County still evaluating historical impact of Soapstone Connector

The county is still mulling ways on how to minimize the impact of the Soapstone Connector on historic areas surrounding the proposed one-mile extension between Sunrise Valley Drive and Sunset Hills Road.

The $235 million project has been on the county’s drawing board for years. Earlier this month, the county officially approved plans to seek $75 million in Northern Virginia Transportation Authority funding for its FY2022-2027 funding program.

The Soapstone Connector is located west of the Wiehe-Reston East Metro Station and would include a new bridge across the Dulles Toll Road. Pedestrian and bicyclist accommodations are also planned as part of the massive project.

But construction isn’t expected to begin until fiscal year 2027, a spokesperson for the Fairfax County Department of Transportation tells Reston Now.  County transportation officials anticipate the project will be funded from federal dollars — which requires the county to determine how the project would impact historic resources.

An initial analysis found that the proposed project does not significantly impact historical resources in the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad and yhe Wiehle Historic District. The Virginia Department of Historic Resources has officially agreed with this conclusion.

But the project would have an adverse effect on properties in the Association Drive Historic District (ADHD).

Once it was concluded that there were no prudent and feasible alternative to impacting the ADHD, a determination was made that the Soapstone Connector would have an Adverse Effect to the ADHD. Once this determination of Adverse Effect is made, the next step is to develop a strategy to mitigate the Adverse Effect,” Robin Geiger of FCDOT told Reston Now.

The county is working with state and federal partners to develop a mitigation strategy. But details on plans have not yet been made public. Discussions on proposed alternatives have been underway since at least 2018.

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