Progress Gets in Way of Safety at Plaza

Progress Gets in Way of Safety at Plaza

Federal Realty and police act to get situation resolved

Citizens can make a difference. When Neil Krizek saw a potential safety issue on Richmond Highway, he took action. This is especially timely in light of the fact that Captain Mike Kline, commander Mount Vernon District Station, is in the process of initiating a major pedestrian enforcement initiative.

It all started back in February when Krizek was driving south on the service road along Richmond Highway.

There were two women with baby strollers walking along the chain link fence. The car behind Krizek was “mad” and followed him south on Richmond Highway. At the Wal-Mart traffic light, they pulled up and yelled profanity and drove off.

“This could have been avoided,” Krizek said. “The cause of their "road rage" was due to the omitted walkway at the construction site [by Mount Vernon Plaza].”

On Feb. 22, Krizek called the office of Mount Vernon District Gerry Hyland which sent an email to Lee District Supervisor Dana Kauffman.

“I observed no improvement and faxed a letter to both supervisors March 1,” Krizek said.

On March 2 the contractor closed the service road forcing the pedestrian flow onto Richmond Highway. Krizek said that he took pictures and brought them to Hyland's office.

On March 4 the contractor cut openings and on the seventh made a “path”.

“I noticed the carelessly assembled 'path' last night … on my way home from work,” Krizek said. “The opening dumps the walker back onto Richmond Highway, requiring a 4 to 6 foot walk on the highway, to the bus stop. It lacks common sense. The fundamental objective — to maintain safe and adequate pedestrian circulation is negligible. The lack of proper planning, for temporary pedestrian movement, during construction projects in the community runs rampant. Authorities can describe the final results, yet until then, have minimal ability to appreciate the cause and effect construction has on pedestrian flow.”

SINCE THEN, HOWEVER, more action has been taken. Realizing that the path did not sufficiently address the problem, a call was made to Federal Realty. Charlie Maier, representing Federal Realty, contacted the construction crew working at Mount Vernon Plaza and asked them to move the construction fence back from Richmond Highway to allow access to the bus stop. There was some confusion as to whether or not they could move it, but as of yesterday, it appeared that the move had taken place. The pathway will remain in place, but Maier said that they would put down some kind of covering to make it easier for people to maneuver on it. In the meantime, Second Lt. Thomas Rogers is also trying to have the bus stop moved away from the construction site.

“That is great news ... the overall improvement of the 'Mount Vernon Plaza' is a large project,” Krizek said. “I hope the lessons learned will prevent this from happening again ... everyone should know. At least formulate specific plans to provide reasonable safe passage through construction zones. While reviewing the Transportation Plan, I predict major county goofs made at this construction site. Certainly a life threatening blunder is unacceptable — thankfully women and children — pedestrians were not struck by a car. I urge civic participation because I believe the county needs help. Advance Richmond Highway as the neighborhood road ... it will only get better."