The four weeks, $ 200,000 + building project eliminate a stopping lane for buses, extend the permanent curb to the intersection of Arlington Ridge and Oakcrest Road, and include various curb, gutter and sidewalk improvements, all in the name of improving the pedestrian safety.
But one change in particular sparked strong protests from dozens of residents: the elimination of the sliding track Arlington Ridge Road southbound to S. Meade Street.
The driveway is used by residents who live in the neighborhood and by parents who drop their children off at Oakridge Elementary School. Critics of the project – who publish a blog called Save our streets – say eliminating the access lane will make the area less safe by forcing cornering traffic to stop on a steep descent from Arlington Ridge Road, risking rear collisions and making the turn tight difficult in bad weather.
In response to a letter from the Arlington Ridge Civic Association (ARCA), which said the S. Meade Street portion of the project “is considered unnecessary and potentially dangerous … with little or no gain to pedestrians,” county staff wrote that the elimination of the slipway is “a major part of the project plan”.
“The existing driveway allows vehicles to exit Arlington Ridge and enter S. Meade Street at a higher speed,” staff said. “Requiring vehicles to slow down to a safe maneuvering speed at the proposed single entry site improves the safety of vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians… The reduction in speed required to run vehicles under the proposed plan is also supported by the current [25 mph] speed limit on Arlington Ridge, the lowering of which was strongly supported by the ARCA. “
Arlington County Transportation Manager Dennis Leach reiterated this view in a recent History of WUSA9 on Arlington Ridge Changes.
“Drop lanes actually encourage traffic to speed up… it creates hazards for pedestrians,” Leach said.
The plan to transform the driveway into a widened sidewalk and green space is in line with other county road projects that have eliminated driveways, including the intersections of N. George Mason Drive and N. Frederick Street and S. Joyce Street and 15th Street. Another driveway – down a steep hill on S. Walter Reed Drive at the Four Mile Run access road – is also slated to be removed this summer, and at least two access roads at Glebe Road and Fairfax Drive should be phased out in a year or two.
Do you agree with the county’s approach to eliminate most driveways due to safety concerns, or do you agree with the citizens of “Save Our Streets” who argue that the elimination (at least some) of the access routes is unnecessary and may in fact have the opposite effect, from a safety point of view?