Neighbors upset about Beltway work in Virginia speak out

The ongoing project to expand the express lanes on Interstate 495 in Virginia has some McLean area residents upset and looking for answers.

About 90 people joined in on a virtual meeting Monday night hosted by the Virginia Department of Transportation. Some of the neighbors are not convinced the project solves any traffic problems. Others are upset about rough roads and other construction issues in their neighborhood.

Bridget O’Toole spoke about a problem with the stop light at Balls Hill Road and Georgetown Pike.

“I’ve been at the intersection seven, nine, twelve minutes just trying to turn right if the first car isn’t turning,” she said.

Fairfax County Supervisor Jimmy Bierman, who represents the McLean area, replied, saying: “We need to get that fixed now, that’s really infuriating to hear.”

Another concern voiced by many residents was that while the project adds more express lanes in Virginia right up to the American Legion Bridge, Maryland’s plans for a new bridge have stalled.

“For many of us, the project pretty much is going to be of limited utility … until that bridge is wider and we can get more cars. I mean, we’re just moving the traffic jam down the road two and a half miles,” said resident Alexander Dean.

In November of last year, Maryland urged residents to give their opinion on the Maryland Department of Transportation’s six-step Interstate 270 plan to enhance and remodel the American Legion Bridge. The transportation agency was transparent about how long the project would take and how much it would cost, claiming to follow Gov. Wes Moore’s announcement of bringing multimodal enhancements to improve transportation — and quality of life — for the state’s travelers.

Michelle Shropshire, an assistant district engineer at VDOT, said the organization continues to coordinate with Maryland.

“Maryland is currently working on project development and they don’t have construction funds identified at this time,” she said.

Another concern was voiced about the rough pavement on Live Oak Drive, although VDOT said it will be repaved by May 15.

April Georgelas has been an outspoken critic of the project for years and voiced her concerns again at the meeting.

She said she was getting frustrated “because I have submitted questions for several years that have yet to be answered.”

“Many of the questions that you mentioned this evening have been responded to in various formats, either from staff or in writing,” Shropshire said.

The project is still expected to be open to traffic by 2025.

Another in-person meeting on the 495 Project is set for Thursday, April 11, at the Langley High School cafeteria in McLean.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2024 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Kyle Cooper

Weekend and fill-in anchor Kyle Cooper has been with WTOP since 1992. Over those 25 years, Kyle has worked as a street reporter, editor and anchor. Prior to WTOP, Kyle worked at several radio stations in Indiana and at the Indianapolis Star Newspaper.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up