The Virginia Highway and Transportation Department has scheduled a hearing June 24 on long-awaited plans to widen Chain Bridge Road and Old Dominion Drive in McLean, although it has the funds to do only part of the Chain Bridge project.
The hearing begins at 7:30 p.m. in the McLean High School cafeteria.
The plans apparently have the support of citizens and businesses in McLean, who have complained repeatedly about the traffic bottlenecks in the heavily traveled area.
"Everybody agrees that Chain Bridge has got to be improved because the traffic is absolutely unbearable," said Buck Morton, owner of a McLean business and a member of the ad hoc Chain Bridge Road Committee, an amalgam of the McLean Business and Professional Association and the McLean Citizens Association.
Morton and Ed Mitchell, who own a photographic business in McLean, said some businesses hope to persuade the department to allow painted, instead of raised, median strips along the road to allow access to shopping centers.
The cost of widening both roads is estimated at $3 million, but only $1.4 million is available, said Don Keith, the Highway Department's resident engineer for Fairfax County.
"We know we're not going to be able to do Old Dominion because we don't have the money for it," he said. "But because it crosses Chain Bridge, we had to include it in the hearing so it could be considered as part of the environmental statement.
"What we want to get at the hearing is where the community feels the money can be spent and get the greatest value at this time."
J. D. Lawson, a state highway construction inspector, said Chain Bridge Road would be widened from two to four lanes, with a turn lane at Old Dominion. The widening project would extend from just east of Great Falls Street to Rte. 123 (Dolley Madison Boulevard). If the proposal is approved by the state highway department, construction could start next spring, Lawson said.
The proposed, but unfunded, widening of Old Dominion Drive would extend from Old Dominion and Holmes Place to Rte. 123. Currently four lanes, it would be widened to include a turn lane at Chain Bridge.
"Simply repairing (the roads) wouldn't keep up with the traffic," Lawson said. "So rather than put the money into surface repairs, it's better to widen it and make it safer for everybody and more convenient for commuters."
Traffic counts show that an average 19,210 cars passed through the immediate area daily in 1979, up from 11,981 in 1969. Officials project that number will jump to 32,300 in 2005.