Congested Virginia Route 28 is enough of a commuter headache that both Fairfax and Prince William counties are undertaking major road projects to provide relief — but what’s still unclear is how the two roads will tie into each other and what route drivers will follow.
Fairfax County has started work to widen a two-mile stretch of Route 28 — from four to six lanes — from the Prince William County line to the Route 29 interchange, near Interstate 66.
In September, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors voted to build a Route 28 bypass, rather than just widen Route 28 through Manassas and Manassas Park.
The bypass will add a four-lane road that extends Godwin Drive from Liberia Avenue in Manassas, travel through Bull Run Regional Park and join Route 28 in Fairfax County, just south of Compton Road, located a half-mile north of Bull Run.
“Fairfax County is ahead of us — their project should be completed, prior to our construction,” said Prince William County’s project manager, Paola Belita.
Prince William County’s regional planning and programming manager told WTOP a virtual meeting will be held Monday, Dec. 7.
“We have some high-level concepts that we’ll present that shows how we plan to tie-in, but we wanted to get ahead of the game and get input before we actually go into detailed design and engineering,” Belita said.
The public information hearings aim to provide information — and reassurance — to home and business owners who may be affected by the project.
“Our goal, as we continue in design, is to minimize impact to residents and the environment,” Belita said. “We want to make them aware there’s a right-of-way process — we’ll continue to work with residents and we’re not going to just build a road on top of their property without coordinating with them.”
Belita acknowledges he can’t say, at this point, exactly which residents or businesses will or won’t be affected.
“After design is when we’ll finalize engineering the roadway, and that’ll determine the specific impacts,” Belita said.
In some cases, a portion of a property will be affected, in other cases the county would have to buy an entire parcel of land.
“Legally, we’re not allowed to negotiate with property owners, until the design is completed,” Belita said.
While the concept plan shows the bypass joining the ever-widening-Route-28, the exact configuration of the roadways is still to be determined.
“We plan to hire a design firm in spring 2021, and it’s at least a two-year process for design,” said Belita. “The biggest hurdle we have is getting permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, since there are wetlands in this area.”
Why is a Route 28 bypass needed?
Prince William County considered simply widening Route 28, but decided to substantially increase capacity by building an entirely new road.
“With growth, we’re going to see traffic volumes increase,” said Belita. “We’re just trying to keep up with the future traffic demand.”
Route 28 through Manassas and Manassas Park has consisted of dozens of traffic lights, in the largely commercial span, resulting in daily car and truck congestion.
In 20 years, the congestion would get much worse.
“We foresee the 2040 volumes on the bypass will be around 60,000 [vehicles per day], and in 2040 with the bypass, existing 28 will see 85,000,” Belita said.
Since the bypass will consist of a new road alignment, construction shouldn’t affect travel on existing Route 28, until it’s time for the two roads to connect with one another.
“There should be minimal disruption to the existing network, once we go to construction. There will be disruption once we do the actual tie-in points,” he said.