Local leaders touted the $35 million widening of Neabsco Mills Road at a public hearing last week as a relief to afternoon rush-hour traffic, but some businesses are concerned about losing a crucial turn lane — especially for tow trucks — to access businesses along a side road from Neabsco Mills Road.
The Prince William County Transportation Department staff held a public hearing Sept. 26 to answer questions and hear thoughts from the community about the project to widen Neabsco Mills Road between Freedom High School and Northern Virginia Community College’s Woodbridge campus.
The project is set to widen less than a mile of Neabsco Mills — or about 4,300 feet — between U.S. 1 and Smoke Court from a two-lane street to a four-lane divided road with a five-foot sidewalk on one side of the road and a 10-foot multi-use path on the other. With federal, state, regional and local funding, the county is set to advertise for construction in spring 2020 and completion in winter 2022.
The road has been a priority for construction since 2014, said Ricardo Canizales, the county’s transportation director.
Neabsco Mills Road currently sees 12,000 cars daily, said Gladis Arboleda, engineer for the county and project manager for the widening project. Once the road is widened, it will be able to accommodate 20,081 or more vehicles per day, she said.
Several people who attended the public hearing voiced concerns about reaching Hanco Center Drive to access businesses such as Dominion Wrecker Services and Lindsay Collision Center. The widening project will create a divided median, which will eliminate a left-turn from Neabsco Mills Road to the businesses along Hanco Center Drive. Some attendees said Hanco Center Drive is not wide enough for tow trucks to take a right turn.
John Smallwood of Lindsay Automotive Group said the company would like to have access to turn left from Neabsco Mills Road onto Hanco Center Drive. He said that would be more convenient than having to go farther down the road and make a U-turn.
Lynda Silverstrand, a Woodbridge resident and the vice-chair of the Woodbridge Potomac Communities Civic Association, said she frequently uses Neabsco Mills Road to access shopping and car services. A left-turn lane is important for businesses on Hanco Center Drive.
“We can’t cut them off,” Silverstrand said.
The county could widen Hanco Center Drive to accommodate large vehicles that need to make a right turn, Silverstrand said.
Steve Smith, president/owner of Mid-Atlantic Wrecker Services along Neabsco Mills Road, said he has concerns about accessing the business once the road is widened.
“They want us to U-turn,” Smith said. “A U-turn will be hard.”
County staff said VDOT standards for the road will not allow a break in the median to accommodate a left-turn onto Hanco Center Drive that close to the traffic signal near the U.S. 1 intersection.
Still, the design is only 50 percent complete, so there is time to take the public’s comments into consideration, said Mark Gunn, director of engineering with Rinker Design Associates.
“We get to 50 percent [completion of the design] and get feedback while it’s still early enough to make substantial changes, if needed,” Gunn said.
The county also held a public hearing on the project in May. Attendees raised concerns then about access to Hanco Center Drive, but the left turn was deemed unfeasible, Gunn said. Also after feedback from the first meeting, the county widened the southernmost entrance to the community college at College Drive to accommodate U-turns by large vehicles.
The middle of the road is the boundary between the districts of Supervisors Frank Principi, D-Woodbridge, and John Jenkins, D-Neabsco. Traffic during the afternoon rush hour has reliably created one of the most congested roads in Woodbridge, Principi said.
“I can tell you when we get to the fourth lane, you’ll see an improvement in how we transverse up and down that road,” Jenkins said.
Albert Williams, who lives in the last house on the road, said he sold part of his front yard to the county in December 2010 so the road can be widened.
“I think it’s worth it, because one lane going south and one lane going north is not enough for the amount of traffic on that road,” Williams said, adding that at times it can take him 20 minutes to leave his driveway due to traffic.
Sam Hill, provost for NVCC’s Woodbridge Campus, said he supports this project because drivers often use the campus as a cut-through to avoid traffic.
The county is also narrowing down a location for a 1,414-space parking garage near the Neabsco Mills Road widening project. The county hired consultants to study locations near I-95 between Opitz and Dale boulevards.
Members of the public can provide comments about the Neabsco Mills Road widening project by Oct. 29 by emailing GArboleda@PWCgov.org or by sending a letter to Gladis Arboleda at the Prince William County Department of Transportation at 5 County Complex Court, Suite 290, Prince William, VA 22192.