|An accident on Backlick Road and Jayhawk Street on Jan. 6. [Aaron Kelley]|
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.
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.”