A group of distinguished officials and guests gathered Wednesday morning at the intersection of Old Dominion Drive and Chain Bridge Road to celebrate the groundbreaking of the McLean Utility Undergrounding Project.
The project aims to beatify the center hub of McLean by replacing outdated overhead power lines with underground wiring. The traffic signals will also be replaced by the Virginia Department of Transportation with less invasive mast arm poles. Safety improvements will be made for pedestrians including an extension to the Listrani’s peninsula.
“It would be nice if revitalization could simply happen by the wave of a magic wand and the snap of a finger, but things don’t happen that way. Revitalization takes time, money and hard work by the community and landowners,” said Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust. “The face of McLean is changing; today we take a big step forward.”
The inception of the project dates back to 1988, but it was not until 2008 when Foust took office that the project began to take shape in the form of easements.
During the ceremony, Foust commended former presidents of the McLean Revitalization Corporation Bill Sudow and Dan DuVal and his Chief of Staff Jane Edmondson for their efforts in obtaining the 43 required easements from 12 landowners in McLean.
President of the McLean Revitalization Corporation Elizabeth Morton spoke to the crowd following Foust, thanking all for coming.
“We’re on our way. Let’s keep up the momentum. I think this is a symbol and a demonstration that this is really a place people care about and not just a place that people drive through,” Morton said.
The budget for the first stage of the project, which includes roadwork and construction of the duct banks, is set at $2.5 million. The cost for the second phase of the project is yet to be determined.
According to Fairfax County engineer and project manager Bob Ayers, there is no set date on when the project will begin as contract negotiations are still underway, but the old McDonald’s site has been leased for equipment storage.
A majority of the duct bank work will take place at night to minimize interruptions to daytime traffic at the intersection. Construction of the duct banks will take six to nine months and the pulling of wires by the utility companies could take another six to nine months.
“There are three projects going on at the same time at the same place,” Ayers said. “We hope to have a bulk of this done by November.”
Foust said the next projects set for McLean are “wayfinder” signs for bicyclists traveling through the community. Signs will allow those traveling on bicycles to easily find venues such as the library and the community center.