Relief is about two years away for Sterling commuters who get stuck daily at the intersection of Sterling Boulevard and Route 28 in Sterling.
The Virginia Department of Transportation will begin construction on a $28.9 million interchange there at the end of October or early November. Susan Shaw, VDOT's Route 28 project manager, said Saturday that construction will start as soon as the Army Corps of Engineers grants one more environmental permit.
Route 28 Corridors Improvements LLC hired Shirley Contractors to build the interchange and a road to the right of Sterling Boulevard that will continue across Route 28 toward Ashburn. The traffic lights will be removed once the interchange is completed in 2007. The current boulevard will be abandoned.
"There will be no real disruption [of traffic]," she said.
THE WORK CREW also will be setting up New Jersey barriers on Route 28, which might slow motorists. "People tend to slow down for those, which is a good thing," she added.
Paul Bevins, an engineer with Shirley Contractors, said the construction company will start by widening the shoulders on Route 28 in early November.
Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) said the interchange will be a welcome reprieve to area residents and business people. "Right now you have É thousands of people at a time waiting to get onto Route 28," he said. "Anyone who is waiting at Sterling Boulevard knows exactly what we're talking about."
Sterling Park has a population of 22,000 people. Delgaudio said the interchange will be especially beneficial for the 500 employees at M.C. Dean, an electrical contractor on Shaw Road off Sterling Boulevard.
The interchange will be a key component of larger improvements to the boulevard, which is receiving a "facelift" with landscaping and a new water main, he said.
"It revitalizes our 'Main Street' and brings the community together in a way that hasn't been done before," he said.
Delgaudio said it used to take a half an hour to get through the intersection of Route 28, Waxpool Road and Church Road, north of Sterling Boulevard, during rush hour. The new interchange and the removal of traffic lights provides the remedy, he said.
"It was the most dangerous intersection in the county," he said.
THE STERLING BOULEVARD interchange is expected to be completed by spring 2007. Delgaudio said the contractors will receive a financial bonus if they finish early.
Shaw said $10.6 million of the $28.9 million project will cover rights of way and utilities, so that figure could fluctuate.
He said there is not enough traffic to warrant a full cloverleaf quadrant at Sterling Boulevard, so this interchange has northeast and northwest loops. The interchange is one of 10 planned for the Route 28.
Two are near completion at the intersection of Church and Waxpool roads and Westfield Boulevard. Two interchanges were completed last year, one at Route 606 and Old Ox Road and the other leading to the Air and Space Museum Parkway, formerly known as Bansfield Road. One more is planned at McLearen Road.
The Public-Private Transportation Act made the project possible by allowing private companies innovative solutions for designing, building, financing and operating transportation improvements. It is the first time the funding mechanism has been used in Northern Virginia. Businesses in the Route 28 Tax District agreed to pay taxes to finance the balance of the project.