Pedestrian safety improvements coming to several Route 1 area schools
The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) is in the early stages of planning pedestrian safety improvements near a couple of schools, following the funding of related Active Transportation projects by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (BOS).
The first project, which received just over $5 million in fiscal 2022 carryover funding from the BOS last April, involves the construction of around 1,500 feet of sidewalk between Hybla Valley Elementary School and the Huntley Meadows Park entrance on Lockheed Boulevard. An additional 350 feet of sidewalk will be added from the park to Bedrock Road along the west side of Harrison Lane. That project is currently in the planning and scoping phase, said FCDOT spokesperson Robin Geiger.
Installing sidewalks on both sides of the park was considered an urgent matter by Board Chair Jeff McKay and Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk when they co-sponsored a related Board Matter back in August 2022. At the time, they cited safety, equity and practicality as reasons for considering the project for carryover funding.
“Our joint Board Matter recommending this project be considered for carryover funding was key to getting this project approved and funded,” said Lusk. “The Board has put a recent focus on improving pedestrian and bicycle safety in response to widespread community support.”
Another school in the Franconia District that will benefit from future pedestrian safety improvements is Mount Eagle Elementary School. Thanks to $1 million in fiscal year 2023 carryover funding approved by BOS in December 2023, FCDOT will consolidate two crosswalks across North Kings Highway at the school and add a pedestrian hybrid beacon.
According to Geiger, implementing one consolidated crosswalk is a requirement from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) since the current dual crosswalk configuration doesn’t meet its guidelines. The new beacon, which will be push button-activated by pedestrians seeking to cross the street, will require that drivers stop at the crosswalk when the beacon indicator is red.
FCDOT currently is in the scoping and study phase for the project, with improvements pending approval by VDOT, said Geiger.
In the Mount Vernon District, funding was approved in December for the upgrade of an existing crosswalk with pedestrian refuge islands and potential curb extensions at the intersection of Mount Vernon Highway and Battersea Lane. The $325,000 project, which will enter the scoping phase in the spring, is designed to improve safety for students and community members crossing the highway to Mount Vernon High School, Riverside Elementary School and the George Washington Rec Center, said Geiger.
The prospect of a pedestrian refuge island at the intersection had previously been discussed during FCDOT’s and VDOT’s April 2022 virtual public information meeting on the paving plan and proposed striping modifications for that year. Although Mount Vernon Highway didn’t end up getting repaved and restriped until 2023, the intersection of the highway and Battersea Lane now has dedicated turn lanes into the high school and a striped median where the future pedestrian refuge island will be located.