(Updated on Sept. 13 and Sept. 14 to clarify a crash account and add attribution) Increased redevelopment in the Town of Herndon’s transit-oriented core may come with a price: increased concerns about road safety in quiet neighborhoods designed for low speeds, town officials say.
Late last month, a Jeep flipped over on Spring Street, hitting a tree right in front of a home. The driver reportedly lost control of the vehicle, police said.
A series of crashes in the area have prompted the creation of a neighborhood coalition that is calling on the town for change. Most of the residents are in and around Spring Street.
At the forefront of that effort is Stephanie Frye, who claims she was almost struck by a drunk driver in the middle of the day while walking her dog on the sidewalk of Spring Street in downtown Herndon.
She said a police officer told her the driver was going nearly 60 mph on a street where the speed limit is 25 mph. The driver crashed into another car and ended up on the frontward of a home on 651 Spring Street, destroying a concrete pillar on the site, she says.
The Town of Herndon said that there is no record that the individual was going nearly 60 mph on the road, according to a town spokesperson. The police department’s police report characterizes the incident as a DUI.
Since that May 2018 incident, Frye and other residents asked town officials to make the area safer.
Part of the problem is cut-through traffic. Many drivers seem to be using Spring Street to avoid Elden Street and the Dulles Toll Road.
“The regularity of seeing a car on its side in a ditch, a road sign at a 30 degree angle from being hit, cars flipped onto their roofs, car mirrors and other parts scattered in front yards, fresh tire marks on the sidewalks, cars crashed into town establishments has become a regular occurrence,” Frye said.
But of the four crashes that happened on this stretch of Spring Street from Elden to Van Buren streets this year, speed was not even a contributing factor, according to a spokesperson for the Herndon Police Department.
In two crashes, the drivers lost control of their vehicles. The third incident was a hit-and-run in which a car took out the sideview mirror of a car parked on the shoulder. The fourth crash was attributed to a driver who did not have the right-of-way.
“These have been the only four accidents over a twelve month period in that portion of Spring between Elden and Van Buren,” said police department spokesperson Lisa Herndon.
In April, residents compiled a list of incidents and mitigation measures to the town after a car crashed into a crepe myrtle on the side of the road.
Four months later, a Jeep took out the same tree as it careened onto its roof.
A seven-day speed study conducted by the town in mid-May found that speeds were below state standards that trigger changes to engineering traffic controls. Average speeds ranged between 28 and nearly 27 mph.
“The town is looking at the accident and assessing the area,” Kelly Garrone, a spokesperson for the Town of Herndon, told FFXnow.
Ideas include further reducing the speed limit to 15 mph, trimming trees to make sure speed limit signs are visible, adding speed camera on Grace Street near the school zone, and adding speed cushions in particularly problematic areas. They have also suggested making residential streets for “local traffic only” and upping police enforcement.
The stalled redevelopment of Downtown Herndon — which is on pause — and the start of service for Silver Line Phase II will likely bring more cars, town officials have noted in previous town meetings The town has several major projects in the works to add relief to area streets.
Residents wonder if it may be too late before a casualty takes place.
“This isn’t the first, and certainly not the last accident that has occured on Spring Street that could have killed one of our neighbors,” Frye said.
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