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Delegate Comstock Commends Board Action on Route 7/Georgetown Pike
Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I want to thank everyone who attended the Town Hall Meeting last week in Great Falls.  As you know, all of the area representatives -- Rep. Frank Wolf, Supervisor Foust, Janet Howell and I -- have all opposed VDOT's plan along with the vast majority of the community.   Last week, the Board of Supervisors voted 9-1 on Supervisor Foust's motion  to oppose the plan.  You can view the Board's resolution below or on the Fairfax County website: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/bosclerk/summary/2010/10-07-27.pdf.  Also, you can read more about the Town Hall meeting last week on the Connection's website:  

(8:16 p.m.):
In a joint Board Matter with Chairman Bulova, Supervisor Foust said that the project to widen Route 7 from four to six lanes between Rolling Holly Drive and the Dulles Toll Road has been under design by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) since 2000. A design public hearing was held on the western portion of the project in June 2003 and the Board endorsed the project in August 2003, and the VDOT Chief Engineer approved the design plans in March 2004. Since these actions, the project has been delayed multiple times due to funding shortfalls as well as the need to evaluate alignment and operational alternatives. As a result of the funding gap, the project limits have been reduced and the design modified. The County has committed $8 million to this initial construction segment out of Commercial and Industrial Revenues for Transportation. Land acquisition is scheduled to begin on this project segment this summer and utility acquisitions this fall.

Supervisor Foust explained that during and since the 2003 public hearing, the continuing points of contention for communities along Georgetown Pike with the project design have been the inclusion of a second left turn lane (dual turn lanes) from eastbound Route 7 onto eastbound Route 193, Georgetown Pike, and the proposed widening and realignment of Georgetown Pike. These communities and elected officials who represent Great Falls and McLean have consistently expressed their concern that the integrity of the historic structure must be maintained and that the dual left turn lanes could induce additional traffic onto Georgetown Pike, a narrow two-lane, winding and undulating roadway with minimal shoulders, and thereby impact the safety of hundreds of residents who must use this road for access as well as other travelers. Georgetown Pike is a historic structure and has been determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places as well as designated as a Virginia Byway and is planned to remain as a two-lane roadway on the Comprehensive Plan to protect its scenic and historic character.

Supervisor Foust noted that the concerns of the community and its elected officials were heightened in 2009 when VDOT released a design to realign Georgetown Pike at the Route 7 intersection, moving the Pike from its historical roadbed and adding multiple auxiliary lanes to the Pike. These changes were made after VDOT presented its 2007 design to the public and after the Board funded the design in 2008 and without any opportunity for community input to the redesign.

In recognition of the strong continuing opposition of the communities along Georgetown Pike and of their elected representatives to the provision of dual left turn lanes from eastbound Route 7 onto eastbound Georgetown Pike and their opposition to realigning the historic Pike, Supervisor Foust said that it is time for this issue to be revisited a final time. In response to the concerns that have been raised and in view of the fact that VDOT has the legal authority and liability for 
the safety and adequacy of roadways within the County and design flexibility under SAFETEA-LU 23 USC 109(c), jointly with Chairman Bulova, Supervisor Foust moved that the Board take the following actions:
  • Reconfirm the Board’s position regarding Georgetown Pike, as stated in the Comprehensive Plan, including that Georgetown Pike should be maintained within its existing right-of-way and that measures should be taken to maintain the scenic and historic character of the roadway.
  • Clarify that the Board does not want to induce or encourage more traffic to use Georgetown Pike, nor does the Board want to retain the current unsafe situation of vehicles wanting to turn left onto eastbound Georgetown Pike, queuing into the Route 7 through lanes.
  • Transmit to the Commonwealth for consideration the specific alternative of extending the existing single eastbound left turn lane the distance needed to safely store left turning traffic out of the Route 7 through lanes, and including a raised median to prevent traffic from cutting into the left turn queue and blocking traffic in the main line.
  • Clarify that if, in the opinion of the Secretary of Transportation, the single left turn lane will satisfactorily resolve the safety issue associated with the extensive eastbound left turn queue, then that is the Board’s preferred alternative at this location, rather than the dual left turn lanes currently shown in the plans.
  • Request that prior to the end of the summer the State explore with the Board Chairman and Dranesville District Supervisor potential geometric modifications which may better address community concerns about preserving the historical roadbed of Georgetown Pike at its intersection with Route 7.
  • Reaffirm that the Board does not wish for the construction of this project to continue to be delayed, as evidenced by the Board’s commitment of $8 million to the project.
  • Request that the State not delay the start of land acquisition, utility relocations, or construction of this project any longer due to the left turn lane or other issues and that land acquisition be initiated as scheduled this summer based on the current approved design plans. A review of the design plans indicates that regardless of the State’s decision regarding the Route 7/Georgetown Pike intersection, sufficient State right-of-way already exists along Georgetown Pike for either alternative to be constructed.

Chairman Bulova seconded the motion.

Following discussion regarding a similar situation elsewhere in the County and public hearings on Route 7, and with input from Katharine Ichter, Director, Department of Transportation, the question was called on the motion and it CARRIED by a recorded vote of nine, Supervisor Hudgins voting “NAY.”

Supervisor Hudgins asked unanimous consent that the Board direct staff to provide the Board with information regarding historic byways and additional traffic. Without objection, it was so ordered.

Paid for by Friends of Barbara Comstock.