July 25, 2002
Old Centreville Road through the Crofton Commons community is eligible for traffic-calming measures. On Monday, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors accepted the neighborhood into the county's traffic-calming program. Now, it's up to the residents and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to make it a reality.
Some 154 homes in the courts composing Crofton Commons open up onto Old Centreville Road and, according to resident and mother-of-five Heather Vinter, they contain a total of 150 children. That's why slowing down the motorists whizzing through the approximately .4-mile stretch of that road through their community is important to residents there.
The community is considering a variety of measures, including speed humps and multiway stop signs. Said Vinter: "I feel, if we make it a little more inconvenient [for drivers], then maybe people won't use this road."
Commuter traffic and speeding motorists have long been a problem in this Centreville community off Compton Road and Route 28. But things reached a head when one of their own — Ashley Dubey, then 5 — was struck and severely injured, May 2, by a hit-and-run driver as she tried to cross the street to catch the school bus for Bull Run Elementary.
Since then, residents have been more vocal about asking for something to be done about Old Centreville Road (OCR). They even had a meeting with county transportation and Sully District representatives, as well as VDOT engineers and police officers from the Fair Oaks District Station.
As a result, on July 1, VDOT painted parallel-parking lines all along the Crofton Commons portion of OCR. Bill Parman, a transportation planner with the county Department of Transportation, suggested them "to help narrow the travel-way and keep cars closer to the center of the road."
VDOT also repainted the crosswalk stripes at OCR and Flamborough, where residents must cross the busy street to reach the community pool. Parman also believed that brighter, pedestrian-crossing signs would help catch motorists' attention, so several new yellow-green fluorescent signs have been erected along OCR.
Still, said Vinter, these things are considered interim measures until something more stringent can be done. She also noted that, since Ashley was injured, two more accidents have happened in the same area.
"On May 17, between 1-2 a.m. — just a week after the [community] vigil for Ashley — someone crashed a car into a pedestrian-crossing sign on Old Centreville Road, just past Flamborough, by the pool," she said. "The dented car was left on the side of the road. It was a typical example of what happens regularly on this road. If it had been during daylight hours, someone could have gotten hurt."
Then, on June 14, around 2:45 p.m., a middle-school boy was struck by a car at OCR and Ravenscar Court, also in Crofton Commons. He was taken to the hospital and is believed to have suffered a broken collarbone.
Police Lt. Rodney Gohn of the Fair Oaks District Station said there have been 50 accidents in 52 months on OCR — including accidents at its intersections with Compton, New Braddock and Old Mill roads. The portion of OCR running through Crofton Commons, from Nicholas Schar Way to Castleford Court, has experienced 20 accidents between Jan. 1, 1997 and July 12 of this year.
Eight of those accidents, said Gohn, were hit-and-run with property damage, one was DWI-related, one involved hitting a deer and one was a car fire. Six involved failure to yield right of way and/or improper U-turns.
Two were failure to pay full time and attention (i.e., drivers rear-ending or backing into other vehicles). One accident — Ashley's — was a hit-and-run with injury. Of all these accidents, said Gohn, only hers was life-threatening.
In light of all these occurrences, the county is now taking action. At the July 1 Board of Supervisors meeting, the Supervisors approved putting in a four-way stop sign at OCR's southern intersection with Flamborough. And Parman has been working with Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully) on other traffic-calming measures.
Noting that OCR is a residential-type road with a 25-mph speed limit, Parman said it has to meet two criteria to be eligible for traffic-calming procedures: Traffic volumes between 600-4,000 vehicles per day and a minimum average speed that's at least 5 mph above the limit.
"It's considered a local road through their neighborhood," he said. "Local or collector roads are eligible for traffic-calming." Parman is currently outlining on a map the specific area needing to be addressed.
On Monday, the Board formally accepted Crofton Commons into the county's traffic-calming program. OCR from Compton to Flamborough will be evaluated. And VDOT and the Supervisors both approved having "Watch for Children" signs erected in the neighborhood.
Now community residents must write a petition asking for traffic-calming measures to be considered — and 75 percent of them must sign it. "Then we form a task force of citizens from the homeowners association and the community, a fire-department representative, VDOT, someone from Michael Frey's office and a member of the county transportation department," said Parman.
The task force will then create a plan and suggest devices to be placed on OCR to slow down drivers. Options include traffic humps, raised sidewalks, traffic circles, crosswalk refuge islands and trapezoid-shaped islands called "chokers," placed on one side of the road to narrow the road width.
So far, many community residents have said they believe that speed humps would be the best solution, although some have expressed concern that it might slow down fire and police vehicles. Parman acknowledged that they can have an effect on rescue-vehicle response time but, he added, it would be just "a matter of seconds."
"Once the task force comes up with a plan agreeable to all concerned, the community votes," said Parman. "The Board of Supervisors has to approve the plan, and then the county Department of Transportation would ask VDOT to install the devices." The Supervisors are also considering a through-truck ban for OCR and will have a public hearing on the matter on Aug. 5.