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New Plan Underway to Control Traffic on Hunter Mill Road

by Fatimah Waseem January 24, 2018 at 10:00 am 20 Comments

After years of discussion, Fairfax County officials are finalizing long awaited plans to tackle traffic backups on Hunter Mill Road near the Dulles Toll Road.

The Fairfax County Dept. of Transportation plans to realign Sunset Hills Road to Crowell Road, with a roundabout as the intersection control, according to a proposal filed last month. The Fairfax County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the plans today at 7:30 p.m.

Hunter Mill Road would be widened to four lanes between the intersection of Crowell Road and Sunset Hills Road to the Dulles Toll Road’s westbound ramps. The four-lane section would use existing right-of-way and pavement along Hunter Mill Road.

The plan departs from six alternatives discussed during six community charrettes since 2014. County officials found that no alternative would adequately reduce congestion during peak hours, according to the proposal.

Originally, the county hoped to shift the Sunset Hills Road intersection by moving it opposite the westbound off-ramp for the Dulles Toll Road and relocate the on-ramp to begin at Sunset Hills Road west of Hunter Mill Road. But a Metrorail track power substation is now being built at that site.

A second option would have relocated Sunset Hills Road by bringing the intersection of Sunset Hills Road and Hunter Mill Road as close as possible to Reston Presbyterian Church. That option would not provide enough space between the intersections. A third option with roundabout in the area  would have required the church to relocate.

The proposed solution would address traffic congestion and the roundabout feature meets the community’s desire to “calm” traffic to the north of Crowell Road, according to the plan.

The road realignment was prompted in response to increased traffic congestion driven by new development.

Currently, morning and afternoon traffic along Sunset Hills Road near the westbound Dulles Toll Road causes daily traffic congestion at the intersection of Sunset Hills Road and Hunter Mill Road.

A hearing before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is set for March 6 at 4 p.m.

Photo via Fairfax County Department of Transportation

  • Arielle in NoVA

    Yay! Can’t wait.

  • Mike M

    It’s been known for years that this part of Hunter Mill and its 267 intersection vicinity have been a slow train wreck in the making. An owner of nearby commercial property told me how money for an upgrade was blocked many years ago for purely political reasons.

    Here’s the problem I perceive with this solution. I believe the County apparatchiks are far more low brow, cynical, self-aggrandizing, and shameless than most people would believe. I believe this plan is part of a non-stop war with the Thoburn family and it’s property rights. I strongly suspect that un-elected officials make decisions in this area regarding sewage treatment, rotaries, any improvements based on a long-standing and incredibly irresponsible and authoritarian vendetta.

    You may recall County thugs had Thoburn jailed for violating a special regimen they drew up for very precisely what plans he should plant and precisely where. That was an egregious overstep. I think this new plan is more of the same. I believe County personnel and consultants might have to be jailed for this disgusting and outrageous abuse of authority.

    This has gone on for years. It’s connected to the local over-development. I’ve had enough. I intend to get involved with this. I want true criminals jailed. Can anyone from the Thoburn family, or anyone familiar with this situation speak up with more detail? Names? State or federal-level investigation may be long overdue.

    • 40yearsinreston

      Didnt the original metro plans locate a station there ?

      • Mike M

        I don’t know. But it wouldn’t make sense to me after the McMansion development East of Hunter Mill and south of 267 went in. It also wouldn’t make sense given that constricted Hunter Mill underpass. Perhaps long ago.

      • Greg

        No, but one was planned farther east at Wolf Trap.

    • Tom Wyland

      I’m not sure I have any idea of what you are referring to. Wasn’t the Thoburn property on the east side of Hunter Mill Rd… the area that is now the school?
      The last time I saw a proposed transportation upgrade in this area it required a homeowner to sell property to the County to build a roundabout (or was it two roundabouts?). The change didn’t go through because a homeowner couldn’t come to terms with the County (as I recall). The intersection configuration can’t be fixed by light timing alone and it requires something else: intersection re-alignment or traffic circles, etc. Does this not seem like a reasonable solution if the landowners agree to cooperate? I’m honestly just asking your opinion, not trolling here.

      • Mike M

        Thoburn owned a good chunk of land on both sides – most of it in that vicinity. Developers and County officials wanted it bad for years and bedeviled him to the point of jailing him via proxy issues they created when they couldn’t get their terms. These are facts, as are the other statements I made above. Do you think I am hallucinating?

        Major obstacles to the traffic problem in this are:
        1) The iron and concrete constricted Hunter Mill underpass at 267.
        2) The one lane bridge north of here on Hunter Mill.
        3) The rural, hilly, isolated and two-lane nature of Crowell.

        This plans encourages commuter traffic while only making superficial accommodations. Sound familiar?

        • Tom Wyland

          This area is really problematic, I agree. So do you think we should spend a ton of money making this intersection super efficient? Will we just “encourage commuter traffic?” Yes, that’s a thing (induced demand). I’m willing to bet that the proposed realignment of the intersection probably opens up 3 or 4 more future possibilities for “improving” the intersection in the future that are currently off the table. Just a hunch.

          • Mike M

            I don’t think we ought not induce demand where there is little. I think we ought to stop approving demand unless we have the means to accommodate it. I’d rather developers pay for the demand they get approved as a condition of approval – instead of “workforce housing.”

          • 40yearsinreston

            That is against Hudgens
            Besdes, it makes toouch sense

    • Greg
  • 40yearsinreston

    While Hudgens is asleep, perhaps something will be done about Temporary Road mess
    Putting up more towers is not a solution
    The North Shore Dr intersection is a death trap

  • Greg

    The grand irony is that Hunter Mill is designated a Virginia Scenic Byway—what with its charming one-lane bridges, dangerous blind curves and hills, bike-trail crossings (always the bikers!), old cinder-block church that couldn’t pay its water bills and, of course, the endlessly persecuted Thoburns and their private schools.

    • OneReally

      As John Thoburn put it very well it was about putting him out of business.

      Then the county could take the land or drive another buyer to purchase at foreclosure prices.

  • Sam

    The recent installation of the traffic signal at Hunter Mill and Crowell has greatly improved my morning commute coming off of Sunset. Can’t speak for evening traffic as I take the toll road going home. Does make me wonder why they spent the money to improve it now if they’re going to rip it out and install a roundabout…

    • Rational Reston

      I routinely go through this intersection during my evening commute. The traffic has been greatly improved (not to mention safety since all-way stops are treated like stop-and-gos by some drivers). One would think just converting that 3 way traffic light to a normal one would do the trick.

      I don’t understand the fascination with roundabouts in this area, they’re just four way stops with a lot more pavement and requires more patience and slightly more brainpower than drivers seemingly have.

    • John B

      Agree with Sam, the light solved the problem both ways. As a minimum they need to re-do the traffic surveys after the light.

      Then they should stop tearing down trees and installing more concrete, the area is overbuilt as it is (look at the vacancy rates for office space). They are trying to solve a problem that doesn’t need to happen.

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