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Votes

Route May Still Cut Through Centreville

Potential routes for the Tri-County Parkway have been further refined and released to the public by VDOT. However, while some elements seem better for Fairfax County, several questions still remain.

Three main alternatives are being considered, but the one going through Centreville is of the most concern to local residents. And VDOT's map doesn't show all the specific details, such as where this route is in relation to roads and communities.

"It looks like it doesn't go through Fairfax National, Virginia Run, Gate Post Estates and Bull Run Estates," said Virginia Run resident Jim Hart of the West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA) Land-Use Committee. "But we can't tell exactly where the houses are."

Added Judy Heisinger, president of the Bull Run Civic Association: "It's a small map with a big line." (See segments F', F and E on map).

The Tri-County Parkway's mission is to link Prince William, Fairfax and Loudoun counties, improving traffic flow while reducing congestion. It's planned for four lanes in Prince William and six in Fairfax.

The parkway's roughly 10-mile alignment through Fairfax County goes south of Route 29 in Centreville, takes a nearly 90-degree jag eastward and then turns south again to bisect Bull Run Regional Park and the residential area along Bull Run Post Office Road north.

It begins at a Route 28 bypass junction — a new interchange on I-66 at Bull Run park, coming in on the Manassas side of I-66 between Bull Run Post Office and Compton roads. It then travels to the Loudoun County line, where it ties into the existing Loudoun County Parkway.

Through VDOT's screening process, two routes originally under consideration have been eliminated, and segment D is earmarked for further evaluation for possible environmental impacts. Since March 2002, VDOT's Study Team has reviewed more than 500 citizen comments. Although not building the parkway, at all, is still an option, VDOT officials say 75 percent of the comments received identified a build alternative.

VDOT ALSO removed a proposed loop crossing Compton at Route 28. "It was to go to Route 234 and Godwin Drive in Manassas, but wetlands made it too expensive to do," explained Heisinger. "Now it just joins up with Compton and becomes part of the parkway there. But the Compton and Bull Run Post Office Road residents of the Bull Run Civic Association don't want it because it'll affect their homes."

As shown on the map on page 1, the three possible alignments still in contention are:

* West Two — Comprised of segments D and C, it goes west of the Manassas National Battlefield Park;

* West Four — Comprised of segments F', G and C, it also travels west of the Battlefield Park; and

* Comprehensive Plan — This alignment is comprised of segments F', F and E and goes east of the Battlefield Park. It generally follows the path approved by Fairfax County in 1994 and later adopted in its Comprehensive Plan.

This alternative comes down Bull Run Post Office Road from Loudoun County, bends east just north of the planned SYA "Fields of Dreams," crosses Bull Run Post Office and continues west of the Luck Stone quarry. It then crosses Route 29 and goes in between I-66 and Route 29, heading east/northeast, behind Bull Run Elementary. Next, it crosses Compton Road near the UOSA sewage-treatment plant, traveling along the edge of UOSA's property into Prince William County.

"It doesn't look like it's going anywhere near Bull Run Drive, but it's hard to tell," said Hart. "It looks like [VDOT's] trying to thread the needed — stay away from the [residential] neighborhoods." And Ken Wilkinson, VDOT project manager for the Tri-County Parkway, said Tuesday, "We would do what we can to avoid them."

OVERALL, SAID HART, this latest proposed route is "certainly not as bad as it could have been. It's west of the quarry — which was a concern for Virginia Run — and it's not in Gate Post." He was also pleased that the road journeys along UOSA's side of the Cub Run Stream, rather than on the Bull Run Regional Park side.

"And it appears to be going through less of [that] park than earlier iterations," he said. Wilkinson said that's true because "earlier alternatives were a half-mile wide and these are 600 feet wide. A typical section, generally speaking, would require 200 feet of right-of-way to construct."

Hart noted that the Comprehensive Plan clearly states that, in building the road, care should be taken to preserve "the rural character of the area." Wilkinson said VDOT's "done everything it can to minimize residential and other impacts. Next step is to evaluate impacts on other resources in the corridor area."

However, some worries still persist. The Comprehensive Plan declares that, besides linking the three counties, the parkway is also intended to relieve traffic from residential communities, such as Virginia Run, located on Pleasant Valley Road. According to the Plan, "Without such a connection, state roads already existing in the area will require extensive widening and alignment improvements — negatively affecting existing subdivisions in the area."

Said Hart: "People from Loudoun and South Riding are going to take Pleasant Valley or Braddock Roads [into Fairfax County]. The other two proposed alternatives don't seem to do much for relief of [these two roads]."

The final alternatives will be revealed next summer in the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Following public hearings, said Wilkinson, the Commonwealth Transportation Board will make the final decision "in a year or so."