Drivers likely won’t be able to get congestion relief from the proposed Virginia Route 28 Bypass for another five years, but the project is in the midst of a key phase to determine the driver experience and how many homes and businesses will be displaced.
Paolo Belita, planning manager for Prince William County’s Department of Transportation says the project is now in its design and engineering phase. That comes almost two years after the Board of County Supervisors approved the route — starting at the intersection of Godwin Drive and Route 234, and tying into the existing Route 28 just over the Fairfax County line.
“What we do know is it’s going to be a four-lane roadway, with a shared-use path trail on one side,” said Belita. “The exact tie-in point, the exact geometric design, that is the detail we are going through, as part of our design and engineering process.”
The specifics of how the bypass will join Route 28 is still to be determined.
“Right now, for example, we’re looking at T-ing into existing 28, but the engineering team and some of the traffic analysis will determine what the tie-in point will look like,” Belita said.
The county’s Department of Transportation will hold a virtual briefing session on Feb. 22 to provide an update on the status of the project.
In October 2021, the supervisors voted to award a $14.9 million design contract to WSP USA Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of a Canadian-based consultant company.
The design of the bypass will determine the number of current homes and businesses that will be affected by the project.
In 2020, during studies for the project, the estimate was that 54 homes would have to be taken, but the hope is to reduce that number, Belita said.
“We have a project area, and we know there’s potential impacts to the community,” Belita said. “That’s why we’re taking our time with the process, and conducting our outreach as we complete design.”
The county has heard from residents with questions about how their property will be affected by the project, Belita said.
“We explain that a lot of it will be determined during design,” he said.
“But a lot the information we’ve put on the website: ‘Here is the right-of-way process, here’s what you’re entitled to,'” he said.
The approximately $300 million infrastructure project has the backing of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, which allocated approximately $95 million. According to the project website, the remaining cost could potentially be covered by a $200 million bond referendum approved by county voters in November 2019.
“Once we complete design, that is when we’re authorized to begin the right of way process,” Belita. said. “Until then we’re determining the specific impacts, and how we can minimize our footprint.”
Belita said the outreach explaining how the project could affect residents is also in Spanish, given the large immigrant population in the Route 28 corridor.
“One of our goals here is to really minimize the footprint of the project and mitigate impacts — not just to the environment, but also to the community,” he said.
The bypass project is one of many aiming to reduce congestion on Route 28.
Virginia Del. Danica Roem, of Prince William County, spearheaded the effort with the Virginia Department of Transportation to find ways to keep traffic moving on Route 28 through Manassas Park, with intersections that reduce the number of “conflict points” where serious crashes can occur.
In September 2021, ground was broken on widening existing Route 28 lanes through Fairfax County.
In May 2021, another project began for a short stretch of Route 28 — 0.8 of a mile — west from Godwin Drive, beneath the Route 234 Bypass, to the county line near Pennsylvania Avenue.
The project widens Route 28 — also known as Nokesville Road — from four to six lanes, and will install two left turn lanes from northbound 28 onto Godwin Drive and add streetlights.
Registration for the Route 28 Bypass virtual briefing being held Tuesday Feb. 22, is online and the event begins at noon.
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