The design plans to improve access to First Baptist Church got a nod of approval from Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)’s central office.
On May 9, Malcolm T. Kerley, chief engineer for program development, approved the design for expanding a 1,500-foot section of Route 637, or Potomac View Road, less than one mile south of Route 7, or Harry Byrd Highway. The expansion will provide space for two 12-foot turn lanes onto the church property. One of the lanes will be placed on the west side of the roadway to allow for right-hand turns and the second will be in the middle of the roadway for left-hand turns. The two turn lanes are estimated to cost $1.73 million.
VDOT held a public hearing at the end of January into early February to seek public comment on the design plans. "There were no comments that required any changes, so the plans were approved as presented," said Stephen Tyrrell, assistant resident engineer for VDOT. "Basically, the only thing we heard is people want it done quicker."
First Baptist Church is waiting until the lanes are finished to complete the second phase of a $2 million expansion project. The lanes will allow the church to meet state requirements on an 800-seat facility that will replace the current church building, which seats about 250 people. The building will be torn down for a parking lot when the new facility is completed.
"There’s a pretty high volume of traffic on [Route] 637 and turning movements in and out of the church which hampers movement on 637," Tyrrell said. "It improves traffic flow, plus the safety of all of the vehicles traveling through there."
First Baptist Church indicated its willingness to donate the needed right of way that the Circuit Court will have to grant, Tyrrell said. Claude Moore Park, which is located on the opposite side of Potomac View Road to the east, already dedicated its right-of-way easement.
Besides the rights of way, VDOT may need to make utility adjustments for the project and is reviewing the location of existing utilities in relation to the design. Once the right of way and utility process is completed, VDOT can put the project out to bid. VDOT is tentatively scheduled to accept a final bid in March 2004 and to begin construction that June.