Lee Chapel project gets $9 million, community support for improvements after deadly crash

September 14, 2023


By Victoria Sanchez

FAIRFAX, Va. (7News) — Fairfax County now has the funds and seemingly the support of community members to fix Lee Chapel Road. Time is the biggest factor in fixing the deadly stretch in Fairfax Station.

Around 60 people attended a virtual town hall Wednesday night to hear potential solutions to the two-lane roadway with a blind hill that Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity called “an attractive nuisance” during an interview with 7News in May.

In January, two 16-year-old girls were killed, and another seriously injured when their vehicle went airborne and crashed on Lee Chapel Road as it crested a hill traveling more than 100 miles per hour.

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During the Wednesday meeting, Virginia Senator George Barker announced the remaining $4 million for the project would come from the Commonwealth. In July, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted to transfer $5 million from the Shirley Gate transportation project to cover more than half of the project’s estimated price tag.

“While it’s got money and it’s moving forward, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done,” explained Herrity.

Fairfax County now has the funds and seemingly the support of community members to fix Lee Chapel Road. (7News)

It could be four to five years before the project is completed.

There are two options for traffic flow during construction, including shutting down the busy roadway that connects Ox Road to Fairfax County Parkway. It would last the entirety of the project and re-route drivers to Burke Lake Road, Ox Road and Fairfax County Parkway. Herrity told 7News Reporter Victoria Sanchez in May that residents would still have access to their homes.

The alternative to the shutdown would be to construct a temporary road next to Lee Chapel to allow vehicles to still drive that stretch of Fairfax Station.

“Obviously to do that, it requires more land, more space, more disturbance and also, quite frankly, it’s going to take longer because you have to do the initial construction first, before you do construction on the actual road,” explained Gregg Steverson, acting director of FCDOT.

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The $9 million accounts for the possibility of a temporary road. A full closure would save “two to three months” in the construction timeline, said FCDOT’s Brook Khorashadi.

During public comment, a South Run community member spoke on the choices.

“When we are considering between the two options between shutting down Lee Chapel fully or building a go-around, there are significant reasons for why the community would vote for that go-around,” said C. Collins.

“I can’t imagine the nightmare for the buses let alone the parents who drive. It would be basically cutting our neighborhood in half,” she continued.

County and Commonwealth leaders are considering removing both hills to even out the road. Preliminary design includes increasing the speed limit from 30 to 45 miles per hour once construction is completed.

Herrity told the virtual group there are several things that need to take place before any on-site work can start, including traffic studies, environmental impacts, school bus routes, surveying utilities, design, and more public input.

The next community meeting will take place once solidified plans are developed.

“We can look at some time 12 months, plus or minus two months, I’ll say, hopefully to have a public meeting on the preliminary design of the roadway and hopefully the interim improvements will continue,” he said.

It could be four to five years before the project is completed.

“It’s not as simple as plowing the two hills and leveling the road,” said Herrity. “There’s an awful lot that goes into it.”