Piece of the puzzle: Groundbreaking in Manassas aims to improve VA-28 commute

Route 28/Nokesville Road in Manassas
The project will widen Route 28 — also known as Nokesville Road — from four to six lanes. It will also install two left turn lanes from northbound 28 onto Godwin Drive and add streetlights. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

If traffic analysis included headaches per mile, Virginia Route 28, which runs — crawls, usually — 49 miles through Northern Virginia, might top the list.

Help might be on the way, though: On Wednesday, ground was broken south of Old Town Manassas, near the line dividing the City of Manassas and Prince William County, for one of several regional projects to widen the road.

“Route 28 is not just in the City of Manassas — it’s Prince William County; it’s Loudoun County; it’s Fairfax County,” said Monica Backmon, executive director of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority. “All of these projects come together.”

Built in 1918, Route 28 has continued to morph as populations grow throughout the region. Improvement projects are done on different timelines, depending on jurisdictional will and money.

The groundbreaking Wednesday was for a short stretch of Route 28 — .8 of a mile — west from Godwin Drive, beneath the Route 234 Bypass, to the county line near Pennsylvania Avenue.

The project will widen Route 28 — also known as Nokesville Road — from four to six lanes. It will also install two left turn lanes from northbound 28 onto Godwin Drive and add streetlights.

“The widening will free up a choke point, allowing commuters to travel more freely,” said Backmon. “We’re also adding some pedestrian and bike facilities,” in a shared use path along the north side of Route 28.

The NVTA is a regional governmental entity, with the goal of planning, prioritizing and funding regional transportation programs. The authority includes Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties, and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park.

Since Route 28 is a state road, the Virginia Department of Transportation oversees projects in the corridor.

Keeping track of the individual Route 28 projects takes some effort — each is designed to improve traffic flow, depending upon how developed the area is.

Del. Danica Roem’s project through congested Manassas Park will include innovative intersections for drives on 28. Prince William County will be building a Route 28 Bypass, as well.

Southwest of the widening in Manassas, the county will widen Route 28 through Nokesville.

Fairfax County is widening Route 28 from the county line with Prince William up to the massive reconfigurations where Interstate 66 and Route 28 meet.

While the individual projects depend on each jurisdiction’s planning and ability to get funding, “the traffic doesn’t stop; the congestion doesn’t stop,” Backmon said.

“As a commuter, as a traveler, you don’t care who’s responsible for it,” Backmon said. “You want to get where you need to go, in a timely fashion.”

The $20.2 million widening project in Manassas is estimated to be completed in fall 2022.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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