Community Notice from
Dranesville Supervisor John Foust
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) had scheduled a second community meeting on efforts to identify potential congestion solutions for neighborhoods near the Beltway for this Thursday, September 13. However, due to the potentially severe weather the area is expecting and VDOT's emergency operations for the impending hurricane, the meeting has been canceled and will be rescheduled. I will send out another notice with the details of the meeting once a new date has been set.
Until then, materials from the first meeting that was held on August 2 are available online at http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/northernvirginia/mclean_traffic_analysis.asp. Written comments can be sent to email@example.com with the subject line "McLean Traffic Analysis."
It would be most helpful if you could share this information with your friends and neighbors.
John W. Foust
Dranesville District Supervisor
1437 Balls Hill Road
McLean, VA 22101
Residents who notice a public road, sidewalk or trail problem should report it to the appropriate authority as soon as possible so that the repair can be scheduled and completed before work is temporarily suspended for the winter (mid-to-late November through March).
While virtually all public roads and bridges in Fairfax County are maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), public walkways are maintained either by VDOT or Fairfax County. Repairs to trails in county parks are the responsibility of the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA). Residents who are uncertain about who maintains a particular road can use the county’s website: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news2/new-map-shows-who-maintains-roads-in-fairfax-county/. Those seeking information about a sidewalk, trail or pedestrian bridge should contact the County via their website (see below).
With respect to local roads, residents have expressed concern that the development will significantly increase traffic and congestion on Towlston Road, negatively impacting the nearby intersection with Route 7. Furthermore, the planned entrance roads to the development are felt to compromise driver and pedestrian safety given their proximity to the Route 7 intersection (southern entrance) and limited visibility (northern entrance). As such, GFCA has requested that:
While Supervisor Foust’s office has since indicated that VDOT’s Director for Fairfax & Arlington Counties has committed to performing a traffic study and reviewing the location of entrances to the proposed Toll Brothers subdivision, TRN will continue to monitor issues.
To review the Toll Brothers’ Concept Plan for the subdivision, see Attachment I - Grantstone - Phasing.png
Use Twitter to follow what is happening at Great Falls Park (including delays at the entrance affecting Old Dominion Drive):
For tweets to date see: https://twitter.com/Gr8FallsPark.
The National Park Service (NPS) will be waiving its entrance fee to Great Falls National Park this Saturday, April 21st, the first day of National Park Week.
The predicted sunny weather along with the opportunity to enjoy the park at no cost may result in back-ups on Old Dominion Drive from the park entrance. Based on experience, a backup could reach the intersection of Georgetown Pike and Old Dominion Drive, impacting through traffic on both roads. As such, before heading out Great Falls residents should check for alerts (www.511virginia.org, Waze, etc.) and plan their route accordingly.
The Transportation Committee is actively working with the NPS, VDOT, Supervisors Foust’s Office, and residents living near the park to address the problem of traffic congestion at the park. Opening a second window and a using variable message board on high-volume days have helped to shorten the processing time at the entrance gate. However, more robust long-term solutions are being considered.
Road hazards exist throughout the year, but the warmer weather brings with it the pothole “challenge” and other potential hazards for drivers.
Trees and vegetation, which enhance the semi-rural character of Great Falls, can also pose a risk. Overgrown shrubs and brush adjacent our two-lane roads can obscure road signs, hide driveways entrances, and reduce sight lines. Uncompacted gravel or loose dirt due to construction activities and rainwater runoff will cause a car to lose traction making it difficult to steer, particularly on a hill or curve. Trees and large stumps that are too close to the road are particularly dangerous to drivers who lose control of their vehicles. Drivers, as well as pedestrians, are put at risk if a tree’s health is ignored as dead or dying trees or tree branches may fall into the roadway or across a sidewalk or trail, causing injury or death.
Potholes are another threat. These holes, caused by the wear-and-tear and weathering of the roads, tend to proliferate in the spring. Although smaller ones may be a minor nuisance to drivers, if the hole is deep or wide enough, significant damage or an accident may occur.
Unfortunately, VDOT is unable to keep abreast of all local road conditions. This is where we, as a community, have to step in and speak out. Potholes and other hazards such as overgrowth in the VDOT right-of-way, and dead, dying or damaged trees near a road, i.e. those that have woodpecker damage, no leaves, bark and/or limbs falling off, and large hollows, should be reported as soon as they are observed. This can be done on-line at: https://my.vdot.virginia.gov/. Problems that require immediate attention should be called in: 1-800-367-7623 (FOR-ROAD).
Over the last few months, three of the 26 suggestions submitted by that community to address the issue were pursued by Senators Surovell (36th district) and Favola and Delegate Murphy during the 2018 legislative session in Richmond. Without specific legislation, the state has no legal authority by the Code of Virginia to impose or enact the proposed regulations.
Unfortunately, Senate Bill (SB) 623, that would have required digital routing providers to remove designated roads from their routing algorithms, was defeated in the Senate Transportation Committee. However, House Bill (HB) 295, remained alive. This bill “allows counties that operate under the urban county executive form of government (Fairfax County) by ordinance to develop a program to issue permits to residents of a designated area that will allow such residents to make turns into or out of the neighborhood during certain times of the day where such turns would otherwise be restricted.”
On February 8, HB 295 was approved in the House of Delegates (96-Y 3-N). While support in the Senate was more difficult to secure, the Senate Local Government Committee eventually passed HB 295 for continuance in 2019. Once the Governor signs the bill at the end of the next session, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors can act upon it when and where needed.
Although it is anticipated that McLean will be one of the first areas to benefit from this legislation, our community needs to consider how it might be used to curb cut-through traffic in Great Falls. TRN welcomes your feedback on this issue.
For information on the status of other ideas to address cut-through traffic problems see: http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/resources/NorthernVirginia/Citizen_Idea_Matrix_-_December_2017_Update.pdf
To review the status of individual bills and other information about Virginia’s 2018 legislative session see: http://lis.virginia.gov/
VDOT has advised that the Walker Road (Rt. 681) Bridge Replacement Project over Piney Run is currently on hold. While construction was originally projected to begin in summer 2018, the project hasn’t been funded as the bridge isn’t considered to be structurally deficient at the present time. Repairs that were done over the last few years have improved the bridge to the point that it didn’t meet the threshold for funding under VDOT’s Smart Scale program. This program ensures that limited tax dollars are invested in the right projects that meet the most critical transportation needs.
The Transportation Committee will continue to monitor the issue.
The Virginia Department of Transportation and Fairfax County Department of Transportation will host a community information meeting to discuss this year’s paving and restriping efforts in the Dranesville District on Tuesday, Feb. 22, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., at the Franklin Sherman Elementary School cafeteria, 6633 Brawner St., McLean.
Information about repaving and restriping will be on display in an open house format, with a presentation at 7:15 p.m. If you can't make the meeting, then you are invited to give your feedback through March 9.
Details, including proposed roads, can be found at: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/transportation/2018-paving-and-restriping/dranesville-district-paving-and-restriping
In the general area of Great Falls, the following roads are currently scheduled for work:
In early 2016 GFCA conducted a survey of the community in order to understand whether aircraft noise was a problem, and if so, the degree to which it impacted residents. While findings from the survey suggested that Great Falls didn’t have a serious issue at that time, over the past two years the Transportation Committee has continued to receive feedback from residents about excessive noise particularly in the River Bend and Leigh Mill Road areas east of the village, near the river and village, as well as further west near Seneca Road.
A graphic recently provided by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) Noise Office indicates concentrated flight paths over eastern Great Falls stemming from air traffic to/from Reagan National Airport (DCA) - see Great Falls VA DCA Ops.jpg. Similarly, fights paths related to Dulles (IAD) traffic seem to be near the Loudoun/Fairfax county border.
Despite many residents expressing their frustration with aircraft noise to GFCA and others, only a handful have actually taken the time to report such incidents, and this is where the difficultly lies. MWAA looks to such reports in determining whether a problem exists. Absent reports from a number of different residents, there really isn’t a noise problem. As such, we encourage you to report incidents of excessive noise. If these cannot be immediately reported, note the date, time, and location and report the incident later on MWAA’s website. It only takes a few minutes:
It’s time to speak up and speak out . . . or live with the noise.
For further information about the 2016 survey see the 01 May 2016 post on page 5 of Transportation News. (Select the Back to list button and then 5.)
The opinions expressed on these pages are those of the authors and may not reflect the views of the Great Falls Citizens Association
Great Falls Citizens Association
PO Box 27 • Great Falls, VA • 22066