More than a year after a traffic light pole came crashing down in high winds at the corner of Annandale Road and Hillwood Avenue in Falls Church, the intersection’s signal is still waiting for its permanent replacement which City officials now say won’t be in place until sometime next year.
Since March of 2018, a temporary signal has been in place at the intersection after the existing pole was felled on the afternoon of March 7. While a working signal has been in place for the last 15 months, the replacement has forced the City to close down the sidewalk at the corner of Annandale and Hillwood, causing pedestrians to either walk through a nearby parking lot or navigate the road at the busy intersection.
Initially, it was reported a new, permanent set of poles would take about 15 weeks to install at the intersection, but due to “reprioritizing after staff turnover,” a City official told the News-Press, that 15 weeks turned into 12 months. This past March, work finally began on the new signal but it came to a halt after it was discovered the new poles were unviable as a permanent replacement due to a contractor error. According to the City, “[The pole] is not a hazard in any way, but it will not work for the long term.”
Officials say a new pole for the intersection will take eight months to fabricate after the order is placed, a longer lead time than usual because the midwest factory where the poles are manufactured has been affected by flooding. After it’s completed, the City will still have to wait for delivery and then install the pole at the intersection. The earliest estimate on the installation of the permanent signal is around April 2020, more than two years after the pole first came down.
In the interim, the City said it’s exploring an alternative temporary solution that would install and activate lights on the pole currently in place (the one deemed unusable in the long term). This would remove the temporary, orange signal currently in place and re-open the sidewalk to pedestrian traffic. Once the new pole is ready for installation, the defective pole would be removed. The City is currently waiting on approval from the contractor for the new, temporary solution.