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FCDOT, Pedestrians Agree Increased Safety Needed at Parkway Trail Crossing

by Dave Emke — September 15, 2017 at 1:30 pm 15 Comments

A handful of local residents joined Fairfax County Department of Transportation representatives Thursday at Dogwood Elementary School to discuss how best to increase pedestrian safety in the area of the Dulles Toll Road.

FCDOT hosted the community meeting to discuss options for proposed changes to the crossing of the Fairfax County Parkway Trail over the eastbound Dulles Toll Road ramp. In that area, the crossing is around a curve as cars northbound on the parkway turn onto the ramp.

“There’s no visibility, and they have to do something about visibility if they can’t do anything about the grade,” said Steve Steiner, who said he has particular interest in safety on the trail after being struck by a car two years ago at a nearby crossing and spending four days at Inova Trauma Center. “We’re putting a really expensive and massive transportation system and we’re trying to promote the use of the trail for commuting … and you want to try to make it safe and accessible.”

FCDOT has given two options for safety improvements at the intersection in question, which was flagged as part of the Reston Metrorail Access Group (RMAG) II improvements study. It is proposing either at-grade improvements including a signalized crosswalk, or the construction of a pedestrian/bicycle bridge over the ramp.

Adam Lind, FCDOT’s Bike Program manager, said neither choice was the department’s first option.

“Our original plan, actually, was a tunnel option [under the Toll Road ramp],” Lind said. “However, once we did a survey we found out there are four major utility lines and an underground stormwater tank — that pretty much nixed that option.”

The two options that remain have a vast difference in cost. The at-grade improvements would cost about $633,000 to implement, according to FCDOT, while the cost of the bridge would near $7 million.

Lind said the at-grade option focuses on improving sight distance by bringing the trail up to the shoulder of Fairfax County Parkway and creating two one-lane crossings instead of the current two-lane crossing over the ramp. He said options of stop signals for cars or the installation of a Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacon to alert drivers are also being considered.

The bridge option, Lind said, would require about 700 feet of structure. It needs to be so long and high, Lind said, to allow 18 feet of clearance on the ramp below it. The result would be a bridge that travels parallel to the ramp as its elevation increases, then crosses, then decreases in height back down to the parkway.

Lind said there will be a lot of other projects similar to this one in the area as connectivity to Silver Line Phase II Metro stations is addressed; however, he said, this particular intersection doesn’t directly affect Metro access.

“While this is a big and important connection for the county and the region, it doesn’t directly serve the Metro station,” Lind said. “If you’re coming from the north, you can get off at Sunset Hills … and if you’re coming from the south, you can access via Sunrise Valley Drive.”

While it may not directly connect with the Metro, local residents Norman and Barbara Happ said the crossing is very dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists and they are happy to see it being addressed.

“I can’t imagine anything being safer than the bridge, but at least with the [at-grade crossing] you could be seen,” Norman said. “With the Bikeshare coming in on the south side, there are going to be a lot more people using this.”

FCDOT will continue to collect comments on the project through Friday, Sept. 29. Those comments can be made online; by writing the FCDOT Bicycle Program at 4050 Legato Road, Suite 4050, Fairfax, VA 22033; or by calling 703-877-5600.

  • Mike M

    Why can’t VDOT do it’s job without inexpert opinion?

    Who shows up at these things? Who really can?

    The story about the guy who was hit on a bike is interesting. I am aware of many bike strikes that go unreported. I’d like everyone to know just how many there are. In the past few years there were two near my house – not reported because they were not fatal, but they were nearly so.

    Encouraging bikes to roll at the intersection of two busy highways seems stupid. Spending hundreds of thousands seems even dumber. Meanwhile, the W&OD bridge over Wiehle . . .?

    • https://www.restonnow.com/2016/03/18/heres-why-wiehle-overpass-wont-open-until-2021/

      They have to move large utility pools before construction can begin. Expected to open in 2021 (too long I agree).

      • Mike M

        Thanks.
        The US completed its successful involvement in World War II in less time.

    • Mookie Taylor

      So they should just decide to do things without asking anyone what they want? A lot of people use that path. You complain about people riding their bikes on the road, but you also don’t want to have bike paths cross roads in ways that allow cars to see people. It sounds like you think the bridge is the best solution, to keep the bicycles and cars fully segregated, as they are most of the way along FCP.

      • Mike M

        When they ask what people want they get the distorted views of a self-selected few. I don’t expect you to understand this. But they should.

  • Greg

    More fake news:

    “With the Bikeshare coming in on the south side, there are going to be a lot more people using this.”

    Just say no the $7 million bridge that “[a]handful of local residents” commented about.

    Just say no to the $633k crosswalk as well.

    • Approved.

      For a cool 30 billion we can hyper loop it.

  • Susan B.

    Thank you for addressing this. I go across this intersection on my bike commute to work, and am afraid every time, in both directions but especially northbound. I stop every time and sometimes just pray run my bike across. I could take Reston Parkway instead of Fairfax County Parkway, but crossing the Toll Road is even worse and then it’s bumpy sidewalk most of the way. By the way, the ramp from Fairfax County Parkway to Sunset Hills Road is only marginally better, in my opinion. Any plans to address that? Doesn’t help to fix one and have the other still hazardous.

    • Norm Happ

      Susan, those other intersections were addressed at the meeting and the county representatives are looking at them.

  • Susan B.

    Thank you for addressing this. I go across this intersection on my bike commute to work, and am afraid every time, in both directions but especially northbound. I stop every time and sometimes just pray and run my bike across. I could take Reston Parkway instead of Fairfax County Parkway, but crossing the Toll Road is even worse and then it’s bumpy sidewalk most of the way. By the way, the ramp from Fairfax County Parkway to Sunset Hills Road is only marginally better, in my opinion. Any plans to address that? Doesn’t help to fix one and have the other still hazardous.

    • Mike M

      How much should I pay for your fear-free bike ride?

      • LeftPolitico

        Mike M, I’m sure you are grateful for the many “fear-free” things in your life that are paid for with government dollars. Where would you draw the line between the cost of those things and your personal safety?

        • Mike M

          Affordability? Cost-benefit?
          Let’s see. Did you answer my question? No!

      • Thomas Day

        When you can afford to live in Reston then you can comment here.

      • Mookie Taylor

        I don’t know, maybe 50 cents?

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