This text was taken from an email alert sent out to nearby residents in Loudoun County. To sign up for PEC email alerts, visit pecva.org/signup.
Along Rt. 15 north of Leesburg, residents have consistently called for improved safety, an easier commute, protection of historic Lucketts, and ensuring the safety of students at schools along the corridor. They’ve also expressed a clear desire to preserve access and the historic rural roadway, maintain the scenic countryside, and protect the limestone karst geology and our drinking water quality.
Yet, last year the Loudoun Board of Supervisors approved a comprehensive plan amendment to widen Rt. 15 to four lanes from Battlefield Parkway to Montresor Rd., which would make the road less safe, bring more traffic, and harm the environment and scenic character of this historic road. See our Loudoun blog for more background>>
The Board also asked staff and the consultants to study the balance of the corridor up to the Potomac River Bridge for safety and operations improvements, and provide a recommendation.
On Thursday, July 18, staff will present the Rt. 15 Safety and Operations Study for Phase 2 of the corridor review at the Loudoun Board business meeting. The staff report and study detail findings for potential fixes along the roadway from Montresor Rd. north to the Potomac River. There are two main options under consideration:
- Option A — Keep 2 lanes from Montresor north to the river, with a Lucketts bypass (2 and 4-lane sections).
- Option B — Widen the road to 4 lanes from Montresor north to Lucketts, with a 4-lane bypass of Lucketts, and then 2 lanes north to the river.
(In both versions the 2-lane and 4-lane road sections would be median divided north up to Saint Clair Rd.)
The orange lines are the “AM Maximum Queue”, the blue lines represent the “PM Maximum Queue”. You can see the full size versions of the map on page 78, 83 and 84 of the PDF. Download the staff report and study (20MB) >>
Of the two main options, county staff recommends Option B. Local community members have offered two other options, one of which involves traffic calming and roundabouts, the other focuses on turn lanes for access to businesses, however, neither have been analyzed for effectiveness or cost-comparison.
The Board is expected to vote on Option A or B at Thursday’s meeting.
Please consider attending the meeting at 6pm on Thursday evening at 1 Harrison St., and write to the Board of Supervisors at BOS@Loudoun.gov with your thoughts.
Throughout this process the County has refused to study a corridor length traffic calming alternative, despite the knowledge that the wider road will encourage speeding which reduces safety, and that the “solutions” being offered will attract more traffic. We believe that the vote should be tabled pending the alternative study local residents have long asked for.
Urge the county board to table their vote and to instead vote for a study of corridor-length traffic calming and a roundabout alternative.
Summary and Key Points from the Study:
Safety and congestion:
“The high percentage of rear-end crashes along this corridor was likely attributable to the presence of congested signalized intersections.” (p.47 of the PDF)
- Rear-end crashes were the most common crash in the corridor by far (58%).
- Mapped by location, most crashes occurred at Lucketts/Stumptown Rd traffic light, followed by the White’s Ferry/Raspberry Dr. traffic light.
- These two signalized intersections, plus the signal at Clay St. in Maryland cause the greatest amount of queuing.
- Montresor Rd. traffic is also noted as a contributor to southbound AM queuing along the road.
The traffic lights would remain after the road is widened in both Option A and B, meaning continued risk. Roundabouts, like we proposed, are known for virtually eliminating deadly intersection crashes.
Loudoun will need more than the ~$110.8 M budgeted for Rt. 15 capital project improvements between Montresor and the Point of Rocks Bridge.
- Concept A and Concept B exceed this amount, by ~$58 M and ~$106 M respectively.
- VDOT’s cost estimate for the Phase 2 improvements is $304M per the Smart Scale funding application.
But this wouldn’t be the end of it. Having sparked new development and more traffic on the widened road, costly proposals for interchanges won’t be far behind.
In conclusion, with the evidence pointing to signalization as a major cause of congestion and accidents in the corridor, it makes sense to consider a less costly approach: Remove the signals and use roundabouts to smooth out the stop and go while improving safety. Stabilize the shoulders, add rumble strips and village traffic calming and safety improvements that cause the least harm to local residents.
The result would be a more timely, safer and effective solution.
As always, thank you, and please reach out to me if you have any questions!
Loudoun Field Representative
The Piedmont Environmental Council