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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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A rough stretch of Clarendon Blvd near N. Scott StreetNext month, the Arlington County Board is expected to consider a proposal to lower the speed limit on Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards between Rosslyn to Clarendon.

As reported by the Sun Gazette, the proposal would lower the speed limit on the key arteries, between Washington Blvd and Route 110, from 30 to 25 miles per hour.

The lower speed limit is in keeping with the county’s Master Transportation Plan, which calls for a 25 mile per hour speed limit on streets with lots of development and pedestrian activity.

What do you think of the proposal?
 

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Two D.C. councilmembers are proposing that the speed limit on residential streets in the District be lowered from 25 miles per hour to 15 miles per hour.

The plan would make the streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists, while adding only a minute or two of travel time to most trips, advocates say.

Critics say such low speeds would be hard for motorists to maintain, would add to the District’s traffic woes and could actually increase incidents of aggressive driving and road rage.

Arlington has been especially conscientious when it comes to ‘traffic calming’ projects in residential neighborhoods. Should the county ask Virginia (a Dillon Rule state) to allow localities to post lower residential speed limits?

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Police in Fairfax County tell the Washington Post that a man was murdered over the weekend because of his advocacy of speed humps. Police say that Stephen Carr and David Patton had argued before about Carr’s campaign to build a speed hump on the street in front of his Burke home. Then, on Sunday, investigators say an enraged Patton tied up Carr and Carr’s girlfriend, then shot him in the head.

Of course, such extreme acts of violence over neighborhood disagreements are rare. But in speed hump-filled Arlington, it’s easy to be left with the unsettling feeling that such an act of madness is not completely outside the realm of possibility.

Over the past few years, a civil war of sorts has been waged over the mounds of asphalt that force drivers to slow down lest they damage their vehicles. A 2006 article described one such situation in North Arlington as a “pitched battle” and “class warfare at its worst.” A 2008 article, also about Arlington, called speed humps “the ultimate suburban battleground,” pitting “neighbor against neighbor and, more often, resident against motorist.”

So we ask: What’s the angriest you or someone you know has gotten over speed humps? (Or other “traffic calming” measures.)

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