The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has decided to keep the Shirley Gate Bypass around Fairfax City on the list of projects that will go before voters this spring, despite objections from Supervisor Elaine N. McConnell that Fairfax City should do more about its transportation problems.
"We are providing the bypass and we're doing nothing" to make Fairfax City pay for it or other major transportation projects, said McConnell (R-Springfield). "I have trouble with the board not asking the City of Fairfax to follow through on its commitments."
But other supervisors said the project is necessary to help commuters avoid traffic jams in the city, and noted that the city has embarked on some road projects that will help county residents.
Since 1972, Fairfax City has been trying to get the county to build a bypass around the town. City residents want to ease traffic congestion on Rte. 123, a narrow highway that carries both local traffic and county residents commuting between residences in Burke or Fairfax Station homes and offices in the Tysons Corner or Dulles International Airport corridors.
But previous county boards of supervisors have insisted that Fairfax City agree to widen Rte. 123 in return for a bypass. City residents have resisted this idea. In November, city voters defeated by a 3-to-1 ratio a $15 million bond referendum that would have widened the road and made other major improvements, although the City Council has since approved a $1 million plan to add an extra turning lane along part of the road.
But after the city bond referendum reemphasized city residents' deep-rooted objections to major changes on Rte. 123, the County Board of Supervisors gave in. On Monday, it decided to go ahead with a $9.8 million plan to widen Shirley Gate Road from two lanes to four between Braddock Road and Rte. 29, and to extend Waples Mill Road to connect with Rte. 29.
At a meeting last week, liaison committees of the county board and City Council asked county and city officials to report within 30 days on inexpensive ways to build more parking at the Fairfax Regional Library. For years, city and county officials have been unable to agree on who should pay for more parking at the library, which is owned by the county but used in part by city residents. Moore suggested conducting a survey of where patrons live, and sharing parking costs proportionately.