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Parkway Completion In Sight

Plans for the remaining 2-mile segment of the Fairfax County Parkway around the Engineer Proving Grounds land were revealed by Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) recently, solidifying a project that has been up in the air for years.

Supervisor Elaine McConnell (R-Springfield) was happy to see it presented by VDOT project manager Tom Folse.

"That's been going a long time," McConnell said.

According to Folse, the 2-mile segment of road will be three lanes and have six bridges. It will be built from the existing Rolling Road exit, where the Fairfax County Parkway and the Springfield-Franconia Parkway split, through the existing U.S. Army land, and connect with the existing parkway segment near Fullerton Road. The contract will be advertised in 2006, with construction to start in 2007. Actual construction is predicted to take two construction seasons, which is from March to December, or all year if it's a mild-winter.

"We're trying to keep it as close to the perimeter as possible. It is a short segment, but it's complex," Folse said.

The land was originally part of Fort Belvoir and used by the Corps of Engineers as a proving ground. In October, the Army will start cleaning it up, clearing out all environmentally hazardous materials, and hand it over to VDOT. McConnell has been in contact with Col. Thomas Williams at Belvoir to get this part started.

"He's been very cooperative," McConnell said.

Mike Estes, VDOT engineer, is involved, as well. Other landowners are involved in addition to the Army.

"We've got businesses and homeowners we have to deal with," Estes said.

Those businesses include Central Motors and a Newington Associates building, which has several smaller businesses in it.

"We've spoken with both of the businesses," said Folse.

Bentley Village and the Woods of Pohick are on Rolling Road near the parkway. Traffic noise is a concern of residents of those neighborhoods. Folse said VDOT was trying to incorporate "berms," which are earth mounds, instead of noise retention walls. He couldn't guarantee it, though.

"We're going to try," he said.

The Rolling Road exit off the parkway will be two lanes merging onto a three-lane parkway. Folse noted recent surveys conducted at that section.

"There's a major traffic split there," he said. "Our analysis shows that two lanes will be enough there, the bulk [of eastbound parkway traffic] still goes through to Springfield-Franconia."

VDOT needs to build another road that will intersect the parkway. That road is presently called the "EPG Access Road." Several plans for the interior part of the EPG land are under consideration, including a mixed-use development or a Major League Baseball stadium. The latter has encountered opposition from local officials.

The EPG parkway project will not be a phased project, so any part of it will not be usable until the whole road is complete in 2009. Folse did note VDOT's next step.

"The next thing we're going to do is a utility survey," he said.

The project is estimated to cost between $90 million and $95 million, and the money is already in place, according to VDOT.

"It's funded in the six-year plan," Estes said.