Pedestrian safety is topic one


Alexandria resident Barbara Scott risks her life every time she tries to catch bus 161 and 162 from her apartment in Mount Vernon Square in the Hybla Valley area. She pointed to a map at the first public hearing of the Fairfax County Intersection, Sidewalk and Pedestrian Access Improvements meeting along Richmond Highway.

You need a crosswalk across Route 1, she said, pointing to the intersection at Arlington Drive. Thats very, very dangerous.

Intersections like the one Scott crosses are a focus of Phase One of the $55 million program to upgrade transit services and facilities along the Richmond Highway corridor. In the first part, the county transportation officials are looking at 10 intersections and 14 sidewalk segments slated for improvement. Intersection improvements include crosswalks on all legs of the intersection, countdown pedestrian signals, curb ramps, sidewalks leading to the intersections and raised concrete medians to provide pedestrian refuge when crossing. Sidewalk installations are planned for places where pedestrians are forced to walk in the gutter or on muddy trails.

The county is dedicating $20 million to Phase One of the project said Chris Wells, the countys pedestrian program manager. Several pedestrian fatalities have occurred on Route 1 in previous years, bringing attention to the area.

Route 1 is the premiere pedestrian project in the county, said Wells. This is just the beginning of a major effort.

At the public hearing held Tuesday, Sept. 25, the halls of Walt Whitman Middle School were adorned with maps, lists and project data. A comment page was distributed as well, looking for particular areas of concern for bus riders and drivers alike. Comments are to be emailed by Oct. 5 to

The sidewalk in the area Scott is worried about is on the hot item list of state Sen. Toddy Puller (D-36), along with a sidewalk along Fort Hunt Road near the Belle Haven Country Club, and a light near the new Post Office north of Fort Belvoir. She became aware of these danger spots from constituent complaints.

People want to be able to walk across the street to the post office, Puller said.

To Scott, the countys focus on pedestrian safety is welcomed and she hopes they concentrate on concerns of bus riders more often. Im glad to see theyre planning on doing some things, she said.

State Del. Kristen Amundson (D-44) has family in Portland, Ore., where pedestrian and biking facilities are popular and hopes to model some pedestrian facilities around here like that. Amundson has worked with officials towards building a bike and pedestrian path all the way from the beltway to the Occoquan River.

Thats the goal, she said, but noted that getting bills through the General Assembly to fund it is not so easy.

Shes carried a number of legislations on this in the past, but, according to her, it generally does not meet with a warm reception from down-state folks.