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After crash, neighbors again concerned about intersection near Lubber Run Community Center

N. Park Drive and N. George Mason Drive intersection near Lubber Run Community Center (image via Google Maps)

(Updated, 4:55 p.m.) A recent crash has renewed concerns about an intersection near the year-old Lubber Run Community Center.

For years, the intersection of N. Park Drive and N. George Mason Drive in the Arlington Forest neighborhood has been a source of worry for neighbors. The mix of speeding, four lanes, and a lack of a traffic signal have resulted in too many vehicle crashes, residents told ARLnow.

There have been 19 crashes at the intersection dating back to 2017, per data provided to ARLnow by the county’s Department of Environmental Services (DES). That includes one pedestrian-involved crash in 2018. None of the crashes resulted “in severe injury,” DES said.

A crash near the intersection of N. Park Drive and N. George Mason Drive (photo courtesy of David Hartogs)

But since the new Lubber Run Community Center opened in July 2021, the problem has only gotten worse. Nearly half of those crashes have happened in just the past 19 months, statistics from the Arlington County Police Department show.

That includes another crash earlier this week.

The county did add Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs) at the intersection in late 2020 as part of a transportation study related to the community center project.

“The intersection so far has not been identified as part of the Vision Zero High-Injury Network corridor or Hot Spot program,” DES said.

But this has not alleviated neighbors’ concerns. There’s a considerable worry that with increased pedestrian traffic, plus with Barrett Elementary School also nearby, it’s just a matter of time before a driver hits another pedestrian.

In other parts of the county, preventing pedestrian and bicyclists-involved crashes has been a significant ongoing concern amid a continued series of tragedies.

David Hartogs, who has lived in the townhomes across the street since 2005, told ARLnow he’s witnessed a “handful of crashes” and has heard at least another dozen at the intersection just over the last few years.

He recounted several of the crashes that stick in his mind most to ARLnow, including a car jumping a curb last spring, two accidents that resulted in vehicles ending up in the woods, and even a school bus “brushing” a motorcycle last November.

A school bus “brushing” a motorcycle at the intersection of N. Park Drive and N. George Mason Drive (photo courtesy of David Hartogs)

Earlier this week, Hartogs saw another crash and tweeted about his concern. As he noted on social media, he believes that there needs to be a traffic signal at that intersection and not just an RRFB.

He walks his kids to school and often thinks about their safety crossing that intersection.

“My fear is, especially with two kids at the elementary school, is that a kid is going to hit,” he said. “You have a lot more kids crossing the street and going to the community center now. So, it’s really pretty scary.”

Hartogs isn’t the only neighbor worried about the safety of that intersection and wants the county to look into more safety measures.

“For many years, Arlington Forest residents have had concerns about traffic safety at the intersection of George Mason Drive and Park Drive,” Esther Bowring, president of Arlington Forest Citizens Association, wrote ARLnow in an email. “Following the construction of the new Lubber Run Community Center, Arlington County’s addition of a pedestrian-activated flashing signal at that intersection was a welcome addition and appears to be working well for pedestrians and bicyclists.”

“However, in light of yesterday’s traffic collision, Arlington Forest supports another updated traffic study to assess whether other measures are needed to further enhance safety,” Bowring added.

Due to the intersection being near a school, DES told ARLnow that it is being reviewed as a part of the next round of school zone retrofits. This will include reducing the school-time speed limit to 20 miles per hour while other improvements will also be considered.

After the most recent crash and hearing about residents’ concerns, though, DES is promising to “investigate” further if the N. Park Drive and N. George Mason intersection is in need of more safety measures. In addition to the danger of speeding vehicles striking those on foot, drivers crossing George Mason in either direction, coming to and from the popular community center, have to navigate a Frogger-like challenge of finding an opening in the traffic on the busy four-lane artery.

“Staff will also investigate this intersection to see if or what additional treatments are needed to improve safety,” DES said.

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