The Braddock/Pleasant Valley roads intersection is near the Fairfax/Loudoun border and regularly backs up at rush hour. Surrounding it are Cox Farms and Fairfax County Park Authority land containing wetlands.
There’s poor drainage, rare plant life and utility poles that would cost about $80,000 each to relocate. And Cox Farms is in an agricultural/forestall district, which has its own restrictions.
Both Braddock and Pleasant Valley are secondary roads, and there’s no money for them in VDOT’s budget for the next six years. But with ever-increasing traffic, Loudoun County revved this project’s engine last summer by approving $1.2 million of its own money, matched by the same amount from VDOT’s Revenue Sharing Program — plus $600,000 from the Commonwealth Transportation Board — to fix the intersection.
At a March 18 public meeting, an engineer hired by VDOT presented three proposals to do it. Concept 1 centered the roundabout in the intersection, but required a slip ramp and more right-of-way than the other plans. Concept 2 moved the roundabout slightly southwest, affecting Cox Farms and the parkland more. Concept 3 involved a traffic signal and left- and right-turn lanes.
In April, after considering criteria including traffic operation, safety, right-of-way impact, maintenance costs and ability for future expansion, the engineering firm chose Concept 2 as the preferred alternative. And last Wednesday, June 5 — at a meeting requested by them — Virginia Run residents told Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully) and VDOT’s Bud Siegel exactly what they thought about it.
First, though, the two men presented some background. “I’ve been getting requests to do something about this intersection for as long as I’ve been in office — more than 20 years,” said Frey. He also said a roundabout was considered in 2005, but the cost escalated to $6 million and there was no money to construct it.
The project now has a somewhat smaller price tag and, said Frey, “We want to move this forward by the end of 2014. Route 50 will be increased from four to six lanes, with improved turn lanes and traffic signals, for a 50-percent increase in capacity. And Route 50 is clearly the primary highway and where we want the traffic from Loudoun County to go.”
At Braddock/Pleasant Valley, VDOT’s planning a 105-foot circle with vehicle speeds of 20-25 mph. This fall, said Siegel, “We’ll develop the design to show the property impacts and other features and will then hold another public meeting.”