Traffic calming measures aimed at cut-through traffic

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To thwart cut-through traffic in the ParkFairfax area, the City of Alexandria is modifying the triangular island at Valley Drive and Preston Road, and putting in curbed islands and crosswalks up Valley at the Gunston Road intersection.

Scott Lillky at the Agudas Achim Congregation on Valley sees the traffic fly by his office window. Speed bumps wont do anything, he said, pointing at an intersection of Crestwood Road and Valley. They need a four-way stop [there], he said.

The project is not incorporating speed bumps or humps, but it involves relocating stop signs and putting in curbs to shrink the road widths in some spots. In some places, Valley Drive is 80 feet across, while on average a road is 26 to 36 feet wide, said Alexandria Traffic Calming Coordinator Sandra Marks. “That encourages people to speed,” she said.

Lynn Lovett’s condo faces Valley Drive and she sees cars exceeding the speed limit on a regular basis. “Lots of it,” she said.

The citys Transportation and Environmental Services director, Rich Baier, said the project has been three years in the making, and the city sought out much input from the ParkFairfax community in 15 meetings before the crews started tearing up the street. All the construction efforts addressed concerns raised by residents, Baier said. Lovett attended the first meeting a few years ago, and noted that the plans they unveiled were similar to the plan that was approved.

The speed limit is 35 mph on Valley but the cars cutting through are exceeding that, Baier said. Theyre cutting over to Crystal City and Potomac Yard, avoiding the Glebe Road intersection, Baier said.

Improvements
Part of the project on the island at Valley and Preston is to add more greenery, Baier said. The surrounding neighbors will be expected to provide minimal maintenance to the trees. “I think it’s a great idea,” added Lovett, who referred to that island as the “Holiday Island,” because they decorate one of the evergreen trees in December.

One block away at the Valley-Gunston intersection, the cars are currently stopping at signs that are a long ways from the actual traffic flow, so the motorists have to inch forward to see, creating a dangerous situation. With the improvements, the intersection will be “a much tighter configuration,” Marks said. The project cost around $230,000, according to Baier.

Since 2004, there have been three car crashes at each of these intersections, Marks added. Lovett saw a couple of smashed up cars over the years, including one that flipped over onto its roof.

Some residents have brought up concerns that traffic calming measures in the neighborhood affect property values, which Baier said came up at one of the meetings, so he spoke with real estate agents who did a lot of business in the Rosemont area. They indicated that they hadnt noticed the affect that the speed humps along Russell Road had on housing prices.

Jill Landsman, spokesperson for the Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS, was also questioned about traffic calming measures and declining property values in the past but her research did not produce any tangible results. “If anything, it’s a safety measure.”

The traffic calming division of the city’s Transportation and Environmental Services Department is currently finishing a project on East Braddock Road where they are putting in sidewalks, and have a project at Pickett and Pegram Street North in the design phase. There is discussion of more traffic calming measures at East Glebe Road, where it intersects with Ashby Street and Montross Avenue.

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