Engineer’s Opinion: Terrible and Unsafe Design

I am a semi-retired, licensed Professional Engineer, a life-long resident of the Arlington County, and a homeowner in the area. I would like to briefly summarize my assessment of the County design for this project. 

It is a terrible design – based upon what, I cannot imagine.  A computer model may indicate that, “The volume of traffic turning from Arlington Ridge Road to Meade Streetis low enough for a 90-degree intersection to clear it without causing traffic problems on Arlington Ridge Road,” but anyone who has actually driven on Ridge Road during rush hour knows that this is non-sense. Ridge Road carries an enormous volume of rush hour traffic; true enough, not as many vehicles may take the slip-lane exit at Meade St, but any vehicle that slows down enough to negotiate the proposed 90-degree turn will require a near stop, which in turn will stop traffic on Ridge Road. This will turn a chronic bottleneck into a chronic nightmare. From an engineering point of view, this is my chief concern. I have others.

Please do not be intimidated by, “professional engineers using empirical data and design standards who do this for a living and have done this successfully throughout Arlington County.” [See Also: Why Enigineers are always “right”?]

 I have done this for a living myself. I have completed design and construction of land development projects in all five counties of Southern California, as well as inWashington DC, Fairfax, andArlington Counties. I know that engineers are honorable – but sometimes engineers must proceed with political “marching orders.” Sometimes they are guided by private profit motives. Then again sometimes, with the best intentions in the world, these same engineers simply make mistakes. I can guarantee you that the same engineers who prepared this egregious Meade Street design have made mistakes elsewhere in the Arlington County, and if after “four years of study”, this is the best design they can come up with, I find myself less than impressed.

From an aesthetics point of view, I have very deep concerns, and strong objections. This design will do a great deal to rip the special character out of our community.  Indeed, the slip-lane at Meade St. may be inefficient…Of course. So is the Hume School. So are the huge oak trees crowding Ridge Rd. So is the meandering alignment of Fort Scott Drive, originally laid out by military engineers for access to Fort Scott. I could go on. I could list a dozen such features of this neighborhood that, while highly inefficient by modern standards, are gorgeous vestiges of our history, and lend a unique appeal to this small corner ofArlington. Please do what you can to stop unthinking bureaucrats and engineers from destroying what remains of our increasingly bulldozed, over-built, congested, characterless and homogenized county.



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