The brand new Battlefield Parkway interchange is open for business in Loudoun County, Virginia, and its creation is expected to result in big drops in travel times for the almost 100,000 cars that use Route 7 on a daily basis.
“It’s really an amazing accomplishment of many people over many years,” said Bill Cuttler, the Northern Virginia district construction engineer for the Virginia Department of Transportation.
He said this project eliminated a stop light on Route 7, resulting in a 30-mile stretch of the road without traffic lights.
Traffic has been able to flow underneath the new Battlefield Parkway overpass, but as of Monday night drivers will be able to again use the parkway to get from one side to the other. Only this time, they will drive over the busy highway.
“Going from here to Sterling is like nothing any more, it’s just wonderful,” said Leesburg Mayor Kelly Burk.
The overpass is not only for cars, it also includes a shared use path that those behind it say can be used by pedestrians, cyclists and even those riding horses.
The interchange is expected to also offer motorists on Route 7 a free alternative to the Dulles Greenway, something Virginia Del. Wendy Gooditis said residents have asked for.
“The very deliberate and proactive work on removing the stoplights on Route 7 has a direct and beneficial effect on this problem,” said Gooditis, a Democrat who represents District 10, which includes the region where the interchange sits.
Loudoun County Board Chair Phyllis Randall said the interchange will help drivers, especially parents heading home to their families, save 2.4 million hours in traffic delays between now and 2040.
“The people that are going to get home faster, to their children, are going to get their children’s soccer game, going to get to their children’s volleyball tournament, are going to be able to get to them [their children] to do homework,” said Randall.
Randall, who also chairs the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, added that the $73 million project isn’t just about Loudoun County. It will help drivers going to and from West Virginia and Maryland, too.
Gregory Andricos, president and COO of Wagman, the construction company that built the interchange, said although the pandemic led to work stoppages and material shortages, his team was able to adapt and keep the project moving forward.
“They got this accomplished despite a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic,” Andricos said
Some work does remain for the interchange, so it won’t be fully complete until later this fall.
When it comes to all the VDOT projects happening now in Northern Virginia, Cuttler said many contractors have been able to keep working.
“Our contractors in a few instances had a few difficulties getting certain supplies, but ultimately they’ve been able to work it out,” Cuttler said.
Fewer people on the roads during the pandemic, in fact, sped up some of the projects, according Cuttler.
“The reduced traffic was a big help because we could allow contractors to have closed lanes during peak periods even, which is unusual,” he said.
Cuttler said 97% of VDOT’s projects in Northern Virginia are either on schedule or ahead of schedule.
Other projects underway, according to Cuttler, include the widening of Route 7 between Reston and Tysons. Another big project that is full steam ahead, Cuttler said, was the widening of Interstate 95 southbound in Prince William County.