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Arlington seeks input on Wilson Blvd intersection changes

Arlington County is looking to make safety upgrades to an intersection between Rosslyn and Courthouse that has seen four pedestrian-involved crashes in four years.

The intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Rhodes Street has long been seen as dicey, according to complaints from cyclists and commuters and previous ARLnow coverage. Resident complaints, plus a review of crash data, have prompted the county to make changes now.

The $2.8 million project would see updated signal equipment, sidewalks and pedestrian ramps and upgrades to reduce conflicts between cyclists and buses. The county is in the design stage of the project and wants community feedback on possible changes. An online survey is open now through Sunday, Oct. 22.

The intersection saw 28 total crashes between 2016 and 2020, including 22 resulting in property damage and four involving pedestrians, Dept. of Environmental Services spokesperson Claudia Pors told ARLnow. These numbers fast tracked the intersection for improvements as part of Vision Zero, the county’s goal to end serious and fatal crashes by 2030,

“[The intersection] was flagged as a pedestrian crash Hot Spot because it had more than 3 pedestrian crashes,” Pors said.

Pedestrians are especially vulnerable to crashes here “due to higher vehicle speeds during turning movements when pedestrians have the right of way in the crosswalks,” according to the county.

The intersection has seen several crashes over the years. A spate of three crashes occurred in 2010, including one involving a pedestrian. Another dramatic crash, including an SUV that flipped on its side, occurred in 2017.

Originally, the county planned to build a “bus stop island” at the northeast corner of the intersection to reduce the number of close calls between cyclists and buses. This particular bus stop ranks in the top 10% of transit stops in Arlington, exceeding 50 users per day, according to the county.

After reviewing the crash data and hearing from road users, however, county staff determined it made more sense to overhaul the entire intersection.

The survey asks respondents to identify whether they are residents or commuters and to specify their usual mode of transportation through the intersection. Participants are then invited to rate their sense of safety while navigating the area and to pinpoint potential improvements on an interactive map.

Some people who have already commented have suggested removing the right-turn lane onto Wilson Blvd and install a concrete median to separate cyclists and vehicles. Other ideas include relocating the bus stop to ease congestion and implementing traffic-calming measures.

The survey results will inform a conceptual design set for publication this winter for a second round of public engagement.

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