Students and commuters around Arlington can expect some significant traffic changes this school year, Arlington Public Schools officials say.
Fifteen new buses, along with new crosswalks and streetlights, are among the changes expected in the new school year, which is set to start in two weeks for most students.
The changes center around two new Arlington schools — in Rosslyn and Arlington Heights — and the renovated former home of H-B Woodlawn (now a middle school) in Cherrydale.
The Heights Building accommodate students from H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program as well as the newly-renamed Shriver Program for students with special needs. With more than 700 students now commuting to Rosslyn on a daily basis, APS is working to make sure traffic keeps flowing and students stay safe near the school at 1601 Wilson Blvd.
“All buses will load and unload behind the school on 18th Street, which will be closed to general traffic,” APS spokesman Frank Bellavia said. “During the day, there will also be an increase in pedestrian traffic as students leave campus for during the school day.”
H-B Woodlawn and Shriver students used to travel from across the county to attend class in their old school building at 4100 Vacation Lane, now renamed and rebuilt as the Dorothy Hamm Middle School. Now that they’re gone, the middle school students who will take over will be from the neighborhood around the school, and will likely arrive earlier in the morning.
“Now that it is a neighborhood middle school, commuters and residents can expect more students walking to and from school in the early morning hours,” said Bellavia.
The county has taken several steps to keep these neighborhood kids who walk to school safe, including:
- Adding a traffic light at the school driveway at Old Dominion Drive, and message signs on Old Dominion warning drivers of the new light.
- Two crossing guards at the intersections of Nelly Custis Drive and Military Road, and Lee Highway and N. Quincy Street and Military Road.
- Flashing school zone signs on Lorcom Lane, Old Dominion Drive, and Military Road reminding drivers to slow down.
At the “five points” intersection of Military Road, Vacation Lane, and Lorcom Lane near the school, Bellevia says APS worked with the county’s Dept. of Environmental Services to make several changes this year, like:
- Painting a “high visibility” crosswalk at the intersection of Lorcom Lane and Vacation Lane.
- Reducing the crossing distance for students at the intersection of Military Road and Vacation Lane by bumping out the curbs, and adding striped crosswalks.
- Adding a bin with red flags pedestrians can pick up and wave when crossing both intersections — a method the county is also using in Westover.
The new Alice West Fleet Elementary School, where classes start at 9 a.m., is opening on the Thomas Jefferson Middle School campus at 125 S. Old Glebe Road. Middle school classes start at 7:50 a.m.
Because of the varying class start time, Bellavia cautions drivers to watch out for students crossing at 1st Road S. and Old Glebe, and 2nd Street S. and Old Glebe. He also noted that buses will be arriving in the area in the mornings until 9 a.m. and departing in the afternoon until 4 p.m.
APS says drivers can also expect increased Arlington County Police presence in the first month of school, as well as crossing guards to help students cross busy intersections, like 2nd Street S. and Old Glebe. Officers will be enforcing 25 mph school zones speed limits with traffic stops, APS said.
We want to let you know about changes in traffic patterns & student transportation on our roads. Safety is our top priority and we are working closely with our partners in @ArlingtonVA to ensure safe routes around our schools. https://t.co/n3dkYHtG6l @DHMiddleAPS @RosslynVA
— Arlington Public Schools (@APSVirginia) August 20, 2019
Photo and video via Arlington Public Schools