Lauren Caito has reason to celebrate. She will be able to cut her commute in half when she returns to work Monday after honeymooning in St. Thomas.
Caito has spent every work day for two years, sitting in traffic on Route 28, waiting to turn onto Waxpool Road. The traffic signal at the four-way intersection takes 4 or 5 minutes to complete its cycle, leaving her immobile.
The Route 28 interchange overpass at Route 625 is slated to open Saturday. Route 625 encompasses Church Road in Old Sterling, and Waxpool Road in Ashburn. VDOT officials estimate more than 100,000 cars a day use that intersection, just north of the Dulles Toll Road. By 2012, transportation officials estimate 200,000 cars will travel it daily. About 5,000 employees drive to America Online near the intersection.
Adam Gortowski, project manager, said Tuesday that the primary ramp also is expected to open, carrying northbound traffic to access Waxpool Road. The traffic signals at the intersection and Commercial Drive near WegmanÕs and the Ferrari dealership will be removed. Other sections of the project will be completed between now and the fall of 2005, he said. The light at Cedar Green will be removed in the spring.
Caito said it takes her up to 25 minutes to get to work during rush hour, and only 7 to 10 minutes the rest of the time. "It will cut the commuter time in half. ItÕs great," she said. "ItÕs going to make it more convenient, more seamless. Time is a huge thing."
She also will not have to worry about people cutting in front of her at the last minute.
Scott York, chairman of the Board of Supervisors and a Sterling resident, said he was excited about the opening. "Like everybody else in the area, I use that interchange," he said. "It will be nice to be able to safely get through it."
The intersection has one of the highest accident rates in the county.
Vice chairman Bruce Tulloch (R-Potomac Falls) said the opening is a victory for commuters and area residents. "It allows them to spend more time with family," he said. "This Board of Supervisors embraces building more roads so that its citizens can enjoy a better quality of life."
THE $69.9 MILLION project replaces traffic lights and the intersection with a partial cloverleaf that includes a four-lane bridge to carry traffic over Route 28 and a fly-over ramp from northbound Route 28 to westbound Route 625. Ryan Hall, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Transportation, described a fly-over ramp as one that takes a car "up, over and around."
WORKERS HAVE increased the bridge over Broad Run on Waxpool Road from four to six lanes. The interchange project, which began in May 2003, also will include a bridge on Church Road over the W&OD Trail. Construction for that is slated to begin this winter.
Gortowski said that opening the overpass and the ramp will allow contractors to finish work on the remaining three ramps. The one that would carry northbound traffic onto Church Road is slated to open by Christmas. The ramp carrying southbound traffic from Route 28 to Church Road is scheduled to open in the spring, depending on the weather.
Gortowski said the fly-over ramp, which would carry northbound traffic from the Route 28 median onto Waxpool Road, will be finished in the fall. "Because of the high volumes expected from 28 to Waxpool, a second lane is needed," he said.
"We try to have as little impact on the existing traffic as possible," he said. "ItÕs impossible not to have any impact. We try to keep the active lanes open, particularly during the rush hour."
The interchange is one of 10 planned for the Route 28 corridor to alleviate traffic congestion and boost business. Officials set aside $200 million for six of the interchanges. Two were completed this year. Interchanges were built for the Air and Space Museum Parkway, formerly known as Bansfield Road, and the Route 606 and Old Ox Road intersection.
Supervisor Mick Staton (R-Sugarland) said he was "thrilled" at the progress of the projects and looked forward to the individual completions. "This is a great step forward for Loudoun and the Route 28 Corridor."
VDOT IS PAYING $70 million of the $200 million project costs. The individual cost of the Route 625 and Route 28 interchange was not available at deadline.
Plans are underway to build interchanges at Sterling Boulevard, McLearen Road and Westfield Boulevard.
VDOT signed a comprehensive agreement with the Clark Construction Group Inc. and its road and bridge construction subsidiary, Shirley Contracting Company LLC to develop, design and build the six interchanges on Route 28 in Loudoun and Fairfax counties.
The project is being built under the stateÕs Public-Private Transportation Act, which allows private companies innovative solutions for designing, building, financing and operating transportation improvements. Hall said it is the first time this funding mechanism has been used in Northern Virginia. "If VDOT had to wait for the money [for the interchanges], there wouldnÕt be any progress," he said.
Businesses in the Route 28 Tax District agreed to pay taxes to finance the balance of the project.
"ItÕs a fantastic example of what can happen if government gets out of the way," said Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling). "The government has failed to build roads in this region for 50 years. É What you will see Saturday is the wave of the future for building roads in this region."
He said the PPTA is a prime example of a government agency using a regulatory and incentive-based process to build a public road that is funded privately.
"We are guaranteeing Route 28 as a job center," he said