Major road improvement proposals in western Fairfax County are pitting communities and subdivisions against one another.
Residents of the Reston, Fox Mill Estates, Navy-Vale and Franklin Farms communities are debating the possible extension of Lawyers Road from Reston Avenue to the Springfield Bypass.
At the same time, residents of Navy-Vale, an area of older non-subdivision homes along West Ox Road, are fighting plans to make the road a four-lane artery from Route 50 to Franklin Farms Road.
Fairfax Supervisor Martha Pennino, within whose Centreville district those neighborhoods lie, has criticized both proposals.
"You are talking about the equivalent of a Pennsylvania Turnpike going through Navy-Vale and Fox Mill Estates," Pennino said during a recent emotionally charged meeting of the Fairfax Board of Supervisors.
Armed with picnic baskets and offering free soft drinks, residents of Fox Mill Estates jammed public hearings before the county planning commission and the board of supervisors to ask officials to take plans for extending Lawyers Road to the Springfield Bypass out of the county's long-range transportation plan for western Fairfax.
However, the Fairfax County transportation planning staff said the extension of Fox Mill that residents oppose is critical to what is known as Lawyers Road Extended. Since the early 1970s, the county's plan has called for building Lawyers Road Extended from the present dogleg intersection of Reston Avenue and Lawyers Road west to Centreville Road to serve planned industrial development between Centreville Road and Washington Dulles International Airport.
"The county has planned and approved development in western Fairfax County based on a roadway network which includes Lawyers Road Extended," according to a planning staff report on the proposed deletion sought by Fox Mill residents.
"It is important to note, however, that Lawyers Road Extended is planned to serve not only the future industrial and commercial development in the Dulles area but also the planned residential development of Fox Mill Road," the report said.
Residents of Fox Mill Estates told members of the board of supervisors that existing roads in the area could accommodate east-west traffic. Several residents said Fox Mill Estates would be bisected "like a pie" if Lawyers Road Extended and the Springfield Bypass are built through their community. The Springfield Bypass, as planned, runs through Fox Mill Estates. It is supported by Fox Mill residents and other communities battling to keep Lawyers Road Extended in the county plan and fighting to defeat the widening of West Ox Road.
Members of the Franklin Farms Foundation, the citizens group representing Franklin Farms residents, have supported both controversial projects. More than 800 Franklin Farms residents signed petitions opposing deletion of Lawyers Road, foundation officials said.
The Springfield Bypass has been considered a major transportation priority for years for western Fairfax because it will link the area with the Route 1 corridor in southeast Fairfax. Funding for major parts of the bypass is expected to be on a November bond referendum in Fairfax. But details of specific projects to be on the ballot will not be decided by supervisors until July 8.
The Virginia Department of Highways and Transportation already is proceeding with design work on the bypass, Shiva Pant, director of the office of transportation for Fairfax, said this week.
Residents of West Ox Road told supervisors recently they oppose expanding West Ox to four lanes from Route 50 to Franklin Farms Road as proposed by the county's planning commission. There is some support in the area for adding shoulders to the existing rural, two-lane road, which bears the burden of heavy traffic in the Fairfax Center area.
Officials of the Navy-Vale Community League asked supervisors to oppose the widening. Widening of the road would bring it too close to Navy Elementary School, which is to be expanded soon, residents said.
"We have 100 homes fronting on West Ox Road," said Criss Malkerson, an official of the Navy-Vale league.
Henry DuBois, who lives in an old restored farmhouse on West Ox, showed supervisors a slide show of his house and other non-subdivision homes that prevail in the West Ox area. "Ours is a very old community," DuBois said.
Board Chairman Jack Herrity told residents proposed widening of West Ox will not be on the November bond referendum. However, Herrity has asked the transportation planning staff to study possible trigger mechanisms that could bring about widening of West Ox Road and construction of Lawyers Road Extended if other road improvements, including the Springfield Bypass, fail to relieve traffic problems in the future. Herrity wants that information by July 22, the date the board is scheduled to vote on both controversial transportation issues.
While residents of Fox Mill Estates are trying to organize county-wide support for deletion of Lawyers Road Extended, residents of neighboring communities are speaking out in support of keeping the road in the plan. So are members of the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce.
The Reston Community Association does not want Lawyers Road Extended taken off the plan, according to association President Janet Howell.
Linda Singer, chairwoman of the Reston Transportation Committee, said her group urged the county to keep Lawyers Road Extended in the plan.
Speaking for the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, Kaye Sloan Burke and Jeff Price said the chamber wants Lawyers Road Extended kept in the county plan.
Burke said the road will serve residential and commercial growth planned in western Fairfax. "This is not a time to revert to the early 1970s when roads were deleted from the master plan," Burke said.
The staff does regard this as an issue "of major countywide significance," according to Robert L. Moore, chief of the transportation planning section.
"The deletion of Lawyers Road Extended between the Springfield Bypass and Reston Avenue would shift traffic demand to other roads which have not been planned to accommodate large traffic increases," according to the staff report. Roads that would have to take that traffic would be Viking Drive, Monroe Street, West Ox Road and Franklin Farms Road, the staff report said.
However, Pennino said inclusion in the plan of Lawyers Road Extended "was a human error which I hope the board will correct.