Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Pedestrian Safety and Visibility Is Aim of Henderson/Thomas Renovation

Streetlight placement and the possibility of moving a bus stop dominated last night’s conversation between county staff and a few members of the Buckingham community as they discussed a renovation of the intersection of N. Henderson Road at N. Thomas Street. It was the second meeting between county staff and representatives of the property owners near that corner.

The intersection, known in the neighborhood for limited visibility and unmarked crosswalks, will be upgraded through the Neighborhood Conservation Program. It’s the first project to get funding in the neighborhood under the Buckingham Conservation Plan, written last year. [See a link to the full NCP under the drop-down menu "County Links" at right. --ST]

“The major design, I think we agree on,” said Stuart Engel, of Jackson Manor Condominium, which sits on the northeast corner of the intersection. He joined two people from Hyde Park Condominium and county staffers Angela Courtney and Dan Reinhard at the meeting.

By the end of last night's meeting, a copy of this drawing was covered in notes for minor changes to drainage, street light and bus stop placement. (Click to enlarge the image.)

The design pushes the sidewalks out into the streets a little more, giving drivers turning from N. Thomas onto N. Henderson a better view before crossing or merging with traffic. These sidewalk “nubs” should push the no parking zone farther from the intersection, increasing visibility, and shortening the distance for pedestrians to cross.

“It should get you out where you’ll be able to see past the parked cars,” Mr. Reinhard said. Drivers on N. Thomas will stop before the crosswalk and then roll forward and stop for the traffic on N. Henderson. “Virginia is a two-stop state.”

Available space on N. Henderson Road does not allow for the sidewalk nubs to shorten the distance on both sides of N. Thomas; however, the crosswalks will be “ladder” or “zebra” painted for increased visibility.

Mr. Reinhard suggested moving the street light that is tucked away in a corner of the sidewalk (see the upper right hand corner of the drawing) from the space between Jackson Manor and Hyde Park and putting a new one in front of Jackson Manor.

That section of the sidewalk, with awkward right-angle turns and little room for maneuverability, is a problem for the planners.

This street light, tucked into the trees, is planned to be removed and replaced by two lights, one in front of the Jackson Manor Condominium (the sand-colored building at right), the other near Hyde Park Condominium. In all, four lights will be added to the intersection. (Click to enlarge the image.)

“I didn’t find anything that really helped us out here other than moving the light,” Mr. Reinhard said.

Moving that light, which is hidden in the tree canopy, would mean a dark corner would get darker, and could feel dangerous to pedestrians.

Discussion led to adding another light near Hyde Park, just east of the current light.

A third light is planned for the northwest corner of the intersection. In all, four new lights are planned, including one on the south side of N. Henderson that will be installed when Paradigm development builds townhomes on the southwest corner of the intersection.

Mr. Engel also suggested moving the bus stop currently just east of the intersection to a location just west. He hoped this would push the no parking area even farther down the street, allowing for more visibility. However, the stop is a Metrobus, so it is not controlled by Arlington. As well, moving the stop might have other problems with traffic flow. There was a question of whether it is possible at all.

“We’ll put the question to our transportation people and our bus people,” Mr. Reinhard said. “We’ll find out.”

By the end of the meeting, Mr. Reinhard’s copy of the plan had many notes and reminders covering it.

The County's Dan Reinhard consults the proposed renovation plan with Sara Ellen Swatt, a representative of the Hyde Park Condominium. (Click to enlarge the image.)

Other changes and timeline:

  • ADA accessibility ramps east of the intersection in front of the Hyde Park’s pool driveway.
  • Grass swatches (shown green in the drawing) on the northwest, northeast and southwest corners of the intersection to match grass strips already there.
  • Mr. Reinhard will look into whether the corners can be “yellow painted” to decrease the number of people who might park in the no parking areas.
  • Mr. Reinhard will look at drainage issues on the south side of the intersection.
  • County staff needs to complete the plans and get all necessary signatures by the end of the month. The plan becomes part of the budget process, finalized this summer. Mr. Reinhard said he thought the project would be completed by late spring or early summer next year.

  • Related stories…
  • Sen. Ticer Will Try Pedestrian Bill Again Next Year
  • County: Give Bham Real Crosswalks

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