Vienna Chief of Police Donald G. Harper has proposed the addition of a two-member traffic unit to the town's 33-officer police department to deal with the town's growing rush-hour traffic problems.
The proposal, which Harper submitted to the Town Council Monday night, is part of the police department's long-range plan to improve its overall effectiveness. The report will be available to the public next week, town officials said.
The major traffic problem in town, according to Harper, is on Maple Avenue (Rte. 123), particularly during the evening rush hour. "It becomes a parking lot from 4 o'clock on," he said.
In addition, Harper said, "Just about every street within a few blocks of Maple Avenue has had a host of problems" -- a heavy volume of traffic, speeding vehicles and vehicles not stopping at stop signs.
Planning Commission Director Jim Grant expressed support for the measure, saying that "traffic is the number one problem in Vienna and getting worse. And when the Vienna Metro station comes in June 1986 , we will have even more problems."
Grant said that 42,000 cars per day travel on Maple Avenue.
If approved, two full-time officers, who would comprise the traffic unit, would begin their duties July 1 at the same salary as regular patrol officers, Harper said in an interview. Harper said the traffic unit would operate primarily on the street.
The positions would be filled by officers currently with the department, and the department would hire two new officers, Harper said. If the new unit proves to be successful, he said, it could be expanded.
The traffic unit is necessary, said Harper, because "patrol officers cannot dedicate enough time to traffic problems. We need to specialize. We need officers who are well versed on this issue and who are dedicated solely to solving traffic problems."
Michael Horton, a resident of Locust Street who is leading a petition drive to make Locust Street one-way west from Center Street to Cottage Street, said he is "100 percent for it the traffic unit ." Horton said he hopes the new unit will enable the police to monitor traffic violations in residential neighborhoods in particular.
Horton said that a bypass may be the long-term answer to Vienna's traffic problems. "We're just a small town, and we are carrying a lot of Fairfax County's traffic," said Horton. "Soon, Vienna may be wall-to-wall cars. Something has to be done."
Harper stressed that the new traffic unit will deal with traffic "only from an enforcement standpoint, not from an engineering standpoint. We're just dealing with the situation that presently exists." However, he added, "Eventually, something has to be done, whether it's a bypass or whatever it is. The problem won't go away."
The council will consider Harper's report at a special work session on Saturday, town officials said.
In other business Monday, members of the council discussed planned development near the future Vienna Metro station just outside the town limits. The Hazel/Peterson Cos. of Fairfax plan to develop 2.9 million square feet of office space, 150,000 square feet of retail space, 370 town houses and a 600-room hotel on a 61-acre site near I-66 and Nutley Street. P. Reed Wills II plans to develop 427,000 square feet of office space, 30,000 square feet of retail space, 33 town houses and 200 apartment units on a 10-acre site nearby.
Council member Vincent J. Olson said no present or planned development in the county, including Tysons Corner or Tysons II, is more dense than the two planned for the Vienna Metro site. Olson said he is "fearful that such intense development will cause us problems."
Council member Donald E. Upchurch was more blunt: "The town ought to go on record as strongly opposed to this development. They've dumped another Rosslyn on us. We shouldn't stand still for such intense development right within town borders."
Council member George E. Lovelace agreed. "We should get our opposition to this known early in the game rather than later," he said. Mayor Charles A. Robinson Jr. said he will write a letter for the council to Fairfax County supervisors Martha V. Pennino (D-Centreville) and James M. Scott (D-Providence) "expressing concern about the intensity of development" in the area.
The council also extended the deadline for formal requests to purchase the Moorefield home off Nutley Street to March 15. Town officials said they have determined that the home must be sold because the town cannot restore the structure, which was built in 1790 and is the oldest building in the town. Officials said they have received 27 requests to purchase the home thus far.