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To Close Funding Gap, County Board Approves $40 Million for Route 7 Widening

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will contribute up to $40 million to help close a funding a gap in the widening of Route 7.

The $278 million project, which will widen Route 7 between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive from four to six lanes, will cost roughly 95 million more than what engineers’ originally estimated.

The board unanimously voted to approve additional funds on Tuesday (June 19). The Virginia Department of Transportation is expected to also contribute up to $40 million.

Tom Biesiadny, director of the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, said cost overruns were linked primarily to how the contract was bid. The state is currently negotiating between two offerors who offered bids above the estimated price. The contract is a design-to-build, which is costlier than design-to-bid projects and would allow the project to begin two years earlier than originally anticipated,  Biesiadny said.

Officials hope to reduce the expected costs of the project by negotiating with the two offerors. Final bid offers must be in by early July.

Most funding to meet the gap will be taken from dollars allocated for Tysons projects. A plan to widen Frying Pan Road will also be deferred, Biesiadny said.

Biesiadny said bicycle and pedestrian improvements are also planned along the seven-mile stretch, which he said connects Reston and Tysons.

It provides benefits to both of those areas by allowing traffic to move more quickly through those areas, reduc[ing] congestion, but also provid[ing[ bicycle and pedestrian improvements and bus stop improvements,” he said.

File photo via FCDOT

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Route 7 Widening Project to Tysons Hit by Funding Gap

An additional $40 million is being sought to begin widening a seven-mile stretch of Route 7 between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive.

State officials’ estimates of the overall $278 million project came in $95 million above the amount originally anticipated by the proposal. The project has been bid and is ready for construction, pending the approval of additional funding.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will consider approving funding at their June 19 meeting.

Once the funding gap has been bridged, construction will begin to widen Route 7 from four to six lanes with intersection improvements and the addition of a shared-use path on both sides of the roadway. County and state officials said the project is necessary to reduce congestion, improve safety and boost mobility for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Officials said the project came in nearly $1 million above estimates due to the competitive market generated by ongoing construction in Northern Virginia, several challenging utility relocations (including a $200 million upgrade project by Washington Gas) and the more than 230 property transactions required to ensure right-of-way.

The county is considering pitching in $23 million in funding that was not previously allocated by the board. Dollars will be drawn from the following project:  Route 123’s widening ($13 million), Frying Pan road widening ($3 million) and a park and ride expansion at the Lorton VRE ($690,470). The Virginia Department of Transportation will provide up to $40 million in state funding.

According to 2011 traffic counts provided by VDOT, the stretch of Route 7 carries between 46,000 and 54,000 vehicles per day. That number is expected to increase to 73,000 to 86,000 by 2040, VDOT says.

Map via VDOT

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Sterling Woman Killed in Route 7 Crash — Shirley Lee Corum, 75, was eastbound on Route 7 near the Dulles Toll Road on Monday morning when she crossed over the median into the westbound lanes and hit a guardrail. Police say Corum suffered a “medical emergency” that led to the accident. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Local Students Up for National Merit Scholarship Program — Rohan Chandra and Eshaan Sarup, of South Lakes High School, and Michael J. Barth, of Herndon High School, are among 16,000 students nationwide who are continuing in the competition for National Merit Scholarships worth a total of more than $32 million. [Reston Patch/Herndon Patch]

Dogs Die in Vienna House Fire — Crews responded to the 2000 block of Gunnell Farms Drive early Sunday morning to battle a blaze in a two-story home. The homeowners were not home, but two dogs who were inside lost their lives. The fire caused an estimated $273,750 in damages. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]

New Turf Field at Herndon Park — A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place earlier this month for the new turf soccer pitch at Herndon Community Center’s Bready Park. The Town of Herndon paid $566,000 from its general fund for the project, while Fairfax County provided a $125,000 grant and Herndon Youth Soccer will pay $400,000. [Connection Newspapers]

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County Supervisors Endorse Plans for Route 7 Widening to Tysons

At its meeting Tuesday, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors gave its seal of approval to plans to widen Leesburg Pike (Route 7) from Reston to Tysons.

The Virginia Department of Transportation project will involve nearly seven miles of Route 7, between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive, which is just before the Dulles Toll Road interchange. Supervisors approved the plan, with two minor amendments, as it was presented at a public hearing in November. (View information shared and discussed at that meeting here.)

“[This has been] a long-awaited case,” Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said at the meeting prior to the vote.

This is the latest stage of VDOT’s work to add two lanes to the heavily traveled highway, bringing it to six overall. They also plan to add facilities for cyclists and pedestrians, and make “substantial intersection and other improvements” along the corridor. Those improvements, according to VDOT, will include constructing a partial interchange at Baron Cameron Avenue to reduce congestion.

A rendering provided by VDOT shows the Baron Cameron interchange will have the eastbound lanes of Route 7 traveling under the road, connected via ramps. Westbound lanes will continue to face a stoplight at the intersection.

According to 2011 traffic counts provided by VDOT, the stretch of Route 7 carries between 46,000 and 54,000 vehicles per day. That number is expected to increase to 73,000 to 86,000 by 2040, VDOT says.

Anticipated cost of the project is $234 million. VDOT is expected to put out its request for proposals on the project later this year. Work is planned to start in late 2020 and last until 2025.

Rendering and map courtesy Virginia Department of Transportation

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Lawyer to Discuss Route 7 Widening with Public Next Week

A meeting is slated for June 1 to discuss the effects of widening of Route 7 from Reston to Tysons.

Michael J. Coughlin is the eminent domain, land use and zoning, and real estate lawyer for Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley and Walsh PC. He will host the meeting on the project Thursday, June 1 from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Sheraton Tysons (8661 Leesburg Pike, Tysons).

The proposed Virginia Department of Transportation project will involve nearly seven miles of Route 7, between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive, which is just before the Dulles Toll Road interchange. Coughlin is inviting residents to the meeting to “learn about the project, potential impacts to properties, what to do to prepare for the project, the eminent domain process in Virginia, and the legal rights of owners and businesses affected by the project.”

This is the latest stage of VDOT’s work to add two lanes to the heavily traveled highway, bringing it to six overall. They also plan to add facilities for cyclists and pedestrians, and make “substantial intersection and other improvements” along the corridor.

Those improvements, according to VDOT, would include:

  • Constructing a partial interchange at Baron Cameron Avenue to reduce congestion
  • Relocating Lewinsville Road and creating a displaced left-turn intersection
  • Replacing and raising the Difficult Run bridge to reduce flooding

The last public hearing on the project was held in November. View information shared and discussed at that meeting here.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is slated to vote on the project design next month. Upon approval, VDOT is expected to put out its request for proposals on the project later this year. Work is planned to start in late 2020 and last until 2025. Anticipated cost of the project is $234 million.

Photo: Intersection of Route 7 and Baron Cameron Avenue. Map via Virginia Department of Transportation.

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Monday Morning Notes

Herndon Man Dies in Route 7 Crash — Rush Hone Elmore, 69, died Friday after his vehicle was rear-ended near Leesburg. The impact of the crash forced his car off the roadway, where it overturned. He died at Reston Hospital Center. [Leesburg Police Department]

Units Respond to Kitchen Fire in Reston — Firefighters attacked a blaze Sunday afternoon at a home in the 12300 block of Brown Fox Way. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue/Twitter]

Plum Campaign Event Set for April 30 — Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax) will kick off his campaign for re-election to the state House of Delegates with a fundraiser at The Lake House (11450 Baron Cameron Ave.). Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is scheduled to be in attendance to show his support. [Del. Ken Plum]

Reston Students Profiled in ‘KidsPost’ — Katie Damon’s second-grade class at Terraset Elementary School voted on their favorite author, singer, sport and more for a profile in this weekend’s Washington Post. The kids also reported what they want to be when they grow up and what superpower they’d like to have. [Washington Post]

Bridge Title Claimed by Herndon Woman — Li Yiting was part of the team that won the Machlin Women’s Swiss Teams event at the Spring North American Bridge Championships last month in Kansas City. This is her third championship win. [Fairfax Times]

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Friday Morning Notes

Morning Notes - Winter

Route 7 Getting Upgrades to Connect Communities — The widening of Route 7 will also include new trails and a tunnel that will connect Tysons Corner to Reston. The plans apply to a seven-mile stretch from the Dulles Toll Road to Route 193, and work is expected to be completed by 2025. [Greater Greater Washington]

Two Area Schools Get New Principals — Fairfax County Public Schools welcomed five new principals this week. Among the schools to receive them are Herndon High School and Herndon Elementary. Herndon High welcomes Elizabeth Noto and Herndon Elementary welcomes Teresa Fennessy. [FCPS News]

Track Work Will Disrupt Weekend Metro Service — Repairs to Metro tracks will mean disrupted Silver Line service this weekend, including some routes being replaced by shuttle buses. In addition, WMATA says Metro will shut down and buses will replace the Orange, Blue and Silver Line routes in downtown D.C. the weekend of Feb. 4-5. [WMATA News]

County’s Legislative Delegation to Hold Public Hearing — Fairfax County’s delegation to Virginia’s General Assembly will hold a hearing for public comment Saturday at 9 a.m. at the County Government Center (12000 Government Center Pkwy.). Speakers who wish give opinions on issues the General Assembly is likely to consider in its upcoming session can register in advance. [Fairfax County]

Virginia Macy’s Stores on the Chopping Block — After disappointing holiday sales, Macy’s announced this week that it will close more than 60 stores nationwide. On the list of closures are the stores in Alexandria and Lynchburg. In addition, the Tysons Corner store’s building has been sold, but Macy’s said it plans to keep the location open by leasing it back. [CNBC]

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Breaking: Route 7 Closed After Truck Accident

Truck accident on Route 7/Credit: FCPD

Updated, 8:36 a.m. Wednesday. The road has been reopened.

A tractor trailer accident on Leesburg Pike westbound under Fairfax County Parkway is affecting traffic Wednesday morning.

Fairfax County Police said the crash occurred about 5 a.m. and the road will be closed until at least 7 or 8 a.m.

There is a detour around incident routed onto Algonkian Pkwy.

Photo: Fairfax County Police

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VDOT: Wider Route 7 Now Open

Traffic LightThe Virginia Department of Transportation says the newly built third lanes in each direction on Route 7 from Rolling Holly Drive to Reston Avenue are now open.

The $34 million project to widen the mile-and-a-half stretch of Route 7 also includes shared-use paths, lengthened turn lanes, a new signal at Redberry Court and intersection improvements at Georgetown Pike and Seneca Road. All work is scheduled to be complete in early January.

Drivers can expect some intermittent daytime lane closures as crews work on the project’s final details, says VDOT.

The expanded lanes should alleviate traffic tie-ups from Reston through Great Falls to Sterling.

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