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Fairfax County Parkway extension project hits ‘mega' status

President Obama spoke near a Fairfax County Parkway work site this month. It's Virginia's largest Recovery Act project.
President Obama spoke near a Fairfax County Parkway work site this month. It's Virginia's largest Recovery Act project. (Aude Guerrucci/getty Images)

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Completion of the parkway is one of a handful of road construction programs the Virginia Department of Transportation designates as its Northern Virginia Megaprojects. Many of those other big efforts, including the high-occupancy toll lanes and the Telegraph Road interchange, already are having a high impact on drivers who pass through the work zones. The parkway project is about to join their ranks.

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Fullerton Road Cutoff

Before the parkway extension improves access to the west of Interstate 95 from Newington, the project's construction phase will put drivers through some new maneuvers

Starting early in November, the VDOT plans to take two steps: It will close part of Fullerton Road and it will close Exit 166B from southbound Interstate 95, which leads to Fullerton Road.

This will clear the way for construction workers to build a bridge carrying the parkway over Fullerton. Part of this involves lowering the roadbed.

Detours: Southbound drivers on I-95 who want to reach Fullerton Road will be detoured to Exit 167. The trick is that Exit 167, for Backlick Road, comes before the closed-off ramp. So drivers will have to be careful that they don't zone out on their way home and pass their new exit. Once on Backlick Road, those drivers will make a right on Boudinot Drive to connect with the open part of Fullerton Road.

Those northbound on the parkway and heading toward Springfield will follow the detour to Fullerton, then take either the first left on Boudinot and go left again to reach Backlick Road, or they can continue on Fullerton and make a right onto Rolling Road.

Impact: Most construction detours create confusion and congestion during their first few weeks as drivers figure out their best routes and adapt. They'll certainly have plenty of time to adapt to this one: It's scheduled to be in place for a year.

During the morning peak, an average of 345 vehicles an hour travel from Fullerton Road to Rolling Road. That becomes 873 an hour at the afternoon peak. On southbound Backlick Road, you will find 1,776 vehicles an hour in the morning peak and 2,918 in the p.m. peak.

Construction in Phases

The idea behind the Fairfax County Parkway was to link the ends of the county from Route 7 in the north to Route 1 near Fort Belvoir in the southeast. Right now, it's in pieces. One part begins at Route 7 and ends at the Franconia-Springfield Parkway. The other part, to the east, runs from Fullerton Road just west of I-95 to Route 1. Rolling Road and Fullerton Road help drivers cover the missing link.

The Army base relocation program, which will bring almost 13,000 new jobs to Fort Belvoir and Springfield's Engineering Proving Ground in fall 2011, created visions of far worse traffic congestion in the area and spurred efforts to finish the final two miles of the parkway and its interchanges.

The current federal-state construction program has four phases. When the first two are done in late 2010, drivers will have a direct route to I-95 through the Engineering Proving Ground. Later phases will expand access.

Phase 1: Construction of a four-lane parkway between Rolling Road and Fullerton Road that will provide direct access to I-95.

Phase 2: Construction of a partial cloverleaf interchange at Rolling Road and the Engineering Proving Ground entrance, plus extension of Boudinot Drive to provide an on-ramp to the southbound parkway.

Phase 3: Relocation of Hooes Road and Rolling Road, plus improvements to the Franconia-Springfield Parkway interchange and the Fairfax County Parkway. This is scheduled to be done by the end of 2012.

Phase 4: Extension of Boudinot Drive at the Fairfax County Parkway and construction of a loop ramp. This is scheduled to be done in mid-2011.

-- Robert Thomson


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