Old Lee Highway Multimodal Improvements

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On Nov. 9, 2021, City Council adopted a resolution to approve the major design features of the project.

UPDATE: On Nov. 9, 2021, City Council adopted a resolution to approve the major design features of the project.

Old Lee Highway is a special place within the city; there are a variety of land uses along the corridor including three schools, the city’s public library, the community center and police department, a large and beloved city park, churches, the Historic Blenheim, and multiple residential neighborhoods, along with commercial offerings anchoring both ends of the street at Fairfax Circle and Old Town Fairfax. 

The corridor is already multimodal in nature, which means there are multiple ways people use to get around, including driving, CUE Bus, walking, biking, and even riding scooters. However, there is tremendous opportunity to improve the look, feel, safety, and function of the entire corridor, and transform it into a best-in-class multimodal street in the City of Fairfax, and in the region. 

In 2015, the City of Fairfax completed a conceptual plan for Old Lee Highway. Conceptual planning took about six months and included extensive public involvement. The result was a recommended concept for the corridor that includes separated bicycle lanes, upgraded pedestrian and transit amenities, and improved lighting, landscaping, and buffering. 

Project Goals

The redesigned Old Lee Highway corridor will:

  • Improve safety and comfort for all roadway users;
  • Provide continuous multimodal connections from Old Town Fairfax to Fairfax Circle;
  • Promote alternatives to driving for people accessing the library, community center, three schools, and commercial properties along the corridor; and
  • Reduce impervious surface area by nearly an acre. 
  • Maintain Old Lee Highway as a special place within the city and as a gateway into the city

Major decisions agreed upon by City Council include:

  • Maintaining existing travel lanes;
  • Maintaining existing turning lane locations;
  • Adding bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure; and
  • Locating bicycle lanes on north side of roadway only. 

Old Lee Highway Reimagined

The project is now in the preliminary engineering phase, and plans are approximately 15 percent complete. City staff are developing an engineered plan that includes the recommended components from the conceptual planning process. Feedback from the community emphasized a desire for better pedestrian and bicycle amenities, and landscaping buffers. Care is being taken to minimize impacts to private property and trees. 

When complete, Old Lee Highway will feature:

  • Two-way, 10-foot bicycle track and a shared-use path on the north side of the road;
  • Continuous five-foot sidewalk on the south side;
  • Consolidated crossing locations with consistent signage;
  • Reduced crossing widths on side streets;
  • Upgraded bus stops and shelters throughout the project area; and
  • Improved lighting, landscaping, and buffering. 

Stakeholder Advisory Group

City staff members are working together with an early-engagement stakeholder advisory group to provide input on the preliminary plans and various concepts the city is considering. The stakeholder advisory group includes 18 volunteers from the various stakeholder entities along the corridor. There are representatives from the Preserve at Great Oaks, Historic Blenheim, Great Oaks, Old Lee Hills, St. Leo’s. Fairfax HS, Country Club Hills, Daniels Run ES, Christian Science Church, Army Navy Country Club, City Council, Daniels Run Peace Church, City School Board, Farrcroft, and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. The city asked each group to select one person to represent his/her group.

Cost and Funding

The estimated project cost is $25.2 million. Funding sources include state revenue sharing ($10 million), regional Northern Virginia Transportation Authority funding ($13 million), and the city’s commercial and industrial tax ($2 million) – a fund dedicated to increasing transportation capacity. Construction is tentatively scheduled to start in spring 2023. 

Public Engagement to Date 

  • May 2014: TLC project endorsement to develop a conceptual plan for a redesigned multimodal Old Lee Highway. View presentation.
  • October 2014: Resolution of endorsement to request $2M in FY16 Revenue Sharing funding for Old Lee Highway. View presentation.
  • Feb 2015: City Council work session – TLC project kick off with Council. View presentation.
  • March 2015: Public Meeting 1 for TLC project
  • June 2015: City Council work session to review public input from first public meeting and review conceptual alternatives for second public meeting. View presentation.
  • June 2015: Public Meeting 2 for TLC Project
  • May 2016: Award of contract for $148,978 to complete Phase I engineering to perform survey and develop typical sections for each segment of the project based on concept developed through TLC project. The goal of this effort was identify property and environmental impacts associated with the preferred concept plan and develop an approximate project cost and schedule. View presentation.
  • October 2017: Resolution of support for City’s FY 19/20 Revenue Sharing application for $5M in funding for OLH. View presentation.
  • November 2017: Resolution of support for City’s FY 18-23 NVTA 70% application for $5M in funding for OLH. View presentation.
  • Nov 2018 work session: Provided project update (showed renderings). View presentation.
  • Jan 2019: Award of contract for $815,731 to complete Phase II engineering to perform more detailed engineering work to develop 30% and then 50% plans. Approved unanimously. View presentation.
  • July 2019 work session: Discussion of design options (facilities on one or both sides) and utility relocation options. View presentation.
  • September 2019: Resolution of support for City’s FY 19-24 NVTA 70% application for $8M in funding for OLH. View presentation.
  • September 2019: Resolution of support for City’s FY 20/21 Revenue Sharing application for $3M in funding for OLH. View presentation.
  • July 2020 work session: Provided project update and requested go-ahead to proceed with stakeholder advisory group. View presentation.

UPDATE: On Nov. 9, 2021, City Council adopted a resolution to approve the major design features of the project.

Old Lee Highway is a special place within the city; there are a variety of land uses along the corridor including three schools, the city’s public library, the community center and police department, a large and beloved city park, churches, the Historic Blenheim, and multiple residential neighborhoods, along with commercial offerings anchoring both ends of the street at Fairfax Circle and Old Town Fairfax. 

The corridor is already multimodal in nature, which means there are multiple ways people use to get around, including driving, CUE Bus, walking, biking, and even riding scooters. However, there is tremendous opportunity to improve the look, feel, safety, and function of the entire corridor, and transform it into a best-in-class multimodal street in the City of Fairfax, and in the region. 

In 2015, the City of Fairfax completed a conceptual plan for Old Lee Highway. Conceptual planning took about six months and included extensive public involvement. The result was a recommended concept for the corridor that includes separated bicycle lanes, upgraded pedestrian and transit amenities, and improved lighting, landscaping, and buffering. 

Project Goals

The redesigned Old Lee Highway corridor will:

  • Improve safety and comfort for all roadway users;
  • Provide continuous multimodal connections from Old Town Fairfax to Fairfax Circle;
  • Promote alternatives to driving for people accessing the library, community center, three schools, and commercial properties along the corridor; and
  • Reduce impervious surface area by nearly an acre. 
  • Maintain Old Lee Highway as a special place within the city and as a gateway into the city

Major decisions agreed upon by City Council include:

  • Maintaining existing travel lanes;
  • Maintaining existing turning lane locations;
  • Adding bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure; and
  • Locating bicycle lanes on north side of roadway only. 

Old Lee Highway Reimagined

The project is now in the preliminary engineering phase, and plans are approximately 15 percent complete. City staff are developing an engineered plan that includes the recommended components from the conceptual planning process. Feedback from the community emphasized a desire for better pedestrian and bicycle amenities, and landscaping buffers. Care is being taken to minimize impacts to private property and trees. 

When complete, Old Lee Highway will feature:

  • Two-way, 10-foot bicycle track and a shared-use path on the north side of the road;
  • Continuous five-foot sidewalk on the south side;
  • Consolidated crossing locations with consistent signage;
  • Reduced crossing widths on side streets;
  • Upgraded bus stops and shelters throughout the project area; and
  • Improved lighting, landscaping, and buffering. 

Stakeholder Advisory Group

City staff members are working together with an early-engagement stakeholder advisory group to provide input on the preliminary plans and various concepts the city is considering. The stakeholder advisory group includes 18 volunteers from the various stakeholder entities along the corridor. There are representatives from the Preserve at Great Oaks, Historic Blenheim, Great Oaks, Old Lee Hills, St. Leo’s. Fairfax HS, Country Club Hills, Daniels Run ES, Christian Science Church, Army Navy Country Club, City Council, Daniels Run Peace Church, City School Board, Farrcroft, and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. The city asked each group to select one person to represent his/her group.

Cost and Funding

The estimated project cost is $25.2 million. Funding sources include state revenue sharing ($10 million), regional Northern Virginia Transportation Authority funding ($13 million), and the city’s commercial and industrial tax ($2 million) – a fund dedicated to increasing transportation capacity. Construction is tentatively scheduled to start in spring 2023. 

Public Engagement to Date 

  • May 2014: TLC project endorsement to develop a conceptual plan for a redesigned multimodal Old Lee Highway. View presentation.
  • October 2014: Resolution of endorsement to request $2M in FY16 Revenue Sharing funding for Old Lee Highway. View presentation.
  • Feb 2015: City Council work session – TLC project kick off with Council. View presentation.
  • March 2015: Public Meeting 1 for TLC project
  • June 2015: City Council work session to review public input from first public meeting and review conceptual alternatives for second public meeting. View presentation.
  • June 2015: Public Meeting 2 for TLC Project
  • May 2016: Award of contract for $148,978 to complete Phase I engineering to perform survey and develop typical sections for each segment of the project based on concept developed through TLC project. The goal of this effort was identify property and environmental impacts associated with the preferred concept plan and develop an approximate project cost and schedule. View presentation.
  • October 2017: Resolution of support for City’s FY 19/20 Revenue Sharing application for $5M in funding for OLH. View presentation.
  • November 2017: Resolution of support for City’s FY 18-23 NVTA 70% application for $5M in funding for OLH. View presentation.
  • Nov 2018 work session: Provided project update (showed renderings). View presentation.
  • Jan 2019: Award of contract for $815,731 to complete Phase II engineering to perform more detailed engineering work to develop 30% and then 50% plans. Approved unanimously. View presentation.
  • July 2019 work session: Discussion of design options (facilities on one or both sides) and utility relocation options. View presentation.
  • September 2019: Resolution of support for City’s FY 19-24 NVTA 70% application for $8M in funding for OLH. View presentation.
  • September 2019: Resolution of support for City’s FY 20/21 Revenue Sharing application for $3M in funding for OLH. View presentation.
  • July 2020 work session: Provided project update and requested go-ahead to proceed with stakeholder advisory group. View presentation.

Comments

Thank you for your interest in the Old Lee Highway Multimodal Improvements Project. Please leave a comment. 

This whole thing has gotten so out of hand… first Circles that no one wanted, now ripping down trees and flattening hills to make bike paths that will only occasionally used…and making it more difficult to get out of Country Club Hills & Old Lee Hills(?), which was the point of the whole thing at the beginning.
The construction will be grotesque blocking the highway for 2 years - 3 schools use the road as do all of us who live here.
I personally do not see a problem.
If you want to solve access to Old Lee from the local homes and schools & church add traffic lights where necessary.

Matt Prestone 3 months ago

FYI, Pickett road was not named after George Pickett the Confederate general. The road was named after his grandnephew Charles Pickett who was a Fairfax lawyer in the 1950's and died in 1960. Charles Pickett fought in WWI and owned a lot of property around the road the town council changed in 1960 from Schuerman to Pickett Rd. I don't think we need to change this road name, maybe put up a historical marker noting how it got his name.

J. 3 months ago

Two comments:
1. I understand the project could take up to two years to complete. I’m concerned traffic will be diverted through CCH and OLH neighborhoods, especially trucks and AM/PM traffic to the 3 schools as well as rush hour commuters. What’s the plan?

2. This is the perfect opportunity to change the name of this street. A city as diverse as Fairfax City should not be honoring Lee by continuing to name a major road after him. Lee - and his fellow confederate general, Pickett - belong in history books and museums, not on our streets.

CK 3 months ago

I'm very concerned about the removal of the separate bike lane. As someone who commutes on a bike several times a week between downtown and the circle the planed bike lane was a relief.
If the bike lane is removed or combined with the pedestrian traffic, bikes and scooters will be forced to ride on a much narrower roadway which defeats the multimodal purpose of the project.

pitch 3 months ago

I'm very concerned about the removal of the separate bike lane. As someone who commutes on a bike several times a week between downtown and the circle the planed bike lane was a relief.
If the bike lane is removed or combined with the pedestrian traffic, bikes and scooters will be forced to ride on a much narrower roadway which defeats the multimodal purpose of the project.

pitch 3 months ago

You have taken an elegantly simple, effective and esthetic plan that had broad community support and are attempting to wreck it to appease a few. The long term goal was to "create continuous and consistent bicycle, pedestrian, transit and roadway facilities". That has changed to the point that one third of the separate bicycle (and scooter) lanes are shared by dog walkers, people out for a walk, and mothers with their babies in strollers. This is dangerous because those two groups travel at much different speeds.
Another goal was to "Maintain Old Lee Highway as a special place...". OLH is a neighborhood street. It should have traffic that moves slowly, not left turn lanes and right turn lanes to attract non-residents looking for a fast cut through town.
A final goal is to "Improve safety and comfort...". The proposed pull-off areas are unnecessary. They force pedestrians and cyclists to move diagonally from a straight path. A widened apron to each of the driveways would accomplish as much with no disruption in the multimodal flow and provide a much more serene, esthetic look and feel as shown in the OLH page on the city website.
Some have asked that the entrances to OLH from the neighborhood streets be widened so that two cars can exit in tandem and not wait for the car turning left. This would be a mistake as it would present conflicts for the motorists and especially for the pedestrians that have a greater crossing distance.
The roundabout at Ridge Avenue should be removed from the plan. It serves very few people. There have been no accidents there, and traffic can be slowed by narrowing the road and placing a crosswalk that is demarcated, signed, and equipped with flashers.
Finally, a stated benefit of the project is to reclaim unused asphalt surfaces to increase the amount of permeable surfaces and thereby reduce stormwater runoff. This is another reason to keep as close to a simple two-lane road as possible.

Art Fensterwal 3 months ago

I am concerned about replacing the cycletrack with a shared use path between Great Oaks and Ridge Avenue. That's a hilly section and a bit winding as well. Bicyclists heading down the hill will be traveling fast with some areas of low visibility. I don't think it's safe to mix bicyclists with pedestrians in this section of the road.

Douglas Stewart 3 months ago

The two-way cycle track should be maintained from Great Oaks to Ridge Ave, instead of switching to a shared-use path. With that big hill there it seems dangerous to mix bicyclists who may be traveling down hill quite fast with pedestrians.

Is there any way to reduce the width of the thru car lanes? On the plan they are noted as 13.5 wide, which seems very wide for a street through a primarily residential area. Narrower lane widths would help reduce the excessive car speeds along Old Lee Highway.

Jen B. 3 months ago

Hello and thanks for letting us know clearly what you intend.

Why must you cut the beautiful trees at Fairfax HS. What will you replace them with?
Where will the plantings of Virginia native trees, shrubs and perennials be and what will be included.

Why must you narrow the exits on streets at OLH? No one will be able to sneak around cars waiting to make left turns. This is aggravating. We need to exit and enter neighborhoods expeditiously. Please explain as this is a safety and quality of life issue for those who live here. Emergency vehicles?

The project does sound beautiful. How many years will it take to complete and do we really have to endure 1 lane only to get in and out of the place. Can you close Old Lee Hwy to those who do not live here or have business here?

Respectfully, but with some doubt,
Mary Gaeta
9815 McLearen Ct.
703-273-7749

What is this? 4 months ago

As a new resident to the city (life long Virginian) I would greatly appreciate the addition of a continuous bike lane from the Circle (where I live) all the way to/through Old Town - glad to see there are plans to implement it.

Bromari 4 months ago

I am a 25 plus year resident of Old Lee Hills. This plan will likely ruin Old Lee Hwy, as did the traffic flow changes made in the Old Town area of Fairfax City years ago. I also realize this is all a done deal, and nothing can be changed at this point, however, I must insist that overhead power lines along Old Lee Hwy be installed underground in conjunction with the rest of this project. Other commenters have noted this as well. Too often, power lines on Old Lee Hwy are downed or damaged during storms, and we residents are without power for periods of time ranging from hours to days. With the current climate changes we are experiencing, we are also experiencing a greater incidence of severe storms. This is not going stop. This period of road and land demolition/construction would be the most logical time to address this long time problem. I know it is doubtful anyone will ever read my comments or give consideration to installing utility lines underground, but I felt I had to try.
Ann G.

Ann G. 4 months ago

.

NativeResident 4 months ago

Dear Mayor and Council,
If you worked as hard at lowering our real estate taxes as you do trying to fix what isn't broken on OLH, this would be a better place to live. Then, we could all go back to living our lives in peace instead of worrying about what natural habitats you are going to destroy and boneheaded ideas you will come up with next. Can't you just run the city well, lower taxes and stop wasting taxpayer money "reimagining" OLH out of existence? #SaveOldLeeHighway

NativeResident 4 months ago

I’d love to see both the legal and actual speed on OLH dropped to 25 or less, to reduce the frequency and severity of cars striking pedestrians. If this reduces the number of commuters using it, so be it. If this requires installing multiple roundabouts, good. Power lines aren’t a road project, let ratepayers pay for that.

City residents won’t have their trips impacted by taking an additional :30 seconds on their trip.

Roundabouts would reduce delta caused by waiting for a left-turner to get their break in traffic, especially if a median curb were installed.

Sean 4 months ago

As I have indicated a few times in previous forums, my home on Old Lee Highway has a unique consideration which requires us to have clear communication from and discussion with the City. Some preliminary plans, if finalized, would render our home unmarketable to residential buyers, with a likely financial impact to us of hundreds of thousands of dollars. We request the City contact us so we can get confirmation that we will not be impacted to this extent. Thanks.

Don Insley 4 months ago

I have left feedback before and will definitely attend 9/30. I still find the plans unacceptable. Too many mature trees destroyed. The beauty of our neighborhood destroyed. Not enough thought on traffic flow. This project should improve that NOT slow things down even more causing traffic nightmares and unsafe travel for students.

CK 5 months ago

Note: I apologize if this is a duplicate, but your screen didn't seem to accept my previous attempts at a comment.

From a discussion I attended yesterday evening at St. Leo's Rectory, I am even more strongly of the view that Old Lee Highway should largely be left alone. Yes, it has lots of problems. But I don't see the proposed changes as solving any of these problems. And they are almost certain to make their own problems.

I absolutely agree with Casey Duffy's observations on the impact of having no place (such as in front of his house) for trucks and buses to pull out of the main traffic stream. To get rid of such existing extra lanes is beyond common sense.

And some of the issues are even more fundamental. For example, I don't see any reasonable way to make Old Lee Highway safer for bicyclists. It is a very old road and wasn't designed with that objective in mind, and I don't see any kind of retrofit that will accomplish that while allowing it to be effective in its general objective of facilitating vehicular transportation. Sorry, but you really can't have it both ways.

I think the idea of a roundabout is a poor one - yes, they look kind of cute, but my experience is that they seldom (if ever) are effective at anything other than creating a barrier to speed (but at what a price). However, the discussion on having one at that intersection near Arties did seem to make good sense. That merge-to-nothing road structure at that spot, and the loop-around behavior of many motorists, has, I'm sure (and know from personal experience), caused numerous accidents (and close-calls).

Another BIG point: The notion that the construction - ANY construction - would involve an extended period of episodic one-way traffic on Old Lee Highway, is just too stupid to seriously contemplate (regardless of any alleged benefits).

That said, I WOULD - STRONGLY - support burying the power lines along OLHwy. Yesterday we had another extended (10 hours for my neighborhood) outage. This happens with depressing frequency. I've spoken repeatedly to David Meyer (cc'd above) about this, but nothing seems to happen (even though he is personally impacted about the same as is my own family). Most of the time the outage seems to stem from a problem with the line running along Old Lee Highway.

Terry Steichen 6 months ago

Removed by moderator.

Terry Steichen 6 months ago

Removed by moderator.

Terry Steichen 6 months ago

Please no roundabouts on Old Lee Hwy. This road is congested enough during prime drive time (morning and evening). Roundabouts will simply hold up traffic more and make it impossible for those residents in Old Lee Hills and Country Club Hills to get out of their neighborhoods. I’m a CCH resident and intersections are blocked continually; people who pay no attention to the “no blocking intersections” law are certainly not going to pay attention to not blocking the exit in a roundabout. Add busses stopping and kids crossing and it simply is a recipe for disaster. Those roundabouts look pretty but not everything that looks pretty is worth having. Please vote this item down.
If you want more control on the road consider 1 traffic light mid way down Old Lee. Residents on both sides could exit there when the traffic is bad and it could go flashing yellow during low times like the City already does.

Lee Faber 6 months ago