High Rolling Concrete

Phase One completes less than half the street.  Phase Two is ridiculous!

By:  M. Callahan

Columbia Pike at Backlick, Annandale, VA
The Transportation Planning Board (TPB) at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments approved $780,000 for the first phase of the Columbia Pike Complete Streets project.   This funding is provided by the Federal Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) which supports small projects that primarily encourage pedestrian or bike travel as alternatives to auto travel.  Applicants from the National Capital Region were asked to show how their projects would serve these priorities when they seek TAP funds.       

The first phase of the Columbia Pike Sidewalk Project adds a sidewalk along the south side of Columbia Pike from Backlick Road (Jiffy Lube) to Tom Davis Drive (end of Giant lot) or about 3 blocks. A Columbia Pike crosswalk at Tom Davis Drive is also part of phase one.  (Without a stop light at that crosswalk or median, pedestrians would be foolish to attempt to cross.  Too many have tried and died in the process. No mention of a stop light is in the plan.)

This project, which only includes a few blocks of sidewalk, is planned at the cost of $780,000 for construction and land acquisition but leaves almost half the street left to complete. Generally these sidewalk projects are useful in commercial shopping areas where residents can actually walk-in for dining and shopping experiences.  Annandale is one of those 1950’s communities that was built for suburban shopping and parking.  Only a miniscule number of residents live within walking distance.  If true revitalization projects were designed for Annandale’s Central Business District they would include a residential component.  Until then, these fill-in sidewalks are nice but not terribly useful.  On the opposite side of the street a complete sidewalk already exists. 

This sidewalk proposal was submitted by Fairfax County staff, not local Mason District organizations or residents who actually understand and live the traffic flow and congestion of Annandale.  If Phase Two is managed,  this ridiculous recommendation, proposed again by Fairfax County staff, will narrow Columbia Pike eliminating two lanes from Gallows Road to Backlick Road, add a parking lane & bike lane, and possibly a median.  

Phase Two suggests creation of 80 parallel parking places.  Interesting to note, when Columbia Pike was widened a few decades ago, that project took away almost 200 parking places.  Annandale seems to move backwards rather than forward.  Perhaps it is time to listen to the experts...the people of Annandale rather than developing a plan that at best is an academic exercise.

Phase Two would also close one end of Columbia Pike so cars could not merge onto Little River Turnpike at the far end.  Instead, they would be re-routed onto John Marr Drive to turn right onto Little River at that point.  If you actually live with the traffic in Annandale, you know that the intersection of John Marr and Little River is clogged every afternoon.   Currently, you can sit through 3 lights (or 9-10 minutes) at that intersection as all priority is given to moving the traffic along Little River and NOT John Marr.  Adding 39,0000 more cars will create a riot.  Just where will all this traffic stack?  When these proposals were made by county staff, NO traffic study had been ordered, nor serious observations made.  IT is a ridiculous suggestion!  Other past proposals that could have worked have been discarded without satisfactory explanation. 

New staff, new ideas fine.  Bad ideas never are.


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