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Rt. 7 Climbing Lane Construction Wrapping Up

© Leesburg Today - 10/27/2015

State and local leaders gathered on Roxbury Hall Road overlooking the project Tuesday to celebrate the $36.4 million worth of improvements.

The end is in sight for the construction along Rt. 7 west of Leesburg.

State and local leaders gathered on Roxbury Hall Road overlooking the project Tuesday to celebrate the $36.4 million worth of improvements.

The primary enhancement, the addition of a truck-climbing lane westbound from West Market Street to Rt. 9, opened in late August and already is helping to relieve a major traffic chokepoint during the afternoon rush hour. The project also is designed to keep traffic flowing at the highway's Rt. 9 interchange. The final leg of construction is expected to wrap up late next month.

""This has always been a hang-up…so I'm very pleased to see this,"" state Sen. Richard H. Black (R-13) said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday morning.

The multi-faceted project, built and designed by the Shirley Contracting/Dewberry team, also includes the relocation of part of the W&OD Trail. Since that portion of the improvements opened last month, walkers, joggers and cyclists no longer have to cross Rt. 9 at Dry Mill Road but instead go under the road through a new tunnel.

Construction crews are also making several modifications to side road connections along Rt. 7. Among them are: a dedicated left turn lane from westbound Rt. 7 to Roxbury Hall Lane, as well as improved acceleration and deceleration lanes on the eastbound side; the extension of Fort Johnston Road to connect Alysheba Drive, Farm Market Road and Leeland Orchard Road; a new road segment to connect neighborhoods along Beechnut Road; and a new turn lane from eastbound W. Market Street to the westbound Rt. 7 on-ramp.

The final piece of the project-a pair of roundabouts to keep traffic flowing along the Rt. 9 and Rt. 7 interchange-will be complete by late November.

The 2-and-a-half-mile stretch of Rt. 7 carries 70,000 vehicles a day, and those who attended the project's formal dedication event Tuesday said they are among those benefiting from the upgrades.

Del. J. Randall Minchew (R-10) said afternoon traffic regularly backed up in front of his home on West Market Street before the new lane opened, and already he's noticed improvements. State Sen. Jennifer T. Wexton (D-33) said her Leesburg neighborhood, Ashton Downs, also gets its fair share of vehicles trying to make their way west on Rt. 7.

And county Supervisor Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin) said he travels along the now-improved stretch to and from his home near Waterford. ""I can't tell you what a difference this makes,"" he said.

VDOT representatives described the project as quite the undertaking, and were happy to see it come in on budget. They said crews moved almost 250,000 cubic yards of dirt to make room for the new lane, trail tunnel and roundabouts. They also will plant pollinator-friendly foliage and wildflowers in the roundabouts, as part of a partnership with the Loudoun Beekeepers Association.

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