As the county continues to move forward with its Cherrydale Lee Highway Revitalization Program, the Cherrydale Citizens Association (CCA) is voicing strong disapproval with changes to traffic patterns at the “Five Points Intersection.”
The Cherrydale Lee Highway Revitalization Program is part of the county’s overall plan to foster a safer, more aesthetically-pleasing, and pedestrian-friendly Arlington. In its efforts to enhance the Five Points Intersection — where westbound Lee Highway splits into Old Dominion Drive and Old Lee Highway as it crosses N. Quincy Street and Military Road — the county has made a number of changes which Cherrydale residents say have made the intersection worse.
The CCA formed a Five Points Intersection Committee (FPIC) in the fall of 2011 and, according to CCA President Maureen Ross, the committee has been unanimous in their opposition to the proposed changes.
“Citizens who had never met each other all voiced the same conclusions when we met with Betty [Diggs, Arlington County Representative] and those conclusions were that every change we’ve made in the past two years have made the travel problems worse,” said in a PowerPoint presentation posted online in September 2012.
County engineers added a nub at the corner where Lee Highway intersects North Quincy Street. Though it was intended to help pedestrians, the FPIC alleges that it has resulted in restricting right-turn traffic from N. Quincy Street onto Lee Highway.
Additionally, the creation of a left-turn-only lane on northbound Quincy Street has forced cars into a single restricted right lane causing motorists to cut across 20th Street N. and into residential neighborhoods to avoid the bottleneck.
“They have narrowed how far you have to cross which makes it a better pedestrian experience but it’s still a miserable vehicular experience and it forces cars down pedestrian streets which isn’t good for anyone,” said Ross.
Last week, workers began construction on the intersection of Glebe Road and N. Fairfax Drive. The improvements are part of a pedestrian safety improvement project along Glebe Road that will spread to the Wilson Blvd and Carlin Springs Road intersections later this year.
The upgrades include installing new traffic signals, pedestrian crossing signals, street lights and trees. The intersections will also be reconfigured to improve safety. For example, the pedestrian “pork chop island” will be removed in front of Marymount University’s “Blue Goose” building, according to Tom Hutchings, Capital Project Manager with Arlington’s Department of Enviromental Services Division of Transportation.
“It tightens up the crossing distances at each intersection,” he said.
The red light camera that monitors northbound Glebe Road traffic at Fairfax Drive will remain in use during construction. Although the timing of the traffic lights will not change immediately, it will be evaluated later and tweaked as necessary.
“The timing is continually analyzed with every project we do,” Hutchings said. “It will be studied upon completion of the new lane geometry to optimize the intersection.”
The new traffic lights that were strung over the intersection last week are temporary; the permanent lights will be mounted on upgraded poles with mast arms. The previous poles were based on standards from the 1970s and did not meet the electronic wiring and mast arm standards in the current codes.
The improvements at the three intersections are part of a $2.5 million VDOT project that is locally administered by Arlington County. About 80 percent of the funding comes from federal and state sources, and about 20 percent comes from the county.
Although a number of pedestrian-vehicle accidents have occurred along this stretch of Glebe Road in recent years, such as the deadly cab accident last July, the intersections have been the subject of extensive studies since 2000.
“It is precipitated from acknowledgement of the high level of pedestrian activity in the area,” Hutchings said. “It’s to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety along Glebe Road where a lot of development has occurred over the past 10 years, and pedestrian use of Glebe Road has increased.”
According to Hutchings, the addition of a bike lane for eastbound cyclists on Fairfax Drive occurred during an earlier phase of this project, as did the installation of traffic lights last year at N. 9th Street and N. Vermont Street.
Work on the Fairfax Drive intersection is expected to be finished by mid-June. The Wilson Blvd. intersection should be completed in August, and Carlin Springs in October.
County Board Candidates Debate — The three candidates for Arlington County Board — two incumbent Democrats and one Green Party challenger — answered questions at the Civic Federation candidates forum last night. The Democrats, Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada, spoke generally about the advantages of living in Arlington, while challenger Audrey Clement sharply criticized the County Board as being “in bed with developers.” [Sun Gazette]
Unopposed Candidate Roundup — Six Democrats who are running unopposed for local offices also spoke at last night’s candidates forum. [Sun Gazette]
7-Eleven Move Causes Disruptions — Who knew that one 7-Eleven store (out of 24 in Arlington) can have such a significant impact on a community? After a store in the Williamsburg Shopping Center moved closer to the East Falls Church Metro, daily routines were disrupted and other businesses in the shopping center withered. “7-11 may have a fine national strategy, but it sends ripples around localities, affecting livelihoods as well as routines beyond mere convenience,” writes columnist Charlie Clark. Luckily, the store is now moving back to Williamsburg. [Falls Church News-Press]
Redesign Suggestion for Dangerous Rosslyn Intersection — Greater Greater Washington proposes a possible way to enhance pedestrian safety at the dangerous intersection of Lynn Street and Lee Highway, while also (possibly) improving traffic flow. [Greater Greater Washington]
Over the past couple of weeks, people have been noticing mysterious, concealed video cameras mounted on lamp posts along Columbia Pike.
Some residents thought they were ingenious surveillance cameras in place for the 9-11 anniversary. Others thought they were part of some shady dealings, and called police to investigate.
In reality, however, the cameras are merely being used by Arlington County to monitor traffic patterns at intersections. According to Arlington Traffic Engineering and Operations Chief Wayne Wentz:
These are video cameras that are temporarily in place to collect intersection data. The videos will be viewed in the office and technicians will create vehicle turning movement counts. These data will be used for our periodic (every three years) traffic signal optimization effort.
As of yesterday evening, three cameras were in place at the intersections of Columbia Pike and S. Courthouse Road, S. Scott Street and S. Quinn Street.
The Arlington Bike Advisory Committee is holding a site visit and safety discussion at the intersection of Lynn Street and Lee Highway in Rosslyn tonight.
The meeting is being held following a number of recent bicycle/vehicle collisions at the intersection, which serves vehicles exiting I-66 and approaching Key Bridge, as well as cyclists and pedestrians on the Custis Trail.
“Arlington County staff will be on hand to explain and discuss future plans to improve the intersection,” according to organizers.
Anyone interested in attending the site visit is asked to show up at the northeast corner of Gateway Park, near the intersection, at 6:30 p.m. The gathering will move to the Continental lounge around 7:15 p.m., organizers say.
Lee Highway McDonald’s Remains Closed – The McDonald’s at 4834 Lee Highway was still closed yesterday. An electrical fire broke out in the restaurant’s basement Saturday morning.
Arlington’s Most Accident-Prone Intersections — Following up on our Arlington’s Most Dangerous On-Ramps article, TBD has come out with a list of Arlington’s Most Dangerous Intersections, courtesy of data from the police department. The most dangerous intersection? Route 50 and Southbound Washington Boulevard, with 113 accidents. [TBD]
Brink Wins Passage of Inspector General Bill — An anti-fraud bill co-sponsored by Arlington Del. Bob Brink has won final approval in the Virginia legislature. The bill, HB 2076, will establish a statewide Office of Inspector General “to combat fraud, waste, abuse or corruption in state-funded agencies.” It must now be signed into law by Gov. Bob McDonnell. [Richmond Sunlight]
Cuccinelli Examines Fraud Case Against Donor — A man who gave $55,000 to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s 2009 campaign may be prosecuted by Cuccinelli for fraud. An investigation by Virginia’s consumer services department determined that the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, which has been accused of diverting money intended for veterans charities, solicited $2 million from Virginians under false pretenses. The head of the group, who donated to Cuccinelli’s campaign, is currently at large. Retiring state Sen. Patsy Ticer sponsored legislation intended to help the group last year, then urged Gov. Bob McDonnell to veto it after she read about the fraud allegations. [Washington Post]
To be sure, the intersection at North Quincy Street and 9th Street in Ballston is challenging, for both cars and pedestrians. But is it dangerous?
The intersection is a two-way stop, with stop signs on 9th Street but clear sailing on Quincy. Those on foot crossing Quincy must trust that fast-moving cars are going to obey the law and yield to them in the crosswalk. Those behind the wheel on 9th Street during rush hour must play a real-life game of Frogger, dodging pedestrians and cars in their effort to make a left or cross the street.
“I wrote to Arlington County [a]while ago about this intersection and they mentioned that it did not need a traffic light or four-way stop,” one concerned citizen tells us. “However, it is still extremely dangerous and should have something to make it safer.”
In an email viewed by ARLnow.com, a county traffic engineer insists that “an all-way stop condition is not recommended at this location.” The engineer said a “yield to pedestrians” sign had been installed to “raise awareness of pedestrian activity at the intersection.”
“I guess someone has to get hit for them to do something,” our concerned citizen said.