|Old Columbia Pike at the Downing Street intersection.|
OCP residents in favor of the humps insisted they are necessary for safety reasons: Too many cars are speeding, which is a risk to pedestrians.
People who opposed the humps said other options would be more effective, such as stop signs or sidewalks. One resident suggested putting in stop signs first, which are much less expensive, and consider speed humps if that doesn’t work.
Other opponents said speed humps don’t work that well because people speed up in between, they will cause air pollution and drainage problems, the humps will slow down emergency vehicles, the bumpy ride will make it difficult for paramedics to work on patients, and once the humps are put in, they will never be removed.
The Fairfax County Department of Transportation determined that putting in seven humps along OCP would be the best way to address residents’ concerns with speeding. FCDOT rejected multi-way stop signs as an alternative, because that would cause more traffic congestion, said transportation planner Guy Mullinax.
He said sidewalks along OCP would be a major expense and might not be feasible considering the property rights issues. OCP resident Jack Lynch, whose family owns property along the road, offered to extend the walkway being put in on Elmdale Road all the way to Little River Turnpike along the eastern side of OCP.
The proposal calls for seven humps on OCP between Little River and Lincolnia Road close to these locations: 4432 OCP, 5660 Reserves Hill Court, 4330 OCP, 4311 Sleepy Hollow Road, 4204 OCP, 4037 Oxford St., and 4021 Oxford St. The humps would be 12 feet wide and about three to three and a-half inches high. There would be warning signs as drivers approach the humps advising them to slow down to 15 miles per hour.
Glen Ruh, a resident of The Pinecrest, said Pinecrest residents should be allowed to vote on the speed humps because they traverse the entire length of OCP frequently, while OCP residents usually just drive on part of the road to get to or from their homes.
FCDOT has determined that only 143 households will get to vote on the proposal. Those people either live directly on OCP or on side streets ending in cul de sacs where the only access is from OCP. Pinecrest is excluded because even though it borders OCP, the Pinecrest golf serves as buffer and residents have no direct access to the road.
Ruhe suggested the speed humps proposal, along with a lowering of the speed limit on OCP a couple of years ago from 35 to 25 mph was done for the convenience of the people in the new houses on Reserves Hill Court, adding, “Why is a small group allowed to turn a public thoroughfare into what is essentially a private driveway?”
Several people at the meeting questioned why a task force with just a handful of residents gets to the make the decisions. “We followed the county rules. We don’t have any authority. Every household gets a vote,” said task force member Hiep Nguyen.
Mullinax explained the procedure for residents who want traffic calming: Since the houses along OCP aren’t part of a community association or homeowners association, the county requires at least 10 residents who want a traffic calming measure to make a formal request to their representative on the Board of Supervisors, who then appoints a task force.
A traffic study is carried out to determine if the traffic volume and average speed meets the criteria for a traffic calming device. If it does, FCDOT works with the task force to consider various options and develop a conceptual plan, which the task force presents at a community meeting. In this case, there were two meetings because the plan was changed slightly after the first one.
The task force is now supposed to decide whether to proceed directly to the balloting phase, modify the plan based on citizen comments at the meeting, or scrap the plan altogether.
If the task force wants to begin the voting process, they could mail the ballots to the eligible 143 households as soon as they are ready. Residents would be given three weeks to mail their ballots to Supervisor Penny Gross.
At least 50 percent of the 143 ballots must be mailed to Gross’s office. If that doesn’t happen, the plan is dead and residents will have to wait two years before submitting another traffic calming proposal. If enough ballots are returned, at least 60 percent of them must be “yes” votes for the plan to proceed.