Supervisor: Infrastructure projects, revitalization ramping up in McLean

Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville) discusses transportation and development initiatives Feb. 14, 2019, in his annual “State of McLean” speech to the Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce.

McLean is poised to benefit from a raft of infrastructure and revitalization projects, Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville) told the Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce Feb. 14.

Delivering his annual “State of McLean” speech to the business organization, Foust focused first on transportation projects:

• The biggest initiative will widen Route 7 from four lanes to six along a 6.8-mile stretch between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive. The initiative also includes 10-foot-wide paths on both sides for pedestrians and bicyclists. The project will be completed in 2024 and Foust said he will keep monitoring construction there to ensure abutting neighborhoods are not affected adversely.

• The biggest challenge is lack of capacity on the American Legion Bridge and Maryland’s side of Interstate 495, Foust said. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has proposed using a public-private partnership to widen the Beltway and improve capacity on I-270.

“The traffic delays in Tysons start in Frederick, Md.,” Foust said.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) recently approved an agreement with Transurban to extend the I-495 Express Lanes between Old Dominion Drive and the American Legion Bridge.

• The McLean Regional Traffic Mitigation Task Force will be looking at ways of moving traffic better at Georgetown Pike and I-495.

• The Jones Branch Connector, two lanes of which VDOT opened late last year, by the end of 2019 will feature two lanes in both directions, plus bike lanes on the road and paths on both sides for pedestrians. The new roadway, which vaults over the Beltway between Jones Branch Drive and Capital One’s campus, also connects with the I-495 Express Lanes.

• Work also will begin soon on the realignment of Old Meadow Road at Route 123. Old Meadow Road does not line up directly across from the main entrance to Capital One’s campus, forcing an additional phase of traffic signals. By eliminating the split-phased signaling, more motorists will be able to cross the intersection.

The project was planned during the first phase of Metro’s Silver Line, which began operations in July 2014, Foust said.

• Another project will build a path along Route 123 between Great Falls Street/Lewinsville Road and the McLean Metro Station. The project, which also faces utility challenges, will be finished by February 2020.

• Work crews recently filled a missing sidewalk link along Dolley Madison Boulevard (Route 123) between Chain Bridge Road and the bus stop at Kurtz Road.

• Another sidewalk project in the vicinity of Churchill Road Elementary School soon will give children a safer pathway to the school.

• Officials this spring will conduct public outreach about possible improvements at Route 123’s intersections with Old Dominion Drive and Great  Falls Street/Lewinsville Road. Such upgrades could include the addition of right-turn-only lanes and, at the latter intersection, possibly allowing Old Dominion Drive/Lewinsville Road to pass under Route 123.

• The county also will fix the elongated-X-shaped Old Dominion Drive/Balls Hill Road interchange. Supervisors last year approved plans to build a pair of T-shaped intersections that will eliminate the split-phased signals,  Foust said. Construction will not begin until 2023, because of design issues and the need to acquire land, he said.

• County officials also hope to improve the X-shaped intersection at Lewinsville and Spring Hill roads, but face resistance from neighbors who motorist might use the upgraded crossing to skirt Tysons, Foust said.

Revitalization of downtown McLean continues, including efforts to document the condition of local sidewalks, fill in missing links and grind down uneven spots.. 

The supervisor lauded the new Signet residential project, which also is slated to have a restaurant. Foust credited the builder, JBG, for contributing money for sidewalks, a playground, parks and utility undergrounding.

Supervisors last October approved plans by Benchmark Associates LP to build a 44-unit multi-family building at 6707 Old Dominion Drive.

Work on a new vision plan for central McLean continues. After a series of public meetings, a consulting firm last December proposed creating three areas with higher development density in the Community Business Center, which would be surrounded by less-dense developments. A task force now will rewrite McLean’s comprehensive plan to fit those goals.

Developers need to have density incentives to entice them to knock down buildings and forgo rental income while new structures are built, Foust said.

Foust also is monitoring redevelopment proposals near the West Falls Church Metro Station.

Foust credited McLean Community Center executive director George Sachs with shepherding the facility’s recent expansion and renovation while maintaining the center’s programs.

McLean also is benefiting from The Fallstead, an 80-unit  housing project for low-income seniors, which was built by a non-profit group. The site also will have county-financed senior center, senior day-care facility and two child-care centers.

Other new developments include the 10-home Mehr Farm subdivision at Old Dominion Drive and Balls Hill Road and 21 single-family houses that will be built on the former Dominican Retreat site. The latter development is by-right and will close the entrance at Old Dominion Drive in favor of access via Dolley Madison Boulevard.

Foust noted stream-restoration efforts at the former Dominican Retreat and near the community center, which will reduce the amount of nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment that reach the Chesapeake Bay and prevent erosion by regrading steep stream edges.

Workers “take that and make it look like it looked when Columbus arrived,” Foust said.

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