Eight major road projects and several smaller ones in Fairfax County face delays or cancellation under cuts to Virginia's road-building program that are scheduled to be made final today.
The long-planned construction includes a carpool link through the Springfield interchange from the carpool lanes on the Capital Beltway and Interstate 95 where the state is considering building toll lanes; a fourth lane south on I-95 between Newington and the county line at the Occoquan River; better access ramps where the Beltway meets Interstate 66; and a rebuilt intersection at Route 29 and Gallows Road.
The projects make up the county's share of $1.3 billion in cuts to the state's six-year road program that the Commonwealth Transportation Board is scheduled to make official in Richmond today. With negligible new money for roads and transit in the state budget the General Assembly approved in April, the board and Virginia transportation officials were forced to find reductions.
"The effect will be felt in terms of the long term," said J. Kenneth Klinge, who represents Northern Virginia on the policymaking transportation panel. "A mega-project that would take seven years will now take 10."
More cuts will come. Virginia's program for secondary roads also must be slashed by almost a third, Klinge said. In Fairfax, that will translate to a loss of 24 percent, or $36 million. County transportation officials are starting to identify projects.
Among the cuts in big roads, the planned carpool link between I-95 and the Beltway, which would be dropped entirely, has particularly rankled county leaders. A private firm competing for a state contract to build high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes has made the Springfield link the linchpin of its proposal, promising a seamless ride for cars and buses from carpool lanes to HOT lanes on both roads.
"We have a huge opportunity in the offing," Supervisor T. Dana Kauffman (D-Lee) said of the HOT lanes. "If you don't have that piece of the puzzle, the picture isn't very pretty."
Other projects on the cut list include widening Dranesville Road in Herndon between Elden Street and Route 7 from two lanes to four lanes and smoothing an unsafe curve near Georgetown Pike (Route 193) in Great Falls. The latter project would be dropped indefinitely.
The cuts scheduled for today underscore the frustration of many state and local leaders with the lack of money dedicated to the growing costs of new road and transit networks.
A measure in 2002 to raise the sales tax in Northern Virginia to pay for such projects failed at the polls.
Young Ho Chang, Fairfax's transportation chief, said, "This reiterates the need for us to look at transportation funding and find a steady, reliable source of money."