Great Falls residents have historically been concerned about traffic flow because there are few main roads in and out of Great Falls. Georgetown Pike is the major commuter artery, which carries not only local traffic but cars traveling from Loudoun County and as far away as West Virginia.
Georgetown Pike is a registered state scenic by-way and is well guarded by the local citizens group. Suggestions to expand Georgetown Pike to accommodate the influx of cars and help alleviate traffic snarls are always beaten back by the Great Falls Citizens Association. As a community, Great Falls prefers the country nature of the tree-lined road.
There are two projects in various stages of development that are being created to ease congestion at the intersection where Georgetown Pike meets Route 7. During the evening commute, that intersection backs up down Georgetown Pike as hundreds of cars attempt to move onto Route 7 through one traffic light, while other cars, mainly residential traffic, try to merge onto Georgetown Pike from Seneca Road.
In the works is an improvement plan that would eventually widen Route 7 to four lanes from Rolling Holly to Reston Parkway and would create a traffic light at the Seneca Road/Georgetown Pike intersection. The improvement project would also create additional turn lanes at the heavily congested intersection.
Karen Moreland with the Department of Transportation for Fairfax County said, “VDOT has a plan to widen Route 7 from Rolling Holly to Tysons Corner. The only part that’s funded right now is Rolling Holly to Reston Parkway. We don’t know when it’s going to get full funding.”
Moreland said that the project will cost $18.5 million and construction will not begin until 2006, at the earliest. “Right now there’s no money, and there are competing projects,” said Moreland.
“An additional lane in each direction and turn lanes where they are needed are planned. Georgetown Pike is going to ‘T’ in a little better, as well. There will be a double left into Georgetown Pike and a double right onto Route 7. And Seneca will be widened for a left through lane and a lane dedicated to a right turn,” said Moreland of the state’s planned improvements to the intersection.
In the interim, a new commercial development at the Seneca Road/Georgetown Pike intersection is in the final stages. The Seneca II plaza, located across the street from an existing shopping plaza, with retail outlets and restaurants, will make some minor changes to the traffic patterns to accommodate shoppers and to lessen the impact on the intersection.
Seneca II’s developers have been working with the county and concerned homeowners to come up with a design for the shopping center that will not add more congestion to the intersection.
The developer has slated two right-turn lanes at the Seneca Road/Georgetown Pike intersection.
VDOT reviewer Al Kaub said he has received an updated traffic study done to accommodate Seneca II plaza. “We are working to resolve any issues. Right now we are assuming the shopping center will come in before our project,(widening the road)” said Kaub.
Dianne Van Volkenburg and other Seneca Road homeowners have been working directly with the developer to make sure the shopping center does not further snarl traffic. “It looks like they will start on the shopping center this summer. They expect it to take about a year,” said Van Volkenburg.