Keeping Parkway to Highway Plan Alive

Keeping Parkway to Highway Plan Alive

Residents on Neuman Street, just off the Franconia-Springfield Parkway in Springfield, are looking for traffic relief from Supervisor Elaine McConnell's (R-Springfield) project that includes single occupancy vehicle ramps to I-95 and a grade-separated interchange west of the Bonniemill Road intersection.

A neighbor, Marvin Lautzenheiser, was worried about the intersection at Bonniemill Road, which is where a majority of the residents in that area access the parkway. When the parkway opened, the intersection at Bonniemill was supposed to be temporary, residents said.

"Considering the way we have to get out to the parkway now, it would be welcome," Lautzenheiser said.

A neighbor, Ed Mills, looked at the whole traffic picture, at the intersection and the parkway.

"Is it going to help the traffic? Yeah, build it," Mills said.

MCCONNELL'S PLAN for a grade-separated intersection is coupled with ramps to provide access from the parkway to I-95. McConnell will present her plans to the Board of Supervisors on Monday, June 21, to keep the project alive, which she thinks is necessary for commuters in the west to gain access to I-95.

"[Commuters] can't get on the regular lanes," said McConnell. "It's an inconvenience. We're including that Bonniemill-Neuman interchange in there, it will be grade-separated."

A public hearing on the issue took place last November, with McConnell, Del. Dave Albo (R-42nd) and Supervisor Dana Kauffman (D-Lee) in attendance. Commuters east of I-95, looked at the potential backup where the exits off the parkway to I-95 would be, as well as more congestion at the Bonniemill Road intersection from cars merging on the parkway from Springfield. Those cars would merge over three lanes and make a U-turn at Bonniemill so they could access I-95. McConnell's plan would eliminate that by putting in the grade-separated intersection south of Bonniemill.

Kauffman responded to McConnell's proposal for a grade-separated intersection. At the meeting in November, many of Kauffman's constituents were against the original plan because it would cause congestion at the Bonniemill intersection.

"It would be a step in the right direction," Kauffman said in an e-mail.

Bud Siegel, VDOT preliminary engineering manager, said that the plan is only in its conceptual stage right now. On the average, a grade-separated Intersection is priced around $30 million.

"There's no funding for this project," Siegel said.

LAUTZENHEISER is concerned with his current commute which includes the Bonniemill intersection, where cars from Hooes Road and Neuman Street have to contend with cars coming off the parkway at high speeds.

"They are making a right-hand turn off the parkway, you can't see them," Lautzenheiser said. "We've got to do something."

Lautzenheiser had taken his concern to the Virginia Department of Transportation in the past. VDOT officials said that they would look at it but nothing was done. One thing on Lautzenheiser's list of concerns is a berm that blocks the view of cars coming off the parkway onto Bonniemill and cars heading east on Hooes Road, trying to enter the parkway. The residents of Neuman Street have two ways out; one is through that intersection or the other is to go west on Hooes Road to Rolling Road.

McConnell mailed a letter out to constituents in Springfield, urging participation in this issue.

"It is critical that you raise your voices in support of the full design for the Bonniemill Road/Neuman interchange and the LOV (low occupancy vehicle) ramp connections. Without your support, we risk losing forever the possibility of direct access to I-95 for LOVs by those opposing this connection," the letter stated. She urged everyone to write a letter of support to elected officials.

Completing the Fairfax County Parkway through the engineer proving grounds is another road project in the area that will affect the residents of Neuman Street. The completion date for that project was pushed up recently, trimming eight to 10 months off the original schedule, McConnell said.