A Safe Trail Connection Across Four Mile Run

Level of Effort: 10 minutes, at home in your PJs
Deadline: Thursday 2/18

The narrow sidewalk on the Shirlington Road bridge over Four Mile Run has been a safety concern for many years. This bridge provides a critical connection between the W&OD Trail, the Four Mile Run Trail and the Shirlington Connector Trail under 395. Additionally it is one of just a handful of connections across the stream between Green Valley and Shirlington.

The County has a capital project to upgrade this connection with a parallel, dedicated bike & pedestrian bridge. As part of the project, they also intend to make some improvements to the mid-block crossing of Shirlington Rd near the Weenie Beenie. Recently, some neighbors have requested that the County REMOVE that crosswalk and others have suggested that the existing sidewalk on the bridge is fine and that this project should be cancelled.

We think the project is a great near-term improvement - it would provide a wide, enjoyable alternative to the current narrow sidewalk on the Shirlington Rd bridge, while also improving the mid-block crossing near the Weenie Beenie with wider pedestrian ramps, a wider median that feels safer to wait in, an additional flashing light in the median, and a wider curb radius to slow turning cars.

That said, we think in the long-term, grade-separation is warranted at Shirlington Road - either extending the existing underpass so that it goes under Shirlington Road, or adding a flyover bridge.

In just a few quick minutes with the County's online feedback form, you can both support this much-need project as well as requesting design changes to that would make it better and ask for progress on long-term solution like extending the existing underpass beneath 395 to continue underneath Shirlington Rd.

SUGGESTED FEEDBACK

  • We suggest doing the short version of the survey (3 questions instead of 9), your time is valuable!
  • Show your support for the project by marking down that the project will make you feel safer or much safer while traveling and that you "strongly agree" that improvements will have a positive impact.

Please consider some or all of the following points for your long-form "additional feedback" response:

  • The additional Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacon (RRFB) in the median is a great improvement and will help drivers see that people walking and rolling are trying to cross.
  • The new bike & ped bridge is a huge improvement over the existing narrow sidewalk and is much-needed.
  • The automotive travel lanes are overly-wide and it will encourage speeding. No reason for the median-side lanes to be 11'; 10' would be fine, would reduce speeds, and allow you to widen the sidewalk even more.
  • Please add a button to activate the RRFB in the median. Sometimes you get stuck in the middle, either because you followed another person into the crosswalk who hit the button many seconds earlier, or because the crosswalk ends up blocked by drivers who didn't stop and ended up stopping IN the crosswalk.
  • Please move the RRFB buttons to the "right" side of the pedestrian way or, better yet, replace the buttons with sensors so that actuation is automatic. Currently if a pedestrian positions themselves to push the RRFB button, they must stand directly in the path of any oncoming pedestrians or bikes who are already crossing.
  • Please make progress NOW on studying a long-term solution for crossing Shirlington Road, so that when finances improve post-covid, the study part is done and we can move toward finding funding for design & construction. For example, consider grant funding for a feasibility study for an underpass beneath Shirlington Road via either MWCOG's Transportation Landuse Connections Grant Program or a Transportation Alternatives Program grant.

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