Residents of some western Fairfax County neighborhoods are fighting a proposed roundabout that is supported by their Loudoun County neighbors.
The Virginia Department of Transportation is proposing to install a roundabout at the intersection of Braddock and Pleasant Valley roads, both two-lane roads that are heavily used north-south and east-west corridors for residents of western Fairfax County and eastern Loudoun County.
According to VDOT traffic studies, drivers are now waiting as long as 12 to 15 minutes to pass through the intersection during peak hours.
A roundabout was proposed in lieu of a traffic light because the intersection is surrounded on three sides by environmentally sensitive parkland and on the fourth by Cox Farms. The roundabout requires less land than a traffic light and makes it easier to maintain access to Cox Farms and the Sully Woodlands park, according to VDOT.
Many residents of the Virginia Run community, located off of Pleasant Valley Road and Route 29 in Centreville, are opposed to the proposal because they believe it will encourage more Loudoun County residents to use the back roads, rather than Route 50.
“The current intersection actually provides a benefit in that it meters traffic flow through that intersection,” said Ted Troscianecki, a member of the Virginia Run Board of Trustees and a leading opponent of the roundabout.
The boards of Virginia Run and the Sully Station and Sully Station II communities have all formally passed resolutions opposing the roundabout.
East of the intersection on Braddock is a steep S-curve, and just past that is the intersection of Braddock and Old Lee roads, which is often a bottleneck because of people waiting to turn left on Old Lee, Troscianecki said.
The opponents also believe that it makes more sense to wait until the current widening of Route 50 is complete, to see if that alleviates traffic at Braddock and Pleasant Valley, he said.
“We’re just scratching our heads here as to why this project is proceeding at such a fast pace,” he said.
Supervisor Michael Frey (R-Sully), who represents the area on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, said residents in Virginia Run and other nearby communities originally wanted improvements at the intersection, which VDOT originally rated to warrant a traffic light.
“This intersection has been a problem for a long, long time,” he said. “The only thing that has changed is that Loudoun County has developed.”
He believes the roundabout will still be needed once the Route 50 widening is complete and that waiting for that will just further delay any relief at the intersection.
Elected officials in Loudoun County are also advocating for the project, to the point that the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors is funding $1.2 million of the cost to expedite the project, even though the intersection is across the county line in Fairfax County.
Del. David Ramadan (R-Dist. 87) announced this week that VDOT has identified an additional $1.5 million for the project, on top of $1.5 million already set aside and the $1.2 million from Loudoun County. The total project cost is estimated at just over $4 million.
Due to the heightened public interest in the project, VDOT announced this week that it is extending its public comment period on the roundabout design to Oct. 31.
For more information on the roundabout proposal, go to http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/northernvirginia/braddock_and_pleasant_valley.asp.