Lights out: Interchange project starts to improve Va. 7 commute

Drivers on one of Northern Virginia’s busiest commuter routes are only too familiar with an unintended stop along Route 7 in Leesburg, at Battlefield Parkway.

“There are close to 100,000 vehicles a day traveling through this intersection,” said Jennifer McCord, spokeswoman with Virginia Department of Transportation.

Tuesday’s groundbreaking will be the first step in a $77.3 million project to build an interchange that will eliminate traffic lights at Battlefield Parkway and nearby Cardinal Park Drive. In addition to improving commutes for drivers, the project will provide options for bicyclists and pedestrians.

“Once this project is finished, there will essentially be no signals all the way to Sterling, [at City Center Boulevard] to help continue to improve the commute on Route 7,” McCord said. On Oct. 7, a light at Lexington Drive in Ashburn was removed.

While the state’s transportation agency will administer the construction, the project is being funded by local entities: Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, Loudoun County, and the town of Leesburg.

“On Route 7, drivers can expect lane closures during off-peak hours for crews to build the new interchange,” said McCord. “Then, next fall, a year from now, the segment of Battlefield Parkway right at the intersection will be closed to traffic for about 10 months,” although Route 7 will remain open continuously.

In addition, auxiliary lanes will be built on eastbound Route 7 between Leesburg Bypass and River Creek Parkway, as will a shared-use path and sidewalk along Battlefield Parkway.

Starting in fall 2020, for approximately 10 months, Battlefield Parkway will be closed between Russell Branch Parkway and the Marketplace at Potomac Station shopping center entrance; traffic will be detoured to Fort Evans Road to the north, and Russell Branch Parkway and Crosstrail Boulevard to the south.

“The entire project is expected to be complete in fall 2021, so about two years,” said McCord.

A “Pardon Our Dust” meeting will be held Thursday evening, to discuss the project, construction schedule, and traffic impacts, at John W. Tolbert Jr. Elementary School, between 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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