County looks to curb crashes caused by fast left turns with new pilot program

This spring, drivers may notice the county testing out a new road treatment to reduce speeding through left turns.

In the next month or two, the county will start installing small raised bumps called hardened centerlines along the yellow centerline at five local intersections. That’s according to Christine Baker, who coordinates Arlington’s Vision Zero efforts, which aim to eliminate road deaths and serious injuries by 2030.

Hardened centerlines are designed to make intersections safer for pedestrians by encouraging drivers to make wider, “safer and more predictable” left turns at slower speeds, without reducing traffic capacity, per an explainer for the pilot. Another goal is to increase the visibility of pedestrians in crosswalks.

Drivers will find the centerlines at five intersections that were chosen through crash hot spot reviews and other crash analyses showing these locations experience noticeable left-turn crash patterns, the county says.

The intersections — and the number of serious and fatal crashes they have seen between 2013-2023 — are:

  • Clarendon Blvd at N. Rhodes Street, between Courthouse and Rosslyn (three four severe-injury crashes, including three involving pedestrians)
  • Fairfax Drive at N. Randolph Street, in Ballston (six severe-injury crashes, equally split among pedestrian and angle crashes)
  • Columbia Pike at S. Dinwiddie Street, near Arlington Mill (26 severe-injury crashes and one fatal crash, including 10 pedestrian crashes and nine angle crashes)
  • Columbia Pike at S. Four Mile Run Drive, near Barcroft (a fatal pedestrian crash in 2019)
  • S. Kenmore Street at 24th Street S., in Green Valley (no data on critical and fatal crashes in the last decade)

“We are excited to be piloting new in-street centerline hardening devices in Arlington later this spring,” said a February Vision Zero newsletter announcing the pilot. “Hardened centerlines are a proven safety tool used to reduce turning speeds and increase visibility of pedestrians for turning motorists at intersections.”

Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services will install the devices and collect data over the course of spring. This summer, the county will monitor how road users take to the new devices and collect feedback from the community before evaluating next steps in the fall.

Similar devices have been installed at numerous intersections in D.C.

A new report on crash “hot spots” in Arlington, published this month, says centerline hardening is also coming to Langston Blvd and Fort Myer Drive, in Rosslyn.