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A pair of local road segments are set for a speed limit reduction.

At its meeting this coming Saturday, the Arlington County Board is expected to vote to advertise changes in the speed limit along Fairfax Drive from Arlington Boulevard to N. Barton Street, near Courthouse and Rocky Run Park, and on 5th Road S. from South Carlin Springs Road to the Fairfax County line, near Carlin Springs Elementary School.

“The Department of Environmental Services, Division of Transportation has conducted a study on each of the above-mentioned corridors,” a report to the County Board says. “The results of the studies recommend that the speed limit be decreased from 30 miles per hour (mph) to 25 mph on the studied segment of Fairfax Drive and from 35 mph to 25 mph on the studied segment of 5th Road South.”

The ultimate goal is safety.

“One of the implementation actions for that policy is the adoption of lower speed limits for arterial streets on which there are high volumes of pedestrian crossings and higher density land development,” said the report.

The changes will advertised, ahead of a final Board vote on the change set for September. The price tag for the speed limit changes is about a thousand dollars.

“Public notices advertising the County Board’s consideration of this item at its September 17, 2022, meeting will be published in the June 23 and June 30 editions of the Washington Times newspaper,” said the Board report. “The cost of purchasing and installing speed limit signs to reflect these changes will be approximately $500 per corridor, for a total of $1,000.”

More on why the speed limits are being changed, per the report:

The Department of Environmental Services, Division of Transportation has conducted engineering studies on the aforementioned corridors. These studies compiled data on speed statistics, collisions, traffic volumes, current and anticipated pedestrian and bicyclist activity, adjacent land uses and development patterns, future projects, and roadway characteristics. The data were evaluated to determine if the existing speed limits are appropriate, or if a modification to the speed limit is recommended to improve safety. These engineering studies formed the basis of staff’s recommendation to amend the code to lower the speed limits along each of the corridors.

Fairfax Drive from Arlington Boulevard to North Barton Street is classified as a neighborhood roadway and its adjacent land uses are medium to high density residential homes and the popular Rocky Run Park. The street has high pedestrian activity, including a weekday average of over 400 pedestrian crossings per day. The design of the roadway encourages a lower speed limit, supported by the collected data showing 85th percentile speeds just above 25 mph and average speeds just above 20 mph. For these reasons, it is recommended to lower the speed limit from the existing 30 mph limit to 25 mph.

5th Road South between South Carlin Springs Road and the Fairfax County line is a minor arterial roadway that fronts Carlin Springs Elementary School and low-density residential homes. The entirety of the segment is within a school zone, as well as within the walking zone for Carlin Springs Elementary School and Kenmore Middle School. The roadway also includes a buffered bike lane to encourage biking. It is recommended to lower the speed limit from the existing 35 mph limit to 25 mph in order to create a safer environment for all roadway users.

Following an appropriate Board approval, new speed limit signs will be placed in accordance with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).

Photos via Google Maps

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Abingdon Elementary School students cross the road on the first day of school (file photo)

The speed limit is being lowered in some local roads.

The Arlington County Board voted 5-0 on Saturday to approve the establishment of “School Slow Zones,” with 20 mph speed limits. Implementation, around 13 public and private schools, is expected to be complete this later winter or in the spring.

County staff will evaluate the effectiveness of the initial slow zones before moving forward with potentially implementing the lower speed limits around all Arlington schools.

More from an Arlington County press release:

Today, the Arlington County Board voted 5 to 0 to approve the creation of “School Slow Zones,” which aims to reduce traffic speeds around 13 schools across the County. The zones address a key action item in the Vision Zero Action Plan, adopted by the Board in May, and are the first application of permanent 20-mile-per-hour speed limits permitted under Virginia law.

Schools are a key focus area for Vision Zero in Arlington – a nationally recognized strategy to eliminate all fatalities and severe injuries no matter the means of travel, while increasing safety and mobility. Some specific data points:

  • One in four crashes in Arlington involves speeding.
  • Every year, there are 10+ crashes involving speeding around schools in Arlington.
  • The risk of injuries and deaths increases as vehicle speeds increase.
  • Children are among the most vulnerable travelers.

The School Slow Zones are the result of an interdepartmental partnership between the Arlington Department of Environmental Services’ Transportation Division, Arlington Public Schools (APS) and the Arlington County Police Department.

“The recent tragic traffic fatalities in our community remind us how important it is to achieve our Vision Zero goal of eliminating serious traffic injuries and deaths,” said Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti. “These zones are one of many steps the County is taking to help road users reduce speed and increase awareness of people – usually children — walking and biking near our schools.”

What are School Slow Zones?

A School Slow Zone is a permanent 20 mile-per-hour speed limit on a neighborhood street within 600 feet of an access point to a school. Speed limit signs and pavement markings clearly define the zone.

Where will the First Slow Zones Be Located?

This demonstration project approved by the Board will install 11 School Slow Zones around 13 public and private schools in the County (two zones both include pairs of schools very near to each other), to test the effectiveness of the treatments developed by transportation staff. County and APS staff identified schools for the demonstration project from three different sources:

  • Through Vision Zero
    • Hoffman-Boston Elementary School
    • Gunston Middle School
    • Drew Elementary School
  • In coordination with APS
    • Escuela Key Elementary School (formerly Arlington Traditional School)
    • Arlington Traditional School (formerly McKinley Elementary School)
    • Innovation ES (formerly Key Elementary School
    • Cardinal ES (new school)
  • Because existing safety beacons suitable for a School Slow Zone need immediate replacement
    • Tuckahoe Elementary and nearby Bishop O’Connell High School
    • Glebe Elementary School
    • Wakefield High School and nearby Claremont Elementary School
    • St. Thomas More Cathedral School

Implementing School Slow Zones

Implementation of the first Slow Zones is expected to take between three and five months.

During the demonstration stage, transportation staff will collect “before” and “after” vehicle speed data to assess whether zones, as designed, successfully reduce speeds around schools. Transportation staff will also collect public feedback before considering adjustments to zone infrastructure and placement for all remaining schools in Arlington.

Moving forward, the County anticipates adding ten Slow Zones each year, meaning that the 40-plus public and private schools in the County could be updated within the next three to five years.

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Abingdon Elementary School students cross the road on the first day of school (file photo)

(Updated at 9:35 p.m.) Arlington County is looking to lower speed limits near schools as part of its ambitious Vision Zero initiative to eliminate serious traffic-related injuries and deaths by 2030.

This Saturday, the County Board is set to decide whether to authorize a public hearing next month to discuss and potentially approve creating “slow zones” on residential streets near 13 schools.

The proposed 58 zones, with a speed limit of 20 mph, will be near 11 Arlington public schools and well as Bishop O’Connell High School and St. Thomas More Cathedral School.

“Attempts to reduce or eliminate fatal and critical crashes can be achieved by regulating unsafe speeds on our streets with measures such as signage and pavement markings,” a county report said. “Lowering the speed limit can be a basic and powerful tool for reducing vehicle speeds.”

Traditionally, Arlington has installed flashing beacons to encourage drivers to adhere to reduced speed limits near schools. The report said these signs are inconsistently installed and are costly to maintain, while “static signage” and pavement markings, reminding drivers the speed limit is always 20 mph, are cheaper and easier to install.

The signage and markings will be tested out at these 13 sites before they’re installed across Arlington.

“Slower speeds around schools is a no-brainer, and are beneficial for everyone,” Vision Zero program manager Christine Sherman Baker told the Transportation Commission earlier this month. “We want to prioritize safety in school zones because children are still learning how to travel safely: how to cross the street, how to ride a bike. They’re some of our most vulnerable users.”

And they’re learning these skills in risky areas: according to the report, 10 or more speeding-related crashes annually happen within 600 feet of a school in Arlington.

Some schools were chosen because they’re new or have existing infrastructure in need of upgrades, she said. Hoffman-Boston Elementary, Drew Elementary and Gunston Middle schools were chosen because they’re near high-injury networks — and including them would help meet Vision Zero’s equity component.

This fall, Arlington County Police Department has been collecting speeding data that will be compared with new data collected next spring to see if these zones are effective, she said.

The community can provide feedback in March and April of next year, ahead of the county-wide roll out, she added.

The proposal was met with enthusiasm from Transportation Commission members and some members of the public.

“Bravo,” Transportation Commission Chair Chris Slatt said. “I think it’s fantastic.”

Representing local advocacy group Arlington Families for Safe Streets, Gillian Burgess voiced her support for the program during the meeting.

“Slower speeds around schools are not only great for the safety of vulnerable road users, but it also encourages activity, which addresses both child health and health equity,” she said. “It improves air quality and noise pollution around schools… and it promotes mental health and social inclusion.”

ACPD should also “commit publicly” to enforcing speeding near schools, preferably via speed cameras and not just for speeds 10 mph or more above the limit, while the county should consider closing streets in front of schools to cars, Burgess added.

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Arlington County is considering lowering the speed limit along a number of corridors with lots of pedestrian activity.

On Saturday, the County Board will decide whether to authorize a public hearing next month to discuss and potentially approve the reductions, which would impact seven corridors throughout Arlington.

The proposals were generated from traffic studies conducted at the request of some citizens, staff and Arlington County Public Schools, according to a report. These studies looked at speeding and crash statistics as well as anticipated pedestrian and bicyclist activity and future projects, among other considerations.

Overall, the studies concluded that lower speed limits would help the county reach its new goal of zero transportation-related deaths and serious injuries by 2030, also known as Vision Zero. Two reductions along Army Navy Drive would also prepare drivers for an upcoming construction project that would rebuild the road to be more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, the report said.

“As part of the Streets Element of the Master Transportation Plan, a policy was established to design streets to generally favor lower vehicle speeds without impeding or diverting existing vehicle volumes,” the document said. “One of the implementation actions for that policy is the adoption of lower speed limits for arterial streets on which there are high volumes of pedestrian crossings and higher density land development.”

The studies recommend lowering the speed limit along Army Navy Drive from S. Joyce Street to 12th Street S. from 35 to 25 miles per hour.

Speed limits on six other road segments would be lowered from 30 to 25 miles per hour:

The project to rebuild Army Navy Drive as a “Complete Street” is in its final design and review phases, according to the county. During construction, the county is recommending a reduced speed along Army Navy Drive of 25 miles per hour. Making the change now would get drivers accustomed to the change, the document said.

“Significant roadway enhancements are included in this project, so to decrease the speed at the onset of construction would provide for a safer work zone for workers and roadway users and support the expectation of lower speeds once the project is completed,” the report said.

The Army Navy Drive project is intended to improve local connections between the Pentagon and the surrounding commercial, residential and retail services by reducing the number of lanes and their width, enhancing pedestrian and cycling activity, and improving transit facilities.

The studies also found that along all seven corridors, “the majority of motorists are comfortable driving within 5 mph of the existing posted speed limit and the proposed decreased speed limit of 25 mph.” Lower speed limits can help accommodate new development and more robust transit infrastructure in the future, the studies suggest.

These changes would cost about $1,500 per corridor to purchase and install new speed limit signs, for a total of $10,500.

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Morning Notes

Tornado Drill Today — “Virginia’s annual Statewide Tornado Drill will occur on Tues., March 16 at 9:45 a.m. If widespread severe weather threatens the Commonwealth on that date, the drill will be rescheduled for Wed., March 17, at 9:45 a.m. The Statewide Tornado Drill is an opportunity to prepare Virginians for tornado threats and to test public warning systems.” [Va. Dept. of Emergency Management]

Pentagon Row Harris Teeter’s Future in Flux — “Despite concerns from nearby residents, Arlington County Board members on March 20 could give the owner of Pentagon Row the ability to, potentially, significantly downsize grocery-store operations… Located on a 15-acre parcel in Pentagon City, the site has long included a Harris-Teeter supermarket. But that initial lease term is expiring, and there is no guarantee the supermarket chain will want to stay in the existing space.” [Sun Gazette]

Coronavirus Tests Available at DCA — “Coronavirus testing launched Monday at Reagan National and Washington Dulles International airports, which became the latest airports across the country to offer the tests. The centers are outside the security checkpoints at both airports and are operated by XpresCheck, which runs centers at a number of U.S. airports.” [Washington Post]

New Building to Have Temporary Hotel Rooms — “Arlington County Board members next month are expected to allow another developer to temporarily convert apartment space to hotel use. The developer of the 809-unit property at 1555 Wilson Blvd. is asking permission to use 100 of the residential units as hotel space starting in late summer. Eventually, the units would revert to their originally intended purpose.” [Sun Gazette]

Cherry Blossom Sculptures Arrive in Arlington — From the National Landing BID: “Two official @CherryBlossFest sculptures have landed! One at the Esplanade at Long Bridge Park and one at the Crystal City Water Park. They will be up through May 31.” [Twitter]

Bill Would Allow 15 MPH Speed Limits in Va. — “Currently, any city or county looking to slow traffic in a busy shopping district or on a quiet residential street can go no lower than 25 mph. A bill passed during this year’s General Assembly session, however, would change that, permitting posted speed limits to drop as low as 15 mph. A ten miles per hour difference may not seem huge, but for pedestrian safety advocates and the families of victims of traffic collisions, the change could mean the difference between life and death.” [Greater Greater Washington]

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Arlington wants to deploys speed cameras and to lower speed limits in residential and business districts below 25 miles per hour.

Those are among a list of state legislative priorities the Arlington County Board unanimously approved on Saturday before the upcoming session of the Virginia General Assembly in Richmond.

Board member Christian Dorsey said at Saturday’s meeting that speed cameras allow for equitable law enforcement while reducing public interaction with the police.

“We want to reduce the amount of times that potential conflicts can turn into something that’s unintended,” Dorsey said.

“Automated ticket enforcement has the potential to improve safety… and further advance equitable outcomes by reducing or eliminating race-based disparities in speed enforcement,” the county said its legislative priority list.

Board Chair Libby Garvey said Arlington also needs discretion on reducing the speed limit in residential and business areas.

“There’s just so much in this state that we find we have responsibility for things and we don’t have the authority to actually do what we need to do sometimes, so this is just a never-ending stream of things that we’re trying to correct and get control over that we ought to have control over,” Garvey said.

Pat Carroll, Arlington’s liaison to Richmond, told the Board that recent leadership changes within the legislature “noticeably helped the fate of Arlington’s legislative priorities.”

Other approved priorities include:

  • “More state funding for localities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic”
  • “Seeking full funding for K-12 education, including ensuring state funding for Arlington Public Schools reflects pre-pandemic levels”
  • “Protecting existing Northern Virginia Transportation authority revenues”
  • “Allowing individual retail customers to buy 100 percent renewable electricity from any licensed competitive supplier of electric energy”
  • “Supporting legislation to provide greater incentives for tree canopy preservation and planting”
  • “Enacting authority for a local option to develop incentives or regulations to decrease or regulate the distribution and sale of polystyrene food-service containers”
  • “Permit localities and public bodies to set their own rules regarding ‘virtual’ [meeting] participation

Arlington’s full list of legislative priorities is below the jump.

Read More

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Drivers along a busy stretch of road in Pentagon City could soon need to slow down a bit.

County officials are proposing changing the speed limit along S. Hayes Street as the road runs between Army Navy Drive and 15th Street S. It currently has posted speed limits of 35 and 30 miles per hour along different stretches of the road, but the county could bump that down to 25 miles per hour.

The Crystal City Business Improvement District requested a study of the speed limit along that section of the street, which runs past major developments, including the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City and Pentagon Centre, as well as the neighborhood’s Metro station.

Staff wrote in a report for the County Board that the “high volumes of pedestrian crossings and higher density land development” in the area justify bumping down the speed a bit.

Similarly, staff noted that an examination of the last four years worth of crash data for the area suggest that a lower speed might be beneficial for the area.

If the Board approves the change, the county will spend $1,500 to install signs advertising the newly revised speed limit along the road.

The Board is set to consider the issue for the first time at its meeting Saturday (March 16), where members are scheduled to set a public hearing on the matter for April 23. The Board could then approve the change immediately afterward.

Photo via Google Maps

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If approved at tomorrow’s (Saturday) County Board meeting, a portion of one of Crystal City’s thoroughfares will receive a substantial upgrade and a speed limit downgrade.

Crystal Drive is currently a one-way street between 26th and 27th streets, but as part of an ongoing conversion project it will be turned into a two-lane roadway. The project will also add a right turn lane at the northbound intersection of Crystal Drive and 26th Street S., a left turn lane at the westbound intersection of Crystal Drive and 27th Street S., and bike lanes and sidewalk improvements.

The two-lane expansion in other sections of Crystal Drive occurred in 2013. The two-lane conversion between 26th and 27th Streets S. will be the third and final phase of the street’s conversion to an almost entirely two-way road.

At tomorrow’s meeting, the County Board will vote on a contract for the $1.2 million project.

At the same meeting, the Board will also vote on whether to authorize a public hearing on lowering the speed limit along Crystal Drive from 30 to 25 mph.

The county’s Transportation Master Plan recommends 25 mph as the standard speed limit on arterial streets in Arlington’s downtown districts where there are high volumes of pedestrians and high density land development. A study of the local traffic was conducted at the request of the Crystal City Business Improvement District and determined that Crystal Drive qualified for a speed limit reduction.

If approved, the speed limit reduction will be considered at the Board’s Oct. 20 meeting.

Photo and map via Arlington County

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Lynn Street in Rosslyn (via Google Maps)The Arlington County Board is scheduled to consider a change to the speed limit on two Rosslyn arterial streets.

On Saturday, the Board is expected to approve a staff recommendation to lower the speed limit on N. Lynn Street and Fort Myer Drive from 30 to 25 mph. The change encompasses the stretch of each road between Arlington Blvd and Lee Highway.

According to a traffic engineering study, the change is not expected to lower the volume of traffic on the roads. Rather, it is hoped that lower speeds will improve safety, since Lynn and Fort Myer are heavily used by pedestrians.

Presently, the collision rate for both roads is “well below the statewide average rate,” according to the staff report. The average vehicle speed is at or below 25 mph on each.

It is Arlington’s stated transportation policy to lower speed limits on “downtown” arterial streets to 25 mph. The Board lowered the speed limit along Wilson and Clarendon Blvds from 30 to 25 mph in July.

The cost of installing new speed limit signs, should the change be made, is estimated at $2,000.

Photo via Google Maps

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New speed limits on Clarendon BlvdThe County Board unanimously approved lowering the speed limits on key stretches of Wilson Blvd, Clarendon Blvd, N. Sycamore Street and N. Meade Street Tuesday evening.

The Board acted in line with its Master Transportation Plan in lowering the speed limits on the key local arteries.

The speed limit on Wilson Blvd and Clarendon Blvd was lowered from 30 to 25 mph between Rosslyn and Washington Blvd.

Meanwhile, the speed limit on N. Meade Street was lowered from 30 to 25 mph between Arlington Blvd and Marshall Drive., while N. Sycamore Street from Washington Blvd. to 17th Street N. will see its speed limit drop from 35 to 30 mph.

The change in speed limit is effective immediately, and county staff said they expect the signs reflecting the change to be installed Wednesday.

“The county’s actions to lower speed limits on segments of some key roads are in keeping with the Master Transportation plan, and are intended to make these roads safer for everyone — drivers, pedestrians and cyclists,” said Board Chair Walter Tejada.

The Board also put a public hearing on the agenda for its Sept. 21 meeting to hear public feedback for lowering the speed limits on N. Lynn and Fort Myer Drive between the Key Bridge and Arlington Blvd. from 30 to 25 mph.

As part of the same resolution, the Board changed the County Code to reflect Virginia Department of Transportation’s imposed speed limits on I-66 and I-395. The speed limits of the roads were not changed but, for instance, the code will now officially reflect that I-66 is a 45 mph road between the Virginia state line and N. Lynn Street and 55 mph between N. Lynn Street and Fairfax County.

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Stretch of Wilson Blvd and Clarendon Blvd in Courthouse (photo via Google Maps)The County Board may decide to decrease speed limits on a number of roads throughout Arlington, including the main thoroughfares from Rosslyn to Clarendon. Board members are scheduled to take up the issue at their meeting on Saturday (July 13).

The Department of Environmental Services conducted studies to examine the viability of changing speed limits on several streets. Information was gathered regarding factors such as vehicle speeds, collisions, traffic volumes, pedestrian and bicyclist activity and development patterns. Studies were performed in the following areas: N. Meade Street from Arlington Blvd to Marshall Drive (formerly Jackson Avenue), Clarendon Blvd from Washington Blvd to N. Oak Street, Wilson Blvd from Route 110 to Washington Blvd, and N. Sycamore Street from Washington Blvd to 17th Street N. and N. Roosevelt Street from 17th Street N. to the county line.

The studies indicated that speed limits along N. Meade Street, Clarendon Blvd and Wilson Blvd could be decreased from 30 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour. The N. Sycamore Street/N. Roosevelt Street studies indicated the speed limit could be lowered from 35 miles per hour to 30 miles per hour.

Arlington’s Master Transportation Plan includes a policy to design streets with lower vehicle speeds without impeding or diverting traffic. Part of that involves adopting a 25 mile per hour speed limit in the county’s “downtown” areas where pedestrian traffic is high, such as along Wilson Blvd and Clarendon Blvd.

The Board also has been asked to authorize the correction of speed limit discrepancies along parts of I-395 and I-66. According to VDOT records, the speed in the regular lanes of I-395 from Alexandria to D.C. is 55 miles per hour. The county code, however, was recently discovered to list a portion of the segment as 35 miles per hour, and that the entire segment is 55 miles per hour. There is a similar discrepancy between county code and VDOT records regarding the HOV lanes. Additionally, the county code does not include speed limits for I-66, but VDOT lists the limits at 45 miles per hour and 55 miles per hour, depending on the section in question.

County staff members recommend Board approval for the speed limit discrepancy corrections and for decreasing the speeds along the four stretches of county roads.

The cost of installing new speed limit signs to reflect the changes is estimated to be $5,000. Funds are available in the Fiscal Year 2014 Department of Environmental Services Transportation Engineering and Operations operating budget.

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