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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Intersection improvements proposed to relieve congestion on Braddock Road

A rendering of the proposed bicycle/pedestrian improvements proposed for Braddock Road, including a pedestrian overpass.  
A community task force and Fairfax County staff working on the Braddock Road Multimodal Study are proposing to fix traffic congestion on the corridor through a series of intersection improvements.

More than 200 people packed the cafeteria at Lake Braddock Secondary School Feb. 6 to learn about the study recommendations.

Previous options under consideration for adding an HOV lane or a general-purpose lane were rejected as being too expensive and less effective in improving traffic flow.

“No more lanes will be added. A lot of people will be relieved by that,” said Braddock Supervisor John Cook.

Michael Guarino of FCDOT (left). 
Several local residents, however, expressed frustration that their communities would be negatively affected by road changes that would result in a faster commute for people living in Prince William County and the western part of Fairfax County.

While widening Braddock Road would increase demand from commuters living farther out, improving the intersections wouldn’t, said Michael Guarino, a planner with the Fairfax County Department of Transportation. There are no other options, as there won’t be any further efforts to increase capacity on Interstate 95 beyond what is already under way.

The multimodal study looked at traffic projections for the Braddock Road corridor – between Ravensworth Road and Guinea Road – for 2040 if nothing is done and if various options are carried out.

It currently takes nine minutes to get through the corridor, Guarino said. If nothing is done, it would take 17 minutes in 2040. Adding an additional lane would cut the time to 11 minutes and implementing the intersection improvements would cut the time to 10 minutes and could be done at significantly less cost.

The two options for adding lanes would each cost an estimated $101.7 million, while the intersection improvements would cost about $35 million

The intersection improvements include access management, such as new left-turn lanes along Braddock Road and enhanced signalization.

At several roads intersecting Braddock Road, drivers would no longer be able to make left turns onto Braddock. Those include Inverchapel Road, Glen Park Road, Stone Haven Drive, Kings Park Drive, Burke Lake Road, the western part of Red Fox Drive, and Bradfield Drive.

People who want to turn left onto Braddock at those intersections would either have to turn right and make a U-turn or take an alternative route through their neighborhood. According to Guarino, U-turns are safer and more effective in managing traffic than left turns.

Eliminating left turns means the green light for right turns will last longer. “We have to get cars moving through Braddock faster. The only way to do that is to not have so many left turns,” Cook said.
A new ramp for accessing Port Royal Road from the beltway.
Drivers exiting the beltway would no longer be able to head west onto Braddock and turn left onto Port Royal Road. They would instead head east and take a new ramp to Port Royal. The left turn lane on eastbound Braddock before the Ravensworth Road intersection would be expanded to two lanes.

In addition to road improvements, the Braddock Road Multimodal Study includes two other elements: a transit center and bicycle/pedestrian improvements.

The study is expected to recommend a shared-use path for bicyclists and pedestrians on both sides of Braddock Road, Guarino said. The path would have to be in the VDOT right-of-way, which would mean numerous trees would have to be taken down.

An overpass for pedestrians is under consideration at Kings Park Drive or possibly closer to the shopping center. There could also be overpasses at Wakefield Chapel Road and Stone Haven Drive.

That would depend on whether residents believe overpasses would be useful for walking to shopping centers or to a bus stop, Cook said.

Substandard sidewalks would be replaced, enhanced crosswalks would be added at each signalized intersection, bus stops would be relocated so they would be nearer signalized crossings and overpasses, and the underpass at Accotink Trail would be improved.

Recommendations for a transit center have been tabled until there’s a final recommendation on the road and pedestrian improvements.

The transit center could either be at the Kings Park Shopping Center or the former site of the Northern Virginia Training Center near Burke Station Road. It could include a structured parking deck or surface parking.

“It’s not a done deal. There have been significant questions,” said Cook. It might not even make sense to have a transit center at all.

If the recommendations in the multimodal study are approved, construction could start as soon as 2021, and the project could be completed in 2024.

Members of the public are encouraged to submit comments to FCDOT, preferably by Feb. 20. Comments can be submitted online or via email.

Another community meeting will be held this spring, which will include discussion of a transit center. The study may undergo further refinements based on input from the public. The final study will then be presented to the Board of Supervisors.

10 comments:

  1. When they made alterations to lanes on Braddock Road last spring it failed miserably and actually had to be undone just a few months later. The "improvement" backed-up westbound Braddock Road traffic onto the beltway. How much was wasted on that?

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  2. The traffic planners are encouraging U Turns on Braddock Road?
    Are you kidding me?

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  3. I'd be thrilled if they would get VDOT to put down some lane line reflectors on parts of Braddock Road. Maybe it's my old eyes. However, after dark,the lane lines along stretches like Kings Park to the Beltway become difficult to follow, especially when it's raining.

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  4. I agree, past "improvements" have failed miserably, is there a projected cost for make changes if these changes also fail? And what is the projected increased time of commute for anyone who can no longer make a left turn out of the their neighborhood? Would also really like to see the analysis of just how u-turns are faster and safer.

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  5. A transit center at Kings Park Shopping Center--it is difficult to imagine how that would do anything other than make traffic and safety FAR worse. Further, the defeats the purpose entirely of the intersection upgrades. Gridlock caused by numerous buses entering and leaving Braddock Road is a guarantee. Further, this would place a bus station virtually right in the middle of 3 neighborhoods. We must be vigilant on this point. Not being a "done deed" sounds code for a done deed.

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  6. Whoa, big concern with plan to add that additional turn lane on eastbound Braddock onto northbound Ravensworth Rd where they plan to add an additional thru lane for a short distance and then eliminate it. This forces a merge near Heritage Drive. Seems dangerous for traffic exiting Heritage trying to go north on Ravensworth.

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  7. Use the neighborhood streets! Are you kidding me? Try making a left out of your driveway onto Wakefield Chapel Road at rush hour. The volume of traffic, the excess speed of the traffic, the blind spots. It can take minutes....up to 5....to make such a turn! Fixing Braddock Road is not what's needed. I'm sure the people on Guiena Road want to see more traffic. Lets do a traffic survey of that before we even think of pushing more traffic onto cut through streets and adding more traffic to neighborhood with families living there, children playing, bike riders, runners, and walkers. Why don't you just ruin my/our property values to get traffic moving from Guinea Road to the Beltway. And U-turns are a solution for left hand turns. Maybe we should test New Jersey's left turn solution! That would work wonderful I'm sure.

    It also sounds like the Northern Virginia Planning Commission needs to do more work to look at the growth of the larger community and figure out a larger plan to keep traffic moving.

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    1. How many people on the planning crew actually live in this area and will be affected by the changes? Would they make the same changes if they were so affected? Did any residents of the affected housing developments have a say in any of the planning? How many of the planners of this project also worked on the plans for the fiasco that the left turn onto Danbury Forest turned out to be? Will this be a repeat of that incredulous plan?

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  8. Details on the recommendations are now online.
    http://www.slideshare.net/fairfaxcounty/braddock-road-multimodal-studyguinea-road-to-i495-community-meeting-no-3-feb-6-2017

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    1. More info here, this is good, thanks Ellie. The meat of their recommendations are on slide 28-45 , and I feel like you can't tell what they were getting on about on those more important slides - must have been in the audio or something.

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