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FairfaxTransportationFairfax transportation czar tackles McLean group's questions, concerns

Fairfax transportation czar tackles McLean group’s questions, concerns

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McLean residents confront traffic challenges daily, so when Fairfax County Department of Transportation Director Tom Biesiadny briefed the McLean Citizens Association (MCA) Nov. 30 about ongoing and planned projects in the area, they peppered him with questions.

Fairfax County supervisors last year set a goal of spending $100 million on pedestrian, bicyclist and maintenance projects over the next six years. MCA issued a resolution in January on priorities for those projects, said the group’s Transportation Committee chairman, Glenn Harris, who moderated the discussion.

Supervisors have approved $30 million worth of spending so far and on Nov. 1 allocated $5 million for the first group of projects, which will benefit all nine magisterial districts.

In Dranesville District, the county will relocate a bus stop and install a refuge and rectangular rapidly flashing beacon on Westmoreland Street at Rosemont Drive in McLean and install a refuge and ramps near Bucks Lane along Georgetown Pike near Great Falls Library.

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County transportation officials have collected a list of 2,800 unfunded projects and will rank them based on factors such as gaps and unsafe crossings, high-priority locations, high-risk corridors, high density of pedestrian-trip generators, property implications and environmental impacts. Staff will conduct public outreach on potential initiatives and assemble a final project list for the Board of Supervisors to approve in spring 2023, Biesiadny said.

Transportation officials actively seek proffers from developers and consider pedestrian and bicycle upgrades as well as service levels when designing improvements, he said.

“It’s not just about moving cars, it’s about moving people,” Biesiadny said. “Clearly, the solution to our mobility problem is multi-faceted.”
Biesiadny then provided updates on these local initiatives:

• The Dolley Madison Boulevard Corridor Study and related projects: This study examined seven intersections and officials developed concepts for each. The county’s recommendations largely mirror proposals favored by MCA, including:

– Providing three eastbound lanes on Dolley Madison Boulevard (Route 123) through its interchange with the Dulles Access Road.

– Providing three eastbound lanes through the Lewinsville Road/Great Falls Street intersection.

– Increasing capacity on Lewinsville Road.

– Offering exclusive left-turn lanes at Lewinsville Road/Great Falls Street.

– Providing a westbound-option lane at the on-ramp leading to the westbound Dulles Access Road.

– Extending the right-most westbound hrough lane by 500 feet at the Lewinsville Road/Great Falls Street intersection.

County transportation officials will look for “fatal flaws” with any of the proposals and bring them back to the public before seeking approval, Biesiadny said.

• A possible enhanced pedestrian crosswalk on Dolley Madison Boulevard at either Elm Street or Ingleside Avenue: MCA members have pressed for safety improvements after a bicyclist was struck and killed by a vehicle at Dolley Madison Boulevard and Ingleside Avenue on Dec. 29, 2021.

County officials think such a crosswalk would work better at Ingleside Avenue and are looking for possible funding, Biesiadny said.

• The West Falls Church Active Transportation Study: This study made 20 priority recommendations. County officials will advance those projects for consideration and seek financial contributions from builders who are redeveloping that area, Biesiadny said.

• Pedestrian safety on Haycock Road: Pedestrian facilities on the site’s current bridge are “woefully inadequate,” he said. “When I see things like this, I’m as angry as you are. It’s not conducive for most pedestrians to use.”

The current bridge has four traffic lanes and the county may be able to build pedestrian improvements into one lane in each direction, he said, adding no design work has been done yet.

• Balls Hill Road and Old Dominion Drive intersection: County officials long have planned improvements to this long-X-shaped intersection with skewed angles that require long light cycles. The county will spend the next two years finalizing an “offset-T” design with two signalized intersections, plus pedestrian upgrades, Biesiadny said.

There is $20.5 million available for the project. Land acquisition likely would occur in 2024, followed by two years of utility-relocation work and construction from spring 2027 to fall 2028, he said.

• The intersection of Spring Hill and Lewinsville roads: This project, which also seeks to correct significantly skewed angles, still is in the planning stage. County officials also favor an offset-T design for this site, where many accidents have occurred, but will hold off for a while to complete the similar Balls Hill/Old Dominion project and learn lessons from it, Biesiadny said.

• The interchange at Routes 7 and 123: This site, which was the original Tysons Corner, poses a barrier but also an opportunity to develop a signature space for Tysons, Biesiadny said.

Officials for years have been pondering a cap design that would feature a park or other community space above the travel lanes, but none of the concepts so far meet staff’s expectations.

“This isn’t a top priority at the moment,” Biesiadny said. “There isn’t a funding source.”

• Extending Express Lanes on I-495 into Maryland: The Virginia Department of Transportation and Transurban are extending Express Lanes north toward the American Legion Bridge. Outgoing Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan tried to finalize plans for that state to expand I-495 up to I-270, but Gov.-elect Wes Moore has indicated some concerns, Biesiadny said.

“The bridge is a congestion point, a bottleneck between Virginia and Maryland,” he said. “Virginia will encourage Maryland to move forward.”

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