On April 15, 2004, ground was broken for the full-cloverleaf interchange at Westfields Boulevard and Route 28 in Chantilly. And barring any unforeseen problems, it should be finished and ready for motorists in another month.
"THE BRIDGE over Route 28 is 97-percent complete," said Rick Miller, Route 28 Public/Private Transportation Act construction manager for VDOT. "The deck and substructure work is done. We just have to finish up the sidewalks and bridge parapets on both sides."
The $26.7 million project is one of several interchanges being constructed along Route 28 courtesy of a public/private partnership agreement between Shirley Contracting Corp. and The Clark Construction Group and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).
It consists of a four-lane bridge of Westfields Boulevard traffic crossing Route 28, plus two auxiliary lanes, with a trail on one side and a sidewalk on the other. The bridge flies over Route 28, and drivers on both Westfields and Route 28 will be able to flow freely through that intersection without having to stop for a traffic signal.
"No question, the interchange is going to be a huge benefit," said Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully). "If people trying to get to work in the morning can't get there, no one's happy."
Workmen recently finished up the paving on both the east and west sides of Westfields Boulevard, but several tasks still remain. Roadway signs — including overhead signs — have to be completed and put up to advise drivers how to navigate their way through the interchange ramps.
And new roadway lighting will be installed on Westfields Boulevard and on Route 28. "It will be a combination of standard light poles and high-mast lights — a cluster of lights on a really tall pole," explained Miller.
The sidewalk and trail work, mainly on Westfields, must also be completed. The trail is on the eastbound side of Westfields Boulevard, and the sidewalk is on the westbound side of Westfields. "We've got to finish the sidewalk and trails on the bridge first," said Miller. "Then we'll start working on both sides of Westfields."
AFTER THAT, he said, will come a myriad of small details to put the finishing touches on the project. One involves integrating a fence on Route 28, on both sides of the interchange. Said Miller: "We had to take down the right-of-way fence on [Route] 28 to build the bridge, so we have to put it back up."
Then, once the road is completely constructed and the shoulders are in place, workmen will attend to the clean up. They'll make sure the ditches are clean, grass is seeded in the bare spots and everything looks attractive.
And at the end will come the part that will make local motorists cheer. Said Miller: "The very last thing we'll do is to take down the existing signal and complete the pavement [lane] markings on the road."
There's even more good news. "We should finish a bit ahead of schedule," said Miller. "If all goes well and we don't have a really bad run of wet weather, we'll probably be ready to open this thing by mid-September."
He said construction crews didn't encounter any difficult or unusual problems in building the interchange because the project was planned so well. And lots of dry weather came in handy, too.
Frey said the new interchange will especially be a big help to people trying to get to their jobs in the Westfields Corporate Center. "Over the last two years, we've had a lot of complaints from commuters — particularly in the morning — from people trying to turn left from northbound Route 28 onto Westfields Boulevard," he explained. "And job attraction is very competitive, so any little negative perceived really hurts."
He said the turn lane wasn't nearly long enough to handle all the motorists using it. As a result, said Frey, "Some people were stacking on the shoulder — and getting ticketed by the police — because they didn't want to sit in the travel lane. So that caused a lot of problems." Then in the evening, drivers coming from I-66 and heading to their Centreville homes via Route 28 and Westfields didn't have it much easier. So, said Frey, the new interchange "will make it a lot easier for the whole Sully Station area to get out in the morning" and return at night.
Miller said advance-warning signs will go up about a week before the Westfields Interchange opens, advising motorists of the new traffic pattern. For further details, people may also check VDOT's Web site, 28freeway.com.
"You wouldn't think that removing a traffic signal would make such a big difference," he said. "But it'll have a big effect on commute times and travel patterns when people can flow freely in both directions."