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  • 05 Jul 2022 10:41 AM | Peter Falcone (Administrator)

    The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) hosted two public meetings in early June to present revised designs for its I-495 Express Lanes Northern Extension Project (495 NEXT).  Construction began this year and VDOT expects that the express lanes, which are being extended from the current terminus north of Tysons Corner to the American Legion bridge and the George Washington Parkway, will open in 2025.

    495 NEXT is intended to integrate with a companion project in Maryland that calls for (i) adding two tolled express lanes in each direction along I-270 between the I-495/Capital Beltway and Frederick, Md. and (ii) replacing the American Legion Bridge with a new bridge that can accommodate connections with Virginia’s express lanes.  However, Maryland has not yet received approval or funding for its project.

    The first VDOT meeting, held at Langley High School (LHS), drew a sizable number of McLean and Great Falls residents; the second meeting was held virtually.  Several GFCA board members who have been engaged with VDOT about the design for the Georgetown Pike bridge over I-495 attended these sessions.

    Representing VDOT at the LHS meeting were Susan Shaw, P.E., VDOT Northern Virginia Megaprojects Director, and Abi Lerner, P.E., VDOT Special Program Manager for Megaprojects.  Representatives from VDOT’s project partner, Transurban, and contractor, Lane Construction, also attended, as did representatives from the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT).

    Georgetown Pike Interchange

    While design refinements for several areas were discussed, including those at the Live Oak Bridge and the George Washington Memorial Parkway interchange, GFCA’s focus was on changes affecting historic Georgetown Pike.

    VDOT updated its plans for the Georgetown Pike interchange by adding a trail connection to Scott’s Run Nature Preserve and widening the planned six-lane bridge so as to include a 6.5 foot wide sidewalk on the north side.  Georgetown Pike’s westbound ramp to northbound I-495 will incorporate a free-flow right-turn lane, and merge lanes from the northbound I-495 on-ramp have been lengthened to reduce traffic backups.

    Over the next six months, the existing median on the Georgetown Pike Bridge, and a portion of the bridge’s north side, will be demolished, thereby shifting traffic to the south side.  Great Falls residents should be aware that demolition has already begun.

    Highlights from Q & A Session Following the Presentation

    VDOT’s presentation sparked a very spirited question and answer session in which meeting attendees raised a number of concerns about the project, including the integration of VDOT’s 495 NEXT project with MDOT’s companion initiative to extend Maryland express lanes over a new Potomac River bridge and the integration of those express lanes with VDOT’s 495 NEXT express lanes.  In a surprise to many attendees, VDOT explained that it expects that MDOT may be responsible for some construction work in Virginia if its project moves forward.  Attendees asked how Virginia citizens would interact with MDOT under this scenario and questioned the public outreach effort associated with MDOT’s anticipated work in Virginia.

    A representative from MDOT said that a final environmental impact statement on its project is expected to be released this month.  He went on to say that MDOT has conducted seven public hearings on its project so far, including some virtual ones.  He added, that while MDOT had conducted no in-person meetings in Virginia, it did participate in VDOT’s September community meeting.  Supervisor Foust said he did not recall receiving public notices about meetings on MDOT’s draft environmental impact statement (DEIS).

    A number of attendees suggested that VDOT suspend work on 495 NEXT citing insufficient coordination and public engagement on Maryland’s Capital Beltway toll lanes plan by MDOT as well as the uncertainty over project approval and funding in Maryland.

    Susan Shaw, VDOT’s Northern Virginia Megaprojects Director, said that VDOT officials plan to continue working with Maryland and local residents, especially those in McLean, to address specific design concerns.  She was, however, resolute that the project will proceed as planned.  “We are moving forward with construction,” said Shaw.  “We have a schedule, we have a budget, and we’re working to the plans as they have been approved.”

    A video recording of the June 7 virtual meeting may be found on VDOT’s 495 NEXT Project website.


  • 05 Jul 2022 10:40 AM | Peter Falcone (Administrator)

    At the June Environment and Parks Committee meeting, Erica Carter from Fairfax County’s Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, spoke on the County’s Waste and Recycling Management Program.  Some highlights from the presentation are described below.

    Fairfax County provides curbside trash and recycling services for about 10% of the residents and businesses in the county, but most of the trash and recyclable items in Great Falls are collected by private companies from homes or at the Great Falls Parkout on Saturdays.  For more information on the Great Falls Parkout, click here.  These companies transfer recyclable item to materials recovery facilities for sorting and sale to end buyers.  Items that cannot be recycled are typically sent to either a trash incinerator in Fairfax County or a landfill in Southern Virginia.

    To deal with household waste, the best options are to (1) reduce the items coming into your home, (2) reuse, or (3) donate when possible.  For items that can be recycled, there are a variety of local options. 

    Information on recycling and local resources:


    • #1 and #2 plastics (indicated by the number in the middle of the chasing arrow), aluminum and metal cans, paper, and cardboard are always recyclable curbside, and there is a market for the recycled product.  Check with your recycling provider for the full list of items they accept. Items should be loose, clean, and dry.  Do not put them in plastic bags before placing them in your recycling bin or in the recycling truck at the Great Falls Parkout.
    • Glass should be taken to the big purple bin behind the Great Falls Library.  The glass collected will be ground and reused to create new products.
    • Soft plastics (often called plastic film), such as plastic grocery bags, film wrap, sandwich bags, deflated bubble wrap, and other flexible plastic packing materials, should not be placed in your curbside recycling bin or the Great Falls Parkout recycling truck because these items interfere with the machinery at the materials recovery facilities.  They can be dropped off in the box at the front of Safeway and other local grocery stores.  If the packaging says “store drop-off” then they are referring to this process.
    • Eyeglasses can be recycled at the library in the Lion’s Club box.

    Food Scraps

    • Most food scraps, paper, and cardboard can be composted at home.
    • Fairfax County also offers industrial composting which can handle additional food scraps not suitable for backyard composting, like meat, bones, and dairy.  The County has begun piloting compost pickup at local farmer’s markets, with the closest being the Herndon farmer’s market.  The I-66 transfer station is another option for compost and cooking oil drop-off.
    • There are some private companies offering curbside compost pickup in Northern Virginia.

    Other Household Waste

    • Yard waste can be left curbside for those who have curbside residential service (do not place in plastic bags) or left on your property to return nutrients to the soil.  Yard waste is not accepted at the Great Falls Parkout.
    • Electronics can be recycled at certain stores, like Best Buy and Verizon, or brought to the Fairfax County I-66 transfer station.
    • Hazardous waste, like paints, pesticides, certain household cleaners, batteries, etc., must be brought to the I-66 transfer station.  You can find the full list of materials they accept here.
    • Mom’s Organic Market in Herndon accepts a variety of materials, including cell phones and tablets, batteries, food scraps, eyeglasses, shoes, oyster shells, and natural cork.
  • 05 Jul 2022 10:38 AM | Peter Falcone (Administrator)

    An open letter from a local developer describing a proposal to build four townhomes on a parcel on Seneca Road has galvanized neighbors in vigorous opposition.  Some have suggested that the plan could open the door for townhouse proposals elsewhere in the Great Falls community.

    At a meeting of the GFCA Land Use and Zoning Committee (LUZ) on Tuesday June 14, a GFCA member and the president of the Seneca Gate Homeowners Association provided a letter from the developer, Bruce Leinberger of Danforth Homes.  The letter indicated that Leinberger, a former Great Falls resident, has a contract to purchase the parcel for the purpose of building four age-restricted townhomes equipped with elevators and that, in his opinion, there is a need for this type of housing in Great Falls. 

    The parcel, located at 1002 Sherman Court, is an undeveloped one-acre (+/-) lot zoned R-1 which is adjacent to the Seneca Gate Homeowners eight-home subdivision and the Seneca Square shopping center (see red dot on accompanying image).  The parcel also contains a cemetery.  County land records provide details that it was established by an early Great Falls family and that it has requirements for perpetual care. 

    Following the LUZ meeting, an estimated 60 persons appeared at the proposed site on Saturday morning, June 18, to attend a three-hour fact-finding session conducted by the developer.  The LUZ Chair spoke with every person in attendance over that period and concluded that not one person expressed support for the proposal.  In fact, she noted several residents engaged in heated exchanges with Mr. Leinberger.   

    To build a townhome cluster in a residential R-1 District where the parcel is located, county policies would require a rezoning of the parcel.  A rezoning application would entail a detailed review and analysis by staff and public hearings before the Fairfax County Planning Commission and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.  The rezoning of land can only be approved by that board.  Moreover, the County’s Comprehensive Plan promotes the preservation of the community’s low-density environment.  There are currently no townhomes in Great Falls. 

    The GFCA LUZ chair described this case as presenting a unique and significant zoning issue for GFCA and the community because of the age-restriction aspect.  The LUZ chair noted that the zoning regulations are exceedingly complex as applied to this type of proposal.  Furthermore, the precise nature of the project remains in question as formal development plans have yet to be submitted. 

    At least two options appear to be available to the developer.  The proposal could be submitted as a development of four townhomes which would require a Comprehensive Plan Amendment and rezoning, or it could be submitted to Fairfax County Department of Planning & Development as an Independent Living Facility which would entail an application for a Special Exception.  If it is submitted as a Special Exception project, many requirements have to be met in order to qualify for approval.  At a minimum, these would include:

    • Provisions for an Affordable Dwelling Unit as part of the four-unit townhome development,
    • Amenities, such as on-site meal programs,
    • Provision of common areas,
    • Special architectural features that would facilitate use by the intended residents,
    • Transportation; and,
    • Support services and staff.

    GFCA has also learned that Mr. Leinberger requested a “pre-application consultation” with Fairfax County Zoning Evaluation Division staff to review his concept and advise him on what requirements he must meet.  He has also been extended an invitation to attend a meeting of the LUZ Committee when he has more information to provide.

    Several GFCA LUZ committee members have expressed their views that there could be widespread opposition to any plans for townhomes to be developed in Great Falls because of its current low-density semi-rural character.  Based on the preliminary nature of this proposal, and the series of county approvals needed to move it forward, community feedback will be sought at every step. 

    Interested persons are invited to submit their comments or ask to receive email updates on this project.  Please email: Jennifer.Falcone@GFCA.org

  • 05 Jul 2022 10:37 AM | Peter Falcone (Administrator)

    On Saturday, June 11, the membership of the GFCA re-elected nine board members for upcoming terms via a Covid motivated “drive-in-person” voting procedure held outside the Great Falls Library.

    Turnout for the election was 50% higher than usual in electing:  Bill Canis, President; Chris Rich, Vice President; Elizabeth Huebner, Secretary; and Michael Barclay, Winnie Frost, Dawn MacPhee, Ed Phillips, Phil Pifer and Rick Solano as Directors.

    In addition to voting, several members took advantage of the opportunity to chat with the socially distanced board members who were on-hand about a range of community issues.  For the Connection newspaper coverage, go to GFCA Election 2022. 

  • 05 Jul 2022 10:34 AM | Peter Falcone (Administrator)

    As reported in the June newsletter, a stop work order was issued to Washington Gas when it was learned that it was not adhering to its permit for the work that its contractor was doing on Georgetown Pike between Stephanie Circle and Ellsworth Avenue.

    GFCA is particularly concerned about the damage that was done to the roadbed given that Georgetown Pike is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and disturbance of the roadbed has the potential for harming this historic resource.

    In addition to reviewing the engineering and design plans for the project before resuming any work, VDOT also called in its archaeologist to assess the road, develop requirements for addressing the damage that occurred, and set out procedures for future utility installations for review by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) in Richmond.

    On Monday, June 6, seven borings were done in advance of the joint field inspection of the site by representatives from VDOT, Washington Gas and others.  Since GFCA wasn’t allowed to participate in the field inspection because of safety considerations and federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations, GFCA requested a meeting with VDOT’s archaeologist after the inspection to discuss his preliminary findings and ideas for mitigation.

    Following this meeting, a letter was sent by GFCA to the archaeologist to ensure that he, as well as DHR and other VDOT staff who would be reviewing his report, understood that: (i) the Pike ‘s historic significance is based on its status as an engineered and constructed structure that remains in its original alignment on the original roadbed, (ii) how the road was constructed varied depending on the conditions of where it was located and funding, and (iii) what was observed in the boring pits during the field inspection is as historically significant as other locations on the Pike where the engineering is more complex.

    VDOT’s archaeological report, received on June 14, acknowledged the historical significance of Georgetown Pike and its importance to the community.  It also stipulated four requirements:

    1.  Washington Gas Company must relocate the utility line to the location that was noted on the plans submitted with their Land Use Permit, off of the existing Georgetown Pike roadway.

    2.  The abandoned trench must be restored utilizing VDOT’s open cut pavement restoration requirements to ensure that no additional damage occurs to the roadway, however replacing the same soil that was originally excavated from the trench is not possible.
    3.  Any future utility installation that is proposed to be installed within the existing Georgetown Pike must be installed utilizing directional boring to avoid potentially important road foundation deposits.

    4.  For future permitted projects that will directly impact the Georgetown Pike roadway and that require a Land Use Permit from VDOT, that agency (or the permittee) will provide a notification as a courtesy to the GFCA withing 72-hours of the planned beginning of the project.

    While concurring with the first three requirements, GFCA advised VDOT that the fourth requirement was problematic as more notice should be given in advance of any project which may impact the historic Georgetown Pike.  VDOT’s response to GFCA’s letter on the issue, as well as a date for repairing the roadbed, are pending.


  • 05 Jul 2022 10:28 AM | Peter Falcone (Administrator)

    Many residents have gotten caught up in surprise delays along Georgetown Pike over the last month.  Many forces have converged on this backbone of our community, with one delay after another.

    GFCA jumped into action when the first of these road closures happened the week of May 16.  We noticed that in laying a new gas line, the Washington Gas contractors were digging up part of the historic Pike roadbed.  Upon further investigation by GFCA and Supervisor Foust’s office, we learned that Washington Gas was not adhering to its permit.  As discussed in the article below, the gas line was put on hold, and we have asked to be notified when it is approved. 

    Almost no sooner had normalcy returned to the Pike than motorists were beset with new delays caused by repaving work on portions of the Pike.  Delays are still encountered even as this newsletter goes out.

    In regard to future land use permits, including those for utilities, GFCA has requested that notice of more than 72 hours be given before construction work begins so we can comment, ensure no damage will be done to the historic Pike roadbed, and notify all GFCA members in advance.  GFCA has also asked about VDOT’s process for reporting and addressing land use violations should they occur, as well as what is entailed in granting permits for all work in the right-of-way.

    With respect to routine patching and spot paving, GFCA has asked that the anticipated dates for work in Great Falls be provided (see the 2022 Statewide Paving Status Map).

    Bill Canis

    In the June newsletter, we noted that the Great Falls Grange Foundation (GFGF) would hold a community meeting at the Grange on June 29.  Because of a private memorial service now scheduled for the adjacent Old Schoolhouse that would overlap, GFGF has postponed the community meeting until July 27 at 6:30 p.m. 


  • 07 Oct 2021 1:23 PM | Peter Falcone (Administrator)

    Newcomers to Great Falls, Va. soon realize that they have settled in a vibrant and growing community with a wonderful environment to raise a family, or to enjoy the peace and tranquility amid the surrounding hustle and bustle of suburban Washington. Once referred to as Forestville, reflecting the area’s dense tree growth punctuated only by farms of its early settlers, the community was renamed Great Falls in 1955, a name that aptly reminds us of the nearby falls and rapids of the Potomac running along its northern border.

    Though Great Falls’ early history has been replaced by a community largely residential in nature, some visible evidence of its past remains. Travelling along the nationally recognized historic Georgetown Pike, Great Falls’ main thoroughfare, visitors will see traces of that era. For example, the Turner Farm at Georgetown Pike and Springvale Road is now operated by the Fairfax County Park Authority. A large dairy barn and other buildings, including the Turner Family home, still stand. Turner Farm Park is now home to an equestrian facility, the County’s only Astronomical observatory, and the Turner Farmhouse Resident Curatorship.

    Approaching Great Falls from Route 7, the fully restored 200-year-old Colvin Run Mill with its functioning water wheel powering an operational mill is open for visitors to tour and attend special programs. Beautifully wooded and landscaped grounds, including a general store, offer opportunities for picnicking, shopping, and hiking nearby trails. Other historic sites in the community include the Great Falls Grange and the Forestville Schoolhouse located in the village, both fully restored and available for special events and private celebrations. Numerous athletic and recreational facilities dot the community, along with two major parks —Riverbend and Great Falls.

    The community, like most in Northern Virginia, also enjoys a top rated primary and secondary school system. But it is ultimately the residents that make the community special — passionate about what they value and working together to support local organizations, institutions, businesses, people, and events that offer the opportunity to interact. Celebrate Great Falls Foundation, the Rotary, the Garden Club, and numerous others, including Great Falls Citizens Association (GFCA), make Great Falls what it is and what it will become. - Great Falls Citizens Association, GFCA, organized in 1968, is a community organization engaged in keeping residents apprised of developing issues as they arise, offering a forum to express 


  • 25 May 2021 12:22 PM | Peter Falcone (Administrator)

    The Executive Board of the Great Falls Citizens Association (GFCA) recognized Eric Knudsen on Saturday, May 15, as the recipient of its 2021 Glen Sjoblom Award for his “long-time, extensive and meritorious service to the community of Great Falls.” Local, regional, and state leaders attended the special program held at the Great Falls Village Centre Green. GFCA honored Knudsen, who tirelessly devoted himself for several decades to enhancing Great Falls through his work on local transportation, land use, and environmental matters.

    GFCA established the Glen Sjoblom Award to recognize its members who excel in serving their community. It is the organization’s only award for outstanding service. Current GFCA President Bill Canis said that without this kind of civic involvement and activism, the community Great Falls citizens and others know today would have withered away.

    “We are gathered to celebrate the people who are dedicated to that philosophy,” said Canis. Eric Knudsen is one of those people.

    Glen Sjoblom is the 2019 Award recipient. He put the award in the context of the long commitment of GFCA’s pioneering board members, those who served the community since the organization’s founding in 1968.

    According to the honoring resolution, Knudsen served on the GFCA board with a distinguished record for more than 15 years, including three years as president, three years as vice-president, and additional terms as chair of the Transportation and Land Use & Zoning Committee.

    As President, Knudsen improved the efficiency and management of GFCA board proceedings, collaborating with past presidents to create GFCA’s first Policy & Procedures Manual that guides the organization. His prioritization of on-site visits to personally evaluate land use and transportation issues provided accurate perspectives and insights. The documented visits became a hallmark of GFCA’s work, validating issues the organization brings forward to the staff at Fairfax County and Commonwealth and developers.

    Knudsen launched ongoing investigative and mitigation efforts in the community to control stormwater runoff. He participated in a GFCA committee tasked with overseeing the cleanup of chemical spills in the center of Great Falls that threatened residents’ well water. It culminated in a program managed by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

    Leading land use negotiations with the County and developers led to the rezoning of Brooks Farm and plans for a SunTrust Bank. According to the resolution, Knudsen became a “driving force for the establishment of the Great Falls Grange Foundation, serving as the GFCA representative in establishing that organization to preserve one of our community’s most important historical assets.”

    Knudsen also co-chaired the Transportation Committee. In collaboration with co-chair Joan Barnes, they worked to have the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) revise its proposed plans for the intersection of Route 7 and Georgetown Pike, reducing congestion and ensuring greater safety. Knudsen initiated and managed negotiations with engineers and county staff to narrow Walker Road, facilitating pedestrian crossings in the commercial center.

    Knudsen’s interest in citizen input in the widening project of Route 7 between Reston Avenue and Tysons led to the Route 7 Working Group. This eight-year commitment advised VDOT and included participation by the McLean and Reston citizens associations.

    Speakers at the May 15 award presentation praised Knudsen for his record of service. Virginia State Senator Barbara Favola (D-31) commended Knudsen for giving residents a voice by reaching out to them for verified consensus. She called these characteristics the hallmark of strong nonprofit organizations.

    GFCA Board member Gary Pan worked with Knudsen to establish the Great Falls Grange Foundation. He commended him for helping to breathe new life into the historic building and providing a new level of community involvement.

    “I have worked closely with Eric Knudsen on numerous transportation and land use projects over the years,” said Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville). “His leadership has improved life for residents of the Great Falls community. In 2011, I selected him to represent Dranesville as Lord Fairfax. He is a worthy recipient of the Glen Sjoblom Award for community service,” Foust said.

  • 10 Apr 2021 12:34 PM | Peter Falcone (Administrator)

    Upgrades at Route 7’s intersection with Towlston Road will boost safety with more generous turning radii and better sightlines, state transportation officials told the Great Falls Citizens Association (GFCA) at a March 31 online meeting.

    The upgrades, part of VDOT’s project to widen Route 7 between Reston and Tysons, are being executed by the design/build team of Dewberry and Shirley Contracting.

    GFCA’s main concerns are the intersection’s post-construction safety and functionality, said Scott Knight, who co-chairs the group’s Transportation Committee.

    Safety is poor for drivers entering Route 7 from Towlston Road, GFCA members said. Local resident Steve Meyer said he hoped Route 7’s speed limit there could be lowered to 45 mph after construction is finished.
    Route 7 is designed for speeds up to 60 mph and Towlston Road for 35 mph, said Steve Kuntz of Dewberry, VDOT’s design consultant for the project.

    VDOT has reduced Route 7’s speed limit to 45 mph in the construction area, as many of the roadway’s elements did not support speeds of 55 to 60 mph before work began, he said. VDOT plans to raise the speed limit back to 55 mph when the improvements are finished.

    Towlston Road’s speed limit is 35 mph, but VDOT is moving to reduce it permanently to 25 mph between Route 7 and Leigh Mill Road, VDOT district construction engineer Bill Cuttler, who is overseeing the Route 7 widening project.

    Michael Barclay, the other co-chairman of GFCA’s Transportation Committee, sought confirmation that sightlines at the redone intersection would meet or exceed VDOT’s design standards, especially for motorists turning left from southbound Towlston Road onto eastbound Route 7.

    When the project is finished, motorists on southbound Towlston Road will be able to see 1,100 feet to the east on Route 7, Kuntz said. A signal pole now on the northeast corner of the intersection will be relocated this summer, allowing for improved sightlines and turning movements, he said.

    The project will lengthen turn lanes leading up to the intersection and provide three southbound lanes on Towlston Road approaching Route 7, including dedicated left-turn, right-turn and through-traffic lanes, Kuntz said.

    The intersection’s permanent configuration will not be finished until 2024.
    “It is still a work in progress, so we still have time to make tweaks if tweaks are warranted,” Kuntz said.

    The turning radius for drivers turning right from westbound Route 7 onto northbound Towlston Road currently is so tight that large vehicles often encroach on Towlston Road’s southbound lane when executing that maneuver, Barclay said.

    The new crossing will be designed so shorter, articulated tractor trailers with trailers up to 33 feet long, as well as non-articulated vehicles such as school buses and fire engines, can turn onto Towlston and remain in their own travel lane.

    Trucks with 53-foot-long trailers, such as those used by long-haul semis and large moving vans, would have to turn wider or encroach briefly on opposing traffic lanes when turning onto Towlston, he said.

    Several callers at the meeting told cautionary stories about safety at the intersection. GFCA members also expressed concerns about traffic impacts from Toll Bros.’ Arden development, which will build at least 100 houses just north of the intersection and have one entrance onto Towlston Road.

    The Arden development likely will produce more traffic on Georgetown Pike and Old Dominion Drive, said GFCA board member Pam Grosvenor.

    “The Pike cannot and should not serve as a high-volume, east-west commuter route,” said Grosvenor, who favored encouraging motorists to use Route 7 instead.

    “Transportation is the most critical issue facing Great Falls at this point,” said GFCA president Bill Canis, citing the Route 7 widening project, proposals to replace a pair of one-lane bridges in the community and the 495 NEXT project, which will extend Express Lanes on the Beltway up to the American Legion Bridge.

    To view the GFCA’s meeting, visit


    Some of the concerns voiced during about safety at the intersection during the Great Falls Citizens Association’s (GFCA) March 31 meeting:

    • Michael Barclay cited a Dec. 6, 2020, accident in which a southbound car on Towlston Road was struck while turning by a pickup truck headed west on Route 7, killing Great Falls resident Holly Kuga, 72.

    “What the community is seeking is an assurance that the intersection will be safe as possible when VDOT completes its work under the widening process,” he said.

    • GFCA member Karl Pierson recounted how on March 22 a tractor-tractor driver had skidded into the tight turn to avoid hitting his daughter’s vehicle.
    • Longtime Great Falls resident Susan Blakely told how she had been involved in a serious accident at that intersection four years earlier.
      “It cannot be denied that cars travel well above the speed limit on Route 7,” Blakely said.
    • David Marion, vice president of Leigh Mill Meadows Homeowners Association, said the group’s members want a dedicated left-turn arrow for drivers entering the intersection on southbound Towlston Road.
    • Four-decade resident Bill Glikbarg said he learned years ago not to accelerate immediately upon getting a green light on Towlston Road, as drivers on Route 7 often run that stoplight. He wondered whether a system could be installed to warn Route 7 motorists of impending red lights.
  • 10 Apr 2021 12:16 PM | Peter Falcone (Administrator)
    Reprinted from the Oct. 25, 2005 Edition of the Great Falls Connection.

    For a truck driver unfamiliar with the Great Falls and McLean area, Georgetown Pike can be deceivingly inviting as an alternate route to other more heavily trafficked roads.

    "On a map, it looks like a straight line," said Wade Smith, a member of the McLean Citizen's Association (MCA) transportation committee.

    William Byrnes, Chair of the MCA transportation committee agrees.

    "It looks perfectly innocent on a map," said Byrnes. "It's just too bad it doesn't have any place to turn around. It's scary for trucks once they are on it — they don't realize what they are getting themselves into and then they can't get off."

    Smith pointed out that truck drivers need to be warned about Georgetown Pike's sharp curves and hilly terrain.

    "It's largely people that don't know what they are getting in to," said Smith. "No truck driver from this region would ever choose that route."

    At last week's MCA transportation committee meeting, members discussed a resolution to urge the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and the Commonwealth Transportation Board to prohibit or restrict cut-through trucks, trailers and semitrailers on Georgetown Pike between the Washington Beltway and the intersection of Old Dominion Drive. The resolution asks that the Board of Supervisors first hold a public hearing on the issue, and that they then take steps to put limitations on truck traffic.

    "Can you think of any road in this area that is more scary to drive on than that stretch of road?" asked committee member Rob Bates.

    THE RESOLUTION STEMS AS THE RESULT of an initiative by Dranesville District Supervisor Joan DuBois. Four months ago, DuBois received a call from a Great Falls resident who had a near fatal run-in with a truck on Georgetown Pike.

    "He had an accident out there on one of the corners when a large truck going by had pushed him off the road," said DuBois.

    According to the MCA resolution, the resident "was nearly killed when a large tractor trailer could not physically navigate the sharp turns at Difficult Run, and fish-tailed, causing his vehicle to slide underneath the truck and be totaled."

    "He asked if we could do anything, and my office started looking into it and we found out that we can," said DuBois. "You can't keep local trucks off, but you do have the ability to work through VDOT [Virginia Department of Transportation] to keep trucks from using it as a cut-through."

    DuBois' office then contacted the Great Falls Citizen's Association (GFCA) and the MCA and asked for feedback. DuBois says she is currently waiting to hear back from the community, and will proceed with the initiative when it becomes clear that it is desired by local residents.

    "I need input from the citizens to make it happen because that's the way you initiate the restriction," she said.

    According to Ryan Hall, VDOT representative, a request for cut-through truck restrictions from the citizens is "just one step" in the process. Once the request is submitted, a public hearing must be held with the Board of Supervisors and VDOT, and VDOT must assess the impact of such a restriction.

    "But the final authority comes from the Commonwealth Transportation Board," said Hall.

    In an effort to help the situation, VDOT recently installed signs along Georgetown Pike stating that it is not recommended for tractor trailers and truck traffic.

    "But VDOT cannot restrict through-truck traffic without the County putting in a request and holding public hearings," said Hall.

    It appears that DuBois will be getting the feedback she needs to take the next step in the process. At its meeting last week the MCA transportation committee completed its resolution, which will be submitted to DuBois once the MCA Board gives the final approval. Additionally, the GFCA has declared its full support of DuBois and the MCA resolution.

    "The Board certainly does endorse the effort to try to restrict tractor trailers," said Eleanor Anderson, chair of the GFCA transportation committee. "They're much too big for Georgetown Pike and they can't negotiate the turns safely without going over into somebody else's space. They are inappropriate, especially since they are bigger and longer than trucks used to be. We are in full agreement with the MCA."

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