Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

prenny-fcnpWhile in the library parking lot in the rain during the community clean up this weekend; pushing a cart full of groceries to my car; at dinner in a restaurant with family members; and twice in the dentist’s chair as Novocain was taking effect! “Hey, Penny, can I ask you a quick question?” Of course, the answer always is “yes,” although that was more difficult at the dentist! The question of the day, week, and month seems to be when Mason District roads might be repaved. Of special interest is the condition of Old Columbia Pike, but it could be many roadways in Mason District and Fairfax County.

Road maintenance, including snow plowing and median mowing, is the responsibility of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the state agency that maintains nearly all the public roadways in Fairfax County and another 93 counties in the Commonwealth. Only Arlington and Henrico Counties maintain their own roadways, having opted out of the state system in the mid-1930s. My office works with VDOT staff on road issues raised by Mason District constituents, but most paving decisions rest with VDOT staff in Richmond, when adequate funding is allocated by the General Assembly.

Road classification and road conditions are among the factors used to develop a paving schedule. For example, Leesburg Pike is classified as a Primary road, Sleepy Hollow Road is a Minor Arterial road, Blair Road is a Collector road, and Ravenwood Drive, Olin Drive, and Juniper Lane are classified as Local roads. The higher the classification, the more traffic is sustained on the road, giving it a paving priority when the condition is deemed poor. Last year was the first year VDOT began to include local roads into their paving schedule. For several years previous, the priority was on failing primary roads, so there is a lot of backlog. VDOT evaluates roads at least every five years, and posts the ratings on its Web site. Pavement condition is indicated by the Critical Condition Index (CCI) and ride quality by the International Roughness Index (IRI). Those are among the standards used to determine priorities for maintenance, and might also be good trivia for some future Jeopardy clues!

Beginning this year, residents can get specific information about the status of paving projects at www.virginiadot.org/novapaving. The online map shows the current progress of the paving program, including:

• Northern Virginia road segments scheduled to be paved this year;

• Whether roads scheduled for paving (red) are in progress (green), completed (blue), or postponed (black).

• By clicking on a road segment, details can be found about the specific type of pavement treatment, expected completion date, contractor, and construction manager’s information.

The map will be updated weekly as roads are completed. VDOT maintains more than 17,000 lane miles in Northern Virginia.

By the way, the answer to the question about Old Columbia Pike is – between now and the end of July, according to VDOT. Keeping my fingers crossed…


 Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at mason@fairfaxcounty.gov.


  • Penny Gross

    Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at mason@fairfaxcounty.gov