The Virginia Department of Transportation is seeking feedback on five potential plans for the Route 1/Route 123 interchange in Woodbridge released last week.
The survey is part of the department’s Woodbridge STARS study on the intersection, and asks participants to rank their priorities for the intersection among aspects such as safety, travel time and pedestrian/cyclist accessibility. Then it asks users to rate the five possible alternatives from one to five stars.
The five alternatives (the first of which is leaving the intersection as is) have a wide range in terms of disruptiveness and the amount of new construction, but all try to remain within the existing right-of-way as much as possible. VDOT staff from the STARS study team said that the department had a broad sense of possible costs associated with each alternative, but that no projections could be made public yet.
All four of the “build alternatives” would add a bridge to carry Route 123 over Route 1 with a pedestrian/cyclist path alongside, which the department says will improve connectivity for all modes between 123 and the Virginia Railway Express station as well as the Belmont Bay community.
The first build alternative would also add a northbound on-ramp from Route 123 to Route 1 and re-route vehicles travelling from the eastbound Route 1 lanes to 123 via Dawson Beach Road and Express Drive, removing the Route 1 traffic signal. The second alternative would bring the northbound on-ramp as well as a ramp taking drivers directly from northbound Route 1 to the 123 bridge, eliminating the need for the turns on Dawson Beach and Express and also eliminating the Route 1 signal.
The third alternative, dubbed the “full interchange,” would also add southbound ramps to and from the 123 bridge, adding signal-controlled crossings at both ramp intersections. It’s similar to the original VDOT design for the intersection that the county asked to have reconsidered because of its size.
“We didn’t think the old design was supportive of the density and the transit-oriented development that we wanted to have happen in North Woodbridge,” County Planning Manager Paolo Belita told InsideNoVa.
The fourth alternative would also include the northbound ramp from 123 to Route 1 but would keep the Route 1 traffic signal under the new bridge for left turns onto Route 123. In addition to the shared-use paths along the 123 bridge and Route 1, crosswalks would be added to Route 1 at Annapolis Way
Belita said the county wants people to weigh in on the proposals, but that the full interchange would suffer from the same problems as the previous design. Without taking an official position on which alternative the county supports, Belita said that the first would really “support access to the future town center.”
“The reason we’re looking for an alternative concept is to really reduce that footprint ... and come up with a design that supports multimodal use, bike-ped use and land use,” Belita said. “We want to make sure it works for the traffic, most importantly though it’s the land use that’s really driving the redesign that the county wants here.”
With the completion of the Route 1 widening project, Prince William County requested the study, anticipating higher traffic volumes through the intersection and increased development in the surrounding area with the proposed Woodbridge town center and the county’s adopted North Woodbridge Small Area Plan.
One of the study’s goals is also to improve the intersection’s safety and access for those on foot or bicycle. According to VDOT, Route 1 sees about 39,000 vehicles per day around the intersection, while Route 123 sees about 19,000.
In addition to a study working group for collaboration between Prince William County and VDOT, the STARS team is also seeking feedback from Virginia Railway Express and OmniRide. VDOT hopes to have the study completed and a preferred alternative selected by late summer. From there, funding would have to be secured by the county for any improvements.