Changes Coming to Busy Springfield Intersection

Changes Coming to Busy Springfield Intersection

Lanes over I-95 going through safety study.

The study area in central Springfield.

The study area in central Springfield.

Cyclists navigating through a busy part of central Springfield could see some improvements in the future as the Virginia Department of Transportation is looking to expand the bicycling trail network along Old Keene Mill Road and Commerce Street where they both travel over I-95.

An area that used to be part of the “mixing bowl” is now a major thoroughfare for the Springfield area and bicycling just doesn’t seem to be part of the equation through here.

The bike lanes are part of a bigger safety project where VDOT is conducting a STARS study, Strategically Targeted Affordable Roadway Solutions, to assess potential safety and operational improvements for a half-mile of Franconia Road (Route 644) between Backlick Road and Commerce Street/Loisdale Road, and for a half-mile of Commerce Street between Amherst Avenue and Franconia Road.

Within the study limits, Franconia Road averages about 69,000 vehicles a day and Commerce Street averages 19,000. The option for bicyclists is to implement "sharrows," as part of the project which are on-road bike lanes.

People don't know what the chevrons in the sharrows mean "and there does not seem to be much of an education effort to teach motorists and bicyclists how they should be used," said Bruce Wright of Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling. When the sharrows are out in the lane and people don’t know what it means, this could be dangerous to cyclists. VDOT is looking for options, so for the next week, everyone will have a chance to fill out their questionnaire as part of this project.

According to People for Bikes advocacy, sharrows aren't the best option. Riding on a road with traffic is dangerous "but a shoulder — even a striped bike lane — on a street with fast traffic isn’t an appealing place to bike for most people," they said, and the bike symbol in the middle provides little protection.

Crash Stats

VDOT information slides shown at a public meeting, there were 171 crashes along Commerce Street between January 2015 and October 2022. Only a few of these resulted in severe injury; a majority were listed as property damage only, followed by nonvisible injury, and visible injury. Most of the crashes were right at the Franconia Road intersection.

On Franconia Road/Old Keene Mill Road across the highway, there were 162 crashes in the same timeframe.

Changes and improvements under consideration include “innovative” intersections possibly with audio beacons, improved lane configurations and traffic signal changes. 

Separated bike lanes are an option bike advocate Wright would like to see. “VDOT has some very smart engineers and if it were a high priority, they could figure out how to implement protected bike lanes,” he said.

VDOT is looking for users' input before coming up with a plan. To provide input, go to STARS Franconia Road and Commerce Street Corridor Study - PublicInput

The comment period ends June 15.

Project Timeframe:

• Spring 2023 – Study Start

• Summer 2023 – 1st Public Outreach & Feedback

• Winter 2023 – 2nd Public Outreach & Alternative Selection

• Spring 2024 – Final Deliverables & Study Completion