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Getting Ready for Gainesville

The Gainesville interchange reconstruction will be another Springfield, said Virginia Transportation Secretary Pierce Homer. He was at a community meeting in Bristow on Monday night to help people prepare for what's coming.

People in these western Prince William communities know about traffic. Just ask anyone who was sitting on Nokesville Road at about 5:30 last night. The rebuilding of the congested junction at Interstate 66 and Route 29 will be the biggest transportation improvement to come to that area.

Thanks to a deal with the federal government announced last week, the project now is scheduled to begin in 2010, three years ahead of schedule. So Homer has begun a tour of the nearby communities, explaining to residents and business people not only what they'll have when it's done in 2014 but also what sorts of disruptions they'll experience along the way.

The community involvement and outreach to commuters involved in the recently completed Springfield interchange reconstruction is going to be Virginia's model for years to come, and with good reason. One of the biggest transportation projects in the Washington region was accomplished with much less than expected disruption to daily life.

These days, a project on this scale is rarely just about one thing. The unknoting of the traffic congestion at Gainesville will be accompanied by an 11-mile extension of VRE's Manassas Line. Homer noted that Maryland's MARC trains travel to and from western Maryland and said it was logical for Virginia to be extending its own commuter rail service to the west.

Also logical, he said, is to talk about concentrating development around a major road and rail hub such as Gainesville can become. Transportation leaders are thinking more and more about land use. When Homer's Maryland counterpart, John Porcari, talks about building the Purple Line transitway across Montgomery and Prince George's counties, he sees it not only as a people moving project but also as a chance to focus development in ways that will bolster the local economy and allow people to live closer to the transportation network.

By Robert Thomson  |  October 30, 2007; 9:14 AM ET
Categories:  Construction  
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