Residents of a Chantilly homeowner association near the intersection of Va. 50 and Rugby Road are petitioning the Virginia Department of Transportation to make changes to what they say are potentially deadly traffic patterns.
“The VDOT data base for accidents at the intersection of Route 50 and Rugby lists only six accidents within the last three years. But there have been at least four within the year, and from my research there have been more like six within the last 18 months and a fatality within the last two years,” said Hampton Brown, a Birch Pond homeowner. “There are at least 175 residents that are very concerned about it and I have been asked by the HOA board to get it resolved.”
According to Fairfax County Police records, there were 15 total vehicle crashes at the intersection in 2011.
In June, Brown put together a presentation outlining potential dangers with the current design of the intersection, which he provided to VDOT. He also sent it to Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield), Del. Jim LeMunyon (R-Chantilly) and U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Dist. 10).
Within the presentation were issues listed by Brown, such as a concrete barrier on Rugby Road that forces traffic to make U-turns into the intersection where more than 75,000 cars pass each day according to VDOT; buses stopping on Va. 50 to pick up and let off passengers; and poor pedestrian access that exists across the intersection.
“This has been a topic of discussion for years and I think we are at a head where something, in addition to the crashes and one fatality, very bad will occur again,” said Mark Fostek, president of the Birch Pond Homeowners’ Association, in an email. ”Traffic, speeds, and poor design exist in the current operating environment. I think we should get together… and chat about what we see every day. Hampton has done a great job of laying it out. We are looking for some solutions and mitigations to that area to decrease and reduce the risk of death and injuries. We have actually proposed a few in the past but gotten nowhere,” Fostek said.
Late last month, VDOT responded to Brown’s presentation.
“Unfortunately, the heavy volume of traffic using the intersection, the capacity available, and the nature of the side street and service road access conditions are difficult constraints,” said Don Ostrander. “While several minor adjustments have been made, no additional changes are planned at this time as a result of the field investigations, meetings and analysis.”
In a July 3 letter responding to an inquiry by Wolf on the issue, Ostrander’s superior, Northern Virginia District Administrator for VDOT Garrett W. Moore, said the issue already has been addressed and improvements to the intersection already have been implemented.
“VDOT staff met with Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity and several community representatives at the site last year … this meeting and our subsequent evaluation of the intersection led to the implementation of improvements to the traffic signal operations, signs, and pavement markings,” Moore wrote.
“The first on-site meeting was in December of 2010 and the second was in May, 2011,” Peyton Onks, a legislative aide for Herrity, confirmed.
But Brown isn’t giving up.
“Yes, I know they have had a series of meetings about this in years past, but what has been accomplished besides tweaking the traffic lights?” Brown said. “New development in Loudoun County’s South Riding neighborhoods has increased commercial truck traffic through this intersection since any meeting on this subject. Rugby Road is also the access road for Fairfax INOVA Hospital, so there are also ambulances going through here all the time. How many potentially fatal accidents do we need in order to rectify what is an increasingly dangerous intersection? I understand that it is inconvenient for VDOT to change a major intersection like this, but inconvenience should not usurp safety.”