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Fairfax County supervisor suggests legal remedy to reduce speed limits

A crosswalk on Graham Road at Strathmore Street (via Google Maps)

A 2021 law gave hope to Fairfax County officials looking to lower speed limits in residential and business neighborhoods.

However, the Virginia Department of Transportation has said the law — which gave localities the authority to reduce speed limits from 25 to 15 mph — conflicts with other state rules, according to the Virginia Association of Counties.

“That bill was signed into law,” Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw said during a board meeting on Tuesday (May 10). “Lives are at stake here.”

Noting safety concerns, he asked the board’s county executive, attorney’s office, and Director of Transportation Tom Biesiadny whether the county should pursue a legal challenge to VDOT’s interpretation of the law.

“Following adoption of the bill, VDOT opined that it had determined that legislation does not apply on streets that are in the state highway system, which essentially includes all roads within Fairfax County and other counties that do not maintain their own roads,” the county said in a March legislative report.

VDOT was unable to immediately respond. The department does acknowledge that school divisions and local governments can jointly approve changes to reduce school speed limits from 25 to 15 mph.

Legislative efforts to address the conflict stemming from the 2021 law have stalled or been stricken, according to the county’s legislative report.

The comments came as the Board of Supervisors approved a Safe Streets for All program, which will establish an interdisciplinary task force, develop policy, and make recommendations for improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

So far this year, 49 pedestrians have been injured in Fairfax County crashes, according to VDOT data.

Photo via Google Maps

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