Press Club

County Considers Lower Speeds Along Seven Corridors

Arlington County is considering lowering the speed limit along a number of corridors with lots of pedestrian activity.

On Saturday, the County Board will decide whether to authorize a public hearing next month to discuss and potentially approve the reductions, which would impact seven corridors throughout Arlington.

The proposals were generated from traffic studies conducted at the request of some citizens, staff and Arlington County Public Schools, according to a report. These studies looked at speeding and crash statistics as well as anticipated pedestrian and bicyclist activity and future projects, among other considerations.

Overall, the studies concluded that lower speed limits would help the county reach its new goal of zero transportation-related deaths and serious injuries by 2030, also known as Vision Zero. Two reductions along Army Navy Drive would also prepare drivers for an upcoming construction project that would rebuild the road to be more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, the report said.

“As part of the Streets Element of the Master Transportation Plan, a policy was established to design streets to generally favor lower vehicle speeds without impeding or diverting existing vehicle volumes,” the document said. “One of the implementation actions for that policy is the adoption of lower speed limits for arterial streets on which there are high volumes of pedestrian crossings and higher density land development.”

The studies recommend lowering the speed limit along Army Navy Drive from S. Joyce Street to 12th Street S. from 35 to 25 miles per hour.

Speed limits on six other road segments would be lowered from 30 to 25 miles per hour:

The project to rebuild Army Navy Drive as a “Complete Street” is in its final design and review phases, according to the county. During construction, the county is recommending a reduced speed along Army Navy Drive of 25 miles per hour. Making the change now would get drivers accustomed to the change, the document said.

“Significant roadway enhancements are included in this project, so to decrease the speed at the onset of construction would provide for a safer work zone for workers and roadway users and support the expectation of lower speeds once the project is completed,” the report said.

The Army Navy Drive project is intended to improve local connections between the Pentagon and the surrounding commercial, residential and retail services by reducing the number of lanes and their width, enhancing pedestrian and cycling activity, and improving transit facilities.

The studies also found that along all seven corridors, “the majority of motorists are comfortable driving within 5 mph of the existing posted speed limit and the proposed decreased speed limit of 25 mph.” Lower speed limits can help accommodate new development and more robust transit infrastructure in the future, the studies suggest.

These changes would cost about $1,500 per corridor to purchase and install new speed limit signs, for a total of $10,500.

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