County Seeks Ban on Big Rigs for Rte. 193

By Jacqueline L. Salmon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 2, 2006

A series of nasty accidents on a narrow, winding portion of Georgetown Pike (Route 193) through Great Falls has spurred the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to ask state transportation officials to ban heavy-truck traffic on the eight-mile stretch of road.

Supervisor Joan M. DuBois (R-Dranesville), whose district includes Great Falls, asked the board to request the ban after receiving a complaint from a driver whose car was damaged by an oncoming large truck that swerved into the driver's lane when the truck's driver was unable to negotiate a tight turn on the winding road. The car slammed into a guardrail.

"I drive it all the time, and I know it's bad," DuBois said.

She had noticed, she said, that the Virginia Department of Transportation had posted signs warning that the route was "not recommended" for trucks.

"If it's not recommended," she said, "maybe we ought to ban it."

DuBois said a ban on heavy trucks has the support of several community organizations, including the Great Falls and McLean citizens associations. She said the ban would not include pickups or vans.

After a short public hearing, the Board of Supervisors voted last week to ask VDOT to bar large trucks from traveling the stretch of road, which is Great Falls' Main Street, connecting the Capital Beltway (Interstate 495) with Route 7 to the west.

Over the years, that portion of Route 193 has become a popular shortcut for trucks heading west from the Beltway. It shaves a few miles, and many red lights, off the regular route, which involves exiting the Beltway onto the Dulles Toll Road and then picking up Route 7 from the Fairfax County Parkway.

Last July, a man driving a truck with a dump-truck bed attachment on Georgetown Pike was killed when he swerved off a winding portion of the road and hit a tree.

Because the state owns the road, "we've gone as far as we can go," said county spokeswoman Merni Fitzgerald.

VDOT will conduct an engineering study of the request, said spokeswoman Joan Morris. Under Commonwealth Transportation Board guidelines, VDOT can ban trucks on roads only if doing so promotes the "health, safety and welfare" of residents without creating undue hardship on vehicle operators. Morris said she expected the engineering study to take several months.

The county would have to identify an alternative route for the traffic if the state approved the ban. The county board has said it would designate Route 7 as the heavy-truck alternative to Route 193.

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