Northern Virginia Getting 'Road Diet'
You've heard that "road diet" expression before here, most recently in reference to Arcola Avenue in Silver Spring. But this will be the first time that Northern Virginia sees a transportation department slim down a roadway to make travel safer.
In the image at left from the Virginia Department of Transportation you can see the plan to reconfigure Lawyers Road in Reston. In August, a scheduled repaving of the roadway will be done, but in the process, the road will be reduced from four travel lanes to two. A central turning lane will be added, and so will bike paths on bothsides of the road.
To what end? VDOT says Lawyers Road handles about 10,000 vehicles a day between Reston Parkway and Myrtle Lane. Over the past three years, there were 56 crashes on this two-mile section. VDOT engineers estimate that 15 of those could have been avoided. Several vehicles have been hit from behind while waiting to turn left.
So traffic engineers think they could reduce the crashes by at least a fifth just by restriping the roadway. "VDOT has identified a no-cost approach to reduce vehicle crashes and improve safety on Lawyers Road while also giving cyclists additional travel options," Fairfax County Supervisor Catherine Hudgins said in a statement. "It's a win-win for all."
When drivers first see such redesigns, "win-win" is not the first thing on their minds. It's more like, "Where did my road go?" And they often say that the narrower road looks more dangerous to them. That's what happened on Arcola Avenue and on the uppermost portion of Connecticut Avenue just after Montgomery County slimmed down the roads to improve safety.
Drivers get used to it. The technique of road narrowing has been used thousands of times across the country in various ways to protect drivers from each other or to protect pedestrians from drivers.
June 19, 2009; 10:29 AM ET
Categories: Construction , Driving , Safety | Tags: Lawyers Road, Northern Virginia, VDOT, road diet
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