Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez didn't have to travel far last Monday when he cut the ribbon on the first two phases of the Fairfax County Parkway Extension in Virginia. But Deputy Administrator Greg Nadeau did log some miles traveling to Denver to break ground on the I-70/Central Park Boulevard Interchange.
Both projects--as well as the jobs needed to get them done and the traffic relief they will provide--were made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
In Fairfax, the first two phases of the four-phase project completed the final two miles of the Fairfax County Parkway, an interchange, an access road, and an extension of a local road to provide an on-ramp.
For the first time, Fairfax County will be connected all the way from Route 7 in the north to Route 1 near Fort Belvoir. And the Belvoir work comes just in the nick of time. The area is preparing for a surge in daily traffic in the fall of 2011 from the Army's base relocation program. The Army's plans for Fort Belvoir and other nearby facilities are expected to bring 43,000 new jobs. And that means tens of thousands of additional vehicles on area roadways.
And, as Administrator Mendez pointed out, "The next phases of this critical project, which are expected to be completed next year, would not even have been started until 2015 at the earliest without the Recovery Act dollars."
Drivers in Northern Virginia appreciate the relief expediting the Parkway Extension by a half-decade will bring to their daily commutes. And the construction workers on the project today because of the Recovery Act appreciate it, too.
In Denver, Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Nadeau kicked-off Colorado's largest highway Recovery Act investment, the Central Park Boulevard Interchange.
This project includes a new bridge crossing I-70 and will provide direct access between the growing Stapleton area and major interstates I-70 and I-270.
When completed, the new interchange is expected to serve 18,000 daily drivers, but it is designed for nearly twice that because traffic is estimated to double by 2035. Currently, 228,000 daily drivers rely on I-70, but that is also estimated to climb to 330,000 over the same period.
And this project is not just designed for drivers. A 12-foot sidewalk on both sides across the interchange, well-lighted walkways across the bridge, and specially designed ramp intersections at both ends will improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Breaking ground, from left to right: Stapleton Foundation CEO Cheryl Cohen-Vader, City Councilman Michael Hancock, Deputy Mayor Bill Vidal, Deputy Administrator Nadeau, Mayor John Hickenlooper, and Gov. Bill Ritter
If you've been following this blog, you can guess I'm a big fan of this project and its combination of improvements for different kinds of transportation.
As Deputy Administrator Nadeau said, "The Stapleton community will be well-served by this new interchange. The project is creating well-paying jobs for area workers, building safe multi-use paths for walkers and cyclists and giving time back to drivers."
I want to thank Administrator Mendez and Deputy Administrator Nadeau for representing DOT in Fairfax and Denver. But I know that--like me--they enjoy celebrating these projects that are putting people to work and renewing America's transportation infrastructure through the Recovery Act.