Caution: County Not Listening

The Arlington County responded to several residents of our community on July 22nd with standard bureaucratic non-answers. Many residents still did not get their responses for repeated communications. Please see some of the key paragraphs from this communication. 

County’ Claim about the project :   improve pedestrian safety and accessibility throughout the Ridge-S.23rd  intersection and project corridor, including the placement of a new crosswalk at the Meade-Ridge intersection where drivers are most likely to  expect pedestrians;

  • There have been no pedestrian accidents at the current pedestrian crosswalk on S Meade St. (see: County’s Smoke Aired Out )  If the county really wanted to protect pedestrians, they could have placed a sign indicating that a pedestrian crosswalk was present. Such signage has never existed. The crosswalk has not been painted in years.

County’s claim about the project: allow drivers to move smoothly and efficiently in all directions through the Ridge-S.23rd intersection;

  • So….removing  a bus pullover and making cars stop behind a bus loading and discharging  passengers on a one-lane going north is smooth and efficient? Reducing the width of 23rd Street going east from Ridge Rd. so that buses that already enter the opposite lane to negotiate a right turn will have an even greater problem.

County’s claim about the project: – maintain ADA accessibility throughout the project area in an efficient manner;

  • Putting a pedestrian crossing across multiple lanes of traffic may seem efficient to the County but it is not safe.  The current pedestrian crossing is on Meade Street.  Pedestrians cross two lanes of traffic. The county is moving the crosswalk to cross the new T-intersection entrance from Ridge to Meade.  Pedestrians will cross many more traffic streams, the crossing will be right on Ridge  Road, and drivers making a right turn from Ridge will not see these pedestrians, especially with cars bearing down on their bumpers.

County’s claim about the project: – provide  signage for vehicles traveling south from S.23rd on Ridge to remind  drivers that there are a number of possible turns (multiple driveways and Meade St.) that may be taken and that caution should be exercised;

  • How many signs will that be?  There would be no need for multiple driveways from Meade Street directly onto the arterial Ridge Rd. if the County takes one of the many lower cost solutions.  Instead, multiple driveways will now open directly on to Ridge.  Residents who had a safety lane between their homes and Ridge Rd have lost their on street parking and are facing a busy road.  Only two homes that get substantially larger yards at taxpayers’ expense may benefit from it. 

County’s claim about the project:– maintain  access to Meade Street for snowplows and other large vehicles moving at reasonable speeds.

  • Did they seriously look at this intersection at all?  The turning radius has been tightened so much that a truck will have to turn into the oncoming lane when exiting Meade Street.  Traffic entering at the same time will be stuck.  Did they take a look at the grade of this intersection?  Neighbors heading south on Ridge are at a sharp slope and then have to make a right turn uphill  to our street…across a pedestrian crossing.

County’s claim about the project: Finally, it is County policy to remove slipways. In this case, residents will continue to have multiple safe ways to reach their homes in both good and inclement weather. We acknowledge that one existing westbound entrance will be removed but point out that the existing three other movements between Meade and Ridge all have been safely occurring for years at the proposed intersection. Narrowing the entrance and adding signage will ensure that all who use it – walkers, bikers, and drivers – approach with caution and care.

  • County’s policy is not “one size fits all”. There are many reasons why safety slip lane was constructed for Meade St (see: Slip Lane and Safety). So, now this seems to be the County’s solution.  Use other entrances.  Force traffic into the neighborhood.  Most of the traffic entering Meade Street  is related to Oakridge Elementary.  That traffic (counted at 100 cars in an hour during the school year) will take other streets at the county’s suggestion (for example: Nash Street).  Moving traffic into the neighborhood is totally at odds with the County’s Master Transportation Plan.   

County’s claim about the project: We acknowledge that elements of  this project have created dissension within the immediate neighborhoods. Many  have cited a lack of adherence to the Neighborhood Traffic Calming (NTC)  procedures.

  • However, we understand that monies used in this plan include funds received from developers  in Potomac Yards  (site plan 105 ) and from Pentagon Row (site plan 346) for “traffic calming.”  It is convenient to change your terminology  at the last moment.  Especially when traffic calming requires 60% or 70% of the neighborhood agreement in order for the project to start.   Changing your definitions to suit your “stay the course” logic for this unsafe, unwanted and wasteful design is wrong. Ignoring neighbors is not the “Arlington Way”, but rather working with them.  Regardless of your classifications, there are no transportation projects without robust citizen’s process or support. This project had no process or citizen’s support.  It seems that County’s staff was more pre-occupied in getting the rubber-stamp on the project than focusing on the rational and justified citizen’s concerns about safety.  Even one of your County Board members, Ms. Faviola, clearly called for the robust process to be implemented for this project.  The County’s focus on advancing project that is in direct opposition to the majority of citizens is nothing more than the slap in the face. 

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