Nearly 30 years after planning began, construction on the Fairfax County Parkway is nearing completion. Work has officially started on the final 2-mi. (3.2 km) section of the Parkway, which was designed to connect southern and northern Fairfax County in northern Virginia. Construction started in 1985 and currently 33 of the Parkway’s planned 35 miles are open to travelers.
The Parkway is one of northern Virginia’s most important highways and rivals the Beltway in terms of moving traffic north and south in the region.
The Parkway currently begins at Route 7 and terminates at the Franconia-Springfield Parkway. It picks up again at Fullerton Road just west of I-95 and continues to Route 1. The remaining portion of the parkway from Rolling Road to Fullerton Road, will complete the original vision for the corridor.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the Department of the Army and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are working together to build this missing link. FHWA will administer the final design and construction of the first two phases of the project. When the first phase is complete in late 2010, motorists will have a direct route to I-95 from Rolling Road to Fullerton Road through Fort Belvoir’s Engineering Proving Grounds (EPG). The grounds add complexity to planning as they were used for munitions testing that left major environmental damage.
Due to funding constraints, the $174 million project was broken into four phases, with VDOT providing $114.7 million, enough to cover the main roadway but not all of the interchanges and other improvements.
Phase I, which is set to cost $94 million, involves constructing a four-lane section between Rolling Road and Fullerton Road that will provide direct access to I-95.
Phase II is a $17 million interchange at Rolling Road and the EPG entrance. Both phases are set to be completed by late 2010.
The design-build contract for the project was awarded to Cherry Hill Construction Inc. by FHWA on Sept. 25, 2008, with a Notice to Proceed issued on Oct. 30, 2008.
Robert A. Morris, senior project manager for the Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division, said the majority of the construction will take place in the engineer proving grounds; however, tie-in work will be required at Rolling Road, Boudinot Drive and Fullerton Road. He said during the project, a portion of Fullerton Road will be detoured for approximately one year to construct a new bridge for the Parkway, plus lower the grade along Fullerton Road.
“The project is a typical highway construction project, with the exception of potential ordinance and contamination on the engineering proving grounds of Fort Belvoir,” said Roger Lant, construction manager at Cherry Hill Construction. “The plan is to move the majority of the excavation with large tractors pulling two bowl scrapers. The significant structures will require significant cranage for cast in situ concrete and setting of steel and concrete girders on the five bridges. In addition, large augers will be utilized to drill shafts for the bridge pier construction adjacent to Accotink Creek.”
Lant said that through design of the project a key focus has been to balance the dirt needs on the east and west sides of the Accotink Creek. He said this reduces the amount of dirt to be trucked on local roads, which minimizes the construction impact on the local communities. He added that the project will import significant quantities of materials such as around 230,000 tons (208,652 t) of aggregate and asphalt, 10,500 cu. yd. (8,028 cu. m) of concrete and more than 2,500 tons (2,268 t) of steel.
Initial delays in getting the road built grew, in part, from a disagreement over how to manage the EPG site. State and federal officials found a solution in that The Federal Highway Administration would oversee construction and VDOT would own and maintain it once it is finished.
There also are plans to move thousands of jobs to the proving ground, as mandated by the Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC).
According to Lant, the project is on schedule. He added that there were some potential challenges the team has to overcome such as utility relocation, modifications to intersection design and redesign of the EPG access road.
Lant said in regards to workers needed for the project, the design-build team is in the process of resource loading the schedule to review the resource curve for the project.
“Due to the compact schedule, it’s assumed at this time the work force will peak at around 100 to 120, ” he said. “We will be looking to recruit locally for craft positions and several field management positions.”
Future phases, totaling $63 million, will be constructed using funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in a decision approved April 16, 2009. Phase III relocates Hooes Road and Rolling Road with improvements to the interchange at the Fairfax County Parkway and the Franconia-Springfield Parkway and Phase IV is an interchange at Boudinot Drive. VDOT, FHWA and Fairfax County will each pursue additional funding to construct the remaining phases. CEG