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Votes

A Bridge Too Late

Hyland asks county to get bridge replacement back on track.

The Gunston Cove Road Bridge needs to be replaced, but the state has failed to allocate funding since closing it. To push the issue, Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerald Hyland has requested that the Board of Supervisors “direct Fairfax County Department of Transportation to prepare a scope of work” for the replacement of the Gunston Cove Road Bridge in coordination with his office and the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Gunston Cove Road Bridge, which spans the RF&P rail line, was closed approximately a year ago due to safety concerns by VDOT, according to Hyland. It had previously been included for future improvements by VDOT as part of its six-year secondary road improvement program.

“EVEN THOUGH the bridge is shown on the county’s Comprehensive Plan for reconstruction, no funds are allotted for it. The continued closure of this bridge, along with the ongoing construction of Lorton Road, has led to limited mobility options and hindered accessibility for citizens in the southern part of the county,” Hyland told the board.

“Because of this, I have explored with county and VDOT staff potential options for securing funding to reconstruct and reopen Gunston Cove Road Bridge. Although in the future funding may be partially available from railroad federal funds, the only available options presently are from the Lorton Area Transportation Fund,” he said.

Reconstruction costs range from $1 million to $2.4 million, “depending on the bridge alignment and whether any utility relocations or land acquisitions are required,” Hyland said. “I am advised by staff that approximately $1.2 million is available in the Lorton Fund for this purpose,” he said.

Based on these elements, Hyland requested that the Board of Supervisors take the following actions to expedite the request for a “scope of work”:

v Authorize Fairfax County DOT to release to VDOT those dollars required by VDOT to undertake preliminary engineering for the bridge and its approaches from the Lorton Area Transportation Fund and prepare a more precise cost estimate for the project.

v Request VDOT to list the bridge on their six-year Secondary Road Program based on funding from the Lorton Area Transportation Fund.

IN ANOTHER MATTER, Hyland requested that county attorney “provide the board with an opinion as to whether Fairfax County has the authority to restrict or prohibit infill development where a dwelling unit built overlapping one or more lots, can be demolished and increase the unit density by rebuilding on each of the formerly consolidated lots.”

This was triggered by the Jan. 31 Board of Zoning Appeals decision that “one home in Hollin Hall Village can be demolished and replaced with two homes” on the separate lots now straddled by a single dwelling. More than 60 homes in the subdivision could be demolished and redeveloped into “a de facto R-5 zoning” because 50 years ago single homes were built over the line dividing two lots, according to Hyland.

“This type of infill development destroys the character of existing neighborhoods, exacerbates an existing storm drainage problem, and increases the burden on our transportation network and schools,” Hyland said. For these reasons, he requested “the county attorney weigh in on this pressing issue facing that community.”

DURING HYLAND’S Feb. 4 Town Meeting, the Fairfax County Electoral Board conducted a survey to determine the priorities of Mount Vernon citizens on a variety of subjects. Here is a sampling of those results:

1. What is the most important improvement needed to accommodate the increased population at Fort Belvoir as a result of BRAC? Transportation improvements was listed by a majority of 96 attendees.

2. Of the transportation improvements envisioned, 49 cited extending Metro service to Fort Belvoir as the most critical.

3. For specific recommendations for Metro, 68 favored extending the Yellow Line from Huntington Station, down Richmond Highway, to Belvoir. Only 25 preferred extending the Blue Line. But, 36 wanted to extend both the Yellow and Blue lines.

4. When asked what they wanted to see “more of in Mount Vernon District” 65 picked Town Centers buffered by green space along Route 1.

5. By a vote of 60, attendees picked Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald Connolly as their favorite participant in the Town Meeting panel. His closest competitor was Fort Belvoir Garrison Commander Col. Brian Lauritzen with 49.

6. Voting on the quality of life in Mount Vernon District, 62 felt it had improved over the past decade.

7. When it came to moving the school start time to 30 minutes later, 98 said yes to 29 voting no.