Tysons, VA

Drivers on eastbound Route 7 in the McLean area should prepare for a lane shift and other traffic changes starting on Tuesday (Jan. 19), the Virginia Department of Transportation announced yesterday (Wednesday).

The eastbound lane on Leesburg Pike between Lewinsville Road and Jarrett Valley Drive will be shifted north toward the median, and direct access between Route 7 and two side streets — Laurel Hill Road and Old Ash Grove — will be temporarily closed.

Until late 2021, drivers to and from Laurel Hill Road, Old Ash Grove, and Glenridge Court will instead need to use the service road between Old Ash Grove and McLean Bible Church (8925 Leesburg Pike) to get to and from Route 7.

The intersection of Laurel Hill Road and the service road will be converted into a three-way stop intersection for the duration of the closure.

“All residences, businesses and other public facilities will remain accessible,” VDOT said.

The lane shift and side street access cut-offs are necessitated by VDOT’s Route 7 corridor improvement project, which is widening the highway from four to six lanes, adding shared-use paths, and making intersection improvements on the seven-mile stretch of road between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive.

The changes will “increase capacity, improve safety and traffic flow, and enhance mobility for cyclists and pedestrians,” according to the project website.

The project carries a total estimated cost of $313.9 million, and construction is not expected to be finished until July 31, 2024.

While construction is ongoing, the speed limit on Route 7 has been reduced to 45 miles per hour in active work zones between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive.

“Please use caution and be alert to work zone signs, potential flagger or police direction, and watch for traffic shifts,” VDOT says. “Slow-moving vehicles and equipment may be entering or exiting the road.”

Images via Google Maps, VDOT

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A reconstructed Cedar Lane Bridge over Interstate 66 in Vienna will reopen to traffic today as anticipated, the Virginia Department of Transportation confirmed yesterday (Tuesday).

Restoring Cedar Lane’s connection between Cottage Street to the north and Route 29 (Lee Highway) to the south, the new bridge is wider and features a sidewalk on its west side. A new shared-use path on the bridge’s east side will eventually link to a 66 Parallel Trail being developed from Dunn Loring to Centreville.

VDOT closed the bridge to both drivers and pedestrians on May 15 so that crews could demolish the existing structure and build the new one.

The bridge reconstruction is part of VDOT’s Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project, which is adding toll lanes along 22 miles of highway between Vienna and Gainesville.

The Cedar Lane Bridge reopening will enable Fairfax Connector to restore service on Routes 462 and 467 between the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station and Tysons Corner to the routes and schedules they had before the bridge closed.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation announced last week that it will also add Sunday service to Route 467.

Until the service changes take effect on Jan. 4, Fairfax Connector buses will continue following a modified route that utilizes Cottage Street and Gallows Road for those two routes.

Even with the new bridge completed, some construction activities will continue in the Cedar Lane area.

“Drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and other bridge users should be alert for continued construction activity in the area surrounding the bridge, including completion of nearby sidewalks, noise walls, and the shared-use path along I-66,” VDOT said.

Photo courtesy VDOT

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Travel on Interstate 66 will be reduced to one lane in both directions from Cedar Lane in Vienna to Route 7 every night through Saturday (Dec. 19), the Virginia Department of Transportation announced today (Thursday).

VDOT has been closing lanes on the highway between 9:30 p.m. and 5 a.m. since Dec. 14 in order to address overhead utility work for the new Gallows Road Bridge that it has been constructing, but the lane closures were originally expected to end today.

The I-66 lane closures will last from 9:30 p.m. to 9 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, with intermittent full stoppages of up to 20 minutes between midnight and 4 a.m.

The reduction of travel on Gallows Road over I-66 to one lane and the overnight closure of the ramp from the I-495 North Express Lanes to I-66 West have also been extended to Saturday.

According to VDOT, the 495 ramp closure will last from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. every night. Traffic will be detoured to I-66 via the Route 7 exit during that time.

The Gallows Road lane closure will take place from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

“Drivers should expect delays if traveling in this area and are encouraged to use alternate routes,” VDOT said.

The state transportation agency also noted that work is dependent on the weather and may be rescheduled if inclement conditions occur.

Construction on the new Gallows Road Bridge has been ongoing throughout the year as part of VDOT’s Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project. The bridge is being reconstructed to make room for the new Express Lanes.

VDOT plans to demolish the old Gallows bridge once the new one for northbound Gallows is completed in early 2021, but according to the current project timeline, the full bridge is not expected to be complete until early 2022.

Photo via VDOT

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The realignment of Old Meadow Road with Capital One Drive along Route 123 in Tysons is nearly complete.

The Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project announced yesterday (Tuesday) that crews have finished the final asphalt, curb, and striping work on the project, which is being managed by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority as part of its expansion of Metro’s Silver Line.

“Crews have installed the pedestals for the pedestrian walkway signals and the signal work will be done in the near future,” the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project said in its update. “Demobilization of the worksite has started and will be completed by the end of December.”

Work on the street realignment has been underway since March and was originally expected to finish in August. The Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project cited changing site conditions and challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic as the cause of the delay.

Fairfax County and the Virginia Department of Transportation requested that MWAA realign Old Meadow Road at Dolley Madison Boulevard to improve access to the Capital One complex, which was affected by Silver Line construction at the McLean Metro Station.

According to the Dulles Metrorail Corridor Project, project officials had contemplated a proposal that would have closed Old Meadow long-term, but traffic studies illustrated that the impact would be too extreme.

Final completion of the realignment project has been set for the end of this year, pending Dominion Energy’s schedule for energizing the meter for the new pedestrian signals.

Image via Google Maps

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Monday Morning Notes

Fairfax County Park Authority Director Announces Retirement Plans — “The executive director of the Fairfax County Park Authority in Virginia announced his plans to retire in February 2021 on Friday. Kirk Kincannon has served with the FCPA since 2014, and did a 10-year stint with the agency earlier in his career.” [WTOP]

Westbound Route 7 Roadwork Prompts Lane Shift — “Beginning on or about Monday, Dec. 7, drivers on westbound Route 7 will experience a lane shift to the north (away from the median) between Jarrett Valley Drive and Lewinsville Road as crews continue to build the improvements along Route 7 that will add a third lane and shared-use paths in each direction.” [Virginia Department of Transportation]

Tysons Annual Report Shows Mixed Results on Housing — “The 2020 report provides some important updates on housing construction in Tysons, and it also provides an opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of the plan’s income-restricted housing requirements.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Staff Photo by Jay Westcott

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Efforts to rehabilitate the northbound and southbound Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road) bridges over Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) in Tysons are now complete, the Virginia Department of Transportation announced today (Tuesday).

VDOT says the rehabilitation work was critical for “improving safety for drivers and pedestrians, giving drivers a smoother ride, and extending the overall life of the bridges,” which were first built in 1965.

The improvements include:

  • Repairing the bridge decks and resurfacing the decks with asphalt
  • Repairing bridge piers, abutments and bearings
  • Spot painting of steel bridge beams

The northbound and southbound lanes of Route 123 adjacent to the bridges were repaved.

Financed with federal and state money, including the State of Good Repair funding used for bridges, construction on the $2.5 million project began in January and concluded in November. The project was completed ahead of schedule and under budget, according to VDOT.

VDOT says that Route 123 averages up to 31,000 vehicles a day, and Route 7 averages up to 86,000 vehicles per day at the bridges.

Photo via VDOT

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Nighttime travel on Interstate 66 might require some extra planning this week due to lane closures necessitated by construction on a new Gallows Road Bridge.

Starting tonight (Monday), I-66 East will be reduced to one travel lane approaching Gallows Road from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. The Virginia Department of Transportation says that, between midnight and 4 a.m., drivers should expect periodic stoppages that could last up to 20 minutes.

In addition, the ramp from the Interstate 495 Express Lanes North to I-66 West will be closed from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Traffic will be detoured onto I-66 East, which will lead to Route 7. Once on Leesburg Pike, vehicles will stay to the left, turn left at the traffic signal, and then follow road signs to I-66 West.

The I-495 express lanes ramp and one-lane I-66 East closures will take place every night through Dec. 3.

On Dec. 2 and 3, VDOT will also reduce I-66 West to one travel lane approaching Gallows Road from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m.

“Drivers should expect delays if traveling in this area and are encouraged to use alternate routes,” VDOT says.

Overnight lane closures have been a recurring sight around Gallows Road since mid-November, when VDOT started reconstructing the bridge over I-66 for its Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project, which will add express lanes along 22.5 miles of road from I-495 in Vienna to Gainesville.

According to VDOT, the bridge is being lengthened, widened, raised, and shifted east to align with the new I-66 Express Lanes while making room for future Gallows Road improvements.

The new bridge will also include a five-foot bike lane in both directions, a seven-foot-wide sidewalk on the northbound side of the road, and improved pedestrian and bicycle facilities tied to the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro Station.

The new bridge is being constructed in two phases with an expected completion date of early 2021.

Photos via VDOT (top, left)

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A renovated Vaden Drive Bridge over Interstate 66 in Vienna will be open to vehicle traffic by Wednesday (Nov. 25) after being closed for more than a year for construction.

With the bridge reopening, vehicles on Vaden Drive will no longer have to detour onto Nutley Street, but pedestrians will still have to use the nearby Vienna Metro station’s pedestrian bridge until a planned shared-use path and sidewalk on the bridge is finished in December.

Other ongoing construction activities around the Vaden Drive Bridge involve:

  • A redesign of the entrances from Vaden Drive to the Metro parking garages, which is expected to finish in December
  • A new sidewalk on the bridge’s east side scheduled to open in summer 2021
  • New ramps to and from the future I-66 Express Lanes

The Virginia Department of Transportation warns drivers to use caution as construction activities continue, and people adjust to new travel patterns.

The new Vaden Drive Bridge is part of VDOT’s Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project, which is widening the interstate with 22.5 miles of express lanes from I-495 in Idylwood to University Boulevard in Gainesville.

The part of the project around the Vienna Metro station also involved improvements to the Nutley and Saintsbury Drive intersection and the closure of the Saintsbury ramp to I-66 East.

VDOT says the rebuilt Vaden Drive Bridge “will improve access to the station for vehicles, commuter buses, cyclists, and pedestrians.”

As part of the Transform 66 project, VDOT is also rebuilding the Cedar Lane bridge over I-66 to accommodate the interstate’s expansion. The bridge was closed on May 15 for demolition, and the new one is expected to reopen in mid-December.

Photos via Google Maps, VDOT

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Tempers ran high during the Virginia Department of Transportation’s virtual public meeting on its Interstate 495 Express Lanes Northern Extension (495 NEXT) project on Wednesday (Nov. 18).

With a Dec. 4 deadline for public comment on the project’s environmental assessment and initial design plans approaching fast, some community members criticized VDOT for a perceived lack of transparency and asked why the project is being pursued now instead of waiting for Maryland to undertake its long-gestating plan to improve the American Legion Bridge.

“More has to be done now to look at the basics, because the studies that VDOT has presented are inadequate,” McLean resident April Georgelas argued. “It’s inappropriate to pursue this any further and put citizens through the stress that we don’t need right now for a project that will only do harm for our area.”

Initiated in the spring of 2018, the 495 NEXT project proposes extending the existing 495 Express Lanes roughly three miles from the Dulles Toll Road and I-495 interchange to the George Washington Memorial Parkway near the American Legion Bridge.

VDOT would replace bridges to accommodate the express lanes, add a bicycle and pedestrian trail, construct new noise walls where necessary, and provide stormwater management facilities.

Virginia transportation officials say extending the 495 Express Lanes will help reduce congestion in one of the most congested corridors in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan region, while also improving travel reliability and reducing the amount of cut-through traffic that currently goes through neighborhood streets in McLean and Great Falls.

According to VDOT’s analysis, the 495 NEXT project would move approximately 2,500 more people per hour in both directions through the corridor starting in 2025. It would move 5,400 more people an hour if Maryland completes its American Legion Bridge project, though that is not likely to be finished until 2027.

By 2045, I-495 would be able to carry an additional 7,600 people an hour in both directions combined with the express lanes extended, VDOT says.

“This facility will provide a running way for carpools, vanpools, and transit vehicles to be able to provide reliable and faster trips than what could be accomplished under the current congested conditions,” VDOT Special Project Development Associate Manager Abraham Lerner said.

While the McLean Citizens Association has expressed support for 495 NEXT, many community members have raised concerns about the planned bike trail location, the ramps that have been proposed as modifications to the Dulles Toll Road interchange, and potential environmental and neighborhood impacts.

According to VDOT Megaprojects Director Susan Shaw, the project is anticipated to affect 35 acres of trees with its first phase of construction and about 3,000 feet of stream in Scotts Run, 70% of which is already significantly degraded.

Shaw says VDOT has committed to doing a tree survey prior to any removals to determine what trees should be replanted where possible and working with Fairfax County on stream restoration.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust urged VDOT to look for alternatives for the Dulles Toll Road interchange. The current plan involves three phases of new ramps being constructed.

“The impact of those ramps on that area of the county, which includes residential neighborhoods and Tysons – which we’re trying to create as a transit-oriented community – is going to be overwhelming,” Foust said. “Clearly, there’s a lot of traffic there, but right now…what you’re ending up [with] there is a spaghetti network of ramps that’s going to be very destructive to that entire area of Fairfax County.”

Photo via Google Maps

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Despite — or maybe because of — the coronavirus, the Virginia Department of Transportation is on track to open new express lanes on I-66 in December 2022.

“There have been some project benefits in terms of reduced traffic volumes in the corridor,” VDOT megaprojects director Susan Shaw said during a virtual presentation and Q&A last Thursday (Oct. 29).

Longer-term lane closures were possible this year that would have resulted in gridlock pre-pandemic, she said.

Construction on I-66 continues during daytime and overnight hours, as weather allows. VDOT, I-66 Express Mobility Partners, and FAM Construction — the design-builder for the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway Project — updated commuters and residents through two online meetings last week.

Although the express lanes are predicted to open in December 2022, some construction on the project will continue into 2023.

Many lane closures will extend through end of the year, but in areas where congestion has started to snarl during peak hours, officials are looking to add back some lanes and abate traffic.

And with the pandemic showing no signs of ending, it is “really hard to say how the overall project will be impacted,” Shaw says.

All the late-night construction means there will be noisy nights, but VDOT is working with Fairfax and local supervisors’ offices to communicate construction plans to residents, she said.

“There are some activities that have to be done at night and do have to be noisy,” Shaw said.

The ramp from I-66 East to Route 28 North was closed from 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday to 4 a.m. on Wednesday to allow for a traffic shift onto a temporary left exit ramp from Route 28 North to I-66 East, VDOT said in an email.

Officials expect the temporary ramp to be in use for four weeks, while crews finish constructing a permanent ramp from Route 28 North to I-66 East.

Drivers traveling from Lee Highway South to Route 28 North will not be able to access the temporary ramp. These drivers will need to take detours farther south on Route 29 to the I-66/Route 29 interchange in Centreville until the permanent right-side ramp from Route 28 North to I-66 East is opened.

Tysons area residents and commuters can expect a number of other construction activities to affect travel starting in mid-November, including:

  • Closure of the I-66 East and Nutley Street North loop ramp, redirecting travelers exiting I-66 for Nutley onto temporary ramps
  • Continued construction of a new Gallows Road bridge over I-66 in Dunn Loring, which is occurring in two phases to maintain traffic flow during construction, according to Smith
  • Temporary realignment of the W&OD Trail at Idylwood Park, starting in late November and continuing for four to six months as crews build a new, permanent alignment

A new ramp at the I-495 interchange was completed recently, and deck work for a new bridge is starting soon, FAM Construction spokesperson Nancy Smith said. The I-495 interchange will have eight ramps to connect the express I-66 East/West lanes to I-495 North/South general purpose lanes.

Construction on VDOT’s I-66 Outside the Beltway project has been ongoing since 2017, starting after new express lanes opened on I-66 inside the Beltway on Dec. 4 of that year.

Watch an animated video of changes planned for I-66 here:

Photos via VDOT/Youtube 

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