0
Votes

Route 7 Widening Plans Updated

Intersection improvements, increased pedestrian and bicycle facilities highlight $300 million project.

The intersection of Route 7 and Baron Cameron Avenue will have an eastbound flyover addition with the upcoming widening of Route 7.

The intersection of Route 7 and Baron Cameron Avenue will have an eastbound flyover addition with the upcoming widening of Route 7.

— The Virginia Department of Transportation held an update meeting regarding the Route 7 Widening project Wednesday, Nov. 6. The estimated $300 million project will widen Route 7 from four lanes to six for 6.9 miles from Jarrett Valley Drive to Reston Avenue.

The project will also improve intersections and add a 10-foot share use path on both sides of the road for use by pedestrians and cyclists.

photo

A redesign of the Route 7-Utterback Store Road intersection that will happen with the widening of Route 7. The design will make the eastbound lanes part of a continuous intersection, not governed by a traffic signal.

According to VDOT, as of 2011 the 6.9-mile section of road carried between 46,000 and 54,000 vehicles per day. By 2040, they estimate that number to rise to between 73,000 and 86,000 vehicles per day.

From the winter of 2012 into 2013, VDOT has conducted a market research study on what local residents think of the current Route 7. According to the survey, 63 percent of residents said traffic is a problem and 81 percent said they believed traffic was getting worse. Nine out of 10 commuters believe that changes should be made.

ALMOST HALF OF RESIDENTS, 49 percent, said they would like to see sound wall installed, and 64 percent said the widening should preserve historic sites and buildings, such as Colvin Run Mill.

The intersection of Route 7 and Reston Parkway will see the left turn lane to Meadows Farms from the eastbound lanes removed.

The intersection of Route 7 and Utterback Store Road will be turned into what is known as a “continuous flow intersection,” meaning eastbound traffic to Tysons will not be governed by a signal.

A median will be added to the left turn lane for drivers turning left from Route 7 onto Utterback Store Road. The median will extend to the east side of Utterback Store Road, meaning drivers taking a left eastbound from Utterback Store Road to Route 7 will enter to a median area that will allow them to merge with the normal eastbound traffic.

The intersection of Route 7 and Lewinsville Road will also become a continuous flow intersection.

Another main intersection improvement will be the addition of flyover section at Baron Cameron Avenue. Drivers who are going straight through the intersection will continue without being governed by a signal, drivers wishing to exit on Baron Cameron or Springvale Road will get off, and go under the eastbound traffic.

photo

The intersection of Route 7 and Lewinsville Road will become a “continuous flow” intersection, meaning certain lanes will not be governed by a traffic signal.

Westbound traffic at that intersection will still have a traffic signal.

“I appreciate all the plans that seem to minimize stoppage going into Tysons, but the traffic is just as bad the other way,” Jeff Meade of Vienna said. “Why no flyover going the other direction, which is a standstill every afternoon?”

The easternmost intersection of Route 7 and Colvin Run Road, closest to the mill, will also see changes. Neither east or westbound traffic on Route 7 will be permitted to make a left turn on Colvin Run Road or Capers Farm Way.

“I think the improvements suggested to many intersections will make things better for the majority of people who use Route 7, but I’m not sure how many of the changes are going to make things easier for the people that live along the road,” said Regina Benz of Great Falls. “A lot of changes when it comes to where you can make a right or left turn are going to make it tough, and some of them will require residents to pass through these intersections in several places to get in the direction they need to go.”

OF THE ESTIMATED $300 MILLION for the projects, $30 million is expected to go to design engineering, $50 million for right-of-way acquisition and $220 million for actual construction costs. Currently there is only partial funding for the design and no funding for right-of-way acquisition and construction.

Comments on the plan must be postmarked, e-mailed or delivered to VDOT by Friday, Nov. 16. They can be mailed to Leonard “Bud” Siegel at 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030.

Feedback can also be sent to meeting_comments@vdot.virginia.gov with “Route 7 Widening - Reston Avenue to Jarrett Valley Drive” in the subject line.