Fairfax City mayor Rob Lederer and the current City Council are doing everything in their power to keep a promise they didn’t even make.
During an informational meeting Tuesday night on the proposed George Mason Boulevard, Lederer told approximately 50 residents at the meeting that the development was “a long time coming.”
“This first came up in the early 1990s,” he said. “At one point, this was called ‘the road to nowhere’ project because it was all caught up in things. We made a commitment to get this taken care of.”
The proposed road would connect the southbound intersection of University Drive and George Mason Boulevard, formerly Pohick Lane, and Armstrong Street and University Drive heading north. The first half of the project has been completed with the construction of a roadway between School Street and Fairfax City Hall’s parking lot.
“Looking at the big picture, when George Mason Boulevard is constructed, the new road will have one wider-than-normal lane in each direction,” said John Veneziano, director of public works.
The current intersections on University Drive and Forest Avenue, University Drive and School Street, and University Drive and Armstrong Street will be closed off, and an emergency-vehicle access road will be installed next to the existing storm-water-management pond, according to the plans handed out at the meeting.
Some preliminary traffic studies were completed when the plan was originally proposed in the early 1990s, said Doug Kennedy of Patton Harris Rust & Associates, the engineering consultants for the project.
“The roadway system does address traffic needs,” Kennedy said. “There will be reduction in the traffic in the neighborhoods near the roadway.”
Some residents in attendance were concerned about the roadway’s planned construction through and close to two neighborhoods, Crestmont and Leaven Oaks. It will also be near the Green Acres community.
“Cut-through traffic is the biggest complaint from residents,” Veneziano said. “This project turns those streets back to local use. This is a safety issue for the neighborhood.” He added that residents in Crestmont have complained that it’s impossible to use their driveways when traffic volume is heavy.
“The whole concept of George Mason Boulevard is to return streets to local traffic,” Lederer said. “It’s not an option to keep University Drive open” to maintain its traffic pattern, he said.
“The current traffic on University Drive is around 13,000 vehicles each day,” Kennedy said. “We’re looking at the volume on University Drive being relocated to George Mason Boulevard and have accounted for the change in traffic patterns,” he said.
“We spent time looking at alternatives but couldn’t find another plan that would help traffic as much as this plan,” he said.
“But what is the benefit of this plan for the residents?” said Crestmont resident Dale Webb.
“The original purpose was to look at the volume of traffic on University Drive and the conflict points with the planned growth,” Kennedy said. “The existing road can’t accommodate that traffic. George Mason Boulevard is planned to revert [existing roads] to local street functions,” he said.
“The Council is trying to live up to the commitment to return the streets to residents of Green Acres and other communities,” Lederer said. “We’re in a very delicate position here, and we’re trying to honor that commitment and alleviate conflict.
“We understand that this is a sensitive, delicate issue,” he said. “We want to work with every community to get as close to a win-win situation for every community as possible.”