Changes Coming at Key W&OD Trail IntersectionsWith over two million uses a year, and more than 70 at-grade road crossings, the W&OD Trail is the backbone of cycling, pedestrian, and other non-motorized recreation and transportation modes in Northern Virginia. Considering the Trail's size (45 miles from Shirlington to Purcellville) and volume, safety and safety improvements are always of the utmost importance to the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA) which owns and operates the trail.
Over the years, NVRPA has had a number of engineering studies and analyses conducted, with the safety of its trail users specifically in mind. In March of 2011, NVRPA commissioned an evaluation of the existing physical and operational conditions at six of the busiest individual roadway crossings across the region. Now, the recommendations created by these evaluations are beginning to be implemented. NVRPA has worked extensively to engage its jurisdictional partners such as Fairfax, Loudoun, and Arlington Counties and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and appreciates their efforts to assist in making this truly regional asset safe. The crossings identified for evaluation are as follows: Belmont Ridge Road in Ashburn, Sterling Boulevard in Sterling, Wiehle Avenue in Reston, Hunter Mill Road in Vienna, Lee Highway in Arlingon, and Columbia Pike in Arlington. Some of the highlights of the recommendations include: Belmont Ridge Road
- Relocate/eliminate parking area on the northwest and northeast corners (completed late November).
- Add actuated rectangular rapid flash beacons to alert motorists to the presence of a trail user.
- Trim vegetation to improve sight lines (completed late October).
- NVRPA and VDOT working together to consider reducing the length of the northbound deceleration/left turn lane on Sterling Boulevard to expand median refuge.
- Expand the sidewalk network along Sterling Boulevard.
- Consider the addition of actuated rectangular rapid flash beacons based on results from Belmont Ridge Road.
Hunter Mill Road
- Consideration to widen the median refuge.
- NVRPA and Fairfax County to work together to identify short term improvements to include additional signage, improved roadway markings, and potential lane width improvements.
- Consideration of alternate signal timing to reduce conflict with trail crossing.
Lee Highway (Route 29)
- Consider replacing advanced trail crossing flashing beacon with Actuated Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons.
- NVRPA and VDOT to address vegetation and terrain issues affecting sight lines.
- NVRPA to realign trail approaches to orient better to the crossing for trail users and motorists.
- NVRPA to work with Arlington County to consider adjusting signal timing, turn lane options, and additional signage.
The trail approaches will be realinged to intersect at a better angle to the roadway.
NVRPA to work with Arlington County to consider adjusting signal timing and phasing.
The physical condition of the Trail and the intersections is vitally important, but far more important is the behavior of those on the Trail and those on the roads. NVRPA is proud to also be a partner with Street Smart, an annual public education, awareness and behavioral change campaign in the Washington, D.C., suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia area. Since its beginning in 2002, the campaign has used radio, newspaper, and transit advertising, public awareness efforts and added law enforcement to respond to the challenges of pedestrian and cyclist safety. Please feel free to contact the trail office at (703) 729-0596 or via email at email@example.com if you have questions concerning these changes.