June 04, 2010

The Route 1 Active Transportation LAKE

Yes, lake. Not lane. Lake. But first, an update on another issue.

The other issue being the traffic signal at Route 1 and Fort Hunt Rd, just south of the Beltway. The pedestrian signals here have been hiding behind black plastic bags for months. It got to the point where Turbineblade (coincidentally a neighbor of mine who's a bicycle enthusiast) complained on TheWashCycle on Tuesday.

So I did a quick walkabout after the storms yesterday evening to check on both the signal and the "lake".

Of course, no walk/bike ride would be complete without some driver stopping halfway into the crosswalk. No excuse for this guy...the light on Huntington Ave was red for a full 20 seconds before he got down here.

Then there's the dirt/silt piles. Not just the sidewalk here on this side, but the ATL (bike/ped path) on the other side of Route 1 have had these dirt/silt piles ever since the February snowstorms. Nobody has bothered to clear them off yet. More on that later.

Then I got down to the intersection at Fort Hunt Rd, where I happily saw that the plastic bags were removed and the pedestrian signals were operational:

I did notice two problems with the signals, though. First, and this is the same issue at Huntington Ave, they're not automatic...you have to push the button in order to get the walk signal. While I could see doing this late at night for crossing Route 1, I see no reason why the pedestrian signals can't be automatic during the normal daytime cycles...especially on Route 1 itself. Also, the daytime cycle lengths for cross-traffic crossing Route 1 are long enough to where they could also easily be automatic for the pedestrian signals.

The second problem is that the walk phase on the northbound Route 1 side changes to "don't walk" way too quickly, especially since the green phase for northbound Route 1 is quite long.

Now, moving on to our Active Transportation Lake, which "Whiteknuckled" complained about on TheWashCycle on Wednesday. I've noticed this one too in recent weeks, especially after it rains (like it did yesterday evening). Here's one of the culprits:

This is one of two drains (the other is hidden under the "lake") that have been clogged with dirt and debris ever since the storm. Because they're clogged, we get this "lake" forming every time it rains.

So last night, I sent out an E-mail about both the "lake" and the dirt/silt on the paths/sidewalks. I addressed it mainly to VDOT and the Wilson Bridge team, but also CCed several others, including the Fairfax County Supervisor for the district, the two State Delegates for the area...their district line goes right through the Route 1/Fort Hunt Rd intersection, and the State Senator for the area. Below is the E-mail I sent, verbatim:

I'm writing regarding the Active Transportation Lane (bike/ped path) along Route 1 in eastern Fairfax County, between Huntington Ave and the bridge over Hunting Creek on the south side of the 95/495 Beltway (constructed as part of the Wilson Bridge project).

Ever since the February snowstorms, the path/lane has been covered with piles of dirt and silt leftover from snow clearing operations. This dirt and silt has still not been swept up/removed. Also, at the south end of the Hunting Creek bridge, there are two deck drains that have been clogged with dirt/silt/debris, which in recent weeks has resulted in this section of the lane flooding over every time it rains, as can be seen in the attached photograph (taken after this evening's thunderstorms). I'm not sure if this is still under the Wilson Bridge contractor or if it's under VDOT maintenance now, but this situation is unsatisfactory and these dirt piles and drains should be cleared out as soon as possible.

Thank you for your time. If you have any questions for me, please E-mail me.

Before I even got to bed, I had an E-mail from Delegate Surovell, saying "This is ridiculous" and directing his legislative assistant to get an answer from VDOT. Early this morning, I got an E-mail from Bob Driscoll, manager for VDOT's Fairfax Maintenance district, stating he wasn't sure if his maintenance district was responsible for this section, but he'd direct it to the proper maintenance district if it isn't Fairfax.

So we'll see. Hopefully, it'll get to the right person, get to them soon, and we'll have cleared out drains and an "empty lake" before too long.


Steve Davis said...

Froggie, I don't know if the border is ever exactly where the sign is (since it's not a sign JUST for the border here, it's also for the overhead road sign), but the lake appears to be split in half almost by the border.

Feel free to pass this picture along to those folks if you think it will help them figure it out. Looks like most of the lake forms on the Alexandria side, but the clogged drain is in Fairfax.


Yes, this is whiteknuckled, and yes, I have too many internet aliases. :)

Steve Davis said...

let me try that in code:


Steve Davis said...

Also, I keep thinking that crosswalks should just always be painted green. Everywhere I know that's pricey, but so are roads, right? It would be a strong consistent visual cue in places like this for people to stay out of the sidewalks. Or at the very least zebra stripe 'em. Or use patterned concrete. Whatevs.

Froggie said...

In this case, the actual county/city line is not at the sign, but is about 500 feet further along, so the entire "lake" is, strictly speaking, within Fairfax County.

Rootchopper said...

When Surovel was running for office he went door to door for votes. At my house he spent a good 15 minutes talking about bicycling. It turns out he rode his bike across the US just after college.