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.”
A three-vehicle crash on Fairfax County Parkway in Newington has taken a fatal turn, about a month after it occurred.
James Berry Gautier, an 83-year-old Burke resident, has died roughly four weeks after a van collided with his car near Loisdale Road, the Fairfax County Police Department announced yesterday (Tuesday).
According to police, Gautier was driving north on Fairfax County Parkway on Sept. 8 when a southbound Chevrolet Express Van drove over the median and crashed into his Toyota Sienna.
“The impact caused the Express Van to collide with a tractor-trailer that was also traveling north on Fairfax County Parkway,” the FCPD said.
Gautier was transported to a hospital, where he died.
Police say speed and alcohol don’t appear to be factors in the crash, but the van driver — Mark Anthony Addison, 53, of Sterling — has been charged with misdemeanor reckless driving, driving without a license and failure to show proof of insurance.
An adjudicatory hearing in the case is scheduled for Oct. 25, according to the Fairfax County General District Court’s online information system.
Gautier is now the 13th non-pedestrian to die in a crash in Fairfax County this year, surpassing the 12 such fatalities recorded at this time in 2022, according to the FCPD. In total, there have been 30 fatal crashes in 2023, per state data, including a hit-and-run that killed a pedestrian on Richmond Highway last Friday (Oct. 6).
Image via Google Maps
(Update at 2:45 pm: both lanes are now open)
Earlier: A two-vehicle crash has shut down northbound Fairfax County Parkway at Rugby Road and southbound Fairfax County Parkway at Stringfellow Road this afternoon.
According to the Fairfax County Police Department, three individuals were taken to a nearby hospital with injuries that are not considered life threatening.
Commuters are encouraged to seek an alternate route. No other information was immediately available.
Traffic Alert: Northbound Fairfax County Pkwy at Rugby Rd is shut down due to a two-vehicle crash. Three occupants were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Please use an alternate route. #FCPD pic.twitter.com/8Z9PNSHSgw
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) August 30, 2023
Pedestrians were casualties of two separate vehicle crashes this past weekend, Fairfax County police reported.
A 26-year-old pedestrian was killed early Saturday morning (July 8) in Bailey’s Crossroads by an apparently intoxicated driver, and then, early this morning (Monday), a man was taken to the hospital after a crash on Fairfax County Parkway and Stringfellow Road in Chantilly.
The man wasn’t considered to be in life-threatening condition, but police described the crash as “serious” in a 12:06 a.m. tweet.
Officers are on scene of a serious car crash involving a pedestrian at Fairfax County Pkwy and Stringfellow Road. An adult male pedestrian was taken to the hospital in non-life-threatening condition. The road will remain closed while the investigation continues. #FCPD pic.twitter.com/tbqkdR3Axb
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) July 10, 2023
For the fatal crash, eastbound Columbia Pike was shut down for an extended period after the driver of a 2010 BMW hit Luis Fernando Jimenez Rodriguez at the Columbia Pike and Powell Lane around 2:13 a.m., according to the Fairfax County Police Department.
“Preliminarily, detectives determined that the driver of a 2010 BMW was traveling eastbound on Columbia Pike near Lincolnia Road when it struck a pedestrian,” the FCPD said.
The driver didn’t stop at the scene, police said. An officer who first arrived at the scene told a dispatcher that track marks stretched all the way to Barcroft Plaza, according to scanner traffic on Open MHz.
Police found the BMW in the 6100 block of Marshall Drive. Per the scanner, an officer identified it as the vehicle because he found blood on the front bumper.
The vehicle owner and alleged driver was Benjamin Lopez Encinas, 33, of Woodbridge, according to the FCPD.
Encinas has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and is now in custody at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.
“Detectives continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding this crash,” the FCPD said.
Rodriguez appears to be the fifth pedestrian killed in Fairfax County this year, according to Virginia crash data, which shows that there were 16 pedestrian fatalities through July in 2022.
Concerns about the safety of Columbia Pike, which has now been the site of at least nine fatal crashes since 2010, have prompted Fairfax County to pursue some improvements, including a crossing beacon at the intersection where Justice High School student Lesly Diaz-Bonilla was killed in November.
A Springfield motorcyclist was killed in a Reston crash Friday (June 16) night, according to Fairfax County police.
The 37-year-old man — identified as Dominique Hunt-Brown — was traveling southbound on Fairfax County Parkway when he ran a red light and struck a Sienna that was trying to turn left from Sunset Hills Road onto Fairfax County Parkway on a green light, the Fairfax County Police Department said.
Hunt-Brown was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. The crash happened shortly before 8 p.m. Detectives are investigating if speed and alcohol were factors in the crash.
No other injuries were reported.
Friday’s crash is the seventh non-pedestrian-related fatal crash that the FCPD has recorded in the county to date. Last year, there were four non-pedestrian-related fatal crashes.
Officers are on scene of a fatal motorcycle vs a car accident at southbound Fairfax County Pkwy near Spring St. The motorcyclist, an adult man, was taken to the hospital with life threatening injuries where he was pronounced deceased. Please avoid area. #FCPD pic.twitter.com/jV5ryfQHe5
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) June 17, 2023
An apparently speeding driver crashed into a Fairfax County police officer and another driver who had been pulled over on Fairfax County Parkway.
One lane of the roadway in each direction has been closed at Braddock Road so police can clear the crash.
“An officer was on a traffic stop when a car traveling at a high rate of speed from the opposite direction, crossed over the media & struck the stopped car head on,” the Fairfax County Police Department said in a tweet at 12:30 p.m. “The officer & driver of the stopped car were taken to the hospital w/injuries not considered life threatening.”
The driver who crashed remained at the scene, according to police, who advise travelers to avoid the area until the scene is cleared.
An officer was on a traffic stop when a car traveling at a high rate of speed from the opposite direction, crossed over the media & struck the stopped car head on. The officer & driver of the stopped car were taken to the hospital w/injuries not considered life threatening.
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) May 1, 2023
(Updated at 7:55 p.m.) A pedestrian was killed this morning (Friday) in a crash on Richmond Highway (Route 1) near Fairfax County Parkway in the Fort Belvoir area.
Hester was then struck a second time by a 2014 Nissan Altima that was also southbound on Route 1, according to police.
“Both drivers remained at the scene,” the FCPD said. “Hester was declared deceased at the scene. Preliminary, speed and alcohol do not appear to be a factor for the drivers in the crash.”
Police say Hester was not in a crosswalk when the Impala hit him.
The crash prompted a closure of southbound Richmond Highway to the northbound lanes on Fairfax County Parkway. The highway reopened shortly before 10 a.m.
This is the third pedestrian fatality reported in Fairfax County this year and the second on Richmond Highway. At this point in 2022, the FCPD had recorded five pedestrian deaths.
The county has been studying options for improving Fairfax County Parkway down to the Route 1 intersection, finding that pedestrian and bicyclist facilities along the corridor are inadequate. The Board of Supervisors approved changes to the comprehensive plan for the roadway on March 21.
Southbound Richmond Hwy to northbound Fairfax County Pkwy is closed. Expect traffic delays. Please use an alternate route. #FCPD
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) April 7, 2023
Construction of a new walkway on Fox Mill Road in Reston is nearly halfway complete.
The project — which includes the installation of a walkway from Reston Parkway to Fairfax County Parkway — is 40% complete, according to Robin Geiger, a spokesperson for the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.
Based on the current timeline, the walkway will be completed in April.
“The contractor has briefly stopped working because they are waiting delivery of structures that should arrive soon to resume work,” Geiger wrote in a statement to FFXnow.
Work will then resume on the western end of the project by Fairfax County Parkway. The project includes roughly 2,000 linear feet of an 8-foot-wide asphalt walkway, including curb and gutter, on the north side of the road.
A separate project with more intersection improvements is currently in the design phase.
It includes the installation of a permanent traffic signal at the intersection of Fox Mill and Pinecrest Road, the construction of left-turn lanes on northbound and southbound Fox Mill, the addition of four crosswalks, and an 8-foot-wide walkway and curb ramp on the southeast corner of the intersection.
The $5.7 million project is financed through Fairfax County funds.
A temporary traffic signal was installed in the area in August 2021. Right-of-way acquisition will begin in the summer, followed by the beginning of construction in the fall of 2024, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.
At a recent meeting of the Fairfax County Planning Commission’s Transportation Committee, Department of Transportation senior planner Thomas Burke laid out some of the changes recommended in a recent study of the Fairfax County and Franconia-Springfield parkways.
The study looked at 35 miles of the corridor broken up into five segments. Notably, it evaluated transit and multi-modal transportation along the parkways, rather than just vehicle traffic.
On the multi-modal front, Burke said one key takeaway was that the current bicycle and pedestrian facilities were inadequate.
“There was a lot of support in the community for enhancing bicycle and pedestrian experience on the parkways,” Burke said. “Right now, there’s one trail on one side of the parkway and a few gaps.”
Burke said the first priority should be plugging those gaps to have one contiguous trail running from Reston to Fort Belvoir.
“We took it another step based on community feedback,” Burke said. “Why don’t we put a trail on the other side so you don’t have to cross a six-lane highway to get to the shared use path, especially if you don’t need to cross it because origin and destination are on the same side?”
On the other hand, Burke said there isn’t enough demand for transit along the parkway for that to make sense as an emphasis for any sort of parkway overhaul.
“We took a transit look as well: transit is an interesting challenge for the parkways because there’s not a lot of density or employment centers,” Burke said. “There’s a lot of low-density areas and not a whole lot of jobs.”
Burke said the study similarly didn’t find as much demand for the high-occupancy vehicle options seen on other roadways around Fairfax County.
“For decades we’ve had HOV recommendations for most of the parkways,” Burke said. “From Franconia-Springfield — where the Metro is — up to Route 7, all has little diamonds signifying there will eventually be HOV…But we did not find a lot of demand.”
Burke said the study considered both 2+ and 3+ HOV lanes, but found low demand for either option.
The study also looked at road widening, with earlier staff recommendations saying parts of the parkway should be increased to eight lanes. But for the most part, Burke said the study found six lanes was sufficient for the northernmost sections of Fairfax County Parkway.
At the southernmost point of the study, where the Franconia-Springfield Parkway connects to Richmond Highway, Burke said the study recommended increasing the roadway to six travel lanes in parts. Just north of that section, where Fairfax County Parkway connects to Beulah Street, Burke said current plans to increase the parkway to eight lanes overshot the mark, and the road only needs its current six lanes.
Burke noted that this study is looking at long-range transportation improvements. Any of those changes, particularly the widening, could take 10-30 years to implement.
In parts, Burke said there was some community resistance to widening the parkways, and before Fairfax County goes forward with widening in those sections, there should be additional research and analysis.
A pair of virtual meetings to discuss the changes are planned for Wednesday, March 1 at noon and Thursday, March 2 at 6:30 p.m.
Image via Google Maps
A driver died after crashing their vehicle west of George Mason University’s Fairfax campus shortly after midnight on Saturday (Feb. 25).
The vehicle was driven into a traffic signal pole, according to a police spokesperson.
The driver, who was the only person in the vehicle, died at the scene. Westbound Braddock Road was closed at the intersection until around 3:30 a.m. as detectives investigated the crash.
Detectives from our Crash Reconstruction Unit continue to investigate. Braddock Rd is now open. Follow our blog, https://t.co/XTgRJykwD5, for updates when available.
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) February 25, 2023
It was the third fatal crash not involving pedestrians on county roads so far in 2023 after the FCPD announced on Friday (Feb. 24) that the passenger on a one-vehicle crash in Annandale on Jan. 27 has died from his injuries.
The year’s first non-pedestrian fatal crash came on Jan. 10, when a Lexus drove off Lee Chapel Road in Fairfax Station, killing two teens and hospitalizing a third. A driver also died after crashing into a jersey wall on the I-495 Express Lanes last week.
There had been no non-pedestrian fatalities at this point in the year in 2022, according to the FCPD. No pedestrian fatalities have been reported so far this year, as indicated by state data.
Image via Google Maps