Local Commentary

A Penny For Your Thoughts: The News of Greater Falls Church

Pedestrian safety was the focus Monday as the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors proclaimed October as Pedestrian Safety Month. Improving pedestrian safety is an ongoing county initiative; Monday’s presentation was simply the formal recognition of efforts by county staff, public safety, and community members.

Fairfax County emphasizes a “three Es” approach to safety: education, engineering, and enforcement. There have been 12 pedestrian deaths in the county, noted Board Chairman Gerry Connolly, who added that more vigilance by drivers and pedestrians will be needed as the seasons change and the days get shorter. “As a county, we will continue our efforts…with our partners at the national, regional and state levels, to increase pedestrian safety and decrease pedestrian fatalities,” Chairman Connolly said.

A significant pedestrian safety project in Mason District is a planned pedestrian overpass from the Seven Corners Shopping Center to Willston across Arlington Boulevard (Route 50) west of its intersection with Patrick Henry Drive. Barring any unforeseen delays, the state-funded $4 million project is scheduled for construction in summer 2007, and will include fencing and landscaping along Route 50 to guide pedestrians to a safe crossing.

The Board of Supervisors’ Four-Year Transportation Plan provided more than $10 million for pedestrian project improvements, as well as $2.5 million to start implementing safety improvements at bus stops throughout the county. In addition, the first countdown pedestrian signals in the county were installed at Route 50 and Patrick Henry Drive. These signals let pedestrians know how long they have to cross the street, and how much time remains until the familiar orange hand signals “don’t cross.” Approximately 125 county intersections and higher-density activity centers are scheduled to have the countdown signals installed.

Last week, a pedestrian was struck near the Route 50/Patrick Henry intersection. No charges were placed against the driver who stopped immediately and called 911. The pedestrian was crossing outside of the marked crosswalk and witnesses stated that the injured man appeared to be intoxicated. The man was transported to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Also last week, a female J.E.B. Stuart student on her way to school was struck by a pick-up truck as she crossed against the green light at Columbia Pike and Blair Road. She was hospitalized with fractures, but is expected to recover.

Preventing such incidents is the focus of on-going pedestrian enforcement and education campaigns by the Fairfax County Police Department in high-pedestrian crash areas. Following aggressive outreach along Franconia Road in September and the Richmond Highway corridor in early October, the effort comes to the Route 50 and Patrick Henry area this week. NBC Channel 4 will be covering the police effort in coming days.  

Don’t forget to vote! Registered Fairfax County voters may vote absentee in person at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale, weekdays from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m., and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. The last day to vote in-person absentee is Saturday, November 4. Election Day is Tuesday, November 7, and you should vote at your regular polling place.