County Discusses Traffic Improvements for Fairfax Area

Posted: July 14, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Dave Andrews

At its most recent meeting held last week, the George Mason University – Braddock District Community Forum discussed what could turn out to be the most complicated construction project the region has ever seen.

Last month, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation began conducting an eight-month-long study of the intersection at Route 123 and Braddock, which borders Mason’s Fairfax Campus. Because the intersection is one of the region’s most congested areas, the county intends to make significant improvements.

Traffic consultants were selected and will be gathering data through January 2009. Transportation planners have long thought that creating an overpass and underpass of the two roads would produce the most efficient traffic flow. However, space constraints are a huge hurdle – the area is closely bordered by University Mall, residential neighborhoods and the edge of campus.

“Our main goal is to limit the footprint of construction as much as possible,” said Seyed Ahmad Nabavi, transportation planner for the Fairfax County DOT. “Separating the grades of the roads would be extremely difficult, but right now we are simply collecting data and brainstorming ideas.”

At this preliminary stage, potential construction costs and options are unknown. The only federal funding that has been identified for the project thus far will be devoted to the study. No money is yet available for a preliminary design, let alone final design and actual construction.

Traffic consultants will be present at the next Mason/Braddock forum in October to give a more detailed update. They also plan to hold additional meetings with representatives from the surrounding communities that would be affected.

The difficulty of the project is further compounded by Civil War features – foxholes presumably dug by Confederate soldiers – that are located on Mason’s property at the intersection. The area has been designated as an archeological site, and the county has ensured that the Civil War features would be protected.

The chance that the study concludes with a “no build” alternative – where no construction improvements whatsoever are made – is very unlikely, according to Sharon Bulova, Braddock District supervisor.

“This project is likely to receive federal funding once the alternatives and costs are made known. Something will happen,” Bulova said. “However, this is a very long-term project we’re discussing. This isn’t something that will happen tomorrow.”

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