Longstanding plans to get rid of one of the last stoplights on Rt. 7 west of Sterling could get a boost with a vote July 18.
Loudoun County has had plans since the 1980s to make Rt. 7 west of Rt. 28 a limited-access highway, which means removing most sideroad connections and turning the rest into interchanges. That includes cutting off Lexington Drive, between the interchanges at Ashburn Village Boulevard and Loudoun County Parkway, and taking down the stoplight.
According to a county staff report, because of delays in the bidding process to find a contractor, that intersection was not expected to be closed until early next year. But after meeting with the Virginia Department of Transportation, which agreed to use its own contractors to do the first months of that work, the intersection could be closed and the light switched off as soon as September.
Loudoun does not have its own public works department, meaning contractors for road projects are largely hired on a case-by-case basis. But VDOT keeps contractors on and ready to go regularly. The state’s contractors would work for an estimated four to five months while the county goes about hiring its own; Loudoun would also reimburse VDOT for that work.
That would result in what the report calls “a minor increase in costs.”
Supervisor Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run) said the state agency proposed the idea after meeting with him and representatives from the county Department of Transportation and Capital Infrastructure, which oversees the county’s many construction projects.
“VDOT sort of has a reputation for being not that responsive, but in this case it was sort of the opposite, where after they sort of really understood how much this meant to the community, they figured out how to accelerate it,” Meyer said.
Blue Mount Nursery owner Frank Maruca, whose business is at the northern corner of the intersection, spoke to supervisors July 2 to continue his opposition to plans for the intersection.
“The loss of access is a taking, an inverse condemnation, and my property will be seriously impacted by the loss of revenue,” Maruca said.
In January, Meyer also was part of upending longstanding plans at that intersection by planning to allow right turns in and out on the southern side of the intersection, near One Loudoun. However, the private interests in that area would have to design and build that connection.
The only supervisor to vote against that was Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn), who argued it broke with decades of planning and millions upon millions of dollars of spending to smooth traffic on Rt. 7.
The Board of Supervisors was scheduled to vote on those plans at their meeting July 2, but deferred action to the later meeting. Supervisors are scheduled to vote on a resolution authorizing that work “as an exercise in police power for the betterment of the health, safety, morals, and the general welfare of its citizens” at their meeting July 18.