Utility work on $1 billion Dulles rail

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After roughly four months of delays, the Virginia Department of Transportation has announced that utility relocation, the first stage of the $1 billion Dulles rail project, will begin in early January in Tysons Corner.

Washington Gas will dig into the service road running alongside westbound Leesburg Pike. This first leg of the utility relocation will stretch from Gosnell Road to Route 123, but will eventually go from Route 123 west the length of Tysons Corner.

The work will cause temporary closures of the service roads, which could become a common sight in Tysons Corner as various utilities move their lines over the next two years, according to VDOT.

The specific gas line relocation starting in January will take four months. This first step in the rail extension has been promised by rail project officials and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority for months, despite that federal funding for the project has yet to be granted by the Federal Transit Administration.

TysonsTunnel.org, which opposes elevated rail in Tysons, filed a suit seeking an injunction against continuing the project, but the suit has stalled because of a lack of co-plaintiffs.

Short sections of one lane of the service road will be closed as work requires, and traffic will be eastbound only in that section. The work lane will reopen after construction is completed, a VDOT release states.

The work on the service roads foreshadows the plans for Tysons with rail, which involves eliminating the service roads entirely and the eventual widening of the Leesburg Pike.

While limited to the service roads, work will continue even during peak traffic times. However, where utility lines cross Route 7, utility relocation will cause occasional lane closures. According to VDOT spokesman Steve Titunik, there will be traffic advisories issued by VDOT to warn of the closed lanes, and work will cease during rush-hour traffic times.

VDOT will only work on the portion of the project involving the main lanes of Route 7 on weekdays in Tysons between 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Work would then resume at 9:30 p.m., continuing until 5 a.m.

Earlier this month, project representatives planned to begin the utility relocation work before the new year, but changed their plans in order to make room for Tysons Corners legendary holiday traffic. You try to always think about the citizens, Titunik said.

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