VDOT to weigh routes north

A public hearing will be held Wednesday on alternatives for the Tri-County Parkway, a road that may not be built until 2015 according to its $3.5 million environmental study.

The two-lane divided road would relieve traffic on Va. 28 by running north from the Manassas area to U.S. 29, U.S. 50 and Braddock Road, starting from Godwin Drive’s termination at Va. 234, northeast to Bull Run Regional Park, into Fairfax and then northwest in Loudoun to connect to the Loudoun County Parkway.

The preliminary build date is 2015. No funding is yet set aside for engineering work or construction, after voters rejected the sales tax referendum Nov. 5.

Public scoping meetings held in March played a part in determining proposed routes, which are also being considered by other studies. One is the Battlefield Bypass Study, aimed at lessening traffic on U.S. 29 and Va. 234 through the battlefield.

“We’re looking at conceptual alternatives now. Everything is flexible at this stage,” said Ken Wilkinson, project manager for the Virginia Department of Transportation.

VDOT sent out 134,000 postcards on the meetings and have 1,000 people signed up to get newsletters on the project, he said.

The Prince William public hearing will be at Stonewall Jackson High School, 8820 Rixlew Lane, Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., with a brief presentation at 6 p.m.

There are also meetings in Loudoun and Fairfax.

The road is expected to follow a path in Prince William along right-of-way purchased years ago between residential areas, but the land is low in the flood plain and is expected to be an environmental challenge, planners say.

It’s a different story in Fairfax and Loudoun, which stand to gain additional retail tax dollars when the road opens up undeveloped land.

Prince William, Manassas and Manassas Park will benefit by it taking traffic off Va. 28, said Mike Moon, public works director for Manassas City.

“The city’s perspective is this is the only game in town for solving Va. 28 congestion,” he said.

The Tri-County Parkway is projected to carry 70,000 cars per day, giving another option north besides Va. 234 and Va. 28.

The capacities for intersections along Centreville Road (Va. 28) are now stretched by north and south traffic in the rush hours. Moon said different portions of the road see 20,000 to 27,000 vehicles a day. North of the city in Centreville, the average goes over 41,000 a day, he said. The project is critical to getting traffic relief through Manassas Park and Yorkshire and also west of Manassas in the West Gate area, where motorists are faced with traffic queues at lights either on Sudley Road or Centreville Road to get to Interstate 66, he said.

“It would just be a big draw,” Moon said.

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