Thursday, July 12, 2007

Glebe/Carlin Q&A: No Changes to Pedestrian Crossing Times

New Signs, New Lines, More Enforcement to Help Traffic Calming, County Says

The following questions were generated by Buckingham citizens at the June 29 meeting of county staff and citizens at The Carlin senior living apartment building on N. Carlin Springs Road. The responses come from county staff. The meeting addressed the on-going renovation of the N. Glebe Road and N. Carlin Springs Road intersection outside the Ballston Commons Mall.

The questions and answers are taken from the official notes from that meeting, provided by Tom Hutchings, the county’s project manager of the renovation. Check out the July 10 story on this renovation. The photo, above, also came from the county meeting notes.

Q: Can the pedestrian lead times be longer? [Lead time is the time given to pedestrians to cross before allowing any traffic to move. –ST]
A: The current five second lead time allows pedestrians to begin crossing before traffic. It was suggested that residents cross Glebe to the mall on the south side of the intersection from the Goodyear corner and return on the north side Exxon corner to best take advantage of the lead times. Returning on the south side of the intersection may also be a good option. Extensive lead times confuse both pedestrians and drivers and would not create a safer condition overall. Information on Metro bus routes was also shared with the residents as an alternative way to get to the mall or the Ballston Metro rail and bus station. There is a Metro bus stop nearby The Carlin.

Q: Can there be a complete pedestrian walk phase?
A: The intersection currently has a very long pedestrian walk time at 38 seconds. This is creating short cycles for vehicles and the back up on Carlin Springs is often more than one cycle now. A complete pedestrian phase would worsen vehicle flow on Glebe and Carlin Springs roads where signal timing is coordinated with multiple signals along Glebe Road. A full pedestrian cycle would need VDOT approval and would significantly increase delay for both motorists and pedestrians.

Q: Can there be speed humps on Carlin Springs?
A: Carlin Springs is an arterial street that is a main route for transit as well as emergency vehicles. Speed humps are not recommended based on current county policy for arterial streets.

Q: Can there be a ladder crosswalk in front of the mall garage entrance? [A “ladder” crosswalk is created when the lines are painted to look like a ladder lying flat across the road. –ST]
A: Yes. This will be added to the project plans, and staff have submitted a work order to install the striping in August or sooner depending on the contractor’s schedule.

Q: Can right turn on red be eliminated?
A: Right turn on red prohibition does not eliminate pedestrian conflicts, and in some situations actually increase them. This is not recommended for this intersection. Some approaches of the intersection are currently signed “No Turn on Red when Pedestrians Present”. Staff will request police enforcement at this intersection to help address this issue. Residents strongly supported additional police enforcement. Visibility on the south side of the intersection is blocked due to the shrubs in the center island. Staff has issued a work order to removed 50’-75’ of the shrubs as needed to open up the view for both pedestrians and traffic.
[In a subsequent email, Mr. Hutchings wrote: “I have just received word that the Arlington County Police Department will be conducting a 30 day enforcement detail at the intersection of Carlin Springs and Glebe Road. This action will be starting within a week. The officers will be looking for both speeding and turning violations with a focus on pedestrians.” County police were unable to verify this information in time for this post. –ST]

Q: Can striping be put in front of The Carlin entrance to stop the cars waiting for the Glebe Road light from blocking the driveway?
A: There is currently a sign in front of the driveway that says “DO NOT BLOCK”. We will add a stop bar on Carlin Springs at the driveway to reinforce driver behavior.

Q: Can the two parking spaces in front of The Carlin be removed to help with the visibility of oncoming traffic?
A: If they are removed, traffic will use the parking lane as an extension of the Glebe right turn lane and two lanes of traffic could then block The Carlin entrance. The two parking spaces also have a traffic calming effect by not allowing cars to speed up to the Glebe intersection in a dedicated long turn lane.

Q: Can the County sign the Street “Senior Citizens Present” or something similar?
A: Staff is exploring this option, but it has not been used before and it is unclear if this would change driver’s behavior. Police enforcement of current signage may be more effective.

Maybe I'm a heartless bastard (or maybe I'm still annoyed from being part of the hashing group they called the cops on, oh so many years ago), but our Very Valued Senior Citizens at the Carlin need to get in line for improvements. If a single dollar is spent on that intersection before the Pershing/Glebe intersection, I think armed insurrection is warranted.

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