VDOT asks for public input on Great Falls road safety amid high crash rate
3 mins read

VDOT asks for public input on Great Falls road safety amid high crash rate

VDOT asks for public input on Great Falls road safety amid high crash rate
Virginia Department of Transportation is examining Walker Road in Great Falls for potential safety improvements (via VDOT)

In response to concerns about frequent traffic accidents and speeding, the Virginia Department of Transportation is collecting feedback from residents through a public safety survey on Walker Road in Great Falls.

The survey, which will be active through this Friday (July 12), was initiated at the request of state Sen. Jennifer Boysko, Del. Rip Sullivan and Dranesville County Supervisor Jimmy Bierman and aims to address safety concerns along a 2-mile stretch from Colvin Run Road to Georgetown Pike.

According to VDOT, an average of 4,750 to 5,130 vehicles pass through the area daily.

During a virtual community meeting held on June 20, residents highlighted several issues along the road, including the need for traffic calming measures to reduce speeds, inadequate pedestrian and cyclist facilities, the presence of heavy vehicles and a proposal to convert the single-lane bridge into a two-lane bridge.

“I think the main issue and safety concern on Walker Road is slowing traffic to a safe and reasonable speed,” said one participant. “At times, traffic on Walker Road is very fast, and all the curves and bends certainly create safety issues for all road users.”

According to VDOT officials, there were 43 crashes on Walker Road between 2019 and 2023, with 12% resulting in visible injuries and 88% resulting in property damage only.

“Forty percent of these accidents are oblique collisions, 28% are rear-end collisions, and 23% are off-road collisions,” VDOT traffic engineer Siavash Mousavizadeh told the meeting.

Despite several curves designed to reduce speeds and a 35 mph speed limit in effect, VDOT recorded an average speed of 41 mph on the road in both directions, especially on sections with straight sections, Mousavizadeh noted.

Additionally, attendees expressed concerns about VDOT’s proposal to replace the one-lane bridge over Piney Run with a two-lane bridge. They argued that the existing bridge helps calm traffic and feared the change would encourage drivers to speed even more.

“If we go on the two-lane bridge, drivers will be going at higher speeds around that curve, over the top of the hill in sight of my driveway, and I’ll have a hard time getting out,” one participant said.

While understanding participants’ concerns about replacing the bridge, VDOT officials and a representative from Kimberly-Horn, a North Carolina-based engineering consulting firm, said the single-lane bridge also increases the risk of rear-end collisions and drivers running off the road.

“So that’s the trade-off, well, there’s that traffic-calming effect that you all saw, and that’s important,” said Jourdyn Fuga, Kimley-Horn’s project manager. “But we also have the danger of running off the road … where you can run off and fall down a pretty steep area.”

Once the survey is completed, VDOT will produce a report by August with recommendations for improvements to Walker Road and will hold another community engagement meeting in September.

The research is scheduled to be completed in October.

VDOT anticipates hiring contractors to replace the Piney Run Bridge later this year, with work expected to begin in early 2025.