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Latest from VDOT on Route 7 Improvements & Traffic Updates

Beginning the week of Nov. 16, drivers on Route 7 and adjacent side streets between Utterback Store Road and Colvin Forest Drive will experience lane shifts, traffic pattern changes and detours. All residences, businesses and other public facilities will remain accessible.

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Top Stories

and News Briefs

  • GFCA Special Schools Committee to present Options to School Board on Redistricting Langley and McLean High Schools
  • Springvale Road Bridge Group Studying VDOT Plans
  • GFCA Transportation Committee Asks VDOT About Traffic Calming Measure for Georgetown Pike
  • Turner Farm Foundation Seeking Special Exception to operate Retreat Center for No-profit Organizations
  • Developer Seeks Zoning Use Determination on Seneca Road Location of CVS as Shopping Center
  • Plantation Drive Use Determination sought over Newport Academy Application for Youth Treatment Facility 
  • GFCA monitoring of storm-water compliance issues at Basheer-Edgemoores's Rivermont Development
  • GFCA continues to monitor Marmota Farms Development Plans
  • Land Use and Zoning Committee submits comments on proposed amendment to overhaul County Zoning Ordinance
  • Transportation Committee Names new Co-chair, Mike Barclay

VDOT ImageGFCA Qualifies its Support for the I-495 HOT Lanes Expansion Project- Sec. of Transportation Notified:
A Perfect Storm of Traffic Gridlock 

December 4, 2020 - The GFCA has forwarded correspondence to Virginia’s Secretary of Transportation that conveys the position that GFCA recently adopted to consider action to delay implementation of plans to launch the I-495 Extension and High Occupancy Toll Lanes until additional public input is obtained and the State of Maryland provides a firm commitment to move forward on the I-495 project in concert with the Commonwealth of Virginia.

GFCA had previously supported the plans to increase the capacity of the Capital Beltway and the Toll lane project because it would provide some relief from the traffic congestion and gridlock that plagues Northern Virginia. 

However, GFCA’s letter qualified its support for the project and asked that it be delayed until assurances are made that Maryland will continue the process by widening the American Legion Bridge and the Beltway lanes on the Maryland side of the Potomac River.  GFCA believes that, unless the expansion occurs on both sides of the Potomac, no actual benefits will result and traffic gridlock will just be moved slightly north.  Also, the arterial roads leading to and from the Beltway, like Georgetown Pike, will be impacted by commuters seeking alternatives to traffic jams that will occur at peak travel times.

GFCA considers that VDOT’s road widening initiatives like the 2021 launch of construction of the I-495 HOT Lanes and the simultaneous reconstruction of Route 7, coupled with plans to rebuild one-lane bridges in Great Falls and on Hunter Mill Road in Reston in the same time frame creates a “perfect storm” of traffic gridlock in this area of Northern Virginia. 

“The 18,500 residents of Great Falls will be battling the effects of VDOT’s future construction and the result of what appears to be fragmented planning on four fronts”, says GFCA President Bill Canis: “disruption to traffic will likely worsen on the Route 7 corridor that runs along the border of Great Falls, I-495 construction will be massive, we will see closure of two roads in Great Falls to rebuild bridges (Springvale Road and Walker Road), and the construction associated with the Hunter Mill, not to mention the detours and chaos that will occur in our community all of these projects kick off in 2021, as forecast by VDOT.  It will be a nightmare.”

Peter Falcone, GFCA Communications Chair, and member of the Executive Board, offered the view that  transportation issues are rapidly becoming the leading concern of the GFCA as it considers VDOT’s plans to eliminate two, one-lane, bridges in Great Falls and to launch a major construction project involving expansion of the High Occupancy Toll Lanes on the section of 495 linking Virginia to Maryland. 

These heightened concerns over traffic in Great Falls arise from the fact that the community is connected to two main commuting conduits in Northern Virginia—Route 7 and I-495.  Increased residential development occurring in communities that lie to the West bring more commuter traffic to the limited routes leading to the interstate and Metropolitan Washington, D.C.  Against this backdrop, WMATA transit officials have recently announced closure of Metro stations and overall reductions in service due to low ridership and budgetary constraints.  Falcone observed that, without these public transportation alternatives to highway commuting in Northern Virginia, there is strong likelihood that current vehicle traffic conditions will become aggravated and Great Falls will receive an extraordinarily large share of that growing commuter volume.

GFCA has also asked for more traffic studies to be conducted before construction plans are drawn.

County Supervisors Seek More Time From VDOT for Public Input on I-495 HOT Lanes Project

At their Oct. 6 regular Meeting, Chairman McKay stated that the Board
offices have heard from numerous residents who have expressed concerns with how few public meetings have been held to discuss the 495 Express Lanes Northern Extension, or NEXT, project.

Recognizing that COVID-19 has made public meetings difficult, there are ample means still available to collect more public input prior to making any decisions about this major project.

Supervisor Alcorn, Supervisor Foust, and Supervisor Palchik, Chairman McKay moved that the Board direct the County’s Department of Transportation to draft a letter, to be signed by the Chairman, to VDOT requesting more citizen public information and comment sessions.

Further technical input on the project itself will come before the Board at its next meeting.  Supervisor Foust seconded the motion and it carried by unanimous vote.

GFCA Urges Caution - Be Alert To Deer Crossing the Roadways This Time of Year!Why is there a Deer Management Program in Fairfax County? | Wildlife

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Deer Management Presentation

Native Plants Presentation

What is the GFCA?

The Great Falls Citizens Association is an all-volunteer, non-profit, 501(c)4 organization that advocates solutions and government actions that benefit Great Falls. 

Our goal is to preserve the semi-rural character of our community while addressing practical concerns like traffic, zoning, retail, schools, parks and the environment where problems arise and solutions must be found. 

Since Great Falls is not an incorporated municipality like the Town of Vienna, or City of Falls Church, we lack a town/city government to represent our local interests.  The GFCA acts in an unofficial capacity to represent the voices of the citizens of Great Falls on these matters, and works with county, state, and national government to get things done.  On Great Falls issues, no other organization has GFCA’s influence with elected leaders at the County and State level, or is as respected by them.

Our charter calls for GFCA to "serve as a community organization to promote all aspects of community interest accruing to a common good and, in general, to preserve the historic, low density, semi-rural character of Great Falls and its natural resources."

From the GFCA Archives The following was published in the October 1993 GFCA Newsletter:

-Route 7 Speed Limits.  After recent tragic accident fatalities on Route 7, there has been agitation both for and against reduction of the posted speed limit from 55 to 45 mph in residential segments.  A related localized issue is the anomaly at the intersection of Route 7 and Utterback Store Road where the eastbound limit is 45 but the westbound limit is 55 (why?).  VDOT, after citizen agitation following a fatal accident, reduced the limit to 45 on the Dulles Toll Road/Lewinsville Rd. segment.  Some of the questions which lie are:  would reduction to 45 mph elsewhere adverse traffic volume to be moved; to what degree is 10 more miles of speed limit the cause of accidents, can lower limits be effective absent strong enforcement, is strong enforcement feasible, and what parts of the Gt, Falls segment of Route 7, if any, should have lower posted limits.

Great Falls Citizens Association            
PO Box 27  •  Great Falls, VA   •  2206

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