Motorists who have driven through the intersection of Holly Avenue and Church Road in Sterling Park during rush hour have learned to avoid it, if possible.
Traffic backs up on Holly and east and west on Church, while drivers come to a halt at the three stop signs and take turns going through them. For those motorists who fail to take turns, crashes happen.
The Virginia Department of Transportation is installing a traffic light to relieve the traffic backup at the juncture, but some motorists and landowners are not persuaded the move is the right solution.
CHUCK ACKER, county transportation operations engineer, said Friday the light will allow the Church Road traffic to continue moving until a motor vehicle approaches the red light facing Holly Avenue and trips a sensor.
Brian Taylor, who commutes from Laurel, Md., to the Sterling area, said he travels through the intersection every day. “Please tell me they aren’t putting a light up,” he said Monday. “It’s going to do nothing, but add to the problem.”
Nedra Kucish, who lives on one corner of the intersection, said she is concerned that traffic will lock her into her driveway even more than it does now. “I’m sure they are trying to help,” she added.
Fran Broche, who lives in one of the three houses on the west side of the proposed light, also expressed concern. “I’m not confident it’s going to help out,” he said. “It’s going to put the three of us sitting, waiting and waiting to come out. If it’s a green light, how are we going to get out?”
Her husband’s car has been struck twice trying to enter their driveway, she said.
Billy Brooks, however, said he hoped the light would be the remedy. Brooks, a Sterling resident, said he tries to avoid the intersection as much as possible. “The traffic is backed up way far. It’s terrible.”
Kevin Stimpson of Sterling said he has barely avoided a crash several times. “You get to 5 or 6 (in the evening), it’s backed up for two miles,” he added. “I hope it’ll get some of these cars out of here.”
Acker said the signals will reduce some, but not all of the congestion. A VDOT traffic study conducted two years ago indicated that there were 14,300 average daily trips on Church Road, west of the intersection toward Cascades. Another 7,960 average daily trips were made on the same thoroughfare, east of the junction toward Sterling Boulevard. And 7,160 average daily trips were made on Holly Avenue.
The figures probably have risen since then, considering Loudoun County is the fastest growing county in the country, he said.
SCOTT YORK, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, received many complaints in recent years. “It’s the cost of growth,” he said. “We have traffic backing up all the way to Cascades Parkway during rush hour in the afternoon.”
He said the traffic light will allow more people to get through “instead of everybody having to stop and go, stop and go.”
“People are kicking up their heels,” said Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling).
He went door to door, surveying people in that section of the community two years ago about solutions to the traffic jam. “Everybody wanted that light, because everyone has gone through that intersection,” he said.
VDOT needed permission from homeowners at the intersection to install two poles for the $750,000 project. When negotiations failed, they decided to have one pole with an arm across the junction.
Delgaudio said it will take two more weeks for the foundation cement to settle.
York explained the process. “Typically you get the light up and it sits up there so that people can get acclimated. You don’t just put it up and turn it on.”
After that, a caution light will be used before the traffic signals are operational, he said. “I would probably think the light will be up in the next 30 days.”