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Discussion Title Talk Neighborhood Speeding with Supervisor Cook

Join Supervisor Cook on Wednesday, Sept. 4 at 2 p.m. to talk about the dangers of neighborhood speeding and his proposals to help stop it. You can learn more about the issue and Supervisor Cook's plan by going to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/braddock/slowdown.htm. Questions can be submitted now or during the chat.


John Cook : Sitting here with my buddy, Master Police Office J.T. Frey from the West Springfield station.  We're talking about a subject that is a big priority of mine, and that is addressing speeding cars in neighborhoods.  Taking your questions and hoping to get the word out that we need to address this issue. 


Kim : We have a major crosswalk behind Lake Braddock that the kids from a neighborhood of about 800 homes use but the drivers completely ignore it and they do about 40mph down the street. If the police monitor one day, the drivers go back to the norm the next week. What can we do?

John Cook : Police have done some speed enforcement there.  The goal of the police department is voluntary compliance.  This is gained by enforcement, education, and follow up.  My neighborhood speeding initiative is based on these same concepts.  We need to make a cultural commitment to ourselves and our neighbors to drive safely.  Don't wait for the police to give a ticket.  We need to speak out in our civic and homeowner associations, our schools, at soccer games, and wherever else we gather as a community to slow down.  When I was civic association president we used this same concept with considerable success with zoning enforcement.  Educate ourselves on the rules and make a personal and community commitment to follow them. Officer Frey tells me the police will be back to that street to issue more tickets, but we need your community to join us in a voluntary compliance effort.


Americana Dr : Please help the parking on Americana Dr in Annandale VA. Ares park on the crub and grass.. Please help.

John Cook : Officer Frey and I are well aware of the issues on Americana Drive.  The police often ticket there.  We have had discussions with the community about making one side of the road no parking, but that impacts the ability of residents to park.  Again, we need residents to commit to parking legally.


Kim Sandino : We need more enforceable traffic calmings in our neighborhoods, specifically Canterbury Woods where cut-throughs to NOVA and access to Braddock Road endanger our kids getting to school. We keep being told that this is a very complex issue, involving mainly insufficient funds and/ or manpower. While I realize it's not so cut-and-dry, wouldn't more stop signs (and the subsequent funds generated from the ridiculous amount of tickets police could issue) help solve both the speeding and the lack of county funds? If not, PLEASE offer a tangible, concrete, measureable solution to the neighborhood speeding problem.

John Cook : Very aware of this area.  Some traffic calming is in place - two four-way stop signs on Woodland Way, for example.  Very heavy traffic in part due to more enrollment at NOVA.  We continue to discuss various traffic calming measures and will work with the Canterbury Woods, Stone Haven, and other civic associations on more measures.  State funding for traffic calming ended about two years ago for budget reasons. (Remember these are state roads, not county roads.)  I have asked the Board of Supervisors to commit $200,000 in the upcoming Carryover budget toward traffic calming, and am hopeful the Board will agree.  I also hope with the new state transportation bill we will see renewed funding for traffic calming measures in the future.


Mike : You have not presented any data regarding the actual extent of unsafe speeding in neighborhoods. Peoples perceptions of speeding may not correspond to actual unsafe speeding--how fast are cars going; how many crashes have occurred due to speeding above the speed limit? You have only shown that police are writing speeding tickets, which they can easily do by setting up their radar at the bottom of hills, for example. High visibility enforcement is costly and has little long term effect. Adding stop signs only affects speeds in the vicinity of the sign. Drivers then speed up to make up for lost time. You have to be careful that unrealistic programs don't backfire by creating a general disrespect for traffic regulations leading to non-compliance and reduced safety. Even worse, residents may have a false sense of security. Why don't you do more research on the nature of the problem instead of relying on public perception and seat of the pants solutions? For example, who are the drivers who speed in neighborhoods? Where does unsafe speeding occur? Should our limited resources be focused on speeding in residential areas or the arterials where the safety impact is the greatest? What countermeasures have been undertaken in other municipalities that have been cost-effective?

John Cook : We have a lot of data.  We have done periodic traffic data gathering and the large number of tickets written show us that a large percentage of drivers are speeding.  Officer Frey tells me that it is not a standard practice for police to put speed traps at the bottom of any hills to catch speeders (unless a particular location has been identified and approved by station command).  Fairfax County does NOT use speed enforcement as a revenue generator.  We use it for safety. We do have research on who these drivers are - police officers notice when they write tickets that the addresses on the licenses are often from the neighborhood.  You do make a good point that people's perception of speeding sometimes differs from the data, but the data and experience of our police officers shows this is a significant concern.  I agree that speeding on major roadways is also a concern and this is a priority for state troopers.  In neighborhoods we have a particular concern for the safety of children and pedestrians.


Concerned Resident : Is traffic calming a possibility on Commonwealth Blvd. in Kings Park West? It has been successful in other area communities with a similar set-up (Braeburn Dr.). Speeding is a real problem, and many children live along Commonwealth. Thanks.

John Cook : Traffic calming is only permitted on roads where the speed limit is 25 mph unless VDOT makes an exception.  There are other criteria as well - traffic volume and average speeds, etc. If a road meets those criteria, then the civic association may ask that traffic calming be considered, and there is a petition process.  As noted above, the state stopped funding traffic calming a couple years ago but I am trying to get some county funds put into the pot, and hope that the new state transportation bill will allow state funding to resume soon.


Anonymous User : Besides requesting speed bumps what else can citizens and HOAs do? Thanks.

John Cook : Start a community campaign asking residents to voluntarily comply.  The power of one neighbor talking to another is great. 


Forest Merrill : The Proposal is over a year old and has expired. I'm for it, but it needs to be the present and future

John Cook : Thanks for your support. County staff has developed a three-part plan.  I am trying to get the Board of Supervisors to fund the first two parts next Tuesday as part of our Carryover review.  One part is for a public education and awareness effort.  We need to get citizens and neighborhood associations to make the commitment to slow down.  The second part is traffic calming funds.  The third part is a more long-term enforcement effort that would require purchasing more speed enforcement devices, more officers on the street, etc. 


Anonymous User : I live in the Wakefield Forest neighborhood and my question concerns Wakefield Drive which links Little River Turnpike to the Truro neighborhood. At the intersection of Virginia Avenue and Wakefield Drive, we need to create a four way stop like all of the other intersections on this main neighborhood exit route. There is even a cross walk at the intersection and cars do not slow down for pedestrians waiting at the crosswalk. Additionally, this road is in need of speed bumps as cars are consistently speeding well above 35 miles per hour on this road. I called the county to see how we can achieve these two above objectives after almost being hit by a car when on a walk with my baby, and was told nothing can be done to slow down traffic on this road as the primary goal for the county is to get cars quickly out of the neighborhood since it is a primary exit route. This statement conflicts with your goal to combat speeding and unsafe driving in our neighborhoods. My question is this. What advice and process can you provide to truly affect change on driving conditions in our neighborhood? The county website is unclear on how we can achieve either of the above objectives and does not provide a primary point of contact to address neighborhood concerns. Help?

John Cook : VDOT looked at this a couple years ago and the various intersections on Wakefield Chapel Road did not qualify.  We are going to look at this again in the coming year as part of our Wakefield-Community forum.  It is NOT the county's goal to move traffic quickly.  That is a VDOT priority for arterial roads.  Certainly we all want to move traffic, but we need to do so safely.  Please contact my office or the West Springfield police station (wspstrike@fairfaxcounty.gov) to report specific intersection problems or with more detailed suggestions.  And please come out to my next Wakefield Community forum on Oct. 15.  Check my Braddock Beacon for the time and location (not yet set).


DeeAndra Shuemaker : As a mother of 2 small children, I have a great concern for the need for speed humps on Southampton Drive, right off Braddock where it intersects with Canterbury Drive. We get a enormous amount of traffic off of Braddock road with the turn only lane ending at our side of Southampton drive. My kids are constantly awaken from the noise of loud music coming from the cars turning around at all hours of the night. Not too also mention this is where there is a school bus stop for all schools in our area. I would hope there is a very well thought out reason as to why there isn't already a speed hump here and would appreciate the answers as well. Sincerely, DeeAndra Shuemaker

John Cook : We share this concern.  There are VDOT restrictions on placing speed humps too close to a major road such as Braddock.  If the civic association makes a formal request to my office, we can present it to VDOT for consideration.  Traffic calming can be controversial within neighborhoods so the ordinance requires petition signatures and endorsement from the local association as ways to gauge community support.


Concerned in Kings Park : Traffic on Burke Lake Road between and including the intersections of Rolling Road and Braddock Road regularly fails to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalks. Is there anything that can be done to enforce crosswalk rules?

John Cook : As I live in Kings Park, I know that problem well.  The police department has recently reviewed the situation and will continue to monitor.  As we start to plan the widening of Braddock Road, we will need to review how these intersections are working. 


Susan : We live across the street from GMU. We own and maintain our own roads throughout the neighborhood. We have posted speed limit signs of 15mph, speed bumps throughout and stop signs. Speed is still an issue with cars flying over the speed bums, not stopping at the posted stop signs. How do we as a community keep our speed limits maintained without police presence, since we own and maintain our roads, county police do not come into the neighborhood for traffic issues.

John Cook : This is a great example of where we need the voluntary compliance piece.  If the Board adopts my proposal to fund this, the county will develop a public awareness campaign to work with your HOA to provide education, data, and further support so neighbors can help convince other neighbors to make the commitment to slowing down.


Anonymous User : With the start of school, is there a plan to have an increased enforcement presence around schools during the beginning and end of schools?

John Cook : Yes.  The police department's blue guardian initiative is in effect, providing speed monitoring and enforcement around schools.  The program also includes watching for cars illegally passing stopped school buses and other pedestrian safety concerns.


Charles Viars : Does your request for funding cover the salary of any new police officers who participate in this program? Fairfax County police officers monitor the traffic on Random Hills Road from Waples Mill Road to Grey Finch Drive but only during the hours of school being let out. Before and after these hours speeding is constant in the 35MPH, $200 additional fine area. Could be a lack of employed officers that will not allow for additional hours of monitoring. Also, there is very little if any monitoring of speeders coming from Fairfax Corner to Grey Finch Drive. Appreciate your efforts to slow down traffic!

John Cook : The long-term portion of the plan would look at more traffic enforcement officers and greater use of new technology for speed enforcement.


John Cook : Thanks for tuning in.  More to come as we push forward with this initiative.  Please contact your local supervisor and urge him/her to vote in favor of speed enforcement in next Tuesday's Carryover budget.  Learn more on my web page at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/Braddock/slowdown.htm.  Thank you to Office Frey for joining me today. 

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