The community has had growing concerns about traffic safety in Oakton’s Blake Lane corridor, where two Oakton High School students were killed last week after police say a speeding car struck them on a sidewalk.
Following community meetings about the roadway last year, the state proposed several safety improvements on Blake Lane from Route 123 to Route 29, including vegetation trimming, pedestrian safety, and sign and marking improvements, as well as a speed study and a restricted crossing U-turn.
However, since then, the Virginia Department of Transportation has determined a proposed signal at the intersection with Hibbard Street was not warranted, and that the 35 mph speed limit was appropriate. The speed study indicated that about 85% of all vehicles in free-flowing traffic traveled at or below 43.5 mph, according to the state.
Last year, Fairfax County also implemented an additional $200 fine for speed limit violations on Blake Lane between Jermantown Road and Sutton Road, as part of the Residential Traffic Administration Program.
Citing Blake Lane safety as a priority, Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said in a newsletter on Friday (June 10) that she’s working with the Board of Supervisors’ chairman, state representatives and the Fairfax County School Board to schedule a community meeting around other short and long-term safety improvements.
“I was devastated when I heard the news of the terrible crash that happened on Tuesday, June 7th at the intersection of Blake Lane and Five Oaks Road, not far from Oakton High School,” she said. “As a new mother and your neighbor, I am heartbroken for the families affected by this tragedy.”
Following the crash, she said the Fairfax County Police Department increased police presence along the corridor and deployed a radar speed sign at the site.
Since 2017, there have been 11 crashes — not including the fatal crash last week — at the intersection of Blake Lane and Five Oaks Road, according to Fairfax County Police Department. Four of the crashes resulted in injuries.
When looking at a longer stretch of Blake Lane from Jermantown Road to Route 29, crashes climb to a total of 113, 31 of them resulting in injury.
In addition, 31 crashes along Blake Lane involved what the Department of Motor Vehicles deem a young driver — between the ages of 15 and 20. Five of those crashes resulted in injury, and 26 involved property damage.
A resident who lives near the Blake Lane and Five Oaks Road intersection where last week’s crash occurred told FFXnow that pedestrian traffic is common, thanks to the site’s proximity to Oakton High School, the Vienna Metro station, and Mosaic Elementary School.
FCPD spokeswoman Sgt. Tara Gerhard said patrol officers and the department’s motor squad regularly conduct traffic enforcement around the county’s 198 public schools.
“We take speeding in and around school zones seriously,” she said.
The county is also considering adding photo speed cameras in school crossing zones and highway work zones, Deputy County Executive for Safety and Security Tom Arnold told FFXnow.
“The Fairfax County Police Department has completed most of the work associated with this initiative,” he said. “We expect to bring together representatives from other county agencies in the immediate future to finalize the plan, which will result in a report to the Board of Supervisors and then a request for proposals to procure the devices.”
Gerhard said the FCPD’s traffic safety section and school resource officers work with FCPS through various programs, visiting schools to discuss issues like impaired and distracted driving and speeding. The Youthful Driver Program also gives young drivers hands-on experience on how to handle various situations.
“While we work hard to educate our young community members about the dangers of speeding, driving distracted, running red lights, etc. we also need their family’s help,” Gerhard said. “We encourage parents, caregivers, loved ones and trusted adults to have conversations with the teens in their lives about responsible driving. One bad decision can shatter lives.”
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