The West Campus Connector, shown above in red, will lower congestion on Ox Road and Braddock Road. The hope is that construction can begin next year with a completion date of fall 2013 in mind. Photo courtesy of

The intersection of Braddock Road and Ox Road is one of the busiest in Fairfax County, so the hope is that the upcoming West Campus Connector project will assuage some of the congestion.

“The actual site and whether it’s an underpass or bridge hasn’t been determined yet,” said Josh Cantor, director of parking and transportation for George Mason University and a co-chair of the transportation and traffic master plan. “There will be a connection that will either go under or over Ox Road somewhere between Mason Pond Drive and University Drive.”

The $15 million project was green-lit last semester after the Virginia Department of Transportation offered the money. No timetable has been approved officially, though Cantor said he hopes construction can be finished by fall 2013. Mason will oversee construction of the project.

“This became a high priority from the county and VDOT’s perspective because while it helps the university tremendously, one of the major issues we dealt with in the master planning process is the traffic on Braddock Road that has a definite impact on the nearby community,” Cantor said.

Cantor said the project could cut traffic on Braddock Road during peak hours by as much as 30 percent or more. An entrance to the university will be built next to the West Campus lot, with a road that extends to Ox Road. Then there will be either a bridge or an underpass to provide access to campus.

Cantor said the hope is that a request for a proposal — the declaration that Mason is looking for a contractor and architect for the project — can be issued by the end of December. Companies will then bid on the project, with construction likely beginning summer 2012.

An advisory committee made up of representatives from the City of Fairfax, Fairfax County, Mason and VDOT is tasked with ensuring that the needs of the many different groups impacted by the project are met. In addition to the congestion that will temporarily worsen when construction begins, several residential communities near the proposed construction site will be affected.

“The West Campus Connector would be moderately close to a neighborhood on Kelly Drive,” Cantor said. “We want to mitigate sound issues and other issues so the road is low impact. Part of the challenge is trying to appease different groups that have different interests while trying to figure out what’s physically possible.”

The construction will impact parking on campus as Cantor said. All or some of the 900-spot West Campus Lot — with about 500 spaces in use, primarily by freshmen — may have to close. The Patriot Village lot, located behind the RAC, may also have to close. The loss of those 300 spaces in Patriot Village would be offset by the reopening of Lot I in January 2012. Lot I is located on the northwest side of campus and was closed when construction began on Housing VIII.

“Hopefully by the end of December we’ll have a much better idea on the possible impacts [of the project],” Cantor said. “Right now there are a lot of different proposals and ideas on the table that are being vetted out.”