Preparations continue for planned traffic signal near Lubber Run Community Center

Arlington County aims to begin construction on a new traffic light at a crash-prone intersection near Barrett Elementary School this summer.

The county expects to complete the installation of the 4-way traffic signal — at N. Park Drive and N. George Mason Drive, in front of the Lubber Run Community Center — by the end of 2024. The intersection in the Arlington Forest neighborhood will also get curb extensions on all corners, increased street lighting and marked crosswalks, according to the county.

To get started, however, the county is requesting that the Arlington School Board approve an easement at the intersection’s southwest corner, where Barrett is. The School Board is set to review the request tonight (Thursday), teeing it up for a vote at a later meeting.

Although a 2017 traffic study — done concurrently with plans to replace the aging former community center — recommended a traffic signal, the county opted for a Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon and pedestrian refuge. Since the completion of the new community center, the troubled intersection has seen an uptick in crashes, primarily when drivers have to traverse four lanes of traffic on N. George Mason Drive to try to turn left or go straight on N. Park Drive.

Arlington was working to get a signal installed within the next three years. To address “recurring patterns of dangerous vehicle crashes at the intersection,” however, the county committed to complete work in 2024.

Meanwhile, DES installed an interim solution to calm traffic in December and removed and trimmed overgrown trees and shrubs in the median to improve sight distances.

The county temporarily closed the left turn and through movements from N. Park Drive using signage, flexible posts and wheel stops, per a brief explainer. Left turns will continue to be permitted from N. George Mason Drive to access northbound or southbound N. Park Drive.

As for the traffic signal, the county expects to finalize detailed designs by late this spring and begin construction this summer. The barriers will be removed when the traffic signals go in at the end of next year.