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Construction of triple roundabouts coming soon to Fairfax County Parkway

The Fairfax County Parkway and Popes Head Road interchange is going to be replaced with three roundabouts and two bridges (courtesy VDOT)

Construction on an overhaul of the Fairfax County Parkway and Popes Head Road interchange is slated to begin by the end of this year.

The Virginia Department of Transportation awarded a $49 million construction contract for the project in Fairfax Station last week to the Roanoke-based company Branch Civil, which is expected to begin on-site activities in December.

In the works since at least 2017, the project will replace the existing, four-way intersection controlled by a traffic signal with three roundabouts and two bridges over Fairfax County Parkway “that will allow traffic to flow freely,” VDOT said.

Other elements include:

  • Building a short segment of the future Shirley Gate Road extension that will provide pedestrian and vehicle access to the future Patriot Park (Fairfax County is designing the rest of the Shirley Gate Road extension)
  • Constructing a shared-use path linking the Fairfax County Parkway Trail to the future Patriot Park
  • Reconstructing the Fairfax County Parkway Trail
  • Installing a sidewalk along the north side of Popes Head Road
  • Extending Ladues End Lane to the new roundabout at Popes Head Road
  • Adding an acceleration lane for drivers turning from Nomes Court onto northbound Fairfax County Parkway

According to VDOT, Fairfax County Parkway carries an average of 64,000 vehicles a day, while Popes Head Road averages about 3,200 vehicles daily. The long wait at the traffic light — which state officials have said can last five minutes during peak travel times — has been a source of frustration for commuters.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors gave its support for the proposed redesign in May 2020. Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity said at the time that the project “will provide significant congestion relief and a safer route for thousands of residents,” according to The Connection.

VDOT is ultimately planning to widen Fairfax County Parkway from four to six lanes, starting with the northern section from Nomes Court to Route 29, though some have questioned the department’s use of road widenings as an answer to traffic congestion.

Earlier this year, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation revisited a 2021 study of the parkway and determined that it should be six lanes, rather than the eight that had previously been recommended. Staff also stressed the need for bicycle and pedestrian improvements, calling the completion of a trail from Reston to Fort Belvoir a top priority.

The Popes Head Road interchange also ties into plans to extend Shirley Gate Road down to the parkway from Braddock Road. Some funds for that project, which isn’t expected to start construction until 2026, were redirected in July to a project that will eliminate hills on Lee Chapel Road, where two teens were killed in a crash in January.

VDOT estimates the Popes Head Road interchange overhaul will cost a total of $92.4 million, including $78 million for construction, per its project page.

“A ‘Pardon Our Dust’ information meeting for residents and travelers is being planned in January,” VDOT said. “Construction is expected to be complete in late 2026.”

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