Fairfax As traffic continues to swell on the stretch of the Fairfax County Parkway from Fort Belvoir to the intersection at Rolling Road, local drivers like Christine Wells often get caught up in the traffic snarls and bottlenecks trying to access the “North Loop” that drivers need to take to stay on the parkway as they head west.
Wells, a resident of Daventry in Springfield, wants to continue straight onto Rolling Road when she returns home with groceries from the Fort Belvoir commissary. But she has to contend with multiple lanes of traffic trying to merge into the single lane of the North Loop.
“It’s getting more congested every week. I almost got sideswiped the other day by a truck trying to merge into the one lane. We need two lanes, especially for all the trucks that want to stay on the parkway. It’s a serious safety issue, and very hairy,” Wells said.
Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) agrees with Wells and said that widening the North Loop is just one of several changes coming down the pike for 35-mile secondary highway that cuts a swath through most of Northern Virginia.
The north-south arterial route is officially named the John F. “Jack” Herrity Parkway, in honor of Herrity’s father, the county’s longtime chairman of the Board of Supervisors who pushed for the construction of the $70 million parkway, which first opened in 1987.
“We’ve identified the funding to address the traffic problems at the North Loop. I worked with the secretary of transportation, and the North Loop project, which will add another lane and fix the merge issues at the top and the bottom of the loop, is in the state’s six-year transportation plan,” Herrity said.
Herrity calls the parkway one of the county’s main streets, and said he wants a long-term vision for the road currently plagued with potholes, bottlenecks and cut-through traffic.
“What got me started on this issue was hearing that route 123 was going to be repaved. I thought, ‘why are we repaving 123 when there are no potholes and the parkway needs some attention?’”
The answer was Federal stimulus money that’s specifically tagged for primary roads. Since the parkway is labeled a “secondary road,” no funds were available.
“This is one of those common-sense issues. The board is supportive of moving forward with getting Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to make the road a primary road. This should lead to an increase in construction and maintenance efforts by VDOT. I was tired of explaining that Route 123 has been repeatedly paved because stimulus money was limited to primary roads,” Herrity said.
Herrity also said the parkway is slated to be widened southbound between Route 29 and Braddock Road to eliminate a bottleneck at that location.
On Wednesday, June 1, VDOT started construction of an interchange at the Parkway and Fair Lakes Parkway. The first step in the plan for a new interchange is to close access at the parkway and North Lake Drive to ease merging congestion.
“These are steps in the right direction, but we need to develop the vision for the futures of Parkway. I’m going to working on this long-term vision of what the future of parkway,” Herrity said.