere from the county agreed, but not VDOT," he said, adding that the Burke Conservancy takes care of trash cleanup in the median as well, even though it's a VDOT responsibility.

"We pick up trash about three times a week," Wade said. "That's what keeps the neighborhood looking good."