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FMCC Completes Challenging New Roundabout Construction in Fairfax County

LoudounNow just published an article featuring the completion of the intersection improvement project at Braddock Road and Pleasant Valley Road.

This design/build project is significant because it was successfully completed in spite of stiff opposition, funding challenges, multiple stakeholders, and major difficulties. The end product is an attractive and effective new roundabout at the intersection of Braddock Road (Route 620) and Pleasant Valley Road (Route 609) in Fairfax County.  The new roundabout includes crosswalks and curb ramps for pedestrians, landscaping and lighting. The sidewalk was tied into the existing trail along the east side of Pleasant Valley Road south of the intersection.  Although it was a long-fought battle to accomplish, VDOT, county leadership, and commuters now agree it was worth it. LoudounNow published Supervisor Matthew Letourneau’s response (R-Dulles) saying “I’m very happy with the result.” Read the full piece here.

As of 2012, about 7500 vehicles per day traveled this section of Braddock Road and about 8500 traveled along Pleasant Valley Road. The roundabout provides additional capacity for forecasted traffic volumes and improves safety by eliminating the potential for turn/angle crashes at the intersection. It also enhances pedestrian access for residents in the area. “The backups on Braddock Road leading into Pleasant Valley here could literally go for miles,” Letourneau said. “This backed up for 20 to 30 minutes to get through this intersection. Instantly things have improved for people.”

This was a very politically sensitive design-build project that had a lot of complex factors including Right of Way acquisitions, multiple Utility Relocations, critical MOT, and other challenges. Other major scope items included Rock Excavation, Storm Utilities, Concrete, Asphalt, landscaping, and pavement markings.

The entire roadway width was only 22 feet wide, and to install storm utilities with rock present in subsurface conditions came with a high degree of difficulty. Being a politically sensitive project, there was a lot of opposition from neighborhood communities, HOAs, and resistance from the community. At start of the construction, extensive outreach efforts were done to educate / inform the public about complex MOT patterns and work conditions. As the project moved along, commuters/citizens started realizing that the project is actually reducing their commute time and helping the traffic move better. At the end of the Project, travelers were extremely satisfied with the work and timeliness of the Project delivery.

Being a Design-Build Project, designs for improvements (completed by WBCM, LLC) required considerations for parkland, commercial property, an Agricultural-Forrestal District, wetlands, rare habitats, and significant overhead utility poles. Taking these constraints into account, Fort Myer, WBCM, LLC, VDOT, and Fairfax County, worked in cooperation and prepared plans. Careful logistics and negotiations occurred to manage the sensitive utility relocations. The construction of the roundabout and drainage took place with flagging operations to cautiously direct traffic and keep a safe work zone. Critical coordination was required with utility companies like NOVEC, Verizon, COX and Fiberlight. This is was a rare Design-Build Project in NOVA with complex utility relocations from 4 different utility owners, multiple offer cycles on ROW acquisition, and in spite of these difficulties, was still completed on-time.

Also, building the roundabout in middle of an existing 4 way intersection was challenging. The actual construction required a lot ongoing design changes to MOT patterns, so safety or work zone and commuters can be enforced all the time. This project was adjacent to COX Farms, which is a very busy local farm, which also hosts lot of fall and spring fairs. All those major events during the peak season had to be closely coordinated with, and FMCC was successful in partnership efforts to be mindful of these events.

Overall, this was an extremely successful project for Fort Myer, VDOT and all the stake holders and lessons learned from this Project will certainly be applied on future projects.

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