21 Aug 2014
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County Route 1 Widening Project to Include Underground Power Lines

Though underground power lines are more expensive, they would be untouched by severe storms like the derecho that hit the D.C. area a few weeks ago.

County Route 1 Widening Project to Include Underground Power Lines

The county Route 1 north widening project from Neabsco Mills Road to Featherstone Road will now include underground power lines, an expensive project that requires approximately $14 million more funneled in from various sources. 

"When you think about it, it's probably a smart move, given what we experienced a couple of weeks ago with the power failure after the derecho," Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi said. "Sounds to me like a good investment of additional taxpayer money." 

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The former amount budgeted for construction and utility relocation was $31,538,438. The current estimate is $45,553,500, which includes a contract award amount of $37,685,000, a 10 percent contigency of $3,768,500, and $4,100,000 to move power ines into an underground utility duct bank. 

The total difference is $14,015,062. Of this amount, $1,100,000 is being transferred within the funds for the project, from consultant and engineering services to utility relocation. The county is also transferring $581,262 from their general transportation fund, and $12,333,800 from the sale of bonds on construction projects for other portions of Route 1 and Prince William Parkway. 

Principi called the Route 1 widening as an essential part of New Woodbridge. 

"There are three pillars in the vision of new Woodbridge," he said. "Clearly, one of those is better mobility on the part of our residents. The vision for the new Woodbridge is about connecting the communities by road, rail, bus and water. The road widening is a very significant down payment on that vision." 

Route 1 will be widened in two places. The county project stretches from Neabsco Mills Road to Featherstone Road. The federal project is from Mary's Way to the Fairfax County line. 

The county widening project will break ground by the end of this year. Principi said that beginning in early 2013, drivers passing through the area will have to take a detour because of the utility relocation portion of the project. The road construction itself will take place in 2014. The federal project is about one year behind, with utility relocation in 2014 and road construction in 2015, Principi told Patch.

Principi said the 1.3 mile middle stretch between the two projects was likely "an orphan portion that did not get a lot of focus in engineering studies."

"The fact that we've got two construction projects that will be overlapping, but a year behind each other – we really need to get that middle stretch tied to the first or second project," Principi said. "As Chairman Stewart said in yesterday's board meeting, we are looking very seriously at a road bond referendum to invest in our roads." 

The budget for this 1.3 mile project could be $40 million to $70 million.

"VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation) doesn't have any new funding at the state level to construct new roads," Principi said. At this point, VDOT is just focused on maintaining the roads they have. "That 1.3 mile stretch may be funded in a road bond referendum, where by state law, we will put it to the taxpayers, and the taxpayers decide whether the construction project is acceptable."

Principi acknowledged that the detours and construction would clog traffic further for a while. 

"I'm afraid with Route 1, it's going to get worse before it gets better," he said. "But there's a light at the end of the tunnel. I think the quality of life in eastern Woodbridge will improve dramatically."

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