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Calming Down North Shore Drive

Pedestrian accident highlights need for traffic calming device at Lake Anne.

The news spread quickly through Reston on Thursday morning. A cab had hit Reston founder Bob Simon as he was walking on North Shore Drive by the entrance to the village center’s parking lot. He was badly injured, and some reports even stated that he might have died.

Simon, 93, however, was about 100 miles away from the scene, at a retreat near Richmond.

How did he feel when he found out he was dead? "The same way Mark Twain must have felt," said Simon, speaking from the comfort of his home on Monday afternoon, July 16, four days after the accident. Although Simon was not involved in a pedestrian accident at the site, someone else was. The person who was struck survived his injuries. According to Fairfax County Police Public Information Officer Camille Neville, the police do not release identities of persons involved in a crash unless they are in a life-threatening situation.

The July 12 accident highlights efforts by some local residents to introduce a traffic-calming device near the scene, where visibility is poor because of a curve in the road near the intersection. "We’ve been working on it for a couple of years," said Simon. Last year the request for rumble strips was denied, Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) stated cause being that rumbles make so much noise that they would annoy the neighbors. Simon said a representative from the Fairfax County Department of Transportation outlined to the residents where to propose speed bumps and signs in order to stand a greater chance of gaining approval from VDOT.

"The condo association is definitely working to get something done about it," said Rick Thompson, Lake Anne Condo Association president. He said VDOT treated last year’s request superficially, but an agency representative came back about three months ago to walk the site with some local residents. According to Thompson, the VDOT representative agreed something should be done.

James Smith, the owner of the Body by Geoff gym, said the merchants at Lake Anne Village Center are also concerned the intersection design does not protect drivers using the parking lot or the pedestrians in the area. "Something is needed to slow down the traffic to protect the people in the area," said Smith. He added that people who live in the Crescent Apartments, just up the hill from the intersection, cross North Shore Drive there because it is more convenient than walking to the nearest crosswalk, by the Fellowship House.

According to Smith, the residents’ effort to introduce some sort of a traffic-calming device started with a proposal for a crosswalk. That proposal was denied because of the design of the intersection. The curve in the road was deemed too dangerous for a crosswalk. Rumble strips were too noisy and the speed bump proposal is still on the table, said Smith.

The residents’ effort to install a traffic-calming device has the support of Fairfax County Supervisor Catherine Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill), according to both Thompson and Simon. Both said that Hudgins sent a letter as recently as two weeks ago urging the county to take the matter to the state as soon as possible. Thompson said that while the residents have to go through the process again, the momentum is on their side. Simon said there should not be any obstacles on the way to securing speed bumps for the area.