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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Annandale Plan Amendment proposing widening Little River Turnpike

The Fairfax County Planning Commission will consider an amendment to the Annandale Plan  next week that includes a proposal to widen Little River Turnpike through the commercial center of the community.

The Annandale Plan Amendment will be discussed at a public hearing, which also covers plan amendments allowing for a new medical facility adjacent to Inova Fairfax Hospital on Woodburn Road and a vision for a  town center at Baileys Crossroads. The hearing takes place June 23 at 8:15 p.m. in the Board Auditorium of the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax. If you want to speak at the Planning Commission hearing, you can sign up online.

The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on these issues July 13 at 4 p.m.

Gaining county approval for a plan doesn’t mean there’s going to be any construction any time soon, however. The Annandale Plan Amendment provides a framework for how the community should develop over the next 20 years. There is no timetable for implementation, and any road improvements would be contingent on future funding.

The Annandale Plan Amendment covers the Annandale Community Businesses Center, approximately 200 acres of land generally along Little River Turnpike and Columbia Pike between Heritage Drive and Hummer Road to the west and Evergreen Lane to the east. The plan, described earlier in the Annandale blog, is designed to foster redevelopment of central Annandale by offering developers more flexibility and encouraging the consolidation of small parcels of land. It sets guidelines on building forms and heights, urban design, streetscape, building and site design, signage, affordable housing, parking, transportation, parks, recreation, open space, public facilities, public art, heritage resources, sustainability, green buildings, and storm water management.

After reviewing a series of measures to relieve traffic on Little River Turnpike, the Annandale Planning Department narrowed the options to two: widening Little River Turnpike or making Little River and John Marr Drive one-way roads.

The current Plan Amendment recommends widening Little River because it views this option as being much more conducive to future mass transit systems, such as streetcars. It also would be less likely to hinder access to businesses as a one-way circulation pattern.

The plan’s transportation recommendations include the following:

• Widen Little River Turnpike (Route 236) from four to six lanes through the Annandale CBC area, under a “context sensitive approach.” The existing service lanes would become regular traffic lanes. The plan envisions Little River transformed into a tree-lined boulevard with pedestrian and bike trails, transit amenities, a wider center median, and streetscape improvements that facilitate safety and enhance pedestrian circulation.

[Did you notice the golden rain trees in bloom along Little River Turnpike? These trees were planted several years ago as part of a beautification effort. The trees in the photo are in front of Pep Boys.]

• Widen Annandale Road to four lanes and improve the “horizontal alignment” of the section south of Maple Place.

• Close the Columbia Pike/Little River intersection. Widen Backlick Road between Little River and Columbia Pike to four lanes. Realign Columbia Pike to Backlick Road.

• Consolidate access and remove service drives along Columbia Pike.

• Improve Poplar Street to a standard two-lane section and extend it to Columbia Pike to provide a complete connection between Annandale Road and Columbia Pike. Improve the alignment of the existing Poplar/Markham Street intersection at Annandale Road.

• Realign Markham Street to McWhorter Place in a four-lane section to complete the loop road system south of Little River. Create a cul-de-sac at McWhorter Place west of Markham Street.

The plan also suggests creating a roundabout at the intersection of Maple Place and Martin Avenue, pending a review by the county and VDOT.

While the plan notes that a comprehensive survey of heritage resources has not been conducted, it says, “The potential exists for significant heritage resources associated with the area’s 20th century residential and commercial history.” It recommends the need for further study of several sites, including the bowling alley at 4245 Markham St.; the former school at 7200 Columbia Pike; the fire station at 7128 Columbia Pike, the former Safeway grocery store at 7220 Columbia Pike [not sure where this is]; the six-bay, glass front commercial building with projecting roof at 4201-4223 Tom Davis Drive; and the 1930s houses converted to office and commercial space at 7224-7236 Columbia Pike.


  1. On another issue--I noticed today that the speed limit on Columbia Pike west of the dam has been lowered to 35. (Big flashing sign in front of the Mason District Center was my first clue.) Probably a good thing--I've been amazed for the dozen years I've been here that it was 45 mph east of Gallows Road. Wonder if you know any more about that change?

  2. 7220 Columbia Pike is the large brick building with a Bank of America, Dain Cafe, Honey Pig restaurant, etc. I don't remember it as a Safeway, but I suppose it might have been one. Frankly not sure that's a critical heritage resource. Likewise the bowling alley--thought that had already been slated for redevelopment before the recession.

    All those street change recommendations make pretty good sense to me, except for the roundabout. I actually don't mind roundabouts generally; I just can't understand the rationale for one in that location.

    Connecting Poplar to Columbia Pike makes sense generally, but I'm concerned about the impact on ACCA's operations--on Google maps, it looks like their playground is in the way.

  3. I should pay more attention to speed limits . . .

    Re: the "heritage resources," the bowling alley property was approved for redevelopment a couple of years ago but that deal fell through. It may not seem like worth saving now, but in 50 years it could be seen as an architectural gem. Hope to see you at the hearing.