Officials Focus on Dangerous Hill on Lee Chapel Road

April 19, 2023

Connection Newspaper

By Mike Salmon

Changes to Lee Chapel Road are coming closer to fruition as officials from various agencies are planning a second meeting to fix the spot where two students were killed last winter.

In January, a car with three South County High School students aboard crested one of the steep hills, lost control and crashed into the woods, killing two girls and putting one in the hospital with serious injuries. This was not the first fatality at this location that’s happened through the years. There are several memorials of other fatal crashes, highlighting the danger of this road configuration.

Officials taking part in this road safety effort include representatives from the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, Virginia Department of Transportation, Del. Kathy Tran (D-42), Virginia Senator George Barker (D), Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield), and Supervisor Dan Storck (D-Mount Vernon).

At the first meeting, the road improvement came down to three options and those were discussed more in depth, arriving at these options:

* Option One would be the removal of the primary hill, adding two 11-foot lanes and a 6-foot shoulder on each side of the roadway, but this would not require a full closure of the road by VDOT and save about $2 million. This could be done without full closure, but construction would take longer and a maintenance of traffic plan would need to be implemented.

* Option Two is the removal of both hills, adding two 11-foot lanes and a 6-foot shoulder on each side of the roadway, but this would require a full closure of the road by VDOT impacting residents and commuters in that part of the county and beyond.

* Option Three is to relocate the roadway as the first phase of the four-lane widening as shown on the comprehensive plan. This would construct a new two-lane roadway to the east of the existing roadway adjacent to the hills only. The existing roadway could remain in use during most of the construction; however it has a significant impact on park property. According to Tran, the county is in talks with the park authority about any improvements on their land.

The group has shown interest in Option Two and will meet again in coming weeks for further discussion. Funding is still undecided and the group continues to pursue various sources that include local, state and federal money. For all of these options, there will be public meetings to keep everyone informed of what is happening and when the construction would begin.

There are some short-term options currently in place or coming soon, and that includes signage and brush clearing. When the area is next paved, they will add rumble strips. The time frame for paving that part of the road is next fall.