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Votes

County to Complete Road Projects

Projects that came in under-budget free up $11.2 million.

Motorists, pedestrians and cyclists received a bonus Tuesday, April 9, when the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors reallocated $11.2 million in existing funds to complete more than 12 planned pedestrian and road improvement projects.

According to Chairman Sharon Bulova (D-At-large), the board was able to shift money to several new or ongoing projects because the county came in under budget on two other major transportation projects—the Burke Centre VRE parking garage project and the Route 29/Gallows Road widening project.

The VRE project freed up $3.9 million in federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) funds, and the project to widen Route 29 and Gallows Road to three lanes was finished with $7.2 million in federal Regional Surface Transportation Program (RSTP) dollars remaining.

The board also approved using $1.65 million in Commercial and Industrial (C&I) taxes for three projects.

“The new projects will enhance safety, reduce bottlenecks and improve bike and pedestrian opportunities,” Bulova said.

One of the biggest benefits to motorists will be the completion of three Mark Center “spot improvement” projects, funded by congestion mitigation money and RSTP dollars, as well as the Telegraph Road project, which will be funded by $900,000 in C&I tax dollars.

PROJECT DETAILS

  • Telegraph Road: This project will add turn lanes, a raised median and sidewalk. It will improve conditions for drivers using Telegraph Road to access I-495 via South Van Dorn Street and at the bottleneck just south of the intersection before it splits to Telegraph Road and South Kings Highway.

  • I-395 southbound off-ramp to Route 236 westbound ($500,000): To deal with anticipated additional traffic due to the Mark Center, this project will improve the signage on this off-ramp. It will alert drivers, in advance, that Quantrell Avenue, with direct access from the ramp, can be used to access Beauregard Street, Lincolnia Road and the plaza at Landmark shopping center.

  • Cherokee Avenue/Route 236 ($700,000): This project would build an exclusive northbound right turn lane from Cherokee Avenue onto Route 236. This could offer Mark Center commuters an alternative route to and from the south. This project is one of the Mark Center spot improvements.

  • Beauregard Street ($50,000): Due to expected traffic impacts from the Mark Center, the westbound left turn lane on Route 236 at Beauregard Street could be channelized. This would prevent cars leaving the Landmark shopping center from accessing the left turn lane, crossing through three lanes of traffic in a short distance. Instead, it would shift those vehicles to another plaza exit, such as Beauregard Street.

Other projects funded in part by congestion mitigation money and RSTP dollars include:

  • Lee Road Culvert ($1,582,000): These funds will fully fund the project to remove a bottleneck on Lee Road. By lengthening the culvert, the existing two-lane section will be widened to four lanes from 500 feet south of the culvert to Penrose Place.

  • Route 50 Pedestrian Improvements ($3,727,586): There are currently 11 projects identified along Route 50 between Jaguar Trail and Seven Corners at Olin Drive—three intersection improvements and eight sidewalk segment improvements. The total project estimate is $8.8 million, and only $1.9 million is currently funded. CMAQ monies, combined with available RSTP funds, will fully pay for these improvements.

  • Soapstone Trail ($211,662): This additional money will fully fund the estimated cost to finish this sidewalk along the eastside of Soapstone Drive between South Lakes Drive and Glade Drive.

The available regional surface transportation dollars will go towards:

  • Walney Road Replacement ($1,068,081): This money will allow the project to move into design-build implementation. This project will replace and widen the 70-foot Walney Road Bridge. This bridge, which crosses Flatlick Branch, will be widened to include five-foot bike lanes on both the north and southbound lanes, as well as a sidewalk on the west side and a shared-use path on the east side.

  • Hunter Mill Bridge Replacement ($320,000): This money will cover the cost for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s preliminary engineering of the preferred bridge concept. The current bridge’s steel beams are corroded beyond repair. This bridge, which sits between Hunter Station Road and Lawyers Road, will eventually be rebuilt.

Commercial and Industrial tax revenues will be used for:

  • Stringfellow Road Park and Ride ($600,000): This project adds about 300 new spaces to the existing facility, as well as expands the kiss-and-ride area. Originally estimated to cost $5.5 million, the expansion is paid for with bonds approved in the 2007 referendum. However, an extra $600,000 is needed for additional construction costs due to poor soil conditions under the parking lot and access road sites, as well as for the increased cost of the proposed transit building.

  • Route 29/Gallows Road Lighting ($150,000): This project will install replacement light poles that are needed as a result of widening Route 29/Gallows Road. These light poles were not included in the original budget for the widening project.

UNDER STATE LAW, Northern Virginia jurisdictions may use commercial real estate taxes as a way to raise money for transportation projects. In 2008, the Board of Supervisors authorized the use of C&I funds for transportation improvements, and they previously approved specific projects for funding. C&I taxes generate about $50 million per year in revenues.