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Businesses in Herndon office park fear disruption by Spring Street construction

Construction is currently underway near the entrance to Sunset Business Park (staff photo by Fatimah Waseem)

A traffic improvement plan along Spring Street may come with some challenges for local businesses owners at Herndon’s Sunset Business Park.

Some business owners say the improvement plan institutes changes that will limit the accessibility and visibility of the office park. Currently under construction, the $11.5 million project is expected to boost service levels along Spring Street and Herndon Parkway at their intersection and approaches.

Specifically, closing the median on Spring Street cuts off the park to customers as well as truck deliveries from the westbound direction. The limited ability to complete a westbound U-turn from Spring Street at Herndon Parkway also makes it challenging for customers to enter the park, some business owners say.

Paul Olsen, co-owner of local coffee shop and roastery Weird Brothers Co., said the project will continue to disrupt traffic flow over the next several years.

“This change to the primary entrance and traffic disruption will negatively impact these businesses dramatically, Olsen wrote in a statement. “This comes in the wake of our local businesses recovering from the negative impacts of the pandemic, operating under historically high inflation, and the current economic recession. Local small business is the backbone of any community, and it is especially true in the Town of Herndon.”

Anne Curtis, a spokesperson for the Town of Herndon, said the town will keep business owners and the public advised, as officials explore ways to improve access via the Herndon Parkway entrance.

“The project will improve congestion and increase safety, and to achieve these benefits there are necessary changes to the access to Sunset Business Park,” Curtis said.

Curtis also noted that a U-turn on Spring Street is allowed except during the evening from from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., “contrary to erroneous reports.”

Olsen’s letter to the council, which was drafted with other business owners and discussed at a town council work session earlier this month, calls on the town to complete a comprehensive and holistic analysis to explore changes to the plan to help small businesses in the parks:

The plan diverts all west bound traffic south on Herndon Parkway to the North Driveway, which is complicated with a small traffic circle and little visibility. This intersection is currently insufficient for current traffic volumes entering and exiting the business park on Herndon Parkway and will be exasperated by the increased traffic diverted from Spring Street. It is not intended to be the primary traffic ingress or egress for fifty businesses and Herndon’s small business core concentration.  The majority of customer traffic to the Sunset Business Park comes from the east. Additionally, the business park does not have direct visibility or ownership of real estate on Herndon Parkway which complicates matters regarding the options for signage.

The town and the Virginia Department of Transportation first fielded similar concerns from area businesses in 2018.

At the time, officials noted that allowing vehicles to conduct U-turns at westbound Spring Street at Herndon Parkway would cause “significant conflict” with the northbound right-turn overlap. Backups would then possibly occur on Herndon Parkway.

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