Pedestrians were casualties of two separate vehicle crashes this past weekend, Fairfax County police reported.
A 26-year-old pedestrian was killed early Saturday morning (July 8) in Bailey’s Crossroads by an apparently intoxicated driver, and then, early this morning (Monday), a man was taken to the hospital after a crash on Fairfax County Parkway and Stringfellow Road in Chantilly.
The man wasn’t considered to be in life-threatening condition, but police described the crash as “serious” in a 12:06 a.m. tweet.
Officers are on scene of a serious car crash involving a pedestrian at Fairfax County Pkwy and Stringfellow Road. An adult male pedestrian was taken to the hospital in non-life-threatening condition. The road will remain closed while the investigation continues. #FCPD pic.twitter.com/tbqkdR3Axb
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) July 10, 2023
For the fatal crash, eastbound Columbia Pike was shut down for an extended period after the driver of a 2010 BMW hit Luis Fernando Jimenez Rodriguez at the Columbia Pike and Powell Lane around 2:13 a.m., according to the Fairfax County Police Department.
“Preliminarily, detectives determined that the driver of a 2010 BMW was traveling eastbound on Columbia Pike near Lincolnia Road when it struck a pedestrian,” the FCPD said.
The driver didn’t stop at the scene, police said. An officer who first arrived at the scene told a dispatcher that track marks stretched all the way to Barcroft Plaza, according to scanner traffic on Open MHz.
Police found the BMW in the 6100 block of Marshall Drive. Per the scanner, an officer identified it as the vehicle because he found blood on the front bumper.
The vehicle owner and alleged driver was Benjamin Lopez Encinas, 33, of Woodbridge, according to the FCPD.
Encinas has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and is now in custody at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.
“Detectives continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding this crash,” the FCPD said.
Rodriguez appears to be the fifth pedestrian killed in Fairfax County this year, according to Virginia crash data, which shows that there were 16 pedestrian fatalities through July in 2022.
Concerns about the safety of Columbia Pike, which has now been the site of at least nine fatal crashes since 2010, have prompted Fairfax County to pursue some improvements, including a crossing beacon at the intersection where Justice High School student Lesly Diaz-Bonilla was killed in November.
Fairfax County is moving to make two vacant properties in the Mason District available for development as affordable housing.
At Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross’s request, the Board of Supervisors directed staff on June 6 to schedule public hearings on potential transfers of county-owned land at 2859 Annandale Road and 5831 Columbia Pike to the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCRHA).
No official proposals have been put forward, but transferring the sites would enable the housing authority to review their potential for future redevelopment, according to Gross.
“My motions…were made to allow the RHA to perform due diligence on what type(s) of redevelopment might be appropriate for the sites,” she told FFXnow by email.
Located across a lane from the James Lee Community Center, the half-acre Annandale Road property in West Falls Church is currently undeveloped with some grass and trees.
While too small to support multifamily housing or public use, “initial studies” suggest it could be “an excellent site on which to develop affordable homeownership units, potentially through a public-private partnership,” Gross said in her board matter.
According to Gross, if a redevelopment moves forward, it will likely consist of single-family detached houses, which would conform with the rest of the block.
Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik thanked Gross “for bringing this forward,” noting that FCRHA has already begun discussing the prospect with the community.
Dubbed “East County Part B,” the 2.9-acre Columbia Pike property is adjacent to the future Alta Crossroads apartment building that broke ground in March. It includes Crossroads Interim Park, which brought recreational space and a plaza to Bailey’s Crossroads when it opened in September 2019.
“An opportunity exists on this site for the co-location of affordable housing, to include associated support services, underground parking, and possibly a childcare facility,” Gross’s board matter said. “The site’s location is ideal. It is within walking distance of public transportation, retail, and healthcare, and is accessible to vital services including schools, libraries, and parks, as well as other recreational and commercial amenities.”
Discussions about developing the area between Moncure Avenue and the Radley Acura dealer at 5823 Columbia Pike have been going on for almost 20 years now, according to Gross.
With construction on Alta Crossroads at last underway, Gross said it’s “an opportune time” to look at how to redevelop the park area. As indicated by its name, the Crossroads Interim Park was always intended to be a temporary use of the site, though Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay cautioned that community members may not understand that.
“Except for the concrete, we can take the things that are there and move it to another location,” Gross said.
The board sees both sites as opportunities to further its goal of adding 10,000 new affordable housing units by 2034. If the FCRHA opts not to pursue projects for one or both of the properties, their ownership would be transferred back to the Board of Supervisors.
On Monday (Jan. 23), Fairfax County presented plans for a “Complete Streets” overhaul for a section of Columbia Pike from Backlick Run to Tom Davis Drive. The project involves the construction of a new 6-foot-wide sidewalk and a high-visibility crosswalk at Tom Davis Drive, along with ADA-compliant curb ramps and a 6-foot-wide strip of landscaping.
In terms of “Complete Streets” projects, the Columbia Pike one is fairly limited in scope: it only affects the southern side of the street and doesn’t include any bicycle upgrades. Staff emphasized that what was presented was just the first phase.
“[This project] has been discussed for a long time,” said Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross. “It looks simple on paper, but when you look at the various land use parcels that need to be included it becomes a much broader kind of proposal. I am anxious to learn what the design is going to look like now…Now we’re really getting down to the nitty gritty so some decisions can be made.”
The Complete Streets project will also cut down on the number of curb cuts — areas where vehicles cross over the sidewalk to get in and out of parking. While limiting vehicle access can be frustrating for retail along a street, Gross said the reduction in curb cuts shouldn’t impact businesses too severely.
“Right now it is chaotic for pedestrians and vehicles alike in that section,” Gross said. “There are too many curb cuts. It really shouldn’t affect access to businesses because there will be other curb cuts available. The basic idea is much safer for everyone.”
James Albright, a member of the county’s Trails, Sidewalks and Bikeways Committee, said he was excited to see improvements coming to Columbia Pike.
“I appreciate this project because this sidewalk is a disaster. It’s not safe,” Albright said. “This has been an area of concern.”
But Albright also expressed concern that the county was doing nothing for cycling along Columbia Pike, with no additional bicycle facilities planned as part of the overhaul.
Turner acknowledged that bicycle lanes were not proposed as part of the phase 1 improvement. Transportation Planner Nicole Wynands said Columbia Pike is a relatively narrow, four-lane road without much wiggle room to include bicycle lanes.
The project is currently scheduled to continue design through summer 2025, with construction running from 2026-2027.
Photo via Google Maps
(Updated at 11:25 a.m. on 1/7/2023) A collision involving a box truck and a bicyclist on Columbia Pike in Annandale last night (Thursday) sent the latter to the hospital.
The crash occurred near the John Marr Drive intersection around 6:52 p.m. It was initially reported to Fairfax County’s dispatch center as a large box truck hitting a motorcycle, but that was later corrected to “a box truck versus a bicyclist,” according to scanner traffic.
“Turns out the bicyclist drove full speed into the truck,” Fairfax County Police Department spokesperson Tara Gerhard told FFXnow.
The bicyclist suffered a head injury and was transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital by an ambulance, a responder told the dispatcher.
A police road block was set up on Columbia Pike around the box truck while the scene was cleared.
While scanner traffic suggested that the bicyclist was seriously injured, Gerhardt says the injuries were not deemed life-threatening. As a result, no summary of the crash indicating what led up to the collision was available.