Little Falls Traffic Calming
Little Falls Road between N. Harrison St. and N. Lexington St. to Receive Traffic Calming Assistance
Notice: The next working group meeting on this project is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 3, 2003, at Little Falls Church. Affected residents
are encouraged to attend.
On August 6th, 2003, Little Falls Road from Harrison Street west to Lexington Street was declared to be eligible to receive
traffic calming assistance through the Arlington County Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program.
This declaration was made by the County's Neighborhood Traffic
Calming Committee (NTCC) based on studies of current speeding and other traffic
conditions on this street.
The east half of this street segment falls within the Yorktown Civic Association boundaries, while the west end
forms the boundary between the Williamsburg (south side of the street) and Rock Spring (north side) civic associations.
The project is being staffed by Jeff Sikes (703/228-3696) of
the Arlington County Public Works Department. Feel free to contact Jeff for additional information.
The following notes on developments to-date have been posted on the Williamsburg Civic Association's website by Williamsburg President Ellen Jones:
Meeting: The first neighborhood meeting on the project was held
on September 22nd, 2003, at 7:30 PM in the Little Falls Church Small
Dining Room. This was a concept meeting to explore possible options
for the street. Jeff Sikes, from the County's Neighborhood Traffic Calming
staff, hosted the meeting. Don Gross, Williamsburg Vice President, attended
the meeting, as did some of the near neighbors and the President of
the Yorktown Civic Association.
Mr. Sikes explained
that the street qualifies for traffic calming attention since the 85%ile
speed is 33 miles per hour. There are about 2300 cars per day, 1500
going east (from the yield sign right toward the four-way stop on Harrison
The discussion centered
around various measures to slow the traffic:
- The attendees
from the Traffic Calming office recommend speed cushions. Some of
the neighbors, however, oppose this option, arguing that it wouldn't
cut down the speed and was unsightly.
- One suggestion
that all seemed to think would help was to block the right turn yield
and force motorists to make a hard right on the far side of the island.
- The other measure
that garnered approval from most participants was to put imprinted
crosswalks at the four-way stop intersection on Harrison Street.
- Some neighbors
noting that many motorists fail to stop at the four-way stop
sign at the corner of Harrison and Little Falls favor replacing
the four-way stop with a traffic circle. However, some residents from
the Yorktown side had lobbied hard for a four-way stop and might oppose
this change. Moreover, because of the angle of the intersection, the
County's traffic calmers weren't sure a traffic circle is feasible.
The County Traffic
Calming office promised to investigate the feasibility of these suggestions.
Neighborhood Meeting: The second neighborhood meeting of the Little
Falls East Working Group was held on 7 October, 2003. Participants included
the WCA President and Vice President; David Haring, President of neighboring
Yorktown Civic Association, two representatives of the Neighborhood
Traffic Calming Committee, and five residents from the project area.
Jeff Sikes, from
the County Staff, presented his recommendations for traffic calming.
of the existing traffic island where Little Falls and Yorktown meet,
to force cars traveling east to make a hard right turn. This option
would not injure the Dawn Redwood (a large conifer) on the island.
This would involve changes to two driveways. Participants expressed
support for this approach.
of two speed cushions between the reconfigured turn and the intersection
of Harrison Street and Little Falls. Although Mr. Sikes made a spirited
defense of speed humps as the most cost-effective way to slow traffic,
meeting participants were largely unconvinced, with a few favoring
speed cushions and the rest opposed.
of a traffic circle at the Harrison-Little Falls intersection, with
crosswalks. The Little Falls residents expressed opposition to this
option, since it entailed removal of the four-way stop sign. The alternative
they suggested was to leave the four-way stop but install textured,
at-grade cross walks. Mr. Sikes suggested the possibility of nubs
to improve pedestrian safety. Several residents favored raised crosswalks,
but Mr. Sikes indicated that these are not an option because the street
is a fire response route.
a two-phased project: installation of the improvements at both ends
of the street (see options 1 and 3, above), with the humps as a contingency,
if the first phase does not solve the speeding problem. Mr. Sikes and
the NTCC representatives had some problems with this approach, because
it had not been done before. Mr. Sikes will poll the Neighborhood Traffic
Calming Committee to see whether a phased approach is viable from a
Neighborhood Meeting: The third meeting of the Little Falls East
Working Group was held on 22 October 2003. Attendees included Mr. Sikes,
two representatives from the Neighborhood Traffic Calming Committee,
the President of the Yorktown Civic Association, the President of the
Williamsburg Civic Association, and seven residents.
Mr. Sikes began
the meeting by reviewing the two-phased project summarized above.
- The proposal
to reconfigure the traffic island at the intersection of Little Falls
and Yorktown provoked a spirited discussion. Several of the residents
most closely affected by this reconfiguration expressed reservations,
as did the Yorktown Executive Committee. Questions were raised as
to whether the narrow access road for the two driveways would be plowed
in the winter. Some participants also thought that the strip of unused
roadway used by two homes to access their driveways would be quite
- Mr. Sikes, supported
by the participants who opposed the traffic island reconfiguration,
reiterated his proposal to add two to three speed cushions around
350 to 400 feet apart. He stated that the County has about 100 speed
cushions in place and had found this option to be a very cost effective
way to lower speeds from over 35 mph to under 30 mph. The speed cushions
would also be installed sooner than intersection/traffic island work.
Speed cushions normally are installed within a year of approval, while
intersection work takes two years. A lively debate ensued. In response
to a question, Mr. Sikes assured participants that the speed cushions
would be installed in such a way as to allow vehicles to go over at
the posted speed limit of 25 mph, without undue jostling of car or
driver, unlike those which have been installed on Little Falls Road
near O'Connell High School (which are scheduled to be reworked or
reinstalled, since they don't meet County specifications).
- The proposal
to install textured, at-grade crosswalks at the intersection of Harrison
and Little Falls fared better. Most participants liked the idea, which
entails retaining the four way stop signs. Mr. Sikes' proposal to
add nubs to narrow the street at three corners (providing a better
pedestrian haven for crossing the streets) also garnered support.
- Mr. Sikes was
not able to provide a clear-cut answer to the question as to whether
a phased approach (as described above) would be acceptable to the
Neighborhood Traffic Calming Committee. He reported that there was
a precedent for this approach, but that some Committee members opposed
several alternative approaches:
- Yorktown Civic
Association suggested the replacement of the current yield sign at
the traffic island at the intersection of Little Falls and Yorktown
with a stop sign. Mr. Sikes rejected this option, because the County
has not approved stop signs as a speed control tool.
- Mr. Sikes suggested
an alternative to blocking off the traffic island at Yorktown and
Little Falls completely. He suggested that the entrance points to
the little strip of roadway be narrowed on both sides, creating a
driveway type entrance which would deter east-going traffic from using
it and encouraging these vehicles to go further up Yorktown and make
a hard right onto Little Falls. He suggested that residents might
want to check out the intersection of 17th and Hartford, which incorporates
a similar driveway type entrance. This suggestion garnered somewhat
more support than the initial idea of closing off the traffic island
The Working Group
is now looking at two options:
- A reconfigured
traffic island at Little Falls and Yorktown, a reconfigured intersection
(with nubs) at Harrison and Little Falls in the first stage, with
the option to install speed cushions if these measures fail. This
option was supported by several residents who attended the second
- A reconfigured
intersection (with nubs) at Harrison and Little Falls plus three speed
cushions about 350-400 feet apart. This option was supported by several
meeting participants, including those residents who opposed the reconfiguration
of the Little Falls/Yorktown traffic island.
We need to come
to a consensus within the next few weeks, since the petitions need to
be done in December to meet NTCC's calendar. Sixty percent of the affected
households must approve the petitions. The NTCC would also like the
three affected civic associations (Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Rock
Spring) to endorse the project; NTCC looks more kindly on projects that
have civic association approval.
The next meeting
of the Little Falls East Working Group is Monday, 3 November 2003, at
7:30 at Little Falls Church. We will meet in the Library, which
is on the main floor of the church. Look for the signs. All residents
of Little Falls from Yorktown to Harrison should make an effort to attend
this meeting, since we will be trying again to reach consensus (hopefully
one that the neighbors most directly affected can live with!), and draw
up an agreed-upon language for the neighborhood petition.