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Construction is underway to replace the aging bridge (Photo via VDOT).

Construction is ramping up today (Sept. 14) on the $5.2 million project to replace the one-lane Hunter Mill Road bridge that runs over Colvin Run near Vienna.

A new two-lane bridge where Hunter Mill crosses Colvin Run right near the border of Reston and Vienna is set to replace the nearly five-decade-old, weight-restricted one-lane bridge currently there.

While construction began a year ago, this week marks the beginning of using temporary traffic signals and Driveway Assistance Devices (DADs) in the vicinity of the bridge to allow crews to complete construction on the new bridge. Those will be in place until the new two-lane bridge reopens to traffic in the spring of 2023.

The existing bridge was built in 1974 and is being replaced both because it’s in need of major repairs and to help with traffic, per Mike Murphy with the Virginia Department of Transportation.

“The new bridge will have two lanes, thereby improving traffic flow as traffic in one direction will no longer have to yield to the other when crossing the bridge,” Murphy told FFXnow.

That section of Hunter Mill Road averages about 7,400 vehicles per day.

Beyond a new bridge, there will also be a landscaped median/splitter island and abutments for a new trail bridge over Colvin Run. Fairfax County is responsible for the trail bridge and it’s expected to be built in the future.

The project is costing $5.2 million in total, including $1 million for engineering and $4.2 million for construction. Funding is a mix of federal, state, and county funds with the state contributing about $3.3 million from its State of Good Repair program and the county about $400,00 to the project, per Murphy.

The full VDOT press release on the use of temporary traffic signals and DADs:

Temporary traffic signals on Hunter Mill Road (Route 674) will be activated just north and south of Colvin Run around noon Wednesday, Sept. 14 as part of the Hunter Mill Road over Colvin Run bridge project, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The transition points from two lanes to one on Hunter Mill Road will be moved further away from the bridge. For traffic coming from the Dulles Toll Road (Route 267), the transition to one lane will occur before the Lake Fairfax Park Maintenance entrance; for traffic coming from Baron Cameron Avenue (Route 606), the transition to one lane will occur before the residential access road located just north of the bridge. Relocating the transition points will allow the second lane of Hunter Mill Road to be constructed along and adjacent to the bridge.

Also, three Driveway Assistance Devices (DADs) will be installed: one at the Lake Fairfax Park Maintenance entrance, one at the residential access road just south of the bridge (opposite the maintenance entrance) and one at the residential access road just north of the bridge. The DADs will allow drivers turning onto Hunter Mill Road to see which direction traffic is moving between the two temporary traffic signals.

The temporary signals and DADs, which will efficiently manage the one lane of alternating traffic in each direction on Hunter Mill Road and traffic from the side entrances, will be in place until spring 2023.

The traffic pattern changes are part of the project replacing the weight-restricted (10 tons) one-lane Hunter Mill Road bridge over Colvin Run. The bridge was originally built in 1974. The new bridge will have two lanes separated by a median/splitter island. The project also includes an improved trail crossing south of the bridge, landscaping in the median/splitter island and abutments for a new trail bridge over Colvin Run (Fairfax County will construct the trail bridge at a future date). The project is scheduled for completion in spring 2023.

Visit the VDOT project page for more details.

Drivers, cyclists and pedestrians are reminded to use caution when traveling in active work zones. Be alert to new traffic patterns and limit distractions.

You can get real-time traffic, work zone and incident information online at 511virginia.org, via the free mobile 511Virginia app, or by calling 511 in Virginia anywhere anytime.

View this release online.

Follow VDOT Northern Virginia on Twitter: @vadotnova

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The I-66 Express Lanes connecting Route 29 in Gainsville to Route 28 in Centreville are set to open this weekend, ahead of schedule.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) made the announcement Friday (Sept. 2), touting that the opening of the western part of its highway widening project will help congestion on I-66 “sooner than originally planned.”

“We are pleased to join our 66 Express Lanes project partners in opening the first segment of one of Virginia’s largest megaprojects ahead of schedule,” VDOT Commissioner Stephen Brich said in the press release. “By opening the western segment of the new 66 Express Lanes early, we are able to start delivering congestion relief to I-66 travelers sooner than originally planned.”

The 9-mile stretch of road opening this weekend connects the Route 28 interchange in Centreville to Prince William County. Officials said opening that section now will help motorists get used to the new traffic patterns before the rest of the lanes open later this year.

Extending to the Capital Beltway interchange in Dunn Loring, the remaining 13 miles of express lanes are scheduled to open by December.

“This is an important step in opening the new 66 Express Lanes, allowing customers to begin to experience the benefits that the new managed lanes and project enhancements will provide, and helping to ensure a great customer experience when the full corridor opens at the end of the year,” Javier Guiterrez, CEO for the private contractor I-66 Express Mobility Partners, said.

Overall, the nearly-complete $3.7 billion project mostly centered in Fairfax County will bring widened roads with toll lanes and potentially make room for mass transit projects, while also rebuilding a number of bridges spanning the highway.

There will also be 11 miles of shared-use trails between Fairfax and Prince William counties.

Work began in late 2017 and is expected to finish in mid-2023, though the remaining express lanes will open to traffic a few months prior to that.

I-66 will still have three general traffic, toll-free lanes in the eastbound and westbound directions. The project is adding two high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes in each direction.

Buses, carpoolers, and motorcyclists will be able to use those lanes for free, while all other motorists will pay a toll based on real-time traffic conditions. The lanes expand the 10 miles of toll lanes between the Beltway and D.C. that opened in 2017.

The project also includes the construction of dedicated on- and off-ramps at Route 234/Sudley Road, Route 28, and Braddock and Walney Roads. Drivers will be able to access the Express Lanes from several general-purpose lanes, including near Route 28.

The I-66 Express Lanes construction is a result of a public-private partnership between VDOT and I-66 Express Mobility Partners, which will maintain and operate the HOT lanes under the 50-year agreement.

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Detours and lane shifts are planned as the Route 7/Baron Cameron Avenue intersection is reconstructed (via VDOT)

While orange traffic cones are a familiar sight as the widening of Route 7 continues, more changes are afoot at the Baron Cameron Avenue intersection in Reston.

Night work on the project began last night, resulting in detours and changing traffic patterns on eastbound and westbound Route 7, Baron Cameron Avenue and Springvale Road. Detours are planned at night between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. through Thursday (Sept. 1).

Beginning around Tuesday, Sept. 6, more detours and lane shifts are planned during the same hours, as crews reconfigure the intersection to shift traffic to the north.

All homes, businesses and public facilities will remain accessible.

Here’s more from the Virginia Department of Transportation on signage and changes:

Monday, Aug. 29 – Thursday, Sept. 1, 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

  • The median crossover at Route 7 and Baron Cameron Avenue will be closed.
  • Drivers on westbound Route 7 to Baron Cameron Avenue will proceed to Bishopsgate Way, U-turn to eastbound Route 7, and turn right onto Baron Cameron Avenue.
  • Drivers on Springvale Road to Baron Cameron Avenue will turn right onto westbound Route 7, U-turn at Bishopsgate Way to eastbound Route 7, and turn right onto Baron Cameron Avenue.
  • Drivers on eastbound Route 7 to Springvale Road will proceed to Delta Glen Court, U-turn to westbound Route 7, and turn right onto Springvale Road.
  • Drivers on Baron Cameron Avenue to Springvale Road will turn right onto eastbound Route 7, U-turn at Delta Glen Court, proceed on westbound Route 7 and turn right onto Springvale Road.

On or about Tuesday, Sept. 6, 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

  • Drivers will follow the detour routes above and will experience lane shifts on eastbound and westbound Route 7 while crews shift traffic to the north.

Following the traffic shift and continuing through late 2022:

  • Drivers on eastbound Route 7 will use a temporary displaced right-turn lane to access Baron Cameron Avenue.
  • Access from eastbound Route 7 to the Sunoco Service Center and Three Cees Car Wash will be maintained. To return to Route 7, drivers exiting the businesses will turn right onto Baron Cameron Avenue and U-turn at Hunter Gate Way/Hunter Mill Road.

The project is part of VDOT’s effort to widen almost seven miles of Route 7 from Reston Avenue to Jarrett Valley Drive. The project would widen the road from four to six lanes, add paths and update many of the intersections along the route. Overall, the project is on track for a July 2024 finish.

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I-66 construction in Fairfax County (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

To help ease congestion, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) said it will suspend work on many highway projects and lift lane restrictions on interstates and other major roads.

VDOT said in a release that Labor Day is one of the busiest travel days of the year. Past traffic data suggested the congestion is heaviest from noon to 7 p.m. on Friday and intermittently throughout the holiday weekend, Monday included.

“As travelers make their end-of-summer vacation plans before the hustle and bustle of the school season, drivers are encouraged to plan ahead for their holiday road trips,” VDOT said. “To make travel easier this coming Labor Day weekend, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will suspend many highway work zones and lift most lane closures on interstates and other major roads in Virginia from noon Friday, Sept. 2 until noon Tuesday, Sept. 6.”

According to the release:

  • All HOV restrictions on Interstate 66 and rush-hour tolls on the 66 Express Lanes Inside the Beltway will be lifted on Monday, Sept. 5.
  • Find directional schedules for the reversible 95 and 395 express lanes, and information for the 495 Express Lanes at www.expresslanes.com.

This story was first published on ALXnow.

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Drivers to and from eastbound Route 7 at the Lewinsville Road intersection will be detoured this weekend (via VDOT)

By this time next week, the intersection of Route 7 and Lewinsville Road in the Wolf Trap area will have a whole new look, but drivers must endure some inconveniences before the result of the makeover is revealed.

The median that currently facilitates traffic between eastbound Route 7 and Lewinsville will close at 7 p.m. on Friday (Aug. 26), requiring drivers to take an extended detour through Tysons, the Virginia Department of Transportation says.

Signs will be erected to guide drivers through the detour, which will go from Route 7 to Westpark Drive with a northward turn onto International Drive and Spring Hill Road.

“All residences, businesses and other public facilities will remain accessible via the signed detour route,” VDOT said in the news release.

The new Lewinsville Road will open to westbound Route 7 drivers, who can turn right at the McLean Bible Church intersection.

The detour will remain in place through 5 a.m. on Monday (Aug. 29), but the median will reopen to some movements at 6 a.m. Sunday (Aug. 28):

  • Drivers on LewinsvilleRoad/Brook Road will be able to turn left onto eastbound Route 7, turn right onto westbound Route 7, and go straight across to McLean Bible Church at the old Lewinsville Road intersection.
  • Drivers from McLean Bible Church at the old Lewinsville Road intersection will be able to turn left onto westbound Route 7, turn right onto eastbound Route 7, and go straight across the intersection to Lewinsville Road/Brook Road.
  • Drivers from McLean Bible Church at the new Lewinsville Road intersection will be able to turn right onto eastbound Route 7.
  • Drivers on westbound Route 7 will be able to turn left into McLean Bible Church at the old Lewinsville Road intersection.

When the new intersection fully opens at 5 a.m. on Monday, there will be a new, displaced left-turn lane for eastbound Route 7 drivers to access Lewinsville and Brook Road. The service road in front of McLean Bible Church will permanently close.

The new Lewinsville Road and Route 7 intersection (via VDOT)

The intersection was previously expected to open in the spring as part of the ongoing project to widen Route 7 from four to six lanes between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive.

The intersection’s permanent configuration is scheduled to be completed on Oct. 25, with the overall Route 7 project on track for a July 31, 2024 finish.

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A new ramp from I-495 North to I-66 West is scheduled to open on Aug. 25 (via VDOT)

After enduring roughly four years of construction, drivers will soon get access to the first piece of the revamped I-66 and Capital Beltway interchange in Dunn Loring.

A new flyover exit ramp from the northbound Beltway, also known as I-495, to I-66 West is set to open next Thursday (Aug. 25) morning, the Virginia Department of Transportation announced on Wednesday (Aug. 17).

According to VDOT, the ramp will open ahead of schedule, and as the first ramp in the interchange to be completed, next week’s opening will represent a milestone for the I-495 portion of the massive project to add toll lanes on I-66 outside the Beltway.

The ramp is located a half-mile south of the old exit ramp, which “will close to allow construction of new ramp connections at the I-66/I-495 interchange,” VDOT says.

“Drivers should stay alert for this new travel change and use caution when traveling in this area,” VDOT said.

With the reconfigured interchange, drivers will be able to get to and from the I-495 Express Lanes to the new I-66 Express Lanes and switch between express and general-purpose lanes. The ramp from I-495 North to I-66 East will stay in the same place.

The new I-66 toll lanes, which will extend 22.5 miles west into Gainesville, are on track to begin operations in December.

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Safety and operational improvements are under construction at the Backlick Road and Leesville Blvd intersection in Springfield (via VDOT/Twitter)

Work is underway on traffic signal and crosswalk improvements at a heavily used intersection in Springfield, the Virginia Department of Transportation announced yesterday (Wednesday).

Drivers and pedestrians at the intersection of Backlick Road and Leesville Blvd will see a number of changes intended to improve the site’s safety and functionality:

The traffic signal upgrades include new mast arm poles, foundations, wiring, electrical equipment, high-visibility signal backplates and signs. Also, drivers on Backlick Road will have flashing yellow arrows for left turns to Leesville Boulevard and the office park.

Pedestrians will have four new crosswalks with Accessible Pedestrian Signals at the intersection, as well as two new pedestrian islands on Leesville Boulevard. Other pedestrian improvements include American with Disabilities Act (ADA) curb ramp upgrades and installations.

In the works since August 2019, the project carries an estimated cost of $700,000, according to VDOT’s webpage. The funding came from the Virginia Highway Safety Improvement Program.

Located north of the I-95 and I-495 interchange, the intersection averages about 30,000 vehicles a day on Backlick Road and 4,000 on Leesville.

Construction is expected to be finished next summer.

“Drivers, cyclists and pedestrians are reminded to use caution when traveling in active work zones,” VDOT said in its news release. “Be alert to new traffic patterns, limit distractions and follow detour route signage.”

Photo via VDOT/Twitter

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Accotink Creek bridge along Alban Road in Springfield ( via Google Maps)

The seven-decade-old Accotink Creek Bridge along Alban Road in Springfield will be closed to traffic starting Saturday (Aug. 13) to undergo “urgent” repairs. The shutdown is expected to last about five weeks, until late September.

With the bridge crossing shuttered, traffic will be detoured to go around to bridge. That means vehicles will be directed to take Alban Road to Rolling Road to Fullerton Road (Route 4502) to Boudinot Drive and back to Alban Road.

Alban Road detour starting Aug. 13 (via Virginia Department of Transportation)

The work will affect 13 Fairfax Connector bus stops. Service will be consolidated into four temporary, alternative stops along the route.

The 77-foot bridge in Springfield near I-95 was first built in 1950 and last underwent repairs more than 30 years ago. An average of about 10,700 vehicles drove over it a day, per the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).

The concrete supporting the bridge is deteriorating and in need of “urgent” repairs, with “severe cracking” and “exposed/corroding reinforced steel” being major issues, according to a VDOT presentation.

Repairs will include removing and replacing old concrete with reinforcing steel as well as new concrete.

The bridge and that section of Alban Road are expected to reopen to traffic in late September. The rest of the project, which won’t require road closures, will be completed later in the fall.

VDOT hasn’t yet provided an estimated cost for the project, which is being financed by the state.

Photo via Google Maps

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VDOT has redesigned a circuitous Village Road pedestrian median in Reston (photo by Colin Mills/Reston Accessibility Committee)

(Updated at 6:10 p.m.) Community pressure about a circuitous and convoluted pedestrian refuge at Village Road in Reston has prompted a redesign.

Reston Association voiced its concerns about the “horrible initial design” of the refuge island in a letter to state and local transportation officials, according to RA spokesperson Mike Leone. The letter, along with community pressure, led to the rebuild and redesign effort.

VDOT has added a new access point and sidewalk.

“It is RA’s position that the changes/redesign are much better than the original design,” Leone wrote in a statement to FFXnow.

Construction crews are “almost finished with reconstruction, but it’s not yet turned over to us for inspection and acceptance,” VDOT spokesperson Ellen Kamilakis told FFXnow.

After FFXnow’s sister site, Reston Now, reported on the issues with the refuge in January, the Reston Accessibility Committee — a working group created by the Reston Citizens Association — submitted an assessment of the site to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn in February.

“In addition to the poor sidewalk design, our assessment cited the narrow ramps, the misalignment of the crosswalk buttons, and the fact that the Village Road crosswalk was behind the stop line for the traffic signal,” the committee said in its summer newsletter, released on Saturday (July 30).

RA’s Multimodal Transportation Advisory Committee, a citizen advisory committee that reports to RA, also flagged concerns about the refuge.

“Pedestrian navigability and safety were our chief concerns especially with the near proximity of the new Lake Anne House,” the committee said. “The Board agreed and sent a letter to  VDOT strongly urging redesign.”

While the redesign is a significant improvement over the previous iteration, MTAC’s chair Mike McDermott said that some issues still remain.

“While we are glad that corrections have been made, we do feel that pedestrian facilities should be present on all four legs of this signalized intersection,” McDermott wrote in a statement to FFXnow.

The previous design was so flawed that some pedestrians cut through the middle or skipped over the refuge entirely. Other concerns included narrow ramps and misalignment of crosswalk buttons.

The new design completes the sidewalk by turning into a loop and realigns the crosswalk  buttons. The vehicle stop line for the Village Road signal was also moved back behind the crosswalk.

“RAC supports the attempt to remediate the design and make the design safer and more accessible for everyone,” the Reston Accessibility Committee said in its newsletter. “There is still room for improvement, however, and we encourage all parties to continue exploring design changes to make it even better.”

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Cars head south on Richmond Highway in Penn Daw near the Groveton border (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

Driving on Richmond Highway in Fairfax County could get a little slower, potentially by the beginning of next year.

Virginia Department of Transportation staff said last week that the speed limit should be reduced from 45 to 35 mph along a 7.31-mile stretch of the roadway from the Capital Beltway at the Alexandria border to Jeff Todd Way in Mount Vernon.

The recommendation came from a year-long speed study prompted by concerns about the safety of the corridor, which saw two fatal pedestrian crashes in the span of a week earlier this July. The study found one 1.5-mile stretch that had a 75% higher crash rate than Virginia’s average.

According to the National Safety Council, speeding contributed to 29% of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. in 2020. Research suggests 10 mph can make a significant difference in the risk of severe injury or death that pedestrians face when hit by a vehicle.

Several states, including Virginia, have moved in recent years to lower speed limits on local streets, but about 60% of pedestrian deaths occur on major, non-interstate roads. In Fairfax County, speed limits in corridors like Richmond Highway and the also-treacherous Route 7 range from 35 to 45 mph even in increasingly urban, populous areas.

Though VDOT staff said reducing Route 1’s speed limit is expected to have a “minimal” impact on traffic, some community members at last week’s virtual meeting worried it might exacerbate congestion and cut-through traffic. Notably, the study recommended maintaining the 45 mph on the road through the Fort Belvoir area.

Others questioned the effectiveness of lowering the speed limit without robust police enforcement and other safety measures, such as added crosswalks and protected sidewalks. A recent report from the nonprofit Smart Growth America argued that driver behavior is more influenced by how roads are designed than posted speed limits.

How do you feel about lowering the speed limit on Richmond Highway and other major roads in Fairfax County? Is it a necessary safety improvement, or do you think other approaches should be considered instead?

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