Residents, school board member raise traffic safety concerns around Reston schools

Fairfax County school bus (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Some Restonians are calling on Fairfax County to invest more funds into transportation safety upgrades in local schools, particularly within the South Lakes pyramid.

In a March 30 memo to the Fairfax County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors, Hunter Mill District School Board Representative Melanie Meren flagged specific, problematic areas that may need more crossing guards, signage or physical upgrades and a comprehensive evaluation of crossings and bus stops.

“The safety of our students and community members is paramount and as you know all-too-well throughout Fairfax, residents have experienced transit-related deaths, incidents and close-calls,” reads the memo, which was first reported by WTOP.

Their hope is that concerns and considerations will be incorporated or inform the ongoing update to Reston’s comprehensive plan. A document resulting from over-two-year-long effort is expected to go before the Board of Supervisors later this year.

Tentatively, a staff report on the draft comprehensive plan created by a task force assembled by Hunter Mill District Walter Alcorn is expected sometime this month.

In a statement to FFXnow, Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay emphasized that bicyclist and pedestrian safety is a top priority of the county.

The Board of Supervisors takes the issue of traffic safety seriously, especially pedestrian and bicycle safety. Which is why we have committed $100 million for infrastructure improvements, $25 million of which has already been allocated. We have launched a speed camera pilot program that in 30 days issued over 1400 warnings to drivers and is expected to issue many more once all potential violations are processed. We are exploring our options with red light cameras and other types of photo enforcement as well.

Reston Association’s Multimodal Transportation Advisory Committee (MTAC) has scheduled a virtual town hall for 6:30 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday) to discuss pedestrian safety near Reston schools.

“As Reston’s citizen advisory committee on various forms of transportation modes throughout the community, MTAC would like to hear from members on their experiences, concerns and suggestions about transportation in Reston,” RA said in a newsletter last Friday (May 5).

A breakdown of the concerns raised by Meren is below:

Crossing guard positions are requested at:

South Lakes High School – a guard and/or a light at the South Lakes stadium entrance; Forest Edge Elementary School – primarily at the bus exit to assist with traffic; and Lake Anne Elementary School – the crosswalk on Wainwright Dr.

Updated signage and/or physical upgrades, including installation of devices where appropriate, including:

“No Left Turn” sign from 7:30-8:30am weekdays coming out of Tanbark at Seahawk Dr; “No Parking” signage enforcement on Ridge Heights Rd in the Langston Hughes Kiss-and-Ride zone, and evaluation for making this area safer during arrival and dismissal;

Speed radar sign on Ridge Heights Rd;

Outstanding updates needed on Cross School Rd directly adjacent to Sunrise Valley Elementary School, including: a clear crosswalk with signage to make safer what is currently closest to the Sunrise Valley Dr intersection; a sidewalk that is ADA compliant (currently is not) between Sunrise Valley Dr and the school; safety barriers near drainage ditches running along the current “sidewalk”; and moving the crosswalk on Cross School Rd that leads to the school but requires pedestrians to cross the school drive way – this can be eliminated by moving the crosswalk over several feet, plus adding appropriate signage;

Reevaluation of the crossing where the Reston Association path along Sunrise Valley Dr meets Barton Hill Rd, which may include: moving the crosswalk to closer to or further away from Sunrise Valley Dr to allow for more pedestrian visibility by motorists; installing signage at the crosswalk; using bollards on both sides to visually narrow the road;

Reduction of lane width (road diet) on Sunrise Valley Dr to give space for cyclists, and to help slow down the speed of traffic approaching the Barton Hill tennis courts and Cross School Rd; additionally for your information, the Reston Association pathway along Sunrise Valley Dr needs some safety barriers as it is right along the roadway with no buffer from motor vehicles;

Speed humps on Becontree Ln in front of Forest Edge Elementary School;

Blinking pedestrian signage on South Lakes Dr;

Signage to improve the dangerous curve at Inlet Ct and Wiehle Dr; and

Addressing speeding on Colts Neck Rd near Stirrup Rd.

An evaluation of current crossings and county bus stops is needed at:

South Lakes Dr and Tanbark Dr (the Connector stop was recently moved, resulting in students jaywalking);

Crossings between South Lakes Dr and: Soapstone Dr, both entrances to Olde Crafts Dr; Dr, Whisperwood Glen Ln; and Ridge Heights Rd;

Crossing of Barton Hill Rd near Sunrise Valley Dr, as mentioned above;

Sunrise Valley Dr, between South Lakes Dr and Cross School Rd – there is not the continuous ability to remain safely on a sidewalk on the south side, and so pedestrians (many who are going to or from Sunrise Valley Elementary School) must cross Sunrise Valley twice to remain on sidewalks between these two roads; and

Crossings and bus stops on Fairway Dr and South Shore Rd – there is currently only one side walk on one side of Fairway, resulting in children and adults running from vehicles as they attempt to cross Fairway Dr.

McKay said county staff are analyzing problematic areas referenced in the letter for “potential solutions.”

“That work is ongoing,” he said.