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Fairfax City asks public to help guide improvements to Jermantown Road

Jermantown Road approaching Fairfax Blvd (via Google Maps)

The City of Fairfax is asking the public for help in planning long-anticipated improvements to Jermantown Road.

On Wednesday (May 31) from 7-9 p.m., Fairfax will hold an open house at Katherine Johnson Middle School (3801 Jermantown Road) so the public can weigh in on preliminary design concepts for the Jermantown Road Corridor Improvement Project.

The project is set to add sidewalks, medians, and pedestrian crossings along about a mile-long section of two-lane Jermantown Road that extends from Route 50 to the city limits at the I-66 interchange. Other changes include a traffic circle at Orchard Street as well as a right-turn lane south of Orchard Street.

Also proposed are enhanced roadway crossings at Katherine Johnson Middle School and Providence Elementary School (3616 Jermantown Road), and a reduction of the number of driveways and access points along the road.

“Jermantown Road provides key local access (residential, school, & commercial locations) and connections to Fairfax County,” the project page says. “Current conditions are challenging for some users, and accommodating future growth and changes will require improvements to help the city.”

Fairfax City received $21 million from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority to make these road improvements. There’s no timeline for when construction might begin or be completed, with the project now in the design phase.

The city first brought on engineers to provide a concept plan for the project in 2018. Two options were put on the table: a widening of all of Jermantown Road from two to four lanes or more limited “spot improvement” option. The latter prevailed.

Earlier this month, city council members got a preview of the planned improvements during a work session with city staff, including transportation director Wendy Block Sanford.

According to staff, the average daily traffic along Jermantown Road is about 14,000 vehicles a day — a relatively high number for a road of this nature. There are also more than 30 access points to the road, like entrances or driveways. Typically, access points are where more crashes  occur.

The road also is home to a growing population, making pedestrian and bicycle access even more crucial. About 1,100 households either live on or within a quarter-mile of the road, per the staff presentation. In addition, about a quarter of the roughly 2,000 students who attend the two schools could walk to school if safety was improved.

As noted at the council work session, tomorrow’s open house is really the beginning of the engagement process.

“The 31st is really meant to be a kick-off and listening session,” Sanford told the city council. “We don’t have the answers yet. What we know are what some of the challenges are and we want to know more about those challenges and understand everything. There will be plenty more. This is truly the first engagement of many engagements.”

While not part of the project, but related since it connects, the Jermantown Road Bridge over I-66 is now scheduled to likely open in the fall. Previously expected to reopen this spring, the bridge is getting new sidewalks and bicycle paths.

Sanford said there are “some issues” going on between the Virginia Department of Transportation and the contractor, but the expectation is that it will open later this year.

Image via Google Maps