Slow Down

Slow Down

Traffic calming discussion begins.

The study on the feasibility of traffic calming measures for Hunter Mill Road is underway. Officials and citizens' group representatives met last Wednesday to hear a presentation by Tom Flynn of Draper Aden, the company contracted to conduct the study, and their associate Michael Wallwork.

Represented at the meeting were the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the Fairfax Department of Transportation, state Sen. Janet Howell's (R-32) office, U.S. Rep. Jim Moran's (D-8) office, the Hunter Mill Road Traffic Calming Committee, the Northern Virginia Regional Commission and Supervisor Linda Smyth (D-Providence).

The presentation, which is expected to be similar to one that will be made to the public later this month, summarized the data that Draper Aden has thus far gathered regarding traffic on the road and offered some possible solutions to problem areas.

The road's "level of service" was evaluated and graded on a scale of A to E at various intersections, based upon delay caused to the driver. Grades on the road's current conditions were not encouraging, falling primarily in the C-to-F range.

A 10 percent growth rate was assumed to evaluate future conditions. Making no changes to the road resulted in a somewhat lower overall grade point average, while traditional traffic management such as added traffic lights and turn lanes made spotty improvements, and traffic calming measures such as splitters, roundabouts and various visual cues brought grades into the A-to-B range.

Possibilities were also examined for adding paths and/or lanes to accommodate pedestrians, equestrians and bike riders, with respect to tree preservation, safety and comfort.

Wallwork, who has worked on traffic calming projects up and down the East Coast and specializes in designing roundabouts, pointed out that a roundabout is the only traffic calming tool for managing intersections that simultaneously slows traffic, reduces crashes, facilitates pedestrian crossing and beautifies. He also noted that they decrease crashes by about 40 percent from traditional signal-regulated intersections and decrease fatal crashes by about 90 percent, as well as generally costing less. They also have the added bonus of being unaffected by power outages.

However, he and Flynn made clear that they are not yet proposing any final plans. "We're trying to get a consensus on a plan," said Flynn. "We're presenting a starting point."

The feasibility study is expected to be completed by September.

The public is being encouraged to attend the community meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. on May 24 at Unity of Fairfax Church.

— Mike DiCicco