GFCA has been working with the National Park Service (NPS) on ways to mitigate the backups that occur sporadically near the park entrance on Georgetown Pike and Old Dominion. NPS will soon launch a tool to address the traffic congestion near the park by piloting three variable message signs, one of which will be in Great Falls. The idea is to alert would-be visitors about full parking lots and wait times before they reach Great Falls National Park so that they might temporarily delay their arrival or go elsewhere.
One sign will be located adjacent to the eastbound lane on Georgetown Pike near the rear entrance to Great Falls Center and across from the Great Falls Library. The other two are in McLean, one near the Old Dominion/Springhill Rd. intersection and another just west of the I-495 exit to Georgetown Pike.
As there is no law or regulation regarding traffic control signs on Virginia Byways, and because these signs are temporary, the NPS pilot provides an opportunity to determine whether traffic near the park can be reduced. The signs will be lit only when needed and will be turned off at night when the park is closed. The signs will be removed in the fall. As required by VDOT, orange traffic barrels will be placed in front of the Variable Message Sign (VMS) units.
The signs are similar to the one that the park has been using on Old Dominion. At about 4 ½ feet wide by 7 ½ feet high, the NPS solar powered sign is smaller than the typical VDOT VMS. Messages will be controlled and changed remotely by NPS.
GFCA’s Transportation Committee will continue to coordinate with NPS, McLean Citizens Assoc. and Fairfax supervisor Foust's office on the evaluation of this pilot. We look forward to your feedback on this initiative:contact Transportation@GFCA.ORG