The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors today plans to consider whether to break a 19-year-old promise.
John F. Herrity, board chairman, called the issue "a politician's nightmare" and others say the fact that the issue is coming up at all is a reflection of the increasing importance roads are having in the county's politics.
It wasn't that way back in 1964 when an industrial park in Springfield, just off Shirley Highway, was allowed to be developed between Rolling and Alban roads south of the Fort Belvoir Proving Ground. The supervisors then approved the plan for the Fullerton Industrial Park with the pledge that the main road through the park, Fullerton Road, would never be allowed to connect with Rolling Road.
This pledge -- not to finish the road andkeep the park's traffic out of the residential neighorhoods to the west -- was reiterated by the board in 1977, 1981 and 1982. Today Fullerton Road ends at a chain link fence, about 150 feet from Rolling Road.
Supervisor Joseph Alexander, whose Lee district lies to the east of Rolling Road and includes the industrial park, says that "conditions have changed dramatically since the area was first zoned." He says the 125-acre business park has developed "severe and potentially hazardous traffic conditions" as a result of having only one access road for use by 2,200 workers.
Jim Eddy, personnel director for Dynatech Data Systems, said in rush-hour traffic it takes 45 minutes to traverse the mile between his office in the industrial park to Alban Road.
Eddy said the traffic causes tension among commuters and businesses alike. He said he received a report of a motorist who got out of his car and pulled a tire iron on driver who was trying to bypass traffic by edging along the shoulder. More than one business, Eddy says, has comtemplated moving out because of the traffic.
Alexander sees the completion of the missing link of Fullerton Road as "the beginning of a solution to the traffic problems plaguing the area."
Supervisor Marie B. Travesky, who represents the residential communities to the west of Rolling Road, however, strongly opposes the plan. Alexander "wants to get rid of his (traffic) problems by giving them away," Travesky said. "That is not the way to solve a problem, to pass it on to someone else."
Travesky said she thinks Alexander's plan "will cause more problems than it will solve." She said putting Fullerton Road through to Rolling will increase the problems in the park by introducing two-way traffic. With only one entrance, she said, commuters have a free flow into the park during the morning and out in the evening.
In addition, Travesky said, Rolling Road is too narrow to handle industrial and additional commuter traffic from the park. She opposes introducing industrial traffic to the residential area along Rolling Road.
And besides, she said: "What kind of precedent will it set if the board makes a commitment and then turns around and goes back on it?"
Travesky disputes the argument that changing park conditions allow the board to renege on its promise. "Nothing has changed," she said. "We knew what the industrial park's size and traffic problems would be."
She said planned and proposed road improvements in the area -- including a redesign of the Rolling and Alban roads intersection, a widening of Alban road and, eventually, the long-proposed Springfield bypass -- will solve the area's traffic problems.
Alexander disagrees. He said the traffic problems are getting worse by the day and need to be dealt with immediately.
Residents have aligned on both sides of the issue. Community groups in Beverly Forest, north of the park, and Terra Grande, to the south of it, favor the extension of Fullerton Road.
They hope a western access to the park will cut down on the traffic going through their neighborhoods en route to the entrance on Alban Road.
Residents of Saratoga on the west side of Rolling Road, however, are fighting to keep any additional traffic out of their neighborhood.