Since the National Air and Space Museum Annex in Chantilly opened in December 2003, visitors have reached it via the Air and Space Museum Parkway created for that purpose.
UNFORTUNATELY, though, the new interchange adversely affected Sully Historic Site's access from Route 28. The median was closed, and motorists could only enter the site from Route 28 north, but not south.
But now, after years of negotiations — and thanks to an agreement signed Tuesday afternoon between the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) and the Fairfax County Park Authority Board — a new road will lead visitors to Sully.
"I'm certainly glad to see it finally come about," said Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully), who participated in Tuesday's signing and groundbreaking ceremonies for the new road. "I can't wait until the new entrance is built. It's taken a lot longer than anybody would have liked."
Sully's new, access road will come off of Route 28 and the Air and Space Museum Parkway. The project also includes a new parking area for the Sully Historic Site.
It will also result in the elimination of modern intrusions (such as the existing parking lot) from the historic core of the Sully Site and allow for increased visitation since the museum — also called the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center — and Sully will share the same interchange from the heavily traveled Route 28.
"I THINK attendance at Sully is down a little with the restricted entrance," said Frey. "It's kind of hard to get in — particularly for a lot of the folks coming from the Air and Space museum. By the time they drive past it and realize they can't get to it — and don't know how to make a loop around — they say, 'Oh, well, the heck with it; we'll see it next time.' And maybe they never come back."
So, said Frey, "Making an easy connection between the Air and Space museum and Sully is important, and I think it'll do a lot to help the relationship between the two. Certainly, the museum is a great source of potential visitors."
Work is slated to begin in July, with completion of both the new, entrance road and parking lot anticipated in November. Then, in spring 2008, the Park Authority will start constructing site improvements including a new entrance feature, landscaping, parking-lot lighting and interpretive signage to further enhance Sully's new entrance and parking area.
Sully Historic Site is a late 18th century plantation house and grounds, and its mission is to preserve, maintain and interpret these historic elements, educate the public and promote stewardship of the site.
Built in 1794 by Richard Bland Lee, Northern Virginia's first representative to Congress, this 128-acre property is now owned by the Park Authority and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Thousands of artifacts discovered at Sully have provided a better understanding of how its former occupants lived. The house is furnished with Federal-period antiques, and outbuildings include a kitchen, smokehouse and stone dairy. Archaeology there has revealed the locations of the former barn area, ice house, dairy extension, slave dwellings, Native American sites, the Manassas Gap Railroad and a road bed.
IN 1975, Sully opened to the public, six days a week, and it's a popular destination for school groups. It receives nearly 4,000 students a year — mostly second- to fifth-graders. Overall, it attracts 25,000 to 30,000 visitors annually.
Crowds also flock to Sully's annual quilt and antique-auto shows, plus living-history events with people dressed in period costumes.