With its lone survivor still hospitalized, this month’s crash that killed two teens on Lee Chapel Road has spurred Fairfax County to step up its efforts to address long-standing concerns about the safety of the key Fairfax Station th0roughfare.
During its meeting yesterday (Tuesday), the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors directed transportation staff to develop a cost estimate for a project that would widen the two-lane road to four lanes and eliminate hills that limit driver visibility along a roughly 1-mile segment between Ox Road (Route 123) and Fairfax County Parkway.
Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity originally proposed the project in 2017 after a 19-year-old died in a crash at the same intersection with Fairfax County Parkway in 2015. However, no funding has been identified yet.
A petition calling for safety improvements on Lee Chapel Road now has over 13,500 signatures. Herrity met the two South County High School students behind the campaign on Monday (Jan. 23), he told the board.
“There’s a lot of community support for doing something,” he said. “Unfortunately it takes a tragedy.”
Unanimously approved, Herrity’s board matter also asks staff to look at more immediate ways to improve the roadway’s safety, such as adding streetlights and clearing shoulders on the adjacent parkland.
It also asks our public works department to look at the feasibility of streetlights and the Park Authority to look at clearing the shoulder areas on the adjacent parkland.
— Supervisor Pat Herrity (@PatHerrity) January 24, 2023
According to preliminary state data, there have been 245 crashes and 149 injuries on Lee Chapel Road since 2010, including the fatal crashes in 2015 and this past Jan. 10. Also the site of a 2005 crash that killed an 18-year-old who had just graduated from Hayfield Secondary School, the road has proven especially dangerous for young, inexperienced drivers.
The victims of the fatal crash on Jan. 10 were all South County High School students. Ariana Haftsavar and Ashlyn Brotemarkle, the two teens who were killed, were 16.
Detectives have determined that the 2019 Lexus IS350 was traveling at 100.7 mph when it veered off the road, becoming airborne for about 130 feet before landing on its roof, the Fairfax County Police Department reported last night.
“Fire and rescue personnel extricated one victim, who was taken to a nearby hospital; she remains hospitalized,” the FCPD said. “The driver and the rear passenger, of the Lexus were declared deceased at the scene. The passenger in the backseat was not wearing a seatbelt.”
(Updated at 6:10 p.m.) Community pressure about a circuitous and convoluted pedestrian refuge at Village Road in Reston has prompted a redesign.
Reston Association voiced its concerns about the “horrible initial design” of the refuge island in a letter to state and local transportation officials, according to RA spokesperson Mike Leone. The letter, along with community pressure, led to the rebuild and redesign effort.
VDOT has added a new access point and sidewalk.
“It is RA’s position that the changes/redesign are much better than the original design,” Leone wrote in a statement to FFXnow.
Construction crews are “almost finished with reconstruction, but it’s not yet turned over to us for inspection and acceptance,” VDOT spokesperson Ellen Kamilakis told FFXnow.
After FFXnow’s sister site, Reston Now, reported on the issues with the refuge in January, the Reston Accessibility Committee — a working group created by the Reston Citizens Association — submitted an assessment of the site to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn in February.
“In addition to the poor sidewalk design, our assessment cited the narrow ramps, the misalignment of the crosswalk buttons, and the fact that the Village Road crosswalk was behind the stop line for the traffic signal,” the committee said in its summer newsletter, released on Saturday (July 30).
RA’s Multimodal Transportation Advisory Committee, a citizen advisory committee that reports to RA, also flagged concerns about the refuge.
“Pedestrian navigability and safety were our chief concerns especially with the near proximity of the new Lake Anne House,” the committee said. “The Board agreed and sent a letter to VDOT strongly urging redesign.”
While the redesign is a significant improvement over the previous iteration, MTAC’s chair Mike McDermott said that some issues still remain.
“While we are glad that corrections have been made, we do feel that pedestrian facilities should be present on all four legs of this signalized intersection,” McDermott wrote in a statement to FFXnow.
The previous design was so flawed that some pedestrians cut through the middle or skipped over the refuge entirely. Other concerns included narrow ramps and misalignment of crosswalk buttons.
The new design completes the sidewalk by turning into a loop and realigns the crosswalk buttons. The vehicle stop line for the Village Road signal was also moved back behind the crosswalk.
“RAC supports the attempt to remediate the design and make the design safer and more accessible for everyone,” the Reston Accessibility Committee said in its newsletter. “There is still room for improvement, however, and we encourage all parties to continue exploring design changes to make it even better.”
Fairfax County will use eminent domain to obtain land valued at nearly $3 million so it can build a road connecting Capital One Center in Tysons to the Dulles Airport Access Road.
With Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity abstaining, the Board of Supervisors voted 9-0 after a public hearing yesterday (Tuesday) to authorize county staff to acquire the 25,374-square-foot parcel, which is currently part of the Gates of McLean property north of Scotts Crossing Road.
In exchange, the Gates of McLean Condominium Unit Association could get more than $2.9 million based on an appraisal conducted on Nov. 4, 2021, county documents show. The county sent a letter to the association with the compensation offer on March 25.
Nicole Wilson, a right of way agent in the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services’ land acquisition division, confirmed that the board’s vote allows staff to pursue an agreement, but the deal hasn’t been finalized yet.
“This is not certainly the end of the conversation from the owners’ association, but allows you to continue to proceed moving forward and negotiate some of the terms under which the acquisition would occur,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said.
Lisa Samuels, president of the condo association’s board of directors, previously told FFXnow that the group had no concerns with the county taking the land for the road.
The association’s bylaws require a majority of owners in the 624-unit development to approve any land changes, but since most units are rented out to tenants, a vote was deemed “impractical,” according to a county staff report.
As a result, the board needs to use its quick-take powers so construction can begin, staff said. The adopted resolution states that the land rights must be acquired by Sept. 3 to keep the project on schedule.
The planned public street from Scotts Crossing to the airport access road “will help to relieve traffic congestion in the area” and pave the way for a “future realignment of an existing ramp connection to the Dulles Toll Road,” Wilson told the board.
Developer Cityline Partner offered to help build the street with the Scotts Run North project it got approved in 2015. After taking over the 9.4-acre property in 2019, Capital One has proposed building a portion of the road as part of a plan for parks on the site.
Though Samuels characterized the parcel sought by the county as too overgrown to be useful for recreation or other purposes, Gates of McLean owner and resident Donald Garrett — the only speaker at the public hearing — testified that it includes a walking path used by residents and their dogs.
“There should be recognition that we are asked to give up part of our green space and recreation space for a road project,” Garrett said. “Outside of financial compensation, I believe there are policy options at the county’s disposal to offer unit owners an equitable compensation.”
He suggested the county include pedestrian enhancements in the road project or give Gates of McLean residents priority booking at a nearby park or athletic field for events.
Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said the county will keep working with the condo association and residents throughout the negotiation process.
“We definitely want to ensure that, as the development continues in this area, that there will be definitely focus on the access to green spaces, safety for pedestrians, and ensuring that we have access to the businesses and residential communities in this area,” Palchik said.
If you’re passing through the City of Fairfax, some of the streets you drive will be renamed.
Names of 14 of streets will be changed after the City Council voted Tuesday to go with the recommendations by the Connecting Fairfax City for All Stakeholder Advisory Group. The advisory group was established to examine Confederate related street and place names, historical markers and monuments and elements within the city seal.
The streets to be renamed are Confederate Lane, Lee Highway, Lee Street, Mosby Road, Mosby Woods Drive, Old Lee Highway, Plantation Parkway, Raider Road, Ranger Road, Reb Street, Scarlet Circle, Singleton Circle, Traveler Street and Stonewall Avenue. The renaming public engagement and selection process will begin, according to the city.
Several jurisdictions have recently moved to rename roadways and buildings in light of their ties to the Confederacy. In Fairfax County, one of the districts was recently renamed Franconia District, ridding it of the name Lee. In Arlington, Langston Boulevard was previously named Lee Highway. Jefferson Davis Highway in Arlington was also renamed.
The City of Fairfax’s advisory group also recommended the city stop using its current seal, as it develops a process to replace or revise it, possibly keeping the motto and dogwood flowers but removing Confederate soldier John Quincy Marr and British Lord Fairfax, according to the group’s report.
“While the [advisory group] notes that symbolism of the city seal, monuments and markers, and street and neighborhood names is a crucial start to the task of achieving greater equity and inclusion, the Group also believes that Fairfax City has an opportunity to be a leader in bringing systemic changes to the lives of historically disadvantaged groups,” the report reads.
Photo via Google Maps
Fairfax County could exercise its eminent domain powers to acquire land for a road planned to connect Capital One’s future campus extension with the Dulles Toll Road in Tysons.
The Board of Supervisors agreed yesterday (Tuesday) to set a July 19 public hearing on the proposed acquisition from the Gates of McLean Condominium Unit Owners Association, which represents the 624-unit neighborhood that currently owns the land.
The land is needed for the construction of “an important public grid street” that will eventually run north from Scotts Crossing Road to the toll road’s eastbound off-ramp, according to the board agenda for yesterday’s meeting.
The connector road is in the street network envisioned by the Tysons Comprehensive Plan, and developer Cityline Partners committed to helping build it as part of the Scotts Run North project that the county approved in 2015.
The 9.4-acre development site at the northwestern corner of Scotts Crossing and Dolley Madison Blvd was sold to Capital One in May 2019. In a recent proposal to redevelop the land with parks and, later, mixed-use buildings, the financial corporation said it has been working with the county to accelerate the connector road portion of the project.
“Capital One…is committed to advancing construction of this planned public street, among others in the vicinity, to frontload critical transportation infrastructure as Tysons East continues to develop,” county staff said in the board agenda. “Acquiring this piece of land will enable this process to move forward.”
The Gates of McLean has owned the parcel in question since the community was first built as apartments in the late 1990s, according to Lisa Samuels, president of the association’s board of directors.
Located on the neighborhood’s southeastern side, the land is currently undeveloped green space, and pieces of it are protected by conservation easements.
“In terms of future plans for development, we certainly didn’t have any, but we knew that there might come a time where some of it might be acquired in order to build the extension of the road,” Samuels said.
According to Samuels, Capital One informed the association’s board of its interest in acquiring the land for the road about two years ago, but the discussion was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Samuels says the board “has no concern” about the county’s plan to take the land, since heavy overgrowth prevents the community from using it for recreation or other purposes.
However, the association’s bylaws require approval from 75% of unit owners for any land changes, and because most Gates of McLean owners don’t live on-site, instead renting out their condos to tenants, the board typically struggles to get a response rate higher than 15%.
“It’s just very difficult for us to get that supermajority that would be needed to sell the land,” Samuels said. “Our owners aren’t overly responsive to communications from us.”
Taking the land through eminent domain would enable construction on the connector road to begin on schedule, according to county staff.
A planned street that will eventually connect Tysons East to Pimmit Hills could bring some major changes to Magarity Road, the border between the two neighborhoods.
The Fairfax County Department of Transportation shared a conceptual design for Lincoln Street last month that proposed adding two mini-roundabouts on Magarity, including one at the Peabody Drive intersection in front of Westgate Elementary School.
The other potential roundabout will be at the Violet Ridge Place intersection.
Each roundabout will have a pedestrian refuge and crosswalks. A raised median down the center of Magarity will require Lincoln Street drivers to turn right and go through the roundabout at Peabody in order to go east into McLean, according to a presentation at a virtual community meeting on May 19.
FCDOT staff said computer simulations have indicated that the roundabouts will be able to accommodate larger vehicles, such as school buses, fire trucks, and snowplows.
“This dual mini roundabout alternative will accommodate all vehicles,” FCDOT project manager Caijun Luo said.
Acknowledging that the roundabouts will create some inconvenience by requiring U-turns for left turns onto Magarity Road, county staff said it emerged as the best option for connecting Lincoln Street from a safety standpoint. It would also maintain access to the single-family homes lining the road’s east side as well as the existing curbside parking.
With more development coming into place in Tysons East, Lincoln Street will connect Magarity and Old Meadow Road with a bridge over Scott’s Run in an effort to divert some neighborhood traffic away from Route 123.
Though FCDOT previously suggested traffic signals were being considered at both intersections, Capital Projects Section Chief Michael Guarino said at the meeting that there will be stop signs instead, since “the volumes projected right now don’t warrant a traffic signal.”
Lincoln Street will consist of two 11-foot-wide lanes — one in each direction — with a 10-foot-wide asphalt sidewalk on the north side and a 6-foot-wide concrete sidewalk on the south side. In the preliminary design, the sidewalks are separated from the road by grass buffers.
The travel lanes will each expand to 13 feet wide at the bridge over Scott’s Run, which will have concrete sidewalks on both sides. Staff said the bridge will have at least a 10-foot clearance for Scott’s Run Trail.
FCDOT confirmed that crosswalks and curb ramps will be added on Old Meadow Road, but many details — such as the possibility of connections from Lincoln Street to Scott’s Run Trail or flashing beacons at the Westgate Elementary crosswalks — will be worked out once the project progresses to the final design stage.
Staff promised to also examine how the new street will affect other intersections on Old Meadow and Magarity outside of the immediate project limits, particularly where Old Meadow meets Chain Bridge Road to the north.
That intersection already experiences traffic and speeding issues, community members said during the virtual meeting.
“That can be kind of busy and kind of hard to see, because…there’s a curve in the road at that point,” an attendee identified as Greg said. “Adding another road coming out there would certainly complicate that intersection further down, so it’s an impact that I’m glad you’re at least starting to think about.”
Following the community meeting, FCDOT is accepting input on the proposed concept through June 6.
Though the project is already fully funded, a final design isn’t scheduled to be completed until 2024. Land acquisitions could start that year, with construction starting in mid-2026 and finishing in late 2027.
(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.
Construction on improvements to the intersection of Fox Mill and Pinecrest road is slated to begin in the fall of 2024.
Once the $5.7 million project is completed, the intersection will have a permanent traffic signal, left-turn lanes on northbound and southbound Fox Mill Road, four crosswalks, new sidewalks and curb ramps, and an 8-foot-wide walkway on the southeast corner.
The Virginia Department of Transportation will hold a public hearing on the project design on May 18.
A temporary signalized intersection was installed in August last year in order to improve the safety of the area. Between 2013 and 2020, the intersection has been the site of 53 crashes, two of which resulted in severe injuries.
Right-of-way acquisition is expected to begin in the summer of 2024.
Information on how to log on to the meeting — which takes place online — is available the project’s page.
The project is primarily funded by county dollars and is currently in the design phase.
A completion date in the summer of 2025 is anticipated.
Road paving and striping season has arrived.
The Fairfax County and Virginia transportation departments will hold multiple public meetings this month on proposed pedestrian crossing and road changes for 2022.
The changes include narrowing several roads to an 11-foot standard and upgrading crosswalks. Bicycle lanes are also slated for several areas across the county.
The most significant change appears to be in Sully District, where bicycle lanes — potentially buffered — have been proposed where possible on Braddock Road between Belle Pond Drive and Sully Station Drive.
The Fairfax County Department of Transportation said underutilized travel lanes on Braddock Road will be converted.
New bicycle lanes are also planned in the following areas:
- Lee District: Lockheed Boulevard, between Route 1 and the Huntley Meadows Park entrance where feasible
- Providence District: Cottage Street between Gallows Road and Cedar Lane where possible, as well as Wolftrap Road between Gallows Road and the end of the street
- Sully District: Centreville Farms Road, where outside travel lanes could be buffered between Lee Highway and Stringfellow Road
Crosswalk upgrades are slated for:
- Braddock and Lee districts: Greeley Road at Bellamy Avenue near West Springfield Elementary School
- Lee District: Summer Ridge Road at Westcott Hills Way
- Mason District: Westmoreland Road at both Barrett and Wayne roads
- Providence District: Madrillon Road at Boss Street and Merry Oaks Lane; Stonewall Drive and Shenandoah Street; Wolftrap Road at Wolftrap Court; and Hibbard Street at Chain Bridge Road
- Springfield District: Autumn Willow Drive at Stringfellow Park as well as Fair Lakes Boulevard at Sedgehurst Drive
- Sully District: Newton Patent Drive at Awbrey Patent Drive
Some areas could see parking restricted to help address sightline issues.
FCDOT will hold virtual community meetings to discuss the changes on April 18 for Dranesville, Hunter Mill, and Providence districts; April 19 for Lee, Mount Vernon and Springfield districts; and April 21 for Braddock, Mason and Sully districts.
There are no striping improvements proposed for Dranesville and Hunter Mill districts, though.
Comment periods will close two weeks after each meeting. Paving work will begin this spring and finish in November.
A pair of streets linking Vienna and Dunn Loring could be altered to make room for bicycle lanes as part of an annual paving and restriping program.
The Fairfax County and Virginia transportation departments have proposed narrowing the travel and parking lanes on Cottage Street and Wolf Trap Road so bicycle lanes can be added “where possible.”
The focus of the Cottage Street project would be 1.1-mile stretch between Gallows Road and Cedar Lane. On Wolf Trap, the bicycle lanes could be added from Gallows to where the road dead-ends and turns into a bicycle path through Heritage Resource Park.
“Existing legal on-street parking will be maintained,” the Fairfax County Department of Transportation says of both proposed projects.
FCDOT and the Virginia Department of Transportation are also planning to upgrade crosswalks at five intersections in Providence District, four in the Dunn Loring area and one in Oakton:
- Madrillon Road at Boss Street
- Madrillon Road at Merry Oaks Lane
- Stonewall Drive at Shenandoah Street
- Wolftrap Road at Wolftrap Court
- Hibbard Street at Chain Bridge Road
The county and state collaborate on repaving and restriping efforts annually as part of VDOT’s regular street maintenance duties. This year’s work will begin sometime in April and continue until November.
Here’s more from FCDOT on what to expect:
Residents can expect work vehicles in their neighborhood during the project. Motorists are asked to be alert to temporary traffic patterns. Cars, basketball hoops or garbage cans may need to be temporarily relocated while work is under way. Work hours are usually limited to outside of rush hours. Crews typically work on neighborhood streets weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. On other roads such as interstates and some primaries, work may occur overnight.
A virtual public meeting on the proposed Providence District projects will be held at 7 p.m. next Monday (April 18).
VDOT has a statewide paving map with information on specific roads that will be updated weekly throughout the season.
Photo via Google Maps