Supervisors have voted to keep a right turn onto Lexington Drive for drivers headed east on Rt. 7, modifying decades of planning on Loudoun’s major east-west thoroughfare.
Loudoun County has had plans since the 1980s to make Rt. 7 a limited-access highway, removing most side road connections—including Lexington Drive—and building the rest into interchanges. But after a vote Thursday, Jan. 17, Loudoun will give landowners around the Lexington Drive intersection a chance to design and build an exit ramp off of Rt. 7 eastbound, preserving an additional point of access to properties south of Rt. 7 like One Loudoun and Ashbrook Commons Plaza.
Bill May, managing director of One Loudoun, told supervisors the Lexington Drive intersection was a “critical access point to One Loudoun, and will be more so in the future.”
“Ease of access and departure is a critical component of a successful commercial mixed-use center,” May said. “The complete closure of this intersection would have a major deleterious impact on the future growth of One Loudoun.”
May supported right turns both in and out of Lexington Drive, although supervisors only voted for a right turn off Rt. 7 onto Lexington. The county will hand off that work to landowners in the area.
“My belief is that the private sector will complete this faster and much more affordably than we would,” said Supervisor Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run), who proposed the change.
Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn) was opposed. He pointed out the county recently “spent $90 million to do the right thing to Rt. 7,” providing access to those properties from the recently completed interchanges at Loudoun County Parkway and Ashburn Village Boulevard. The turn onto Lexington Drive, he said, breaks with decades of planning on Rt. 7.
“The fact is, we worked hard to make this happen and now we’re going to unwind it, and that is just the wrong thing to do,” Buona said.
But Meyer said the turn onto Lexington Drive would have to meet Virginia Department of Transportation standards for a limited-access highway, win VDOT’s approval, and come at no cost to the county.
Supervisors approved Meyer’s proposal 7-1-1, with Buona opposed and County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) absent.
Already the project faces a challenge; VDOT’s standards state a “general rule of thumb for minimum interchange spacing is 1 mile in urban areas.” Lexington Drive is about 0.6 miles from Ashburn Village Boulevard.