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Safety Improvements Underway on Walter Reed Drive

by ARLnow.com — September 2, 2011 at 5:05 pm 2,440 55 Comments

Crews are making progress on safety improvements to a steep portion of Walter Reed Drive. Currently, most of the construction is closer to S. Pollard Street, near the top of the hill, but changes will soon stretch down to Four Mile Run Drive.

Some curb extensions, which are being added at the intersections of Quincy, Quebec and Pollard Streets, have already been poured. Drivers in the area can eventually expect to see planted medians where only painted medians previously existed. Also, the right-hand turn lane onto the Four Mile Run Drive access road will be eliminated for drivers heading downhill on Walter Reed, in favor of traffic turning onto the road at the 90 degree intersection.

Several of the improvements are designed to slow down traffic, while others are intended to protect pedestrians. The construction covers the area, long considered dangerous, where a bicyclist was killed in May.  Many cyclists use this stretch to travel to and from the W&OD Trail and Four Mile Run.

Other pedestrian safety improvements have recently been made on Shirlington Road and Arlington Ridge Road, also in South Arlington, and improvements are planned for a stretch of Glebe Road near Ballston.

Road work on Walter Reed could last up to two months.

  • BerryBerryCold

    A lot of these “improvements” will be removed at intersections around Arlington in the future. They are causing unnecessary bottlenecks in some cases.

    • Bender

      Isn’t it nice to know that we are so awash in money that we can go spend, spend, spend on totally unnecessary projects (totally unnecessary, no matter how much a few people desire them), while places that do need fixing, like the pavement of Columbia Pike, are kept in horrendous condition.

      • John Snyder

        Those of us who remember our neighbor who was killed by an accident at one of these intersections due to excessive speed on Walter Reed don’t think the changes are unnecessary. If you think your view is more representative of the majority of people who live here, perhaps you should avail yourself of the political process.

        • Funny

          But the rest of us think they are unnecessary.

          • drax

            Speak for yourself.

        • JJ

          If you’re referring to the bicyclist killed–the reason he died was due to excessive speed by him coming down Walter Reed hill and making a fast turn into oncoming traffic. It had nothing to do with a car driving too fast or disobeying traffic laws. These bump outs will do nothing to deter bicyclists from flying down the hill.

          • John Snyder

            No, I am not talking about the bicyclist and agree that these would not help prevent that accident. I am talking about a collision between two cars caused by excessive speed on Walter Reed.

          • Josh S

            Well, actually, since he wouldn’t be able to make that maneouver when the slip lane is taken out, yes, the improvements would have a positive effect on bike safety.

        • jim

          Maybe the pedestrians should pay more attention instead of acting like THEY own the road. Safety is not only the driver’s responsibility. These changes are stupid, unnecessary and a complete waste of $$. Therefore, they are completely representative of the Arlington way of doing things.

          • John Snyder

            Pedestrians crossing a side street ought be able to do so without being mowed down.

          • charlie

            and yet they should still cross after looking.
            pedestrians are on the WRONG side of the physics equation, REGARDLESS of the speed.

    • John Snyder

      You have obviously never been on Walter Reed Drive, and you apparently define “bottleneck” as driving under 50 mph on a residential street. I think the best solution is for you to avoid the area.

      • charlie

        it would be easier to avoid the area if 395 had a few extra lanes. Since it doesn’t Walter Reed/Fillmore/Beauregard are neccessary and great alternatives.

      • Funny

        See Glebe Rd. And 26 th St for bottleneck/ completely uneccesary ‘traffic calming’ measures.

      • Bringmetheyuppies

        No John. MOST of us who live IN the community think these are horrible additions. Of course no one asked us.They just depend on the community association for input. We got no questionairre if we would like these things. They consult with you as the pres of the civic assn, but WE had no input. The jut out on Pollard Will cause T bone accidents because you can’t see if cars are coming if you sit back to make the turn when headed North on W.R..Other than the speeding bicyclist I do not remember an accident on W.R. in 10 years. And W.R. is a4 lane road to move people. I would hardly call it a residential street on the hill they are screwing up. Not one driveway I can recall on that hill.

        • charlie

          pollard is one of the worst intersections for cars and a huge nightmare for pedestrian. visibility sucks. the visual clutter is horrible. AND as a driver you are focused on the hill and not on pedestrians.
          i think the hill needs to be shaved down at pollard. why do we go up and over pollard just do go back down again?

        • Michael H.

          There are at least three driveways along the west side of Walter Reed. The entire west side of the road is lined with houses.

          I don’t have an opinion on the new additions, but your statements are not accurate.

          • charlie

            my statements are my opinion. and therefore correct.

            driving up Walter Reed it is scary to suddenly pedestrians in that crosswalk. they are hard to see. period. this isn’t going to make it easier.

          • Josh S

            A) He wasn’t talking to you.
            and
            B) “My statements are my opinion and therefore correct” is obviously a joke. Right?

        • John Snyder

          Bringmetheyuppies, that is just bull. The neighborhood has been asking for means to slow down traffic on and careening off of Walter Reed for years. And all these plans were all laid out by the county staff at a meeting advertised by the civic association and the county and individuals who called followup meetings with the county. If you chose not to attend or get the information some other way, that does not mean nobody consulted you. It means you did not bother to participate. But then you can’t do that while hiding behind a fake name. No, the sitelines at Pollard are still bad. But now at least the cars turning onto Pollard will be more likely to do so at a reasonable speed. Pollard and the other side streets are residential streets, as is Walter Reed. You don’t need to go 50mph to move traffic.

  • PaperTiger

    They are removing the safety painted medians ?! Now cars will be slamming into planted medians and exploding! Save our painted medians (SOPM)!

  • BoredHouseWife

    Make a lane separate, with dividers, so one can sled down the super man hill :)

    • John Snyder

      Now that’s a good idea, especially with a ramp for a jump over Four Mile Run….

  • Rick

    It’ll be fun trying to turn my jeep around a corner going downhill without tipping it or getting rear-ended. Thanks arlington

    • Bender

      Never fear Rick. Just run your tires up against the sharp turn, using the curb as a break, or simply drive over the corner. That’s what many people do, as you can tell from all the black tire scuff marks that quickly appear on these new curbs.

      • John Snyder

        Or why don’t you just slow down? If you can’t make the turn safely, you are going too fast, or you are such a poor driver that you do not belong behind the wheel. Your solution, to keep up your excessive speed onto a narrow residential street is foolish.

        • Rick

          Take it easy keyboard warrior. You ever try driving a jeep? And have you ever tried driving a jeep downhill and around a corner? No matter how fast you’re going its not fun

          • speonjosh

            So complain to Jeep.

            But actually, your comment seems counterintuitive – I thought Jeep was supposed to be a pioneer of off-road driving – four wheel drive and all that. SHould be able to handle a downhill turn, shouldn’t it?

          • John Snyder

            If you can’t turn safely, then you should get another vehicle or drive this one slower.

        • Bender

          Do you really see people making 90-degree turns, whatever the degree of curve on the corner, at 50 miles per hour? Even with the most graduated corner, a person is going to flip over at that speed.

          Having a slight curve to the corner in order to better negotiate the turn might increase speed one or two mph at most, as opposed to a sharp right-angle, which requires a motorist to practically come to a full stop, even where there is no stop sign or light, in order to make the turn, given that even vehicles with the tightest turning ability cannot turn on a dime.

          Such excessively sharp right-angle corners are actually more dangerous, increasing the likelihood of rear-end collisions, as well as damage to tires, wheels, and hubs from colliding with the corner-curb.

          • John Snyder

            I just made that turn this morning. No problem at all. What is unsafe is cars and SUVs careening around corners onto residential streets at excessive speeds.

          • charlie

            JS: I think what Bender is saying is that you are being a little dramatic. No, actually, very dramatic. It isn’t possible to make any of those turns at 50. Go ahead and try.

          • Rick

            John Snyder suggested I was going high rates of speed around corners. He made an incorrect assumption. If I go too fast, I will flip. I know this. The other danger is people slowing down to a low low low low speed increases my chances of getting rear ended by a car going downhill. I think I will drive over the curb from now on though, I just got new tires

          • Bender

            Have you ever seen a long truck or bus making a turn? It ain’t so easy.

            Given that only one set of wheels turn on a four-wheel vehicle, such that a pivot-turn is impossible, and the vehicle must instead necessary curve when turning, in order to make these excessively sharp right turns, people are going to have to do one of two things so that the back tires will clear the curb. They will either — (1) compensate by over-turning briefly into the on-coming lane or (2) begin the turn from the far-left of the lane, so as to be able to turn with the curving motion that is necessary. Meanwhile, they will at times need to come to a full-stop before making the turn, increasing the likelihood of being rear-ended.

            And if the road you are turning onto has had the lanes narrowed, you might even see some people in the opposite lane being side-swiped. To prevent that, the stop line in the opposite lane will need to be set back away from the intersection, making it harder for those drivers to see traffic coming down the hill.

            But all this is par for the course as part of Arlington’s intentional policy of making driving as inconvenient and cumbersome as possible.

          • John Snyder

            Charlie, many cars going down the hill do so at 50mph; the turns onto Quincy are at lower speeds, but still too fast for a residential street. This will slow them down.

          • Rick

            John, you’re missing half my original point still. You have yet to acknowledge the fact this increases the chances of a turning vehicle being rear-ended

          • charlie

            JS, if anyone is going down the hill at 50, this is NOT going to change that. not sure who told you it would, but it won’t. the hill if fast.
            i hope zimmerman is paying you a ton of money to be his frontman on this.

  • charlie

    i look forward to a planted median with trees that will wither and die.
    i look forward to the pedestrian crossing at pollard being even more obscured than it is today as it is in broad open area and you still can’t see pedestrians.
    and JSnyder, i’m not speeding. i just put the car in neutral and let mother nature decide how fast i should get down the hill. i can’t imagine that my car in neutral could go in excess of a speed limit — unless of course the speed limit is too low….

    • Meade

      First Meade street now Walter Reed Drive. Save our slip lanes

      • Funny

        Boo.

    • speonjosh

      Dang, charlie, why not let go of the wheel, too? Let Mother Nature decide where you go.

      • charlie

        i think that would be God.

        • Rick

          there’s a carrie underwood song about that

    • Runaway Train

      “The Charlie doth protest and replies too much, methinks.”

      • charlie

        i don’t believe that there are any guidelins on ARLNOW for restraining your opinion.
        I don’t like over-zealous civic association representatives pretending to know transportation planning issues and then forcing it down the throat of the community as a whole.
        if you bought a house on Walter Reed (and I doubt any of the people who live on Walter Reed would disagree) then they are responsible for their own decisions.
        The issue is a community wants to make a road less desirable to commuters. But so do the people along 395 and George Mason. Were exactly are all these commuters going to go?
        The street will at least look pretty but will still contain the same volume of cars and most will still go at the same speed.
        the only looser in this is the Arlington community which has to shell out for this self-congratulatory project of one tiny little civic association.

        • Funny

          The people who show up make the rules. I guess you didn’t show up Charlie. Quite complaining and participate.

  • Newtdog73

    Having lived in a few states prior to VA, I can tell you the major differences that I have notice in regards to driving.

    One, The rolling “right” turn at red lights when pedestrians have the “walk” is really bad around here. This is especially bad at the corner or Arlington Mill and Walter Reed and South Wakefield and Walter Reed.

    Two, I think people generally drive to fast because they come from 95/66/7/395 to “pick any road” and want to continue going 65-70 MPH.

    But at least we don’t live in MD! They are the worst ever…..

    • http://www.exactcom.com.au/proofs/KombiPics/Wrecks/bayBushOvergrown.jpg Overgrown Bush

      Actually, the problem is that most drivers around here value their time more than someone else’s time (or in some cases someone else’s life). It is more important for some to get home to catch the opening of The Bachelor than it is for a woman walking her child through a crosswalk to get to the other side.

      • Bluemontsince1961

        Exactly, Overgrown Bush. I’ve seen a lot of close calls and been the victim of several. Some of these crazies just missed me by “that much.” Some of these characters must have learned to drive at Honest Yamamoto’s Kamikaze Driving School”. But the most dangerous are the characters texting/cell phoning/fiddling with their electronic gadgets. When getting into the car to drive, turn off all the d@mn electronics, put them away and wait until arriving at the destination to get them. The boss, the office, little Johnny, little Mary, Hubby, Wifey, whothehellever can wait. Don’t risk one’s own life and the lives of others. Though like you said many drivers here only value their own time, their own world.

        • http://www.exactcom.com.au/proofs/KombiPics/Wrecks/bayBushOvergrown.jpg Overgrown Bush

          For me, distracted driving is more dangerous than drunk driving. If you are looking at a cell phone screen you are not looking at the road at all. I see so many people, many of them young and business people, texting while driving. There should be jail time associated with any accident caused by this. When I get on the highways around here, I have actually seen people reading a newspaper or book while going down 395! They just prop it up on the steering wheel and multi-task at 65 mph. God forbid a text comes in while they are reading.

          • Bluemontsince1961

            You nailed it, Overgrown Bush! I’ve seen people reading a book of the paper while driving; I’ve seen man shaving while driving and women putting on makeup while driving. I’ve seen the exact highway multitasking you’re talking about and several close calls I’ve experienced have been due to another driver being distracted. Sadly, I’ve seen pedestrians texting/messing with their electronics/boogeying with their headphones/ear buds on step into the street without looking or even checking to see if they have a walk light on! They won’t see someone coming and probably would hear a car or even a warning horn! Even a seen a few cyclists with their headphones/ear buds on, and I wonder if they can hear when a car is coming up behind them!

  • SSARLBRG

    THANK GOD. I was getting tired off stepping over dead bodies.

  • http://www.exactcom.com.au/proofs/KombiPics/Wrecks/bayBushOvergrown.jpg Overgrown Bush

    I first moved to Arlington 40 years ago. Walter Reed hasn’t changed too horribly much since then. What has changed is the quality and quantity of the drivers and pedestrians. A change is probably needed, but it isn’t because of the intersection being dangerous.

    • Josh S

      You hit the nail on the head. It IS the people involved that make these intersections problematic. But you can’t legislate behavior, now can you? This is exactly what traffic engineering attempts to influence, using the hard, cold realities of the physical world. Bump outs, etc are specifically designed to slow people down. Why people complain about that on this forum or anywhere else is a bit puzzling to me. It’s like complaining that skunks stink. Yes, they are supposed to.

  • Debbie

    I live on Four Mile Run and can’t wait for these improvements – crossing Four Mile Run minor with the slip lane is terrifying, no matter how carefully one looks up the hill and tries to discern whether any of the cars on the way down might be planning to turn right at the bottom of the hill – and driving down the hill and trying to see whether any pedestrians are halfway across the slip lane is not much better.

    As for rear end accidents –the speed limit on the hill is 30, and there is a stop light at the turn – shouldn’t people be able to stop? Isn’t that what brake lights are for?

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