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Votes

Wanted: Crosswalk

Parents raise concerns over lack of safety measures along Ridgeway Drive.

When Susan Dorn came before the Board of Supervisors during their Feb. 6 business meeting, she only had one thing on her mind, the safety of Broadlands youngest residents.

Since 2004, Dorn has been working to get someone to improve the safety measures along Ridgeway Drive, where students cross to get to Mill Run Elementary School and Eagle Ridge Middle School.

"For six years these kids have been walking to school without any safety measures," she said. "There are probably 150 to 170 kids who walk to school every single day using that road."

RIDGEWAY DRIVE was one of several roads in Broadlands scheduled to be turned over to VDOT and the state's secondary road system, with the Board of Supervisors' approval. Dorn came before the board to urge them to do whatever it takes to get a crosswalk and more safety signs posted along the road, whether that meant turning the road over to VDOT or urging the developer, Van Metre, to put the safety measures in before the road transfer. Following Dorn's statements and concern from members over why Van Metre had not put the crosswalk in place, the board voted to table the transfer until its next business meeting so county staff could determine the fastest course of action.

"Frankly if this has been on their plate for two years then they should have gotten it done," Supervisor Lori Waters (R-Broad Run) said of Van Metre. "I'd like to see them pursue this and them get involved instead of them not-acting and then handing it to us."

As of press time, calls to Van Metre representatives were not returned.

DORN SAID SHE has contacted and gone before every county agency she can think of to get the crosswalk and safety signs put in, including the board of supervisors, the school board, VDOT, the Broadlands Homeowners' Association and Van Metre. She said that while county representatives and VDOT have done what they can to analyze and help the situation, she has not been able to get answers from Van Metre. At a meeting about the safety measures, Dorn said that VDOT indicated that Van Metre would still get their bond money back if they made the needed changes to the road.

"It is such a shame that within a hair's breadth of getting some sort of safety measures that have been needed for six years [that it would] be turned over to the state," she said. "God only knows how long that is going to take."

FOR THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CHILDREN, the Sheriff's Office sends a deputy out every morning and afternoon to stand on Ridgeway Road, Kraig Troxell, spokesperson for the Sheriff's Office, said.

"The issue that remains is that there is no crosswalk and that on the other side of the street the sidewalk is not up to code," he said. "There is no wheelchair ramp there."

Currently the crosswalk is scheduled to be installed one block up Ridgeway Drive from where the children currently cross the street, which Mill Run principal Paul Vickers said will really increase the safety of the students.

"Every morning when we are getting untold number of buses and parents dropping their kids off at school you end up with a real log jam down there," he said. "By moving the crosswalk area north, you take away some of the bottleneck."

Vickers said that he and the staff do what they can to help the walking students in the afternoon, taking them down to the road in one large group, but that doesn't fix the problems in the morning.

"In the afternoon they all come to that street at once, but in the mornings they are trickling in," he said. In addition, Vickers said that the proposed location for the crosswalk is adjacent to a park, where parents can park and wait for their children.

"That will really help make it easier for parents to wait for their child to cross," he said, "and the visibility on the road is really diminished when lots of cars are parked on Ridgeway."

Vickers said it has been difficult to meet the needs of the students in the neighborhood along Ridgeway Road because the development was not there when Mill Run opened.

"This is a real safety and transportation concern," he said. "Safety of these students is our number one priority."

WITH ALL OF her frustration as she watches children cross Ridgeway Drive to get to school every day, Dorn said she is really pleased with the way that the county and VDOT have tried to help the situation.

"I think the school board did a fabulous job of analyzing the situation and I am very happy with the way that the supervisors responded," she said. "I hope that with all this momentum that we'll get the crosswalk sooner than later."

Her only frustration is with Van Metre, who she said told the Homeowners' Association they did not know about the issues along Ridgeway Drive. Dorn said she has talked to people from Van Metre about her concern since 2005.

"I am thanking my lucky stars that there has not been a tragic accident there," she said. "That is a scary position to put our children in. It's playing Russian roulette with our kids' lives."