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March 7, 2019

Contractor begins clearing trees for new interchange

Photo/Cassandra Brown
Excavators remove trees between Lord Fairfax Road and Turkey Run Drive on Thursday, as the interchange project begins.
By the end of next year, the new interchange just south of Warrenton will eliminate traffic signals and long backups.
New Interchange
• Where: Warrenton Eastern Bypass at Business Routes 15/17/29 and Lord Fairfax Drive, just south of town.

• Agency: Virginia Department of Transportation.

• Features: Interchange with single-lane roundabouts at exit ramps, eliminating traffic signals and at-grade intersection; pedestrian path and commuter lot. 

• Estimated cost: $26.9 million, approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board last June.

• Construction: $19.6-million contract awarded to Shirley Contracting Co. and engineering firm Dewberry Inc.

• Construction: Starting February 2019 with completion in December 2020.

• Project details: Click here
Visible signs of construction on the new Warrenton highway interchange near the community college and county landfill started this week.

Lorton-based Shirley Contracting Co. LLC began clearing trees along Lord Fairfax and Turkey Run roads just south of town Thursday.

The $26.9-million project will replace the busy intersection just south of town with a grade-separated interchange and two roundabouts.

A bridge will carry traffic over James Madison Highway to and from Lord Fairfax Community College, the county landfill and homes on the east side. Traffic circles east and west of the overpass will distribute vehicles entering and exiting the highway via a complex of ramps.

The new interchange will stand slightly north of the existing intersection. 

Traffic will begin to use the new interchange in summer 2020, with total completion of the project in December of the same year.

The project will increase safety and improve traffic flow in the busy intersection that averages 44,000 vehicles a day, according to VDOT.

“Motorists should anticipate daytime shoulder closures for initial earthwork operations,” according to a February VDOT press release. “Travel lanes will remain open during the morning and afternoon rush hours. Work requiring lane closures will be performed overnight or during off-peak travel times.”

The project also includes a 20-space commuter lot off Lord Fairfax Road and an 8-foot-wide pedestrian path from Traveler’s Way across the bridge to the Awlington Farm property. 

The Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board last February awarded the $19.6-million construction contract to Fairfax engineering firm Dewberry Inc. and Lorton-based Shirley Contracting Company LLC. 

For more information about the project, click here.

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steph1 · March 9, 2019 at 3:48 pm
I agree with sdan. While the new interchange may be beneficial to traffic flow, especially during rush hour, I am very concerned about negative consequences it will naturally cause. The safety of residents and church patrons entering and exiting driveways is already compromised on southbound and northbound 29 just south of the current Lord Fairfax traffic light because of drivers exceeding the speed limit. The only opportunity the residents and church patrons have to exit driveways on southbound 29 is when there is a break in traffic caused by the traffic light. Without this break in traffic, I fear that exiting these driveways will be IMPOSSIBLE, while entering them will be even more dangerous than it already is. If VDOT is resolving the traffic flow issue, I look forward to see what their plan is to resolve the serious safety issues it will cause. Ideas to resolve these safety issues could be lowering the speed limit and creating another lane on southbound 29 just beyond Lovers Lane specifically for residents and church patrons to exit safely into driveways and for school buses to safely pick up students.
JohnnyD · March 8, 2019 at 8:51 am
sdan, you are right. Add to the excessive speed the fact that our incompetent state legislature can't pass a law to protect us from distracted drivers on their cell phones, and we now have a recipe for disaster.
sdan · March 7, 2019 at 6:08 pm
This new interchange may improve traffic flow in the existing busy intersection at Route 880 (Lord Fairfax Road) but it will certainly cause increased safety risks within the nearby residential areas along the already busy 15/17/29 highway. For years now the increased traffic has already been a problem to the residents and their families and friends that live along James Madison Highway near this intersection, and this new traffic pattern update to produce constant flow of traffic will drastically increase the safely risks of drivers to navigate into and out of the homes along James Madison Hwy and around the turning vehicles. Many accidents over the years have been due to excessive speed (particularly going southbound on 15/17/29 down the hill near Beach Road) and many of these accidents involved traffic stopped or trying to stop for school buses picking up or dropping off children at these residences. Without the breaks in the traffic flow that the current stoplights provide at this intersection, resident families and their friends are going to have a very hard time safely entering/exiting the already busy 15/17/29 highway.
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