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New Wilson Boulevard Traffic Lights Should Turn On Soon

by Katie Pyzyk February 2, 2012 at 1:30 pm 4,181 44 Comments

(Updated at 1:50 p.m.) The long-awaited unveiling of the new traffic signals on Wilson Boulevard at N. Pollard Street should be happening soon. In fact, they should be working before the start of the weekend.

The lights were installed a couple of months ago, but have remained covered up. Concerned about pedestrian safety, some residents have been emailing ARLnow.com to ask when the lights would begin functioning. One reader compared crossing the intersection to maneuvering through a video game.

“Too many people play ‘Frogger’ at night trying to go to and from the Gold’s Gym,” the reader wrote.

Arlington Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Shannon Whalen McDaniel said the county’s installation of the lights has been completed, and Dominion Virginia Power just needs to supply electricity. Dominion tells us the lights should be turned on either today or tomorrow, barring any unforeseen circumstances.

Today a crew was at the intersection repairing the sidewalk that had been torn up to install the lights.


  • James

    The intersection at Wilson and Danville is just as bad. There is a light and X-Walk at almost every intersection up Wilson yet they left this one off for some reason. There use to be a X-Walk there but it faded and was never replaced.

    I’ve seen so many people almost get run over at this intersection near the Good Foods/Comcast building there coming from the neighborhood and going over to WholeFoods or Starbucks. And getting across Wilson in a car there is just as dangerous. What’s even sillier is on the other side of Danville and Clarendon, they HAVE a X-Walk…makes no sense.

    • James

      And to clarify I’m talking about a X-Walk across Wilson, not across Danville.

      This is the intersection…the WP asked for problem areas years ago in Arlington.


    • veeta

      I’m absolutely pro-pedestrian (I am one!), but I fail to understand why people can’t walk the one short block to the existing intersection and insist on jaywalking here instead. There is a light at Edgewood and a ped crossing near Cleveland. I see your point on the cars though–they have it tough unless they choose to go a safer route.

      • Clarendon

        It isn’t jaywalking to cross at any intersection across a street with a speed limit of 35mph or less. The same law applies whether or not there is a marked crosswalk. At least that is how I read the code reproduced below:

        § 46.2-924. Drivers to stop for pedestrians; installation of certain signs; penalty.

        A. The driver of any vehicle on a highway shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian crossing such highway:

        1. At any clearly marked crosswalk, whether at mid-block or at the end of any block;

        2. At any regular pedestrian crossing included in the prolongation of the lateral boundary lines of the adjacent sidewalk at the end of a block;

        3. At any intersection when the driver is approaching on a highway or street where the legal maximum speed does not exceed 35 miles per hour.

        B. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection A of this section, at intersections or crosswalks where the movement of traffic is being regulated by law-enforcement officers or traffic control devices, the driver shall yield according to the direction of the law-enforcement officer or device.

        No pedestrian shall enter or cross an intersection in disregard of approaching traffic.

        The drivers of vehicles entering, crossing, or turning at intersections shall change their course, slow down, or stop if necessary to permit pedestrians to cross such intersections safely and expeditiously.

        Pedestrians crossing highways at intersections shall at all times have the right-of-way over vehicles making turns into the highways being crossed by the pedestrians.

        C. The governing body of Arlington County, Fairfax County, the City of Fairfax, the County of Loudoun and any town therein, and the City of Alexandria, may by ordinance provide for the installation and maintenance of highway signs at marked crosswalks specifically requiring operators of motor vehicles, at the locations where such signs are installed, to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians crossing or attempting to cross the highway. Any operator of a motor vehicle who fails at such locations to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians as required by such signs shall be guilty of a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of no less than $100 or more than $500. The Commonwealth Transportation Board shall develop criteria for the design, location, and installation of such signs. The provisions of this section shall not apply to any limited access highway.

        • agreed

          There’s also an existing cross walk at that intersection that all the drivers choose to ignore – the stripes must be for aesthetics I assume.

          • veeta

            It may not be jaywalking, but as a walker (I hardly ever drive), I do try to cut drivers some slack at problematic intersections when I can walk like 20 feet and cross safely.
            I was more referring to people who run out into the street in between parked cars–which is especially dangerous for cyclists.

          • Clarendon

            Yes, to cross mid-block (not at intersection) legally, you need a marked crosswalk. Coming out from between parked cars is particularly dangerous.

            The history of the term “jaywalking” is pretty interesting:


        • thecharlesriver

          It also says:

          No pedestrian shall enter or cross an intersection in disregard of approaching traffic.

          • Clarendon

            It also says

            The drivers of vehicles entering, crossing, or turning at intersections shall change their course, slow down, or stop if necessary to permit pedestrians to cross such intersections safely and expeditiously.

            What’s the point in reproducing what it says one clause at a time ? Its all up there ^

      • James

        There USE to be a X walk at that intersection across all 4 lanes…not just the side ones. Then when they repaved it, they never put the one across Wilson back.

        If you look at the picture, there are actual spots on the sidewalk that curve down for wheel chairs to cross there…again there use to be a set of lines there.

        The cars have it even worse since they can’t even see half the time because of parked cars along Wilson there. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.

        In terms of walking one short block..it’s really about why are there X-walks everywhere else up and down Wilson but at this on intersection? Doesn’t make any sense.

        • Maria

          When did they repave it? The last time I crossed Wilson there (which I don’t think was TOO long ago, but I could be wrong), there was a marked crosswalk.

          • James

            That was years ago…probably like 7+ at least. I’ve been working right in the building next to it since 1999.

            There’s even an X-Walk a block up across from Earl’s Sandwich shop and even one across from Five Guys…so no clue how a main intersection doesn’t have a pedestrian X-Walk across a busy road.

      • Virginia^2

        As others have pointed out, there is a crosswalk, and Virginia law requires that drivers stop for pedestrians. HOWEVER, I think that your point still stands – it is a one-block inconvenience for gym members coming from the Clarendon direction to cross at the light.

        It’s a little ridiculous that there are lights at every little side street… but, admittedly, a turn onto Wilson from that street is dangerous because it is at a curve and street parking reduces visibility.

        • Grandarch

          I think folks are still talking about Wilson and Pollard, not the Danville intersection. At Pollard, it’s actually a small block. There’s a street that goes on the other side of the Gold’s Gym. Also, for a car turning from Pollard onto Wilson it’s getting very difficult to make a turn there – at least during morning and evening rush hour. Turning left or going straight is nearly impossible and shouldn’t be done there – it’s a good 5 minute wait if the car in front of you is doing anything but turning right. Even turning right, though, it can be messy. I often need to turn right and get into the left lane to turn onto quincy, and it’s just very iffy trying to get across two lanes of traffic when cars are flying through. If on top of it you have pedestrians, you definitely need the light.

          • KRS

            Yep. If I need to go eastbound on Wilson, I never approach that intersection to turn left. I go down 9th to Oakland and then use that light to turn left. And right turns are quite difficult too, particularly in the evening rush because of the curve, lots of pedestrians, and most everyone going 35. This light is very much needed for a dangerous intersection.

  • shugga shugga

    i crossed an X-rated X-walk on X-mas at the X-games

  • Don

    Here’s hoping Wilson & Wakefield is not far behind. I sometimes wonder if these non-functional lights create danger via confusion.

    • DarkHeart

      They could repaint those curvy lane markers while they’re at it. You feel like you’re playing chicken with oncoming traffic.

  • Implant

    Nice, now i can cut through there to go from Fairfax to Pershing and don’t have to drive all the way up to Monroe.

  • charlie

    i just like to see the lights timed.
    it drives me nuts that the light at the Courthouse Metro crossing of Clarendon and Wilson is always OFF creating such back-ups. Forces me to bail out and go Key Blvd because I’m afraid of how long it will take.
    Synch those lights baby.

    • JamesE

      The timing of that intersection is comical. One turns green then the other turns red.

    • Burger

      That is the major issue. Most of the lights are not synced. I can already see what is going to happen when this light is turned on. The light at Pollard will turn green just as the quincy turns red.

      • Bluemontsince1961

        Yep, I’ve noticed the same thing.

      • Zoning Victim

        It’s probably no accident that they’re timed that way; traffic planners use light timings like that to either slow traffic or control backups at another intersection down the road, but I certainly understand the frustration of hitting light after light.

  • DarkHeart

    Why does N. Manchester continue on the North side of Wilson Eight Blocks West of where it connected to Wilson on the South?

    • bobco85

      My best guess is the naming system. On the North side of Wilson Blvd., there are Larrimore, Liberty, Livingston, Lebanon, (Patrick Henry is one of those streets like Glebe that does not follow the naming system), Longfellow, Madison, Montana, and McKinley streets where Manchester would fit in (all 3 syllable words and mostly in alphabetical order).

      Of course, there is also the fact that Arlington Mill Road throws everything off. It makes more sense if you know that Four Mile Run is improperly named. Its original name was Flour Mill Run, but as the story goes, an old sign with the name “Flour Mill Run” was worn away and misinterpreted as Four Mile Run. Case in point, the stream runs a lot farther than 4 miles (it’s at least 7). [cue “The More You Know” song]

  • Back

    I’m curious to see how this all turns out. If you are going down Wilson from Clarendon towards Ballston this light comes up fairly quickly out of nowhere because it’s around a slight curve. I’m curious to see how many idiots who are speeding down that road don’t see the light in time and either run it or slam on their brakes last second when they see the red light. It should be fun to watch.

    • Andrew

      Pretty sure the speedl limit is 25 or 30 so you should have plenty of time to stop if you aren’t speeding…

      • Back

        Thus why I said, “I’m curious to see how many idiots who are speeding…”

  • Ren

    I’d really like to know why it took so long to turn the lights on – that would be an investigative reporting coup.

    • Andrew

      My wife spoke to some guys working on the lights a week or so go. They told her it was because after the lights were installed, the county board had to approve them being turned on by Dominion. Not sure if that is true or not.

  • charlie

    why no “related articles” like this one:

    as a driver i find this are very confusing at night. please be careful.

    as a walker, i’m scared to death because i know how hard it is to see

  • thecharlesriver

    Just what the county needs….another traffic light to logjam traffic.

    • yerp

      Just what this board needs . . . another comment that brings nothing to the table.

      • thecharlesriver

        I guess that includes you then. I would much rather bring “nothing to the table” than be a moronic hypocrite.

      • thecharlesriver

        Better than being a hypocrite. Look at your post.

        • yerp

          Sure, sure. All your comments are just the same though, on every thread.

          • thecharlesriver

            Actually they are not. But who appointed you the board police?

      • thecharlesriver

        And thanks for letting us know that YOU define “the table.”

  • ArlBallston

    One thing that drives me nuts is people who don’t use crosswalks properly. I have no problem with this light – and I drive Wilson into Ballston for work every morning, but please obey the crosswalk signals. I feel like I’m playing Mario Kart driving home from work on Fairfax some nights. There are so many crosswalks and no one ever slows down – even though those people could walk 15 feet to the light to cross, they instead just dart into traffic without looking. Then people treat the lights as crosswalks (ie, crossing on red) when really they need to wait for the green light. I use crosswalks often at lunchtime but I am not stupid about it – I don’t expect everyone to slow down or even to be able to see me standing there. Common sense, people!

    • thecharlesriver

      It’s a combination of lack of common sense and sheer arrogance. Suburban upper-middle class types who don’t know how to act in an urban environment. Nor do they care.

      • Yerp

        Speaking of arrogance . . . do you even read your own comments? I won’t say the “h” word, you’ve already devalued it.


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