By Kevin Burke
On July 9, the extension of Soapstone Drive across the Dulles Airport Corridor to Sunset Hills Road got an important boost in its funding. The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) approved partial funding for the project. NVTA will provide $15 million of the requested total cost of $69 million. This partial funding will allow the extension to move to initial project development, but it does not yet guarantee its completion. Specifically, NVTA has agreed to pay for costs of design, right-of-way acquisition, and some associated initial construction.
The project envisions extending Soapstone Drive, which currently ends at Sunrise Valley Drive and Association Drive, for about a half-mile across the Dulles Access Road and Toll Road to the east of Plaza America, ending at Sunset Hills Road. According to the County’s proposal, a typical section of the new roadway features a three-lane road (that is, one travel lane in each direction and a two-way, left-turn-only lane); five-foot wide on-road bicycle lanes on each side; a five-foot wide concrete sidewalk on the west side; and a 10-foot wide shared use path on the east side, for a total width of about 100 feet. By providing a third Reston bridge across the Dulles Corridor, the extension is designed to relieve congestion and delays at Wiehle Avenue.
Restonians are not likely to see much activity for this project right away. According the NVTA’s estimates, the project’s design, engineering, and environmental work will not occur until 2025, and right-of-way acquisition will wait until 2027. If the additional funding is secured, actual construction, according to this timeline, will not occur before 2028 and will take two to three years to complete.
Wiehle Avenue Pedestrian Overpass at the W&OD Trail
Meanwhile, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation has been acquiring land that would support the building of a pedestrian overpass at the W&OD Trail across Wiehle Avenue. Construction is slated to begin in the summer of 2022 and would likely take about a year to complete.