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Fairfax County Board Unanimously Approves Sunset Hills Road Realignment

by Fatimah Waseem March 8, 2018 at 2:45 pm 23 Comments

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved plans to realign Sunset Hills Road this week, pencilling in planning language caught in gridlock the proposal hopes to prevent.

Although the project remains far from groundbreaking, the board’s vote approves the realignment of Sunset Hills Road to Crowell Road — a move board supervisors said preserves the character of the surrounding residential area while calming current and future traffic. A roundabout will act as the intersection control and Hunter Mill Road will be converted to four continuous lanes from the realigned area to the Dulles Toll Road’s westbound ramps. 

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said the plan balances the community’s interests while calming traffic in a “critical” area long-slated for improvements. Still, Hudgins hinted much more remains to be done to calm traffic in surrounding areas. 

“I would love to say we’re finished,” she said.

The issue boasts a long and beleaguered history. Proposals have been in county’s books since 1975, when an alignment similar to the current plan was approved.

County staff pitched the plan after a two-year public engagement period yielded seven options, including a no-build alternative. Staff narrowed options to three possibilities, two of which were struck down because they fell in the path of a Metrorail power station or would have required purchasing land from Reston Presbyterian Church. 

“We wanted to come up with a solution that helped preserve the character north and the roundabout really does that,” said Kristin Calkins, who works with the county’s transportation department.

The addition of the roundabout increases the total price tag of the project by around $3 million. No comprehensive cost analysis has been conducted to date.

Some residents expressed satisfaction with the plan after the county’s Planning Commission added language to push the realignment east of the Edlin School, restrict the alignment past north of Crowell Road, and maximize the distance between the new Sunset Hills Road and the adjacent Hunting Crest Community when the road is designed.

Lauding community engagement by Hudgins and Planning Commissioner John Carter, Raj Jain, president of the Hunting Crest Homeowners’ Association, said the changes addresses the community’s concerns about traffic noise and safety. He suggested completing a noise impact and mitigation study during the design phase of the project.

But others like Benise Ungar, vice president of the Hunting Creek Homeowners’ Association, said amendments to allay community concerns carried no legal weight.

Citing her appreciation for the county’s “good faith efforts,” Ungar said the roundabout “will be massive and not compatible with the surrounding area.” She also said residents and property owners impacted by the plan have publicly stated they will not sell their land to make way for the project.

Staff conceded the plan was an imperfect solution. The approved plan adds language into the county’s comprehensive plan. The roundabout is not a prescriptive solution — only  the “preferred solution.”

Information on the following phases, including designing, was not immediately available.

  • 40yearsinreston

    I too, would love to hear Hudgins say she is finished
    Unfortunately, we will have to live with the results of her ineptness and failure to control Reston gridlock

    • Greg

      That day can’t come soon enough.

      • Ann

        You can say that again!

  • Why do you bother?

    I loathe roundabouts and think they bollix up traffic even more.

    • Joyce W

      I loathe Kathy Hudgins, who has destroyed Reston.

      • Reston Resident

        I’ve always wondered, is Kathy H. on the take? Is this an open secret?

        • meyerweb

          Pretty much ALL the supervisors are in the pocket of developers. Developers are, by far, the largest contributors to local political campaigns.

          • Conservative Senior

            Pat Herrity is beholden to only the residents of Fairfax County.

          • meyerweb

            Yeah, you go on believing that he doesn’t get campaign contributions, and that those contributions don’t affect his votes. Dream on.

      • Why do you bother?

        On that, we completely agree.

  • Elisabeth Springer

    In response to the comment that roundabouts tie up traffic, I would like to submit that in The Netherlands, where heavy traffic is a major problem, roundabouts have been found to be much more effective than traffic lights, and are used extensively for roads like Hunter Mill. I applaud the plan for a roundabout.

    • North Restonian

      After reading “Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)” by Tom Vanderbilt I came to the same conclusion. Roundabouts reduce accidents and congestion. I’m a fan.

      • Donald

        They’ve been proven to handle traffic capacity by as much as 50%. As I understand, federal, state and local entities are already implementing them across the country.


        • Greg

          “They’ve been proven to handle traffic capacity by as much as 50%.”

          Well, isn’t that swell, HALF (50%) of the traffic capacity. EXACTLY what we need in NoVA!

    • johnson

      While I agree they work. Every area has their own name for them. Unfortunately, we are not talking about skilled drivers in this area. 🙂

      This nasty traffic situation begins with the fact that there are no clover-leaves on the toll road which means lights on both sides of the road snarling traffic.

    • Voila

      Round abouts take more space, space that could be used for workforce housing. Maybe we can compromise and make the round abouts square with highrise buildings in the middle?

      • Mike M

        Vicious! But I like it!

  • dudewe

    Forty years in the making! Shame Hudgins, the other County Supervisors and the staff. (And yes, the state). They have reacted to traffic congestion much too late and are continuing their ineptitude to this day. All they think about is rezoning and new development without providing proper transportation infrastructure. What a way to run a government….

    P.S, And the new budget gives county employee raises while increasing our taxes. Ugh!

    • johnson

      She CREATES the very traffic congestion that they have to fix years later.

  • 40yearsinreston

    The good news is that roundabouts and bike lanes dont mix

    • Joe Smith

      Bikes take the full lane in those cases. Oh the humanity.

  • Greendayer

    A rotary and four lanes is going to take a lot of space.

  • Density Games 2018

    FFX CTY promised Soapstone, caves, then settles for round abouts. Wow?

    Hudgins also listed in the RA museum as a “pioneer woman”. If she is really so great what did she do?



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