Utility Line Relocations to Begin in Tysons

By Mark Berman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 30, 2007

Beginning early next month, drivers using the Route 7 service road in Tysons Corner could encounter delays while utilities are relocated in anticipation of Metro's projected arrival in 2013.

Although there will be lane closures, access to all businesses will be maintained, officials said.

Washington Gas will begin work in the westbound lane of the Route 7 service road between Gosnell Road and the first Route 7 entrance to the Pike 7 Plaza Shopping Center. The westbound lane of the service road will be closed to motorists until work is completed in that section, but the eastbound service lane will remain open.

"Obviously, if you have four lanes and they're full of cars and you close one, do the math," said Mike Salmon, spokesman for the Virginia Department of Transportation. "We're going to try to minimize the impact. For the first couple of months, we're only going to be doing it on the service road, so it won't impact Route 7."

The gas line relocation will last about four months and take place between Route 123 and Gosnell Road on the Route 7 service road, which runs parallel to Leesburg Pike.

Several other companies also will be relocating utilities along the service road, according to the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project. Relocations for phone, fiber optics, electric, water, sewer and sanitary drainage lines will follow the gas line relocation. In all, the utility relocations are expected to take about two years. Salmon said they will try to minimize the impact by working during non-rush-hour periods and at night as much as possible.

But the rail project itself hasn't started.

"The Dulles Rail project hasn't been approved by the Federal Transit Administration yet," Salmon said. "These utility relocations are preliminary engineering steps in anticipation of the project. It's work in advance of the rail project, but it's not necessarily the start of the rail project."

Washington Gas will be working overnight -- between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. -- in a small section of the main lanes of Leesburg Pike just east of Gosnell Road, according to the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project. One or two lanes might be closed at night, but all lanes will reopen by 5 a.m.

There will be access to all businesses during the utility relocation work, and signs will alert drivers to traffic-pattern changes.

Nat Kitt, manager of Thai Pilin, a restaurant in the Pike 7 Plaza Shopping Center, expressed some worries about the coming work.

"I think it's going to be a little bit tough on customers, finding a parking spot," said Kitt, whose restaurant faces the service road. "I'm sure there's going to be traffic and a little bit of congestion, but nothing much you can do."

Kitt is concerned about the utility work because "anything can go wrong," he said. "They can bust a line, cut the power -- all that stuff comes into play. Hopefully, everything goes smooth, like they said."

Weather will help determine the exact date the utility work will start, Salmon said.

The Route 7 project includes widening the road to four lanes in each direction, adding sidewalks to both sides and creating pedestrian bridges across it and Route 123.

For emergency utility and construction-related issues, the public can call a 24-hour hotline at 877-585-6789.

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