(Updated at 2:45 p.m. on 5/17/2022) Plans to modify a centrally located yet awkward intersection in McLean have been put on hold indefinitely.
The Fairfax County Department of Transportation shared earlier this month that, after roughly four years of study, it has settled on a final, preferred conceptual design to revamp the intersection of Spring Hill and Lewinsville roads.
However, a lack of funding and some community objections to the proposed design have left the project in limbo.
A key connection between the Dulles Toll Road to the south and Route 7 to the north, the two roads currently intersect at acute angles, creating an X-shape that county officials say contributes to frequent crashes — a safety issue that is especially concerning with Spring Hill Elementary School just feet away.
“The intersection…has quite a few traffic accidents, including head on and angle collisions,” FCDOT spokesperson Robin Geiger said by email. “These are some of the most dangerous accident types. At the intersection they are attributed to driver confusion which is due to the significant skew of the intersection.”
According to a presentation delivered at a community meeting in June 2019, there were 33 crashes in or around the intersection between January 2011 and December 2015, including 21 rear-end crashes, four angle crashes, and five head-on crashes.
Four of the five head-on crashes occurred in the intersection, all involving vehicles trying to turn left from Lewinsville Road.
The intersection also experiences regular congestion, with drivers encountering 134.5 seconds of delay during morning peak hours and 75.7 seconds of delay in the afternoon, according to data collected on Jan. 26, 2017.
According to Geiger, FCDOT hasn’t updated its data during the pandemic, but the county anticipates that traffic will eventually “grow beyond what was happening pre-Covid.”
Based on a preliminary engineering study, county staff presented four potential concepts for redesigning the intersection in May 2018, including a “peanut” roundabout, additional lanes on the existing roads, and a modified offset T-intersection that would essentially create two intersections.
While the community initially favored maintaining a conventional intersection, staff suggested a revised version of the offset T-intersection concept in 2019 that has now been recommended as the preferred option.
In addition to splitting the intersection into two, eliminating the skewed angle, the proposed design will add medians, bicycle lanes, and pedestrian crosswalks.
“Offset-T had [the] best results in term of safety, delays and needed [right of way],” Geiger said, noting that the new design will improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists, reduce driver confusion, and lower congestion.
FCDOT had been planning to hold a virtual community meeting on the recommended concept tonight (Monday), but the meeting was postponed on May 5 and has not been rescheduled.
While an online survey initially appeared to be open, Geiger clarified that it should not have been enabled and has now been closed.
FCDOT says it selected the offset T design based on written feedback and an online survey conducted after the 2019 meeting, but homeowner groups in the area have come out against the concept, according to a Summerwood Civic Association member who contacted FFXnow.
Geiger confirmed that the project has been put on hold while the county evaluates “the practical implications” of an offset T concept proposed for the intersection of Old Dominion and Balls Hill roads, which has been met with similar skepticism.
According to Geiger, the Lewinsville/Spring Hill project is currently unfunded with no timeline for design or construction.
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