In an effort to move traffic more quickly between north Fairfax County and the Vienna Metro station, Fairfax County officials have drawn up plans to link Hunter Mill Road and Blake Lane.
But residents of Oakton, a quiet, unincorporated community of 30,000 where the two roads will connect, are worried about how the plan will affect the town.
Residents say they are afraid the proposed link-up could eat away at Oakton's small-town feeling, although they readily acknowledge the need to ease traffic in parts of Oakton where it takes half an hour to drive a mile during rush hours. Commuter tie-ups are expected to worsen in June when the nearby Vienna Metro station begins service.
John Barba, who lives on the edge of one of the proposed road extensions, opposes the extension. "If they get Hunter Mill Road extended, the strip along that road will be rezoned and . . . it will become another Baileys Crossroads," he said. "Oakton doesn't need to be devastated so people from Reston can leave five minutes later."
Robert Moore, chief of transportation and planning for Fairfax County, said plans call for Hunter Mill Road, which now runs from Reston and dead-ends at Chain Bridge Road just north of Fairfax City, to cross Chain Bridge and be extended through Oakton to Blake Lane.
Moore said the link-up is necessary not only to accommodate Metro commuters but also to absorb the county's own traffic flow, which is on the rise in proportion to Fairfax's rapid growth. "What we're seeing now is intracounty commuting as Fairfax County develops. Hunter Mill Road is one of the few feeder roads between Reston and Fairfax," Moore said. He added that the county's severe lack of north-south corridors makes Hunter Mill Road a transportation priority.
County planners presented five proposals to connect the roads at a Dec. 13 meeting with about 60 Oakton residents representing the Greater Oakton Citizens Association and some Oakton homeowners groups. Planners will make their recommendation to the Fairfax Board of Supervisors, which will then vote on the exact path the extension will take.
Linda Campbell, president of the citizens association, said she and others find themselves reluctantly resigned to the construction because the need to relieve Oakton traffic has become so pressing. "A year ago, many Oakton residents hadn't acclimated themselves to the inevitability of the construction," Campbell said, describing some of the original protest as "strident."
She said much of the Oakton community now believes that if a link-up can alleviate rush-hour backups, the association would do better to work with planners on selecting the best plan instead of contesting the link.
Association member Bob Hannah said the December meeting persuaded many in Oakton that fighting the link-up was hopeless. "I perceive a wait-and-see attitude among the citizens , with the realization that some change is inevitable. Traffic's been building as Fairfax real estate has blossomed . . . . Oakton's in the region that's exploding."
Ron Crabtree, an Oakton resident whose property stands a chance of being destroyed in one of the plans proposed, agreed that community opposition has mellowed. "Once people realized they planners were going to put that road through, come what may, they became concerned about which route it would be."
The plan to connect Hunter Mill Road and Blake Lane has been part of the county's comprehensive plan for 10 years. When a lawyer for a local developer requested specification of the route in December 1984, planners decided to study the issue further and poll the community.
Providence district supervisor James M. Scott, who called the Dec. 13 meeting, has appointed a task force representing residential and business interests. The task force will meet Feb. 13, three days after the citizens association takes up the roads issue again, and will eventually make a recommendation to the Planning Commission. Campbell said the citizens group, which has 150 members, will probably endorse one of the proposed routes at a later meeting.