Some changes are coming to the George Washington Memorial Parkway to make it safer for travelers between Alexandria and the eponymous President’s home at Mount Vernon.
“The NPS will restripe the road to implement a road diet while maintaining driving capacity,” NPS said in a press release. “On the parkway between Tulane Drive and Stratford Lane, the NPS will change markings so that there will be three travel lanes (2 northbound, 1 southbound) and one turn lane.”
All changes on the parkway are taking place in Fairfax — not Alexandria — but will affect travel to and from the city.
NPS also announced that it will be making some changes to improve visibility on the Parkway.
“[NPS will] increase visibility of lane markings and Mount Vernon Trail crosswalks,” NPS said, “[and] remove vegetation at intersections to improve visibility.”
NPS said in the press release that the changes came after public outreach and traffic modeling, which NPS claimed indicated the changes would not diminish the GW Parkway’s ability to accommodate current traffic. Once the changes are put into place, NPS said it will continue to monitor traffic for changes.
“We are being responsive to comments from the public and the expert advice of transportation professionals,” Superintendent Charles Cuvelier said in the press release. “Whether you are a park visitor or commuter, these changes will make driving, walking and bicycling between Alexandria and Mount Vernon safer and more enjoyable for everyone.”
The dieting is scheduled to start going into effect later this year.
Several Alexandria Fire Department units responded as mutual aid to a crash on the GW Parkway in Fairfax County this afternoon.
The crash happened just before 1:30 p.m. at the GW Parkway intersection with Belle View Blvd. At least one of the victims was initially reported to trapped in their vehicle, potentially requiring extrication.
An ALXnow photographer arrived as one of the vehicles involved, a red sedan with heavy passenger side damage, was loaded onto a flatbed tow truck.
The intersection is likely familiar to many who commute to and from Alexandria and points south. It, along with the nearby intersection of the GW Parkway and Belle Haven Road, are among the most dangerous and crash-prone in the area — prompting the National Park Service to hold recent public meetings and consider new safety improvements.
Particularly for those turning left at both intersections, to head north on the Parkway, the maneuver requires dodging fast-moving southbound traffic and then waiting in a barely-wide-enough median for fast-moving northbound traffic to clear. Turning left from the northbound lanes of the Parkway onto either road is similarly death-defying.
More from a December article on Covering the Corridor on potential safety improvements:
Recent Park Police efforts to improve speed enforcement along the entire Parkway between I-495 and Mount Vernon have led to a 35 percent reduction in motor vehicle accidents between 2018 and 2019, Cuvelier said. The superintendent added that public opinion about installing speed cameras was about evenly divided, but that the cameras raised a larger issue involving data requirements.
More than half the comments submitted so far have been related to the Belle View Boulevard and Belle Haven Road intersections, where nearly 125 crashes occurred over a five-year period.
To help improve intersections that are currently difficult to navigate — especially when making left turns — the Park Service proposed solutions like road diets and roundabouts, including ones at Morningside Lane. Some of these proposals will require more investigation, Cuvelier acknowledged, due to potential downsides like queuing.
Thus far, no serious injuries have been reported following this afternoon’s crash.
Street view photos via Google Maps
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