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A Victory Against VDOT

Sometimes, when I least expect it, the column gets action. The AAA and several activists who advocate for greater safety and better roads in northern Virginia say that my recent column on the mess along Rt. 28 has prompted state officials in Richmond to make some long-sought changes.

Virginia Transportation Secretary Pierce Homer has ordered the regional office of the state Department of Transportation to drop its plans to shut down the exit from Rt. 28 northbound onto Cedar Green Road. Homer told the department's commissioner to take on the case personally and report back on safe alternatives. VDOT had planned to close the exit in Sterling despite the fact that it provides the only access to a thriving retail strip and a new residential community. VDOT had resisted entreaties from residents, business owners and the fire commission, which contends that its trucks and rescue vehicles could not respond in a timely way to emergencies once the state closes off that road.

Now, Homer has ordered that access onto Cedar Green Road be maintained for at least a year and that VDOT study the traffic flow there with an eye toward a permanent solution that keeps in mind the needs of businesses and customers who now use that turn-off.

Virginia State Senator Mark R. Herring (D-33) and Delegate David E. Poisson (D-32) pronounced themselves pleased. "This is simply a matter of safety," said Poisson. "There are literally hundreds of workers in the businesses that line Cedar Green Road, including a lumber yard, a furniture warehouse and multiple showrooms, and a Volkswagen dealership-- to say nothing of the customers these businesses attract. The other ways into this area if there were a fire or medical emergency are completely inadequate."

In addition, according to AAA's Lon Anderson and Dick Zietz, who runs Loudoun's citizens transportation safety panel, said that after the September column ran, VDOT moved promptly to address one of the other major safety problems I reported on. The state added two signs in advance of a dangerous concrete lane-divider that prevents motorists from moving over to make a left turn from westbound Waxpool Road onto Pacific Blvd. The move, Zietz, said, "effectively ends more than twenty months of the entertaining antics of motorists driving over the barrier to get to the other side."

Of course, the goal here is not to make safety improvements piecemeal or in response to newspaper columns or citizen activism, but rather to reform Virginia's transportation system to return more authority and resources to local governments and to provide the necessary funding to keep up with existing growth, while altering planning to prevent the rampant and uncontrolled sprawl that has characterized the region for too long.

By Marc Fisher |  November 2, 2006; 8:04 AM ET
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Comments

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Congratulations, Marc! I bet you're so proud of yourself. You could be one of those consumer advocates on the local news shows who help folks victimized by contractors and others. I'm sure the folks in Richmond truly quake in their boots when they see that a District-based, Washington Post whiner-blogger is on them like white on rice.

Posted by: Veronica | November 2, 2006 8:49 AM

I am not sure I understand the tone of your comment, Veronica, but to me it sounds like you are being snide about a problem that has plagued our area for quite some time. If my assessment is incorrect, my apologies--but you really need to watch how your words come across. On the other hand, if my reading on your comment was spot-on, may I kindly suggest that you STFU. Oh, and THANK YOU Marc for shining a spotlight on this dangerous situation in Ashburn.

Posted by: Ashburnite | November 2, 2006 9:24 AM

ELECTION ALARM!! SPREAD THE WORD!!

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Make Them Steal Your Vote - Election Protection

There's been much wringing of hand and gnashing of tooth over the impending 2006 Stolen Elections (myself included). With stories breaking into the corporate MSM (esp. Lou Dobbs on CNN) of Dieblod's voting machine vulnerabilities, touch screen machines flipping votes to repubs in S FL, and voting machine "sleep-overs" in San Diego,CA.

While not, perhaps, the intended effect, this news has the psychological effect of discouraging and dissuading active participation in our democratic process (ie: Voter Suppression). The wife, however, in her infinite wisdom, has a simple answer to these developments - "I'm going to vote, they're not going to stop me, I'm going to make them steal my vote". So what can we do to catch the Republican Dirty Tricksters trying to steal our votes? Below are listed several Election Protection initiatives to help stop the disenfranchisement by the Republican election suppression machine and maybe catch them red-handed. Make them steal your vote....

There are several ways to particiapte in Election Protection activities. One of the latest is called Video the Vote. Our own Bob Fertik has started a Blue Revolution slated for election night. There are toll-free hotlines to call in problems. Even do-it yourself exit polling...


* Election Protection Hotline. If you encounter any problem in the voting process call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) for English or 1-888-VEY-VOTA (1-888-839-8682 para la ayuda en espanol).

* Working Asset's Voter Protection Immediate Response Network. We may not have enough time to email you, but we can deliver a text message or place a call straight to your phone with a short and easy action that could help save the election. Signing up takes only a moment, and you'll be a great service in helping protect the election. We may need to urge the local election offices to keep the polls open to compensate for delayed poll openings, such as what happened in Maryland's primary this year. We might push for more voting machines to be delivered to precincts with very long lines. We may need to show up in person and witness poll-closing procedures. We might also need to show up in person at our county election offices to protest voter fraud or voter intimidation at the polls. And we may need people to go with video cameras in hand, interview voters who've had problems, and then post that video to the web.

* People for the American Way's Election Protection 365. National, state, and local members of the Election Protection coalition are working at a fever pitch to get this historic voter protection program's Election Day components ready to go. Are you part of the effort? People For the American Way Foundation has taken responsibility inside the coalition to help in five key states: Ohio, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Florida and New Jersey. We need you to help us there. Can you volunteer?

* Election Verification Exit Poll. To protect the vote count, we must have an independent way to assess the will of the voters. For this reason, the Vote Count Protection Project includes an Election Verification Exit Poll. In selected precincts, we will interview a representative sample of voters to determine their choices of candidates. The raw data, precinct by precinct, will be publicly posted. This transparency will allow statisticians of every political stripe to perform independent analyses. Note that media-sponsored exit polls, such as the 2004 US Presidential exit poll, do not make their raw data available in this way, and are not Election Verification Exit Polls. Read the Election Verification Exit Poll plan details (PDF, 104Kb).

* Do Your Own Exit Poll: While we cannot take responsibility for exit polls that we do not supervise ourselves, there is no harm in your doing a poll in your own region. Here are instructions for doing your own election verification exit poll...

* Election Defense Alliance. The purpose of EDA is to help build and coordinate a comprehensive, cohesive national strategy for the election integrity movement, in order to regain public control of the voting process in the United States, and to insure that the process is honest, transparent, secure, subject to unambiguous verification, and worthy of the public trust.

* Verified Voting.org's Election Transparency Project. Do you wonder whether your vote counts? Are you losing faith in our electoral process? Do you think our elections are as accurate as they should be? Are you concerned that the results might be vulnerable to fraud or machine failure?

* VotersUnite.org. A non-partisan national grassroots resource for fair and accurate elections! We believe in the power of facts.

* Video the Vote. In 2000 and 2004, problems plagued the polls in different parts of the country: long lines, eligible voters turned away, voter intimidation, misallocation and malfunctioning of voting equipment. They were underreported on Election Day. Days and weeks later, a more complete picture of voter disenfranchisement emerged--but it was too late. The elections were over and the media had moved on. Starting this election, citizen journalists--people like you and I--will document problems as they occur. We'll play them online, spread word through blogs and partner websites, doing our part to make sure the full story of our elections is told.

* VelvetRevolution.us has launched an Election Protection Strike Force as a new approach to grassroots action, a multi-pronged campaign to put elections back in the hands of the people. The Election Protection Strike Force will target electronic voting problems and voter disenfranchisement schemes through: $250,000 ELECTION FRAUD REWARD FUND to encourage whistleblowers to share information about election rigging. This reward will be paid for information about election fraud leading to overturning a House or Senate. Hotline - call: 1-888 VOTETIP


If you know of any other Election Protection initiatives please list them below in comments.

Also check Alternet editor Don Hazen's excellent article "How to Stop the November Elections from Being Stolen" quoting democrats.com's own Bob Fertik...

...So what do you tell voters to help them combat this psychological problem that could depress voting? "I tell voters we have to win by such an overwhelming margin that it isn't close enough to steal," says Bob Fertik, the head of Democrats.com, an activist web site not part of the Democratic party, that calls themselves aggressive progressives...


...Democrats.com's Bob Fertik says, "We have to get involved in organized efforts to audit the elections by groups like www.ElectionDefenseAlliance.org, www.VelvetRevolution.us, www.BlackBoxVoting.org, etc. I'd also like to see Democratic voters hold candlelight vigils outside each county's board of elections after the polls close, holding signs saying 'Count Every Vote' and 'No More Stolen Elections!' Imagine a Blue Revolution, every bit as joyous and historic as the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, the Cedar Revolution Lebanon, the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia -- right here in the United States of America...."

Posted by: che | November 2, 2006 9:42 AM

Cedar Green Road is *HARDLY* the only access to the retail strip along Shaw Road -- it's simply the most visible/obvious access for casual drive-by traffic along Route 28.

For vehicles coming from Sterling Blvd. (including emergency vehicles from the fire/EMS station at 104 Commerce St.), *BY FAR* the easiest and fastest route to this retail strip is to turn right on newly-extended Davis Rd., then left on Shaw. This totally avoids the intersection at Cedar Green -- and in fact avoids the congestion of Route 28 altogether!

The extension to Davis Rd. (open since this summer) is one of the many improvements being made to the network of roads paralleling Route 28, so that smaller intersections like the one at Cedar Green can be closed to improve safety and traffic flow.

I wonder how long this lamebrain decision to keep open the unnecessary intersection at Cedar Green is going to delay the opening of the desperately-needed Route 28-Sterling Blvd. interchange, and how much it's going to drive up the cost? It looks to me that the Cedar Green intersection is smack-dab in the middle of where the ramp from westbound Sterling Blvd. to northbound Route 28 needs to go.

Posted by: Sterling Park | November 2, 2006 10:05 AM


Now can you get them to start fining political campaigns for all of the signs they illegally place in the medians in Fairfax County (and in most of the rest of the state, Arlington and Alexandria excepted)? The law allows fines of up to $100 PER SIGN, and all of the candidates and campaigns are aware that their signs break the law.

If they won't come up with a transportation funding source on their own, how about letting their campaigns take care of it?

.

Posted by: BS Detector | November 2, 2006 1:30 PM

I am impressed you got VDOT to back down. I currently live in Cabells Mill and they are about to shut down my access to 28 at the Walney/28 interchange. Is there anyway you can lend your support to an interchange a little further South or give some advice on how to reproduce your success?

Posted by: Cabells Mill Resident | November 2, 2006 2:42 PM

Hey Cabells Mill resident -- Why'd you only tell part of the story regarding the Rt 28/Walney Road interchange?

VDOT isn't cutting off your access to 28 from Walney Road, you'll still be able to go north on 28. Sure, you won't be able to get to Braddock Road or southbound on 28 (w/o going north on 28 first), but think of the quality of life that the lack of cut-through traffic will provide those that live on Cabells Mill and Northbourne Drives.

I, personally, can't wait until this is done so that I don't have to fight traffic just to get out of my driveway.

Posted by: Sam F. | November 3, 2006 10:34 AM

Hinkle is a class act, a first-grade elementary school class that is. Let it be said that I extend my apologies to first-graders everywhere. Boycott 'his' league and his business. that will hit his wallet, where his type hurts most (excluding his inflated ego, of course).

Posted by: SpectreOfTruth | November 8, 2006 10:24 AM

Hey Sam F.
I agree that in the current plan we will still get to turn right to access 28 North. My concern is that VDOT is going to remove the Braddock and 28 South Access without providing a valid alternative route. Most of the other exchanges got overpasses and my neighborhood gets a concrete divider. Don't remove access if you don't have the money to replace it with equalivant or better.

Posted by: Cabells Mill Resident | November 9, 2006 2:39 PM

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