“We’ve seen too many accidents here. Think [before] you cross!”
So reads signs recently placed on Little Falls Road, at the crash-prone intersection with Old Dominion Drive, below signs restricting traffic to right turns only during rush hour. A few yards from the signs, around lunchtime Friday, was yet another crash.
The two-vehicle, T-bone crash involving an SUV and a minivan resulted in at least one vehicle occupant, a young woman who was visibly shaken, being evaluated by medics. A young girl appeared to have been riding in a car seat in the minivan at the time but was uninjured.
“It’s always this intersection here,” a police officer directing traffic could be heard saying to a passerby.
Friday’s crash was the eleventh so far this year at Old Dominion and Little Falls, according to Arlington County Police Department data. By comparison, there were 14 crashes there during all of 2019 and 13 throughout 2018.
Locals have long known the intersection — with no stop for Old Dominion traffic and limited sightlines for Little Falls traffic — to be dangerous, so much so that three years ago a 13-year-old took it upon himself to start a petition for safety changes, ultimately leading to the rush hour restrictions. Though the restrictions have been in place for a year, the crashes have not slowed down.
A wreck in May sent an SUV careening over the sidewalk and into the front yard of a home in the corner. No injuries were reported. A subsequent ARLnow morning poll found that more than 70% of respondents think a four-way stop or a traffic signal should be installed at the intersection.
There was another two-vehicle crash at the intersection on Monday, though it’s not clear whether it actually occurred in the intersection.
No additional changes are currently planned for the intersection, though some may be forthcoming — eventually.
Arlington County officials tell ARLnow that VDOT has applied for grant funding for the intersection on the county’s behalf, a process that might take some time.
“This intersection continues to pose safety challenges, and has been investigated by our Transportation Engineering and Operations (TE&O) staff,” said Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey. “As the intersection is under VDOT control, we’ve applied to the VDOT STARS (Strategically Targeted Affordable Roadway Solutions) program for grant funding.”
Hui Wang, Arlington’s Transportation Engineering and Operations Bureau Chief, said the state grant would help fund a study that will then provide recommendations for safety changes.
“If approved, VDOT has a group conducting comprehensive review of all aspects with community engagement included,” Wang said.
Garvey said she has also asked about “interim solutions.”
“I’ve asked our staff for a briefing to better understand the situation and, if there are any further interim solutions to pursue, I’m hopeful we can advanced them,” she said.