by Sudha Kamath, Bull Run Observer

17 February 2012, p. 4

“One of the biggest overhauls by the Virginia Department of Transportation is moving ahead in 2012. Construction began on June 15 last year on the US29/Linton Hall Road/I-66 interchange project. VDOT expects work to be completed by June 2015.

“One overpass will carry US 29 over the Norfolk Southern Railroad; another will carry Linton Hall and Gallerher roads over the railroad and US 29, which will be widened to six lanes from I-66 to Virginia Oaks Drive.

“Aerial animation of the final project can be found here: asp (halfway down the page, click on ‘video rendering’).

“Mehrdad Naderi has served as the area construction engineer for about eight months. Currently, he lives in Maryland but is planning to move to the Gainesville area. He splits his time between the VDOT District Office in Fairfax and the Gainesville Project Field Office. Naderi says so far 17 percent of the interchange project is completed, and it’s on time and on budget.

“The traffic on US 29 and VA 55, also known as John Marshall Highway, was moved to a new detour recently so that crews could start building the overpasses. Naderi said the detour will stay in place about two to three years.

“Also, temporary one-way traffic on Old Linton Hall Road was in place between Whitney Road and Lakeview Drive from mid-October last year, through the end of January this year, as crews installed a 24-inch water main. Naderi said base asphalt is now in place, the road is back to two-way traffic, and surface asphalt will be milled to cover the road this spring.

“Also, in January, after two recent crashes involving trucks and Norfolk Southern trains on southbound US 29 in Gainesville, VDOT set up a portable message sign reminding drivers not to block the railroad crossing while waiting at a red light or when traffic is backed up. The at-grade railroad crossings in Gainesville will be eliminated as part of the ongoing overhaul. ‘Our design consultant and VDOT traffic engineers proposed to add new and bigger warning signs ahead of the railroad crossing, place new pavement markings around the railroad track to make it more visible and are also requesting Prince William County Police presence at the site to enforce the law,’ said Naderi.

“The overhaul should offer overdue congestion relief. According to the latest statistic available, in 2008, I-66 carried 82,000 vehicles a day between US 29 and the VA 234 Bypass. It’s expected to carry more than 175,000 vehicles a day by 2028.  About 57,000 vehicles a day used US 29 through Gainesville; that’s expected to jump to 87,000 a day by 2035. About 42,000 vehicles a day are expected to use Linton Hall Road by 2035.

“Naderi said his team is keeping locals informed about what’s going on. ‘We have a community outreach program, especially for the businesses in the area, to inform them of major upcoming events and how it affects them. We also receive inquiries from citizens living in the area about the project.’

“Meanwhile, Virginia hopes to pump more money into transportation improvements across the commonwealth. ‘Collectively, we put the most new funding into transportation in a generation,’ Gov. Robert ‘Bob’ McDonnell announced recently. ‘Virginia simply cannot remain a leader in economic development and job creation if we do not continue to address our transportation challenges.’ He said this year’s transportation package will help spur the commonwealth’s economic recovery.

“Among other proposals, McDonnell is asking for an additional dedication of 25 percent of the sales tax to transportation in the next eight years; the creation of the Virginia Toll Road Authority to construct, maintain and operate toll road facilities across Virginia; permission for private entities to place their name on highways, interchanges, bridges and other infrastructure for an annual fee that would go to the state’s highway maintenance and operating fund.”