Just a week after town leaders celebrated the opening of the final link of Battlefield Parkway, the Town Council now looks toward the construction of an interchange on a heavily-trafficked portion of the road.
On Tuesday night, council members voted to endorse the major design elements of the interchange project for the East Market Street/Battlefield Parkway intersection. The $58 million project also impacts East Market Street’s nearby intersection with Cardinal Park Drive, which will lose its traffic signal and become right-in, right-out access only following the project’s completion. The extension of Russell Branch Parkway to Cardinal Park Drive, under a proffer from the Leegate development, will be constructed prior to the traffic signal being taken down.
Last summer, the council endorsed the two design options for both intersections—a single point urban interchange for Battlefield’s intersection with Rt. 7, and the right-in, right-out access at Cardinal Park Drive. The interchange will be similar to the ones at the intersections of Rt. 7/Belmont Ridge Road and Rt. 7/Loudoun County Parkway, Capital Projects Manager Tom Brandon said. It will also eliminate direct access from Rt. 7 for several area businesses, including Meadows Farm Nursery and This ‘n That Amish Outlet. Under a previous proffer from the School Board, a link of Keystone Drive will be constructed to provide those businesses access via Potomac Station Drive.
This week’s action also gave the green light for the Virginia Department of Transportation, which is administering the project, to close parts of Battlefield Parkway during construction.
The closure of Battlefield Parkway links between Rt. 7 and Russell Branch Parkway, as well as into the entrance of the Best Buy/Giant shopping center, will save the town both time and money, Brandon said. It would shorten the construction period by a year, as well as save $2.8 million.
“It’s a short-term pain but it has a lot of benefits from it,” he said.
Traffic on Rt. 7 would not be affected by the closure. Detours would be set up using Russell Branch Parkway, River Creek Parkway and Fort Evans Road. The detour would be in place for less than a year, he said.
Representatives of Meadows Farm Nursery and the Peterson Companies, which owns an undeveloped property in the northwest quadrant of the future interchange, expressed strong concerns about the chosen design during a public hearing Tuesday night. Jay Meadows, of Meadows Farm, said the new road configurations could have a “devastating impact” on his family’s business. They are also facing the expense of a major redesign of their facility to correlate with the future access road.
“Along with the likelihood of tremendous decreased traffic it makes for a really difficult business decision to make. Do we make those changes or do we close the doors and move off of that location,” he asked.
Council members acknowledged that the interchange designs were not perfect solutions, but said delaying the project for more debate could put the construction funding in jeapordy.
“We’re at a point in the funding process where any delay risks the whole project,” Councilman Ron Campbell said. “We need to give confidence to [Northern Virginia Transportation Authority] about the design, and that we’re serious about moving forward.”
Mayor Kelly Burk acknowledged that choosing to close portions of Battlefield Parkway may not be a popular choice.
“With change comes such stress and inconvenience, but I’d rather see it for two years than three years,” she said.
Council members Marty Martinez and Tom Dunn voted against Tuesday’s resolution, expressing concerns about the chosen design options.
The Town Council is hoping to secure the final $25 million in funding for the project relatively soon. NVTA is set to hold a public hearing May 10 on all applications for funding. A final decision on funding is expected at the authority’s June meeting.
Should Leesburg receive the final piece of its funding this summer, construction on the interchange is expected to begin next year. It is expected to wrap up before the end of 2021, thanks to the detour.