The thinking around this intersection has changed over the course of recent traffic flow studies, as engineering firm Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc. (VHB) discovered that backups at this intersection are not due to people cutting through the town to get to the Dulles Toll Road/267—which came at "a great surprise," said consultant Kevin Sitzman during the meeting.
VHB engineers said they had used a helicopter to track traffic flow around the west part of town and found that, out of 500 cars, only seven—or a little more than 1 percent—were cutting through the intersection to get to the toll road.
However, locals in the audience Wednesday night said it was their thinking that the growing amount of traffic in this intersection is more likely due to “circumventers” who are avoiding the toll road altogether. And, as tolls continue to rise, they predict that will grow.
“As tolls continue to go up, how do we fix that problem? This is a short-term fix,” said one man in the audience, who said he used to live and work in Reston and used to do the same thing—cut through Herndon.
Sitzman said it’s a give-and-take equilibrium. He said as tolls rise, more people will circumvent. But he also said, as traffic increases, even if tolls rise, some people will opt to take the toll road regardless of rising fees if it shaves time off their commute because the alternative routes are getting more congested.
Others expressed concern that ongoing construction in neighboring Fairfax and Loudoun counties will impact traffic patterns in town and at this intersection in some way, and wanted to know if that will make any changes to the intersection moot in the future.
Town of Herndon Director of Public Works Bob Boxer said that could be true, but said the Town’s thinking is that these are easy, affordable fixes that could probably be completed by summertime, and could provide relief for 10 or even 15 years, and that he recognizes that more work will need to be done in the future.
"Everything is interconnected in Northern Virginia. I don't know all the different wheels that are turning," he said of what neighboring counties are considering in terms of development and the forthcoming Silver Line. "But we do want to do something short-term to try and make people's lives better, and a lot of people have been working hard on this."
Boxer said a public hearing during a Town Council meeting will be held in the near future, and encouraged locals to offer feedback before then.
"I can promise you only two things—that we will take [all feedback offered] into consideration, and that we won't be able to please everyone," Boxer said.
Boxer and the VHB consultants said added provisions for pedestrians in this intersection are also a "long-term item" they will look at in the future.
Below are the three recommended options the Town and VHB presented at the town hall, and want locals to offer feedback on. They are listed in order from least expensive and least amount of benefit, to most expensive and most amount of predicted benefit.
When asked, Boxer said the Department of Public Works favors Option L1' because it offers the most value in terms of relief for the money it will cost, but that nothing is set in stone or decided upon at this time.
Option L4: On northbound Herndon Parkway, convert the middle through-lane to a left-turn-only lane. Resulting lane configuration is dual left turns and a shared through-right. (Approximate Cost: $20,000-25,000)
Option L3: Adds improvements to Option L4. On southbound Herndon Parkway, convert shared through-right lane to a right-turn-only lane. Resulting southbound lane configuration is right-turn, through, left-turn lane. (Approximate Cost: $38,000-47,000)
Option L1-Prime (L1'): Adds improvements to Option L3. Resulting eastbound lane configuration is free-flow right, through, and left-turn lane. (Approximate Cost: $250,000-300,000)
View illustrations of the proposed options here.
Read VHB's full traffic study and report here.
TO OFFER FEEDBACK ON THE OPTIONS: Contact the Town of Herndon Public Works Department at email@example.com or 703-435-6853.
When you contact the department, they desire to know 1) which option you prefer; 2) your reasons for preferring that option; and 3) your interest in the issue—are you a town resident, commercial property owner or commuter through the area?
TELL US - Which option do you prefer? Why or why not? Share your thoughts with fellow locals in the comments below.
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