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Votes

Braddock/Pleasant Valley Dilemma

Residents want their say before supervisors vote on design.

VDOT’s choice to improve the Braddock/Pleasant Valley roads intersection is a roundabout with the center shifted southwest.

VDOT’s choice to improve the Braddock/Pleasant Valley roads intersection is a roundabout with the center shifted southwest. Photo Contributed

— While discussing local road projects last week, Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully) saved the most controversial one — the Braddock/Pleasant Valley roads intersection — for last.

VDOT’s proposing a roundabout, but residents in nearby communities say it’ll benefit Loudoun County commuters, while flooding Braddock and Pleasant Valley roads with so much traffic that it’ll all but imprison them in their neighborhoods.

“A traffic circle has significantly less impact on the parkland,” said Frey at the June 26 Sully District Council meeting. “You can’t put a traffic light there without turn lanes with a required amount of stacking distance. There’s no question a lot of the traffic is coming from Loudoun County. And Route 50 being as bad as it is more than likely caused a lot of people to use that intersection instead.”

Noting that Pleasant Valley Road creates a de-facto, north-south connector between Routes 29 and 50, he acknowledged that “Pleasant Valley wasn’t intended to carry so much traffic; that creates dangerous situations.”

Frey said he believes that, when the Route 50 widening is completed in June 2015, much of the traffic that diverted to Braddock will return to Route 50.

“We’ve never had all the roads we need, in the Comprehensive Plan, and we’re going to need the intersection improvement,” he said. “Residents in other communities need to use Pleasant Valley Road, too, and the communities along Stone Road are bearing more traffic than they should. So I’m going to continue to work with VDOT to protect these communities and try to move this project along.”

Since three quadrants of the roundabout would be on Fairfax County Park Authority land, Frey said two would remain open space, but the third quadrant has been earmarked for recreational use.

“The Park Authority’s Sully Woodlands plan for the northwest quadrant calls for ballfields there,” he said. “But they haven’t had the money to build them because of the drainage [problems], turn lanes and frontage improvements needed there — and they’ll be compensated for their land.”

Still, said Virginia Run’s Ted Troscianecki, “We owe it to the taxpayers to wait and see if the Route 50 widening, plus the I-66/Route 28 improvements, alleviate the traffic before we do something here. The answer is not to continue to drive more traffic down substandard roads, but to funnel it to larger roads that can handle it.”

But Frey said he’s gotten complaints about that intersection for 15 years. He also revealed that Paul VI has plans to build a high school along Braddock, a mile from the Fairfax/Loudoun line, and “that’ll bring traffic, too. So I’m scared that, if we wait until 2016 to do something, it’ll be too late. I don’t think we can afford that many more years of growth with the intersection as it is.”

Troscianecki said VDOT, itself, disagrees about this intersection’s importance. But the driving force is Loudoun County, which has raised $1.2 million for the work — matched by the same amount from VDOT’s Revenue Sharing Program — plus $600,000 from the Commonwealth Transportation Board

“It wasn’t my idea to get this project back up and make it a priority,” said Frey. “But someone else will pay for it, and I think I owe it to the taxpayers to explore it.”

Although years ago, the roundabout was estimated to cost $6 million, Frey said the road bed won’t have to be raised as much as was initially thought, so the price tag dropped to somewhere between $3 million and $4 million. But he believes it’ll rise again. And, he added, “Loudoun County would also pay for the entrance to Fairfax County’s ballfield; it’s included in the price.”

Since Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors will be voting on the roundabout’s design, many residents want to make their wishes known to the board before it acts. “There’s never been an opportunity for citizens to address the supervisors face-to-face about this issue,” said Virginia Run’s Jim Hart. “And I think a lot of people would like to get to say, ‘Please don’t do this, and here’s why.’”

Frey said the supervisors will decide on the matter in the fall. “We rarely have hearings about VDOT road projects, and an improvement has been on the Comprehensive Plan for 20 years,” he said. “But we’ll talk about it and, obviously, the chairman will have a major say.”