Short-Term Fixes for Major Fairfax Intersection Under Consideration

Posted: January 15, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Dave Andrews

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Tens of millions of dollars of state money for road improvements is hard to come by, especially in tight economic times. But upgrades to the intersection of Braddock Road and Route 123 (Ox Road) are moving up on Fairfax County’s priority list.

The intersection, which borders Mason’s Fairfax Campus, is considered to be the most traffic-congested area in the county. Transportation planners for Fairfax County are in the middle of an ongoing traffic study to determine the best long-term remedy. A handful of different solutions have already been proposed, each including an overpass in which Route 123 passes over Braddock.

Plans for the overpass are strictly preliminary and would require a significant amount of state funds – funding that has yet to be allocated. Representatives from the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) estimate the project might not happen for another five to 10 years.

“I do think that we will eventually allocate the funding necessary to bring the project to fruition,” said Sharon Bulova, representative of the Braddock District on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. “As of late, this topic has risen to the point where plans to take action need to be in place.”

That kind of thinking has motivated county transportation planners to develop interim improvements to give the interchange a little more leg room until the overpass project gets under way.

At the most recent George Mason University – Braddock District Community Forum held last week, engineers from the FCDOT introduced a few of the noticeable changes that could happen to the intersection in the near future.

Of the possible changes, most incorporate creating additional left-turn lanes, as well as increasing their vehicle capacity. The interim improvements would be designed so as not to preclude the further development of the overpass project.

“These are ways we could really ease the pain of commuting through the area without yet having to bear the big price tag [of building an overpass],” says Tad Borkowski, transportation planner for the FCDOT.

“But even though the minor improvements will definitely help, they won’t have a significant impact. They would make the intersection wider and bigger, but not necessarily a whole lot better.”

Though the cost of modifying the turn lanes would be significantly less than constructing an overpass, funding is not secure nor is it easily acquired. There is no definitive timeline set for either project. The next Mason – Braddock Community Forum is scheduled for April, at which time planners hope to have more information about construction costs and schedules.

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