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Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Residents urge officials to curb speeding and ban trucks on Backlick Road

An accident on Backlick Road and Jayhawk Street on Jan. 6. [Aaron Kelley]
Two serious accidents that occurred within 10 minutes of one another at about 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 6 highlight the safety concerns on Backlick Road in Annandale. A witness, Aaron Kelley, saw people holding infants as they got out of their wrecked cars at the Jayhawk Street intersection.

Kelley and his neighbors in the Crestwood Manor subdivision have been urging Mason Supervisor Penny Gross, the Fairfax County Police Department, and the Virginia Department of Transportation to do something to curb speeding on Backlick for the past couple of years – and now hopes something can finally be done.   

Kelley began to take notice of the safety problems several years ago when a student in his 20s, who was subletting Kelley’s home, was riding a bicycle on a side street off Backlick and was struck and killed by a drunk driver who was speeding. 

The speed limit on Backlick used to be 35 mph, but was raised to 40 about 10 years ago. Kelley would like to see it revert back to 35. He says many drivers zip along at 50 or 60 mph, which has led to many accidents, mostly at the curve by Jayhawk Street.

That’s a blind curve, Kelley says, and when traffic backs up before the stoplight at John Marr Drive, speeding trucks have to stop quickly, sometimes causing accidents. “We witness this on a weekly basis,” he says.

That’s just one of four remedies proposed on a petition signed by Crestwood Manor residents.

Kelley and his neighbors also want through-trucks banned from Backlick between John Marr and Braddock Road, although an exception would be made for trucks making deliveries in the neighborhood. Another proposal is traffic calming measures, such as speed bumps, on neighborhood streets.

The fourth proposal calls for the establishment of a Residential Permit Parking District (RPPD) in Crestwood Manor to prevent commuters and nonresidents from blocking neighborhood streets. Kelley believes much of that parking congestion is caused by people taking buses on Backlick and overflow from the Elan Mews and Ravensworth Towers.

Within the past year, Kelley says, 100 to 150 complaints were lodged with the police department about cars and commercial vehicles blocking private driveways. “That makes it hard to see oncoming traffic when backing out of our own driveways,” he says. Non-residents have also been throwing  litter on people’s yards, as caught on video from Ring cameras.

“All of those issues contribute to very unsafe traffic conditions,” Kelley says.

In response to the petition, Capt. Gregory Fried, commander of the Franconia Police Station, has agreed to increase patrols in that area, and Clara Pizana of Gross’s office asked VDOT to conduct a traffic study on Backlick Road and asked the Fairfax County Department of Transportation to review eligibility for a TTR, RPPD, and traffic calming.

Tom Folse, an assistant district traffic engineer in VDOT’s Northern Region Operations, informed Kelley that VDOT has delayed action as it waited for new equipment for measuring traffic speed and volume without having to enter the roadway. Once technicians are trained, they will conduct a study, he wrote in a Jan. 7 email. “After we have the data, it will take about a month and a-half to write a report and obtain police concurrence. So, if the weather is good, we could have a recommendation ready in March.” 

“I cannot foresee what the results of the study will be and whether the speed limit will be changed,” Folse wrote in an earlier email. “However, the speed study will also include recommendations for any other signing or pavement markings changes that may be needed to improve safety.”

Noting that the petition was officially submitted in October 2018, Kelley says, “it’s not acceptable that it’s taking so long.”

“So far we have tried to be patient,” he says. “Now we are encouraging other residents to reach out and pressure local authorities.”

16 comments:

  1. I don't know why people think that lowering the speed limit (for law abiding residents) from 40 to 35 will keep people who drive at 50-60 mph on a road. Traffic enforcement and education are the only things that stops that type of speeding.

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    1. This is a similar issue we have on Braddock Road. Get the damn trucks' through traffic off of our residential streets. This is what happens when FFX gave up its control of the roads to VDOT-a non-caring public entity that is just concerned with moving traffic and not the safety of residents, pedestrians or cyclists. The D in VDOT stands for DEVIL.

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    2. Reducing the speed limit to 35 and installation of a speed camera calibrated to 42 would do the trick, with minimal cost to the County.

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    3. Speed camera? There's no such thing in the Commonwealth.

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  2. Commercial vehicles are a problem all over Northern Virginia. There needs to be some system in place to accommodate these and yet have residents remain safe as they exit their own driveways. Banning commercial vehicles is one way to accomplish that but it just squeezes the tube somewhere else. Yet, we have all of this commercial parking space all over Annandale that sits empty all night long. It's a shame some enterprising person can't think of a way to connect these two items, turn those into pay for parking for evenings and weekends to charge the drivers for parking their commercial vehicles and get them off the roads so residents don't have to work around them. The Safeway parking lot alone could accommodate many, not to mention the K-Mart that has acres of empty parking. I know this is being redeveloped but perhaps a parking garage might solve some of this problem.

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  3. Don't hold your breath waiting for Penny Gross' office do do anything about it.

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    1. You are absolutely correct. The same on Lincolnia Road and trash everywhere. We have allowed a cultural that is not similuating into ours and placing their lack of law in our county. The other day on N. Morgan in Alexandria, speekers going 50 MPH in a 25 mile zone. I took a picture. The not speaking English cursed me out. There you go. No help for anyone when it comes to speeding. Turning over our streets to DoT is a disaster...The D stands for Danger.

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    2. I wouldn't hold my breath because her office doesn't own the road, the Commonwealth does. Please read the article carefully to see where they can only suggest that VDOT does a study. Let me get to the larger issue: the part where you insult immigrants and those of other cultures. You can make an argument about trash and driving without being racist. I have seen it done elsewhere in much more cogent and thoughtful a way and without the insinuations. Have a great, open-minded day!

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  4. I tried to get an electronic speed sign like being put all over Arlington. We were approved but then told there was no money, and probably never will be any funds. That is because FFX is at the mercy of VDOT and Gross will tell you she cant do anything.

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    1. Yet voted in by those that don't care about the Mason District area. The non-speaking English love Gross...no wonder there is no money. All the taxes that we pay and we can't get speeders off the streets, trash picked up and grass cut. Sickening what has happened to this area.

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    2. 6:01 Are you serious? It is not the county’s job to pick up trash. Litter prevention was a significant goal when I joined the Parklawn Civic Association. The only way to improve it is to clean it up. I take walks with a trash bag and trash picker-upper. One of my colleagues on the PCA cuts grass around the Braddock, Columbia Pike intersection because VDOT has other priorities. If you want improvement, act; don’t complain!

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  5. There are grants available for parking garages in economically challenged areas and I think Annandale might qualify. It's not there there aren't plenty of people making lots of income, but there are still economically challenged areas that need a helping hand. A parking garage in central Annandale and along the western perimeter might go a long way to solving some of the parking issues. But it is a community problem that needs community dialogue and a community solution and buy-in from those who are actually doing the illegal parking. It crosses districts, both Mason & Braddock and I encourage both to jump in and see what they cam make happen, and it's time for the private sector to step in as well and offer up some solutions. They already have parking garages for workers during the day, why not allow night time parking when those are not in use?

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  6. Residential Permit Parking in Crestwood manor would be a big help to congestion on these streets it has become very dangerous over the years from all the outside parking on our streets, not only blocking site lines for backing out of the driveways but also for emergency vehicles to move swiftly threw in case of fire or medical help. Posting of signs that the neighborhood streets are for residents of Crestwood and towing or fines would be enforced would help to curve a lot of unwanted parking and storing of vehicles, as of this morning while writing this there is over 6 vehicles parked in front of my residence right now not belonging to this neighborhood the congestion is definitely getting worse day by day.

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  7. A major part of the problem is homes/condos/apartments with double(or more) the capacity the units were designed for. When 6 unrelated people live in a 2 bedroom unit you will have at least 2 additional cars the site was not designed for. Multiply that bu 300 units you get the picture.

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  8. I am so sorry to tell you - but such a concentration of bad drivers like we have in Annadale / West Falls-Church area is unparalleled.

    You dont need to make traffic go slower, you need to remove bad drivers from the road.
    Drivers who go 20 in a 35 road, drivers who cant see where their going, drivers who have no idea how to operate a vehicle.

    This area is packed with old, incapable drivers.
    they should not be on the road.

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  9. Do we even know that speed was the problem for the accidents? In my driving experience in this area, I have seen many more distracted drivers than I have seen speeders. Lowering the speed limit is always the knee jerk reaction in this area, but it doesn't really solve the problems. Enforcement would, but the police don't want to put their resources on speed traps. The only ones I ever see are on Columbia Pike between Giant and Gallows Road.

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