Even when things go right, building a road can take an awfully long time. So consider the frustration of Virginia officials when they discovered last fall that the environmental impact study for the proposed Springfield Bypass had overlooked numerous wetland areas in the road's path.

Because wetlands are protected by federal law, state highway planners feared that the oversight could mean yet another costly delay for the 33-mile road through Fairfax County.

Now the waiting may be almost over. The Virginia Department of Transportation has completed a draft "wetlands finding document" that identifies 13 acres of wetlands along the path of the road, officials said.

The finding, which includes plans to reduce the impact of the road on the wetlands, is to be presented to federal environmental officials this month. If the document is approved, the state can begin construction on the road next year as planned.

Transportation officials said they do not anticipate that the wetlands will pose any new problems for the road now that they have been identified. Just "four or five" of the areas are larger than an acre, according to Gene Wray, an environmental planner with the department.

Officials said they have proposed several measures to reduce the impact of the road on the wetlands, such as bridges and culverts, and creating new wetland areas to replace the ones that would be destroyed.

One of Northern Virginia's top transportation priorities, the Springfield Bypass would traverse Fairfax County from Rte. 7 in the northwest to Rte. 1 in the southeast on a route roughly parallel to the Capital Beltway. The project is expected to cost about $250 million.