Fairfax County supervisors will not hold planned public hearings on proposed through-truck restrictions in the McLean/Falls Church area, following opposition from neighbors.
Supervisors on June 28 approved two Aug. 2 public hearings to discuss Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) proposals to ban trucks weighing more than 7,500 pounds on Grove Avenue between Haycock Road in Fairfax County and N. West Street in the city of Falls Church and Highland Avenue between Haycock Road in the county and N. West Street in Falls Church.
County officials proposed diverting drivers around the Grove Avenue detour area by having them take Haycock Road southwest to West Broad Street, then go southeast on West Broad Street, turn left on N. West Street and catch up with Grove Avenue there.
A possible Highland Avenue detour would have had drivers on northeast-bound Haycock Road turn right on southbound Great Falls Street, then left to take westbound N. West Street to Highland Avenue.
One major glitch: Falls Church already banned through-truck traffic on N. West Street.
Fairfax County transportation officials likely did not know about that restriction when making their proposals, said Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville), who asked county staff not to advertise the hearings and to remove them from the board’s Aug. 2 agenda.
“Because of the opposition raised and issues with the alternative-route proposal, I believe there is almost zero likelihood that the current through-truck-restriction proposals would be approved and implemented if the hearing went forward,” Foust said.
Foust said he has asked county staffers to examine other options for mitigating truck impacts in those neighborhoods. If supervisors supported new restrictions, the Virginia Department of Transportation would need to do formal engineering studies on the proposals and the Commonwealth Transportation Board would give final approval.
County officials proposed the truck restrictions on Grove and Highland avenues after receiving complaints from residents about through-truck impacts on those streets.
Adrienne Whyte, president of the Ellison Heights-Mount Daniel Civic Association, said the neighborhood for the past two years has had problems with continuous truck traffic on Great Falls Street because Falls Church police have not been enforcing a truck ban there.
Whyte recently complained to the city’s police department about the situation, and received an indication that officers would begin enforcing the ban.
Developments planned or being built on 40 acres along Haycock Road will exacerbate the neighborhood’s problems with large trucks, Whyte said.
“We believe those trucks must be restricted to Route 7,” she said. “We do not believe that our neighborhoods within 1 to 2 miles of those properties being redeveloped should suffer negative impacts as a result of the city’s and [the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s] desires for economic development.”
Residents do not want truck traffic added to vehicles already using Haycock Road, Great Falls Street and nearby roads, Whyte said.
“Vehicles are the greatest danger to pedestrians and bicyclists, and large trucks have the greatest stopping distances, even if they are complying with the speed limits,” she said. “Additionally, they are noisy polluters of our neighborhoods.”
According to Whyte, the community wants:
• Truck bans on both ends of Highland and Grove, with signs posted on both the city’s and county’s ends of those roadways.
• The truck ban restored on Haycock Road between Great Falls and Westmoreland streets. “There used to be a sign, but it mysteriously disappeared,” Whyte said.
• Falls Church’s truck ban extended on Great Falls Street from the city’s border to Kirby Road.
• The 25-mph speed limit extended on Great Falls Street from Falls Church’s border to Kirby Road.
• Speed limits on Highland and Grove avenues reduced to 20 mph.
• Haycock Road’s speed limit reduced to 30 mph and retained at 25 from the Interstate 66 overpass to Westmoreland Street.
• Police enforcement of all truck bans and speed limits.
Cheryl Sim, one of Foust’s appointees to the West Falls Church Metro Active Transportation Study Advisory Group, said when the group met June 28, no county official brought up the proposal to send more traffic onto Haycock Road and Great Falls Street.
Sim agreed with Whyte that trucks, many of which are involved with development on the West End of Falls Church, should use Route 7 instead.
“We appreciate why our neighbors on Highland and Grove don’t want construction trucks traversing their streets,” Sim said. “But FCDOT’s proposal to reroute primary West End construction vehicles to one of the narrowest stretches of Haycock Road and then expect them to turn safely on Great Falls Street at a poorly designed, narrow and congested intersection would not make the problem go away.”