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May 10, 2017

Most at hearing favor design of LFCC interchange

Photos/Lawrence Emerson
VDOT Project Manager Hal Jones (center) talks with county Planning Commissioner Matthew Smith and Community Development Director Kimberley Fogle during Tuesday’s hearing at Lord Fairfax Community College.
I’m good with the design, but I’m not happy with the sound. You can’t have a conversation (in neighborhood yards).
— Jennifer Lux, Turkey Run Drive homeowner
Public Hearing
• Topic: Planned interchange at Warrenton Eastern Bypass (Routes 15/17/29) and Lord Fairfax Drive, just south of town.

• When: 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 9.

• Where:
The Barn at Lord Fairfax Community College’s Fauquier campus.

• Agency: Virginia Department of Transportation

• Attendance: 52 people signed VDOT register.

• Features: Interchange with roundabouts at exit ramps, eliminating traffic signals and at-grade intersection.

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

• Construction: Could begin early next year with completion in 2020.

• VDOT project info: Click here.

• Public comments: Accepted through May 19. Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
The plan for a highway interchange near Lord Fairfax Community College’s campus south of Warrenton drew mostly positive reviews Tuesday night.

Neighboring homeowners continued to press for a sound barrier — an unlikely component of the $26.9-million interchange project — along Routes 15/17/29, the busy, four-lane highway.

Fifty-two people signed in during a two-hour public hearing the Virginia Department of Transportation conducted at LFCC.

> Video on project overview at bottom of story

“The project is needed, for sure,” said John Pearce, who lives on Turkey Run Drive just east of the highway.

Like his neighbors, Mr. Pearce hopes VDOT will do something to mitigate noise — an issue since Warrenton’s Eastern Bypass opened in the 1980s.

But, he added, the proposed interchange design “could be a lot worse. I think they really listened to people.”

VDOT conducted “stakeholders’ meetings” with neighbors in January and March at LFCC.

“I’m just looking for noise attenuation,” said Barbara Cross, who has lived 18 years on Turkey Run Drive.

Tracey Arndt and Jennifer Lux, who live in the same neighborhood, agree.

“I’m good with the design, but I’m not happy with the sound,” Ms. Arndt said. “You can’t have a conversation” in many of the neighborhood yards.

But, the planned interchange meets only two of VDOT’s three criteria for sound barriers, Project Manager Hal Jones said.

The highway’s traffic creates enough noise and VDOT deems mitigation “feasible,” Mr. Jones explained. But, the 14 homes on large lots along Turkey Run Drive fail to meet the threshold under a “cost-benefit analysis.”

Although “subject to change,” VDOT’s concept calls for elimination of traffic signals at the intersection, where an average of 44,000 vehicles pass daily. A bridge would carry traffic over the highway to and from LFCC, the county landfill and homes on the east side. A traffic circle on each side of the overpass would distribute traffic entering and exiting the highway via a complex of ramps.

VDOT will solicit proposals from design/build firms later this year and will select three for detailed negotiations, Mr. Jones said. One of the finalists will get the contract in February and will start construction late next summer. The schedule calls for completion of the interchange in the winter of 2020.

“We use this intersection all the time; something needs to be done,” Warrenton resident Larry Parks said. “You sit in that left turn lane (heading for the landfill) and your car shakes when tractor-trailers zoom by.”

VDOT cites the high rate of accidents and vehicle stacking — sometimes for miles — approaching the intersection’s traffic signals. The agency’s projections indicate the new interchange would provide a solution for at least 20 years, according to Mr. Jones, the project manager.

“We’re all for it,” said Piedmont Environmental Council Senior Advisor and Director of Strategic Partnerships John McCarthy, a Warrenton resident. “It’s an innovative design.”

County planning officials also support the proposal.

Community Development Director Kimberley Fogle and Planning Commissioner Matthew Smith (Cedar Run District) on Tuesday buttonholed Mr. Jones about aesthetic details, including the selection of stain for precast bridge components that would resemble stone.

Ms. Fogle and Mr. Smith pushed for multicolored panels to mimic real stone.

Fauquier Trails Coalition members suggested at least one design change. The overpass would include a pedestrian and bike trail that would end just west of the interchange, on the way into Warrenton.

His group hopes that trail somehow would get moved to the other side of James Madison Highway, where the planned Alwington Farm subdivision includes a network of paths into town, said Elmer Knoderer, a trails coalition member.

> Click here for detailed conceptual plan

Project video:

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Silii · May 11, 2017 at 7:01 am
What is the attention given to collateral fallout on other intersections onto 29? For instance, Green Rd. It is nearly impossible now to turn onto or off Green Rd. due to the constant traffic. This intersection will make it even worse than it already is, and btw, a lot of people use Green Rd.
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