By Jefferson Wolfe
Fort Lee Public Affairs Officer
FORT LEE, Va. — A major Fort Lee thoroughfare will be closed for construction, leading to wider lanes, additional sidewalks, a bike lane, the elimination to a deep drainage ditch, and more.
Starting Monday, a three-phased construction project on A Avenue will begin next week with a lane closure for tree trimming between 11th and 16th Streets.
Then, first week of April, the same section will be completely closed to traffic for eight months to a year, said Shawn Shelton, the contract management branch chief for engineering services division at the Fort Lee Directorate of Public Works.
“Soldiers and civilians should plan to add time to their commute heading into work and when driving home in the evenings,” said Col. Karin Watson, Fort Lee Garrison Commander.
The work will replace the failing roadway and drainage system and result in a number of improvements, including wider lanes for motorists, a new sidewalk on the north side of A Ave, an expanded sidewalk on the south side, new bike lanes and the elimination of the drainage ditch along the avenue, he said.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the project is that it will help prevent flooding from heavy rains by creating new storm water storage areas for runoff water, Shelton said.
These areas are designed to reduce peak flow events by increasing both storage time and infiltration on site. The result reduces stormwater discharge into Bailey Creek, lowers the volume and velocity of stormwater and helps to minimize the erosion potential from storm events.
This has won favor from the regulators and helps Fort Lee’s goals toward reducing nutrient levels under EPA’s Total Maximum Daily Load Program, Shelton stated.
A Avenue from Sisisky Blvd will be open to local traffic, but there will be no outlet on 11th Street, as construction will start shortly before before the intersection, he added. This also means there will be no outlet from 11th Street heading south to the intersection while it is under construction.
The official detour route will be to follow Sisisky Blvd to C Avenue and the back on Lee Avenue, Shelton said. However, drivers will find their own ways to where they need to go using available roads.
Also, Watson encouraged using other access control points to enter and exit post when possible.
One concern for safety is the PT running routes on Shop Road and B Avenue, which are closed to traffic from 5 a.m.-7:30 a.m. Monday-Friday so units can conduct physical training, said Tim Lawrence, Fort Lee director of safety.
Fort Lee Garrison and leaders from Combined Arms Support Command have tasked units to ensure Soldiers are at key intersection along B Ave. and Shop Road to direct traffic, and emplace blocking materials in places where streets are closed.
In addition, drivers must use caution when on dual use roads, such as Shop Road west of 19th Street, where vehicles may pass running Soldiers, he said.
This first phase of construction is expected to take eight to ten months, Shelton said.
“Phase I should be the most difficult,” he said. “Phases II and III should be faster.”
The second phase is to begin immediately after the first, and is projected to take six to eight months to finish. This will take place on A Avenue from 16th Street to Lee Avenue, and will involve similar improvements.
The third phase also is expected to take about the same amount of time. It will finish the project by extending the upgrades from 11th Street to Sisisky Boulevard.