Following a tragic crash that claimed the lives of two teenagers on Lee Chapel Road accident, Fairfax County is taking decisive action to address longstanding safety concerns regarding this vital thoroughfare. With one survivor still hospitalized, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has directed transportation staff to develop a cost estimate for a comprehensive project. The proposed initiative aims to widen the two-lane road to four lanes and eliminate problematic hills that hinder driver visibility along a 1-mile segment between Ox Road (Route 123) and Fairfax County Parkway.
Petition and Community Support:
Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity originally proposed this project in 2017 after a fatal crash occurred at the same intersection with Fairfax County Parkway in 2015. Despite the absence of identified funding, the proposal has gained considerable traction. A petition advocating for safety improvements on Lee Chapel Road has amassed over 13,500 signatures. Supervisor Herrity recently met with the two South County High School students who initiated the campaign, emphasizing the community’s strong support for change, albeit prompted by tragedy.
Immediate Safety Measures:
In addition to the long-term road widening project, Supervisor Herrity’s board matter has received unanimous approval. It also requests transportation staff to explore immediate measures to enhance safety on Lee Chapel Road. These interim solutions include installing streetlights and clearing shoulders on the adjacent parkland, thus addressing some of the existing hazards promptly.
Road Crash Statistics and Vulnerable Users:
Preliminary state data reveals alarming Lee Chapel Road accident. Since 2010, there have been 245 crashes resulting in 149 injuries, including the fatal incidents in 2015 and this past January. Moreover, the road has proven to be particularly treacherous for young, inexperienced drivers. Tragically, the recent fatal crash claimed the lives of two 16-year-old South County High School students. The Fairfax County Police Department reported that the vehicle involved was traveling at an excessive speed, veering off the road and becoming airborne before landing on its roof.
Engaging the Community and Raising Awareness:
In response to the crash, Del. Kathy Tran (D-42) will host a virtual town hall meeting focused on road safety. Recognizing the need for a comprehensive approach, Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay emphasizes the importance of collaborating with Fairfax County Public Schools to enhance education for students obtaining their driver’s permits or licenses. In light of the rise in pedestrian fatalities, the county has launched a public awareness campaign urging all road users to prioritize safety. Additionally, the introduction of speed cameras in select school and work zones is in progress.
Expanding Efforts Countywide:
While Supervisor Herrity’s proposal centers on Lee Chapel Road, he acknowledges that unsafe roads exist throughout the county. Consequently, he intends to collaborate with other supervisors to explore countywide solutions. Many of the county’s roads were designed when the area was largely rural, not accounting for today’s higher traffic volumes and more powerful vehicles.
Transportation Priorities Plan and Future Steps:
Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust highlights that several projects, including the Lee Chapel widening, were temporarily removed from the county’s Transportation Priorities Plan in 2019 due to the redirection of local transportation funds to support Metro. The Fairfax County Department of Transportation plans to present updated plans for the Transportation Priorities Plan at an upcoming board transportation committee meeting. This meeting, chaired by Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn, will mark the committee’s first gathering of the year.
The tragic crash on Lee Chapel Road has spurred Fairfax County into action, seeking to address long-standing safety concerns. With plans to widen the road, eliminate visibility challenges, and implement immediate safety measures, the county aims to enhance the overall safety of this crucial thoroughfare. The support from the community, ongoing dialogue, and collaboration between various stakeholders underscore the commitment to creating safer roads for all residents and visitors.
Frequently Asked questions:
Why is Fairfax County planning to widen Lee Chapel Road?
Fairfax County is planning to widen Lee Chapel Road in response to longstanding safety concerns and a recent tragic crash that resulted in fatalities. The two-lane road poses visibility challenges and has experienced a significant number of crashes and injuries over the years. By widening the road to four lanes and eliminating problematic hills, the county aims to improve driver visibility and enhance overall road safety.
What immediate safety measures are being considered for Lee Chapel Road?
Alongside the long-term road widening project, Fairfax County is exploring immediate safety measures for Lee Chapel Road. These measures include the installation of streetlights and clearing shoulders on the adjacent parkland. By improving visibility and addressing existing hazards promptly, the county aims to enhance safety for motorists and pedestrians using the road.
How is Fairfax County raising awareness about road safety?
Fairfax County has launched a public awareness campaign to promote road safety. The campaign encourages all road users to “take a moment” and consider everyone’s safety when making decisions. Additionally, the county is planning to introduce speed cameras in select school and work zones to deter speeding and enhance safety. These initiatives aim to raise awareness, promote responsible driving behavior, and reduce accidents on Fairfax County’s roads.