Route 29 widening project in Centreville breaks ground.

March 22, 2023

Connection Newspaper

By Bonnie Hobbs

Anyone who’s ever tried driving from Fairfax to Centreville on Route 29 between 3 and 7 p.m. knows how slow and irritating it can be. Vehicles are bumper to bumper, with a sea of red taillights, as far as the eye can see.

There’s also gridlock there during the morning rush, with long backups at the intersection of Clifton and Stringfellow roads. But at long last, relief is on the way.

For years, VDOT has planned to widen this 1.5-mile stretch between Buckleys Gate Drive and Union Mill Road from four to six lanes. And on March 8, it finally broke ground on this project. The ceremonial tossing of shovels full of dirt took place on the Route 29 service road in front of the Brightview Fair Oaks senior-living facility.

“What a wonderful day for a groundbreaking,” said VDOT’s Northern Virginia Deputy District Engineer Bill Cuttler. And with the wind chill plunging temperatures into the 20s that morning, he wasn’t talking about the weather – but the fact that this project is now on its way to becoming a reality.

“VDOT is pleased to deliver important, multimodal transportation projects that enhance living and working in this great community,” he continued. “We appreciate users’ patience and attention to safety as we work toward our performance goals. And we’re very proud to have great partners here in Fairfax County; these partnerships have been critical to our success.”

Since Route 29 averages 30,000 vehicles a day on this section of road, this $97 million project not only aims to reduce congestion, but to also improve safety, operations and access, including for bicyclists and pedestrians. Therefore, the road’s vertical alignment will be corrected to improve sight distance.

The project will also add and improve 10-foot-wide, shared-use paths along both sides of Route 29 to provide better bicycle and pedestrian access to the trails at the Fairfax County Parkway/West Ox Road Interchange. Planned, as well, are crosswalk improvements at major intersections, with modified signals to accommodate them.

In addition, there’ll be intersection improvements at Centreville Farms and Union Mill roads, Clifton and Stringfellow roads, Meadow Estates Drive and Hampton Forest Way, and Buckleys Gate and Summit drives. Estimated completion time for all this work is spring 2026.

Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield), whose home is in Little Rocky Run, off Route 29 and Union Mill Road, knows firsthand how challenging it can be to get to places on time when Route 29 is jammed with traffic. “Living in this area, I’ve spent too much time on this road – especially coming home at night in all that congestion,” he told the groundbreaking attendees.

“But this improvement will get residents where they need to be, instead of sitting in traffic, and will really improve their quality of life,” he said. “The beneficiaries will also be the people in the neighborhoods off Route 29 who have had to put up with cut-through traffic from I-66 for many years. This project will finish the last section of this road outside of Fairfax City, and I’m looking forward to the ribbon cutting in 2026.”

Herrity also thanked county Transportation Director Tom Biesiadny, who’s retiring soon, for all his hard work on this widening project. He acknowledged, as well, the county and VDOT staff members who worked with a nearby garden center and a towing company to deal with their particular concerns, since both are located along Route 29.

Supervisor Kathy Smith (D-Sully), called the event a “great way to start the day,” adding that most of this project is in the Springfield District, but part is in Sully. “This will create a more stable travel experience and especially improve the p.m.-peak traffic for Sully District commuters,” she said. “And I’m glad it’s a design-build project, which enables us to get it done sooner.”

In such projects, the designer and contractor work together as a team and project phases happen simultaneously. Cuttler stressed that VDOT was “an innovative leader” in adopting design-builds as work methods. He then thanked the Route 29 widening project’s builder, Shirley Contracting Co., and its designer, Dewberry, plus many individuals who’ve played vital roles in bringing it to this point.

“Projects like this take people with a lot of different expertise,” said Cuttler.

This one is financed with federal, state (including Smart Scale) and local funding, plus I-66 concessionaire money. Comprising its $97 million total are: Preliminary engineering, $5.5 million; right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation, $9.7 million; and construction, $81.8 million. 

Cuttler thanked all those who helped fund this project, including U.S. Rep Gerry Connolly (D-11) on the federal level. Then, smiling broadly, he said, “Let’s go shovel some dirt.”