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Revised Neighborhood Traffic Plan Goes for City Council Vote

(News-Press photo)
(News-Press photo)

An updated and revised “Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program” will come for approval before the Falls Church City Council this Monday.

The program, developed by the City’s Planning Division in conjunction with the Citizens Advisory Committee on Transportation introduces more flexibility and capacity for a more rapid response to citizen petitions to address traffic problems in residential neighborhoods in the City. The new document, which was reviewed by the City Council this Tuesday, updates and revises the version currently operative as City policy which was adopted in November 2011.

“This revised version gives better guidance to the City staff on how to handle citizens coming to City Hall to seek a remedy, and it also allows for the City staff to more quickly respond to concerns,” said Senior City Planner Paul Stoddard.

Stoddard and Paul Baldino, chair of the committee, made the presentation on the new revised version to the Council Tuesday night.

The new policy also distinguishes between “light” and “heavy” solutions to concerns that have been established as valid, such as at the intersection of Parker and Kent Streets, where two pedestrians were injured in recent years, including one who was a student walking to school.

The “light” solution, according to Stoddard, has already been implemented there and involves painting crosswalks and adding signage. The painting has created for the average motorist the idea that the road narrows so they will slow down to drive more carefully.

“Our policy will be to try ‘light’ solutions first because they involve lower costs, can be implemented more quickly and are easier to change,” Stoddard said. Soon, he added, a data collection and evaluation of the “light” steps at the Parker and Kent intersection will be reviewed before moving ahead with a “heavy” solution that will involve concrete curb extensions and speed humps.

On Pennsylvania Avenue between Park and Great Falls another area of concern has been identified that will be subjected to a similar review and implementation. There, Stoddard said, a raised pedestrian crossing at Fulton Street might be the solution, and it will involve an allocation of $25,000 to $50,000 to complete.

Stoddard said the completion of the new revised policy, which will go into effect the minute the Council votes on it Monday, involved an exhausting nine work sessions of the transportation committee to hammer out. “Among other things that have to be taken into account are potential collateral consequences, such as flooding and storm water impacts.”

The new “Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program” is designed to be responsive and not pro-active. That is, it kicks in when a citizen or group of citizens come to City Hall to seek a solution to a perceived problem.

The new document also reconfigures an area around a problem, depending on whether the problem is in a mid-block or at an intersection. It is from such an area that gets identified that 51 percent of residents must sign a petition agreeing to the need for corrective action to be taken.

The new version also includes quasi-residential streets like West and Hillwood as candidates for action. They were excluded in the earlier version because they were not designated as primarily residential.

The calming guidelines are not to be confused with the City’s pro-active Pedestrian and Bike Plan that was shelved after being rolled out to major opposition from neighborhoods. That plan has been replaced by the “Mobility for All Modes” plan that has been folded into the City’s Comprehensive Plan and speaks only to general policy, only, without specific proposals.

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