The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will formally recommend that VDOT include two pedestrian underpasses as part of the Richmond Highway widening project, according to the agenda documents for Tuesday’s Board meeting.
The Board documents include a draft letter to VDOT signed by Fairfax County Department of Transportation Director Tom Biesiadny. The letter endorses the general design of the highway as presented at VDOT’s March informational meeting, as well as the underpasses and a few other modifications.
The underpasses were supported by the majority of respondents to a VDOT online survey, according to the Board documents. Out of the 381 people who responded to questions about the underpasses, 59 percent supported the Dogue Creek underpass and 58 percent supported the Little Hunting Creek underpass.
The Little Hunting Creek underpass will be located under a new, longer bridge crossing the creek, which is located in Hybla Valley between Buckman Road and Ladson Lane. While both the Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation (SFDC) and the Mount Vernon Council of Citizens Associations (MVCCA) supported the underpass, it was not supported by the New Gum Springs Civic Association, who had voiced concerns about public safety.
The Dogue Creek underpass will allow for a pedestrian crossing between the Jeff Todd Way and the Sacramento Drive intersections. That stretch of the widening project is the longest section between traffic lights.
Two-way cycle track
Among the other design changes recommended by the county, one calls for two-way bike lanes (referred to as “cycle tracks”) on each side of the widened roadway. Previously VDOT had envisioned one-way traffic for each side of the highway.
The Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling was among those who had asked for the change, saying two-way traffic on the bike lanes would prevent extra trips across the widened Route 1.
“As proposed, the one-way bike path will require bicyclists who want to travel the “wrong way” to reach a destination on the same side of [Richmond Highway] to cross the 178 foot highway, twice!” the FABB said of the original design. “Bi-directional cycle tracks on both sides of [Richmond Highway] will allow bicyclists to ride north or south without having to cross the widened highway.”
The widths of the two-way tracks will be eight feet on each side, according to the county’s letter.
The letter also recommends a traffic light be installed at the entrance to the U.S. Post Office located at the intersection of Route 1 and Wyngate Manor Court (see map). It is also recommended to VDOT that they build bridges for the future Richmond Highway bus rapid transit system (BRT) at Dogue Creek and Little Hunting Creek.
About the project
The $372 million Richmond Highway widening project will widen a 3.1 mile section of the road between Jeff Todd Way and Sherwood Hall Lane. The road will be three lanes in each direction, and bike lanes and pedestrian sidewalks will be installed on both sides. Room for the future Richmond Highway bus rapid trans (BRT) will be left in the middle.
The widening will require the acquisition of land on each side of the road, and VDOT is set to begin that process in the spring. New, longer bridges over Dogue Creek and Little Hunting Creek will be built, and at this point utilities will be relocated and remain above ground — although there have been discussions about possibly undergrounding utilities.
The roadway will also lead to design changes for some intersections, which can be seen here. Sacramento Drive and Cooper Road will be realigned so that they intersect. The south end of Buckman Road will be closed off and a new intersection will be made at Radford Avenue and Mohawk Lane. The intersection of Mount Vernon Highway and the north end of Buckman Road will be moved farther south to make room for the larger bridge over Little Hunting Creek, and new bioretention ponds will be added along the road to assist with stormwater management.