A South Arlington intersection that has seen two pedestrian-involved crashes this year, including one last week, is set to be updated to improve safety.
In the evening on Tuesday, March 14, an adult man was struck by a driver at the intersection of S. George Mason Drive and S. Four Mile Run Drive, causing bleeding from his head, per initial reports. His support dog ran off but was later returned, according to social media.
Planned renovation to this intersection are part of the South George Mason Drive Multimodal Transportation Study, which will bring changes along the major road from Arlington Blvd to the county border. The county and a resident involved in the process say complexities at this intersection have slowed down progress on this initiative, which was first expected to wrap up last fall.
“This project is part of the larger S. George Mason Drive project, but the county discovered fairly quickly that this intersection specifically was going to cause them to have to slow down the project to allow for additional study and design,” Douglas Park resident Jason Kaufman said.
A virtual meeting a few months behind schedule was scheduled to be held last night from 7-8:30 p.m., around the same time as the contentious Missing Middle vote, to discuss new designs for the proposed changes along S. George Mason Drive.
Concept plans from last summer proposed treatments including narrower roads, widened sidewalks and vegetation buffers between pedestrians and road users. One option included protected bike lanes while another mixed cyclists and drivers.
A county webpage for the project says staff have conducted an in-depth analysis of S. George Mason Drive where it intersects with S. Four Mile Run Drive, as well as with Columbia Pike, in preparing its plans.
The high-traffic intersection is a major artery for three neighborhoods that links road users to the City of Alexandria, I-395 and Shirlington. A service road, also called S. Four Mile Run Drive, runs parallel to the main road, basically creating a “double intersection.” The W&OD Trail runs parallel to and in between these two roads, crossing six lanes of traffic on S. George Mason Drive.
“Anyone that bikes, rides, drives, scoots or traverses through that intersection on a daily basis is aware of its challenges,” Kaufman said. “There are a number of conflict points that are dangerous. That intersection has one of the highest incidents of accidents in the county, including accidents that are considered ‘severe’ for the purposes of Vision Zero calculations, and it needs to be fixed.”
The county considers this intersection a “hot spot,” based on a review of crash data from 2019 and 2022. Between 2017 and 2019, there had been more than 15 vehicle crashes and at least two cyclist-involved crashes, per a 2020 report. The county’s crash dashboard lists two crashes with severe injuries, one in 2015 and another in 2017, and ARLnow reported on a hit-and-run with severe injuries in November 2021.
That’s in addition to last week’s crash.
@ArlingtonDES is working on designs at this very intersection because it's a known safety hazard
This is why we need them to work faster https://t.co/O7WXZJf0Ps
— eBike Gillian (@BikeGillian) March 14, 2023
For all road users, navigating the intersection requires hyper-vigilance, but people are rarely able to pay attention to “an overwhelming number of inputs,” says Douglas Park resident Kristin Francis.
A teenage girl on an electric scooter was seriously injured after colliding with a driver near Washington-Liberty High School earlier this afternoon.
Shortly after 1 p.m. on Tuesday, police were dispatched to Washington Blvd and N. Quincy Street, in the Virginia Square area, for the report of a crash with injury, a police spokeswoman told ARLnow.
“The preliminary investigation indicates a juvenile on an electric scooter was travelling southbound on N. Quincy Street when she proceeded through a red light and collided with a westbound travelling vehicle,” ACPD spokeswoman Alli Shorb said in a statement.
Initial reports identified the person who was hit as a 16-year-old girl. Police, firefighters and EMS personnel were all on the scene this afternoon, treating the teen and redirecting traffic away from the intersection.
Shorb said “the juvenile sustained serious, non-life threatening injuries and was transported to an area hospital.”
Though police said a scooter was involved, a blue e-bike could be seen lying on its side near the ambulance that carried the teen to the hospital.
The driver of the involved vehicle remained on scene and was not charged with any crime, based on the preliminary investigation, Shorb said, adding that the investigation is ongoing.
In a School Talk email to families, Principal Tony Hall identified the struck teen as a W-L student. He said EMS treated the teen on scene, resulting “in an ambulance and increased police presence near the school.”
“We are in contact with the family of the student,” he said. “There is no cause for concern to the greater W-L community at this time.”
Arlington County is nearing the end of project to overhaul of the intersection of Washington Blvd and 13th Street N., near Clarendon.
The redesigned intersection will have two lanes of travel in each direction, while the new 13th Street N. will make a “T” with the new Washington Blvd.
“The benefits of the wider sidewalks and utilities moved underground are a better pedestrian experience for current and future residents, and a more streamlined traffic pattern for vehicles,” Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Claudia Pors said.
Previously, Washington Blvd surrounded a triangular patch of grass and dirt bordered by sidewalks — which county documents have described as a “diverter island” or “porkchop” — on all three sides. Drivers had to navigate around the island to either continue onto Washington Blvd or turn onto 13th Street N.
A busy stretch of Washington Boulevard in Clarendon has been put on the straight and narrow. Find out what happened to some quirky old reversible lanes and a traffic island, then meet a new "T" intersection. https://t.co/bNYpJUuKif pic.twitter.com/FNDXflDiuO
— Arlington Department of Environmental Services (@ArlingtonDES) January 10, 2023
When this stretch of Washington Blvd was first identified for changes in the 2014 Clarendon Sector Plan, it also had a reversible travel lane between 13th Street N. and Wilson Blvd.
This pattern appears to have been removed a few years before the construction on the new “T” intersection began in 2021, according to Google Maps street views from prior years.
The Arlington County Board approved a contract to Sagres Construction Corporation to undertake the streetscape improvements and utility undergrounding in February 2021. Work started that spring and is expected to last 18-24 months.
“The project is still under construction and is expected to be completed this spring,” Pors said. “There’s still work to be done on signals, curb and gutter, milling and paving and landscaping.”
As part of the project, the work provided public open green space with seating and trees for a future park at the intersection, Pors said. The park will be at the northwest corner of the intersection, south of a reconfigured N. Johnson Street.
The project will also deliver wider sidewalks and improved pedestrian crossings, underground utilities, new traffic signals, street lights and street trees. It costs an estimated $6.4 million, from local commercial and industrial taxes earmarked for transportation and developer contributions.
The 2014 Clarendon Sector Plan called for these changes, which were then incorporated into the Red Top Cab properties redevelopment. The County Board approved this redevelopment in 2015, and the first phase was completed in the spring of 2021. Construction on the second phase began in January 2022.
The second phase, at the corner of Washington Blvd and 13th Street N., is comprised of a multifamily building with 269 homes.
Upgraded traffic lights, roads and bus stops are expected at the intersection of S. Glebe Road and S. Arlington Ridge Road.
The Arlington County Board approved awarding a $1.6 million contract to the D.C. firm Fort Myer Construction Corporation for the project during its meeting on Saturday (July 16).
As part of a larger county program to upgrade “outdated” traffic lights, this project will change the span wire currently holding the traffic signals at the intersection to mast arms.
Other upgrades to be carried out include constructing curb ramps compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, adding high-visibility crosswalks and renovating bus stops at that location.
Currently, the intersection near the Four Mile Run Trail and the Alexandria border has narrow sidewalks, long pedestrian crossings and outdated bus stops. The project aims to “improve pedestrian safety and accessibility at the intersection,” according to the report.
The contract approved by the Board includes at 15% contingency on top of the construction firm’s $1.4 million bid, which came in lower than the county engineer’s construction cost estimate. Funding for this project was included in the adopted Capital Improvement Plan for fiscal years 2022 to 2024.
The project is expected to be completed by fall of next year, according to the county’s Traffic Signal Upgrade Project website.
A temporary roundabout along Military Road has garnered strong feelings as a deadline for community feedback nears.
The pilot project at Military Road and Nelly Custis Drive launched in October, with bollards in place to direct traffic around the center, and has reduced speeds on all approaches, according to data the county recently released. Benefits to pedestrians are less clear, as vehicle rates were varied and there were small sample sizes for pedestrian crossings.
The data collected on the roundabout’s use will be considered, as well as community feedback — which is being collected through this coming Monday, June 6 — when the county decides in October whether to make the roundabout permanent or to configure an intersection with a stop light instead.
More than 100 comments flooded a Nextdoor post that outlined takeaways from a community meeting last month on the pilot.
“By my observation, all but one or two of the citizens present were opposed to the roundabout at the intersection of Military Road and Nelly Custis Drive,” one user wrote about a recent meeting on the roundabout. “The bottom line is that the County is dead set on ‘re-engineering’ that intersection. Returning the intersection to the way it was for 50+ years was not even contemplated, and it either will have a permanent roundabout or a three-way traffic signal.”
Another resident said “this roundabout is absolutely a solution looking for a problem.”
But other posters — especially those who use the roundabout as pedestrians and cyclists — expressed support, stating that the roundabout “is both more efficient and safer, for cars and for pedestrians.”
The Nelly Custis Drive intersection was identified in the county’s Vision Zero action plan as a location for improvements to increase safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. The roundabout is supposed to increase allow more vehicle traffic, shorten crossing distances for people walking through the intersection, provide predictable turning movements and reduce vehicle speeding.
“Our focus is meeting the project goals of increasing safe, accessible travel for people walking, biking, driving and taking transit through this intersection,” Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Claudia Pors said.
The Old Glebe Civic Association, which is located well to the north of the roundabout but along the commuter route of Military Road, has long fought against the pilot, saying the changes were unwarranted and there were no significant safety concerns at the intersection.
“Detractors contend that the new pattern has generated confusion and near-accidents, that it is difficult to navigate, and that the required merging of auto and cyclist traffic is particularly dangerous and difficult for cyclists… OGCA pledges continued opposition to the roundabout,” the association wrote in an April newsletter.
Prior to the pilot, Nelly Custis Drive met Military Road at the intersection in a T-shape, with a stop sign for traffic on northbound Military Road.
The OGCA previously said three crashes occurred over eight years, including two involving bicycles, out of the approximately 32 million vehicles that passed through the intersection during that period.
Per Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services data, about 11,000 vehicles pass through the intersection daily. In a presentation last summer, county staff said conversions to roundabouts reduce pedestrian crashes by 27%, while conversions from stop-controlled intersections reduce injury crashes by 82%.
Construction is wrapping up at the intersection of Langston Blvd (Route 29) and Glebe Road.
Last week, the traffic signals hanging from wires were swapped out for new mast-arm signals. This week, the contractor is expected to complete the remaining sections of sidewalk, curb ramps, and curb and gutter, according to the county’s project webpage.
These changes were part of a years-long project to add dedicated left turn lanes, make bus stop upgrades, take utilities underground and replace an old water main. The changes were intended to improve safety, access and travel times for motorists, pedestrians and transit riders at the intersection.
And now, the county says the project is almost done.
“Construction on the intersection improvements is nearing the finish line,” the project’s webpage said.
Work was anticipated to be completed by this coming spring, but progress is moving faster than expected.
“Spring ’22 was the expected completion date when we started construction, but work has been ahead of schedule and we now expect substantial completion in September,” Arlington Department of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet said.
It’s a beautiful day to check out the new signal lights at VA-120/Glebe Rd @ US-29/Langston Bl. @WTOPtraffic @ARLnowDOTcom pic.twitter.com/kE6gpKcWQz
— Joe Conway, WTOP (@JoeConwayWTOP) August 27, 2021
The county said it will be releasing a schedule of the project’s final paving and the installation of the final pavement markings, both of which will likely occur at night this month (September).
The first phase of the project, including utility undergrounding, kicked off in 2017. The county has spent years obtaining easements from property owners along Glebe to allow the roadway expansion.
The County Board approved a $3.88 million contract for the remainder of the work in December 2019. Work started on this phase in May 2020, according to the project webpage.
This phase included the new exclusive left-turn lanes along N. Glebe Road “to ensure safer turning movements and reduce delays,” the county said. North-south traffic on Glebe had previously flowed only in one direction at a time, allowing turns without a dedicated turn signal but causing backups during rush hour.
The phase also included the mast-arm traffic signals with new phasing and timing, the upgraded water mains and stormwater infrastructure, enhanced crosswalks and bus stops, widened sidewalks and accessible curb ramps and commercial driveway aprons.
The need for upgrades to Langston Blvd and Glebe Road dates back to studies conducted in 2004.
“[The study] identified considerable traffic backups at the Lee Highway and Glebe Road intersection,” the county webpage said. “The backups resulted in traffic cutting through the neighborhood.”
For years the intersection of Old Dominion Drive and Little Falls Road has been the scene of numerous crashes.
Now, after a push for traffic signals and minor efforts to make it safer, the intersection in the Rock Spring neighborhood has undergone its biggest change yet.
Instead of the rush hour restrictions that were put in place last year — making it right-turn-only for Little Falls Road traffic during certain hours — a recently-constructed row of bollards now ensures that those driving on Little Falls can only turn right at all times.
The bollards also prevent left turns from Old Dominion Drive.
“On June 10, the Virginia Department of Transportation installed a small center island of along the centerline of Old Dominion Drive to make Little Falls Road right-in/right-out at Old Dominion Drive,” Arlington County Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Katie O’Brien tells ARLnow. “Additional markings and signage have been installed to help guide right-turning drivers. We anticipate making small changes, such as to the center median material, in the coming months.”
“These short-term changes were made because a crash trend has been identified at this location, including a high number of angle collisions involving drivers either turning left or continuing through the intersection from Little Falls Road,” O’Brien continued.
There were 13 crashes at the intersection in 2018, 14 crashes in 2019, 12 crashes in 2020 and 4 crashes so far in 2021, according to Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage.
O’Brien also wrote in an email that the county and VDOT will be studying the possibility of lowering the speed limit on Old Dominion Drive or installing a traffic signal at the problematic intersection.
To help Arlington County and the Virginia Department of Transportation determine a long term solution, The County will also collect additional speed and volume data in this area. This data will help VDOT and County staff evaluate:
- If a traffic signal is warranted. For the traffic signal, the County will work with VDOT to determine if the intersection meets the State Signal Justification requirement.
- If a speed limit reduction is warranted. For the speed evaluation, the County will work with VDOT to determine whether a posted speed limit reduction is warranted.
Old Dominion Drive was formerly a streetcar line. It was converted into a road in the 1930s.
After years of public outcry, and dozens of car crashes at an intersection in the Rock Spring neighborhood, county officials said they are working on a possible solution.
Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services (DES) says it will be installing signs with new rules for drivers on Little Falls Road at the intersection with Old Dominion Drive later this month. The changes will forbid drivers on Little Falls Road from turning left or going straight at the intersection during morning and evening rush hours — only right turns will be permitted.
“The changes are intended to help address a crash trend at this location that includes a high number of angle collisions involving drivers either turning left or continuing through the intersection from Little Falls Road,” said DES spokesman Eric Balliet.
The right-turn-only restriction will be in place between 7-9:30 a.m. and 4-6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Signs will be posted later this month before the start of the new school year, according to Balliet.
Last week, authorities closed the intersection due to a crash, something that neighbors say is all too common.
“Every single week there is at least one major accident at this intersection,” one resident wrote on social media in response to the article. “[The] last one was so bad two cars ended up in the front yard of the house in the corner.”
“It feels like there’s an accident there weekly,” another commentator wrote. “Neighbors have repeatedly asked for a four way stop or some traffic control at this location and have been told it’s not possible due to the proximity to the traffic light at Old Dominion/Williamsburg.”
In 2017, Williamsburg Middle School student Andy Nogas asked the County Board for help installing a stoplight at the intersection. An online version of his letter gained 112 petition signatures.
“I have seen more than 15 crashes and many near misses [at this intersection and] I am writing to ask you to do something about this,” he wrote.
In response, the Board pledged to assign a county staff member to the problem. Balliet said the resulting research indicated a traffic signal wasn’t the right solution:
Transportation Engineering & Operations staff evaluated several traffic management countermeasures for this location, including adding a traffic light, adding an all-way stop, and restricting certain types of vehicle movements. A signal is not warranted per engineering standards, as traffic volumes on Little Falls Road are too low. An all-way stop is not suitable as Old Dominion is a major arterial, and not feasible due to excessive queuing on Old Dominion based on traffic modeling. Adding movement restrictions is the recommended countermeasure to address the safety concerns.
About two years ago Arlington County completed a major road improvement project for this stretch of Old Dominion Drive, adding sidewalks, street lights, stormwater infrastructure and updated traffic signals.
Since Nogas’ letter, police have recorded 27 crashes at the intersection, according to Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage: seven in 2017, 13 in 2018, and 7 as of 2019 so far.
In total, Savage said people were injured in nine of those crashes.
“Once implemented, we will monitor its effectiveness and will encourage the community to share their experiences with the new restrictions,” Balliet said of the new turning rules.
Map via Google Maps
A set of traffic lights near Columbia Pike isn’t working for bicycles, officials say.
The Department of Environmental Services (DES) confirmed that traffic signal at the intersection of S. Walter Reed Drive and 11th Street S. is not detecting bicycles.
DES crews discovered this week that an underground conduit collapsed, effectively disabling the sensors that detect bicycles waiting to cross Walter Reed Drive and trigger a green light.
“There’s currently no bike lane detection because we weren’t able to get the cable from the controller to this side of the intersection due to the collapsed conduit,” DES spokesman Eric Balliet tells ARLnow.
“Staff are working on how to address the issue, but we don’t have an estimate at this time for when a fix can be implemented,” he said.
In the meantime, the department reconfigured the intersection to give a green light to the contraflow bike lane on 11th Street during each light cycle. In a contraflow bike lane, bicyclists ride against the flow of traffic.
The department found the problem after cyclists — including Arlington County official Henry Dunbar — noted on social media earlier this month that some intersections hadn’t turned green for them.
Hi Henry – We’ll check on the Walter Reed/11th St S contraflow bike lane detection. Added this to the request list. Here's the request form for anyone interested: https://t.co/0IoMekf3WM "Traffic Signals">"Signal Maintenance."
— Arlington Department of Environmental Services (@ArlingtonDES) June 6, 2019
Balliet said crews inspected N. Veitch Street and Lee Highway on Wednesday after the online complaints and found no issues.
No other intersections have known issues either, but Bailliet said in an emailed statement that some intersections use a new vehicle detection technology and it can be finicky:
The newer detection cameras the County uses for vehicular detection can also detect bicycles, but the system requires the bicycle to approach the intersection in a vehicular or bicycle lane in order to be detected. If the bicycle doesn’t adhere to the stop bar area or rides in an atypical pattern, the cameras will likely not detect the bicycle as the zones are set up with the stop bar as a reference and can only be triggered from travel in a single general direction.
He added that cameras will also fail to detect bicycles on sidewalks and riders need to continue pushing walk buttons to cross safety.
DES asks travelers to report intersection problems to the county’s online system so crews can investigate.
Images via Google Maps
(Updated at 9:30 a.m.) Arlington County is considering a series of transportation improvements, including a fix to the complicated West and South Glebe Road intersection.
At Saturday’s County Board meeting the Board scheduled to vote on the approval of a series of grant requests for up to six projects with a total funding of up to $5.4 million.
The most expensive of the projects would be cleaning up the somewhat crash-prone Glebe Road intersection for $3 million in grant funding. W. Glebe Road, S. Glebe Road and S. Four Mile Run Drive all feed into the same intersection. By adjusting the geometry and the lane configuration, the county hopes to reduce instances of crashes.
Staff also note in the proposal that adjusting traffic signal timing and turn movements on S. Four Mile Run Drive could alleviate congestion on northbound I-395 by reducing backups on the ramp to S. Glebe Road.
The grant requests also include a series of transit improvements. The report notes that motorists frequently violate the Potomac Yard Transitway travel restrictions in Crystal City. The planned fix would add red markings to the lanes to denote the entry points to the transitway.
Other improvements include reliability upgrades for the 22F and 16Y Metrobus lines, serving Pentagon-Shirlingt0n-Fairlington and Columbia Pike-Court House-Farragut Square, respectively.
The 7Y Metrobus route would also gain additional noon-to-midnight bus service starting in December.
Also included among the grant requests is a funding request for $211,962 to extend the Commuter Store operations at the Pentagon for another 12 months. The store sells transit passes and provides commuter assistance, serving approximately 1,800 customers per month according to the staff report. Current funding for operations is set to expire on March 31, 2020.
Photos via Google Maps
Drivers at the busy Washington and Wilson Blvd intersection are continuing to make the left turn onto Wilson, despite that action having been made illegal in March.
Current plans call for the tricky intersection to be overhauled and made easier to navigate for both pedestrians and drivers. That includes eliminating the left turn that has caused frequent backups.
At least two signs at the intersection indicate that left turns are not allowed, even though the street does feature a left-turn lane that serves seemingly no purpose as the road funnels into one lane at the other side of the intersection.
County transportation spokesman Eric Balliet told ARLnow that the violations are not surprising when a change is made to an intersection like that.
“It takes time to change driver behavior, especially when the change is to a long-standing travel pattern,” said Balliet. “We always start with education, finding ways to inform drivers about the change and their options. Our efforts so far included a blog post and video shared multiple times through the county’s email listservs, social media posts from our department as well as Arlington County Police, an electronic message board located near the intersection, and the new signage we’ve installed noting the restriction.”
Navigation apps Waze and Google Maps no longer direct drivers to make the turn, which Balliet said was partially the result of communication from county staff.
Balliet said he believes as construction continues on the intersection, known at Clarendon Circle, the confusion should clear up.
“The no-left-turn will become clearer to drivers as construction for the Clarendon Circle project moves forward and the street is reconfigured to remove the left turn pocket,” said Balliet.