Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Decade for New Lights and Curb Cuts

The Glebe/Carlin Springs Intersection Still to Receive Upgrades

Wait just another year. Or more like 16 months. Then, THEN, the corner of N. Glebe Road and N. Carlin Springs Road should have gotten new traffic signals, new paint on the crosswalks, wider islands (and shrubs removed) in the middle of Glebe Road, and wider sidewalks with better curb cuts (for those people who drive wheelchairs).

These improvements, part of the North Glebe Road Pedestrian Improvements Project, have been in the works since 1999—by the time they are completed it will have been nearly a decade to get new lights and curbs.

“Isn’t that incredible?” asked Tom Hutchings rhetorically. He is the county project manager overseeing the renovations. “I can talk about this without any apologies…I’m as frustrated as the community is.”

The $1.9 million project, funded by federal and state money, also covers the Glebe Road intersections at N. Fairfax Drive and Wilson Boulevard. The Carlin Springs intersection was the topic of a meeting June 29 at The Carlin, a senior independent living center on Carlin Springs Road about half a block from Ballston Commons mall.

The "apron" of the curb where this woman stands will be enlarged over the next 12 to 16 months.

Like other officials and project managers in Buckingham and the county, Mr. Hutchings sited difficulties dealing with VDOT and collecting all the proper easements from property owners.

“It’s shear process that’s part of VDOT design and approval. And Arlington, Arlington trying to establish urban standards on all our roads,” Mr. Hutchings said. He said the process has included trying to educate VDOT, trying to get them to see that Glebe is not Arlington Boulevard somewhere in Fairfax County, but a dense urban corridor with extreme pedestrian volumes.

Seniors who live in The Carlin walk through the intersection a lot. As well, residents such as Mick Pulliam, have complained about the speed of cars on Carlin Springs Road and the lack of visibility exiting The Carlin’s parking lot.

To be fair, Mr. Hutchings said he hopes some new paint will delineate crosswalks more clearly as soon as two weeks from now. He also said that the county tried to complete the relatively minor repairs at Glebe and Carlin Springs with its own money, but VDOT said that would put in jeopardy the funding for the entire project.

The shrubs that block the driver in the gold car from seeing the entire crosswalk will be removed.

Shrubs will be removed from the island on Glebe Road to increase pedestrian visibility. The county first has to figure out who “owns” the shrubs; that is, who put them in and maintains them, Mr. Hutchings said. Sidewalks and the islands that run down the middle of Glebe Road will be widened. The islands may get their own crossing lights. Curb "cuts" for wheelchair accessibility will be upgraded.

This island in the center of Glebe Road will be widened.

At one point, a pedestrian overpass was considered for the corner, but that was ruled out years ago for many reasons, the main two: the corner really does not have the space to install one, and people tend not to use overpasses, preferring street-level crossing, Mr. Hutchings said. Someday, the Goodyear Tire Company site might be redeveloped, and a new building might include an overpass.

Mr. Hutchings said the county has decided to make traffic “behave itself” so that pedestrians are safe.

[Notes from the June 29 meeting with tasks and other information were not available at the time of this post. I assume they will contain information of value; I’ll be sure to update this story. –ST.]

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