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Fairfax approves pedestrian-friendly redesign of congested Chain Bridge Road intersection

Planned redesign of the Chain Bridge Road/Eaton Place intersection (via City of Fairfax)

The City of Fairfax is moving forward with a plan to make the Chain Bridge Road and Eaton Place intersection safer.

After some debate at an April 11 meeting — and an alternate motion was proposed and failed — the Fairfax City Council ultimately voted 4-2 in favor of a redesign to the intersection, which is just outside Oakton near the Fairfax County border.

Changes planned for the intersection include a new sidewalk on the west side of the road, a new traffic signal, and more.

“Improving this intersection, which serves as the northern gateway to the city and connects travelers to the Northfax area, is a top priority for the city,” the city said in a release.

The City of Fairfax received $10.7 million in funding from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) to evaluate the project and confirm the congestion reduction benefits.

According to the city, the redesign will include:

  • Converting the west side service road to one-way inbound from Chain Bridge Road
  • Constructing a new exit for Cobbdale vehicular traffic via a new traffic signal (being installed by VDOT) north of Eaton Place
  • Constructing a residential sidewalk on the west side of the western service road to enable consolidation of the school bus stops
  • Constructing a separate shared use path on the west side service road between the new traffic signal and Eaton Place, to extend the shared use path being installed by VDOT north of the new signal
  • Implementing a buffer management plan on the west side buffer to remove dead trees, remove vines from healthy trees, and add supplemental vegetation
  • Closing the service road access points from Eaton Place on the east side of the intersection
  • Converting the single left southbound left turn lane from Chain Bridge Road to Eaton Place to two lanes controlled by a restricted green arrow (versus allowing lefts on green)

At the city council meeting, Councilmember So Lim said she was torn between the original plan and alternatives suggested by staff.

The proposed design would separate the shared-use path and sidewalk, while staff’s alternative combined the two elements.

Ultimately, Lin said the city had to go with the most safety precautions possible for a project like this.

“I was really torn between alternate plan number one or the recommended plan, but I think the safety of the bikers and pedestrians has to be a priority,” Lim said. “Right now, there may not be many bikers or pedestrians, but once we create a shared use path, that will be here to stay. I have to make a decision, not just about today, but how it’s going to be five or ten years from now. I’m going to support the original plan.”

According to Fairfax City, Chain Bridge Road sees approximately 39,000 vehicles per day, and the Eaton Place intersection “experiences significant congestion and safety concerns.”

“The intersection is a critical component of the regional transportation network, with access ramps to I-66 located just north of the intersection,” the city said in its news release. “The intersection has been the site of many traffic accidents, including fatalities.”

Construction on the improvements isn’t expected to start for another two years, the city says.

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