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Locals Push for More Bike, Pedestrian Safety Measures Along Route 50

Commuters and residents want to see more bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements along Route 50 in the Falls Church area.

At a meeting hosted by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) last night, VDOT officials and residents discussed different ideas for improving the route, which has up to 51,000 vehicles travel daily, according to VDOT.

The meeting coincidentally happened a day after a 40-year-old man was struck and killed at the intersection of Route 50 and Graham Road. On a map of reported crashes since 2013, that intersection had two reports of fatal crashes, along with dozens of other crashes ranging in severity from property damage to serious injuries.

A study is underway to evaluate potential safety and operational changes for three miles of Route 50 between Jaguar Trail and Wilson Blvd.

VDOT officials said that the study is looking at data showing crash hotspots, speed and traffic count from January 2013 to the spring of 2019 and projections out to 2030.

“We don’t go into a study with the solutions already in hand,” Allison Richter, the liaison for Fairfax and Arlington counties, said.

The possible improvements VDOT is looking at include:

  • traffic signal timing/operations
  • turn lane
  • turn restrictions
  • access management
  • pedestrian enhancements
  • innovative intersections

Richter said that bike and pedestrian safety improvements are under consideration.

About 50 people showed up for the meeting, including Fairfax County police, Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross, School Board Member Dalia Palchik and Tom Biesiadny, the director of Fairfax County’s transportation department.

Many of the people who lined up to provide feedback to VDOT pointed out specific problem areas — urging for time-restricted turn lanes, signal timing changes — and more focus on bicyclists, pedestrians and people using mass public transit.

“This area is becoming more urban over time,” one attendee told VDOT officials, adding that VDOT should focus on safety over speed for drivers.

Added safety measures could include two-way bike lanes on one-way service roads and more lighting, attendees said.

Sonya Breehey, a bike safety advocate, suggested traffic calming on the frontage roads.

“Arlington Blvd scares me,” Breehey said.

A handful of people called for VDOT to lower the speed limit from 45 miles per hour, with one person suggesting a new speed limit of 35 miles per hour.

One man who provided feedback urged VDOT to not forget about drivers, who might face slower speeds and longer travel times.

“Better late to dinner than dead,” someone from the audience shouted after the man finished commenting.

“Please be respectful,” the man responded.

People can take an online survey — which allows respondents to mark problem spots on a map and rank the six possible improvements — and submit comments to Bobby Mangalath, at 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, Va. 22030 by next Thursday, Oct. 31.

VDOT plans to hold another information meeting when the study wraps up in the spring.

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