Residents on the 100 block of Locust Street in Vienna have asked the town's council to restrict their street to one-way traffic to limit the number of commuters taking shortcuts through the subdivision.

At public hearing Monday night, worried parents said the heavy traffic impedes their children's safety when they walk to nearby Vienna Elementary School.

Residents said they also were hesitant to let youngsters play outside during evening rush hours because of the high volume of cars passing through the neighborhood.

According to a town Transportation Safety Commission study last fall, during one 24-hour period 3,776 cars drove through the neighborhood, compared with 575 cars that passed through a parallel street during that same period.

Locust Street, just off Vienna's main road, Maple Avenue, is a two-block area that lies between busy Center Street and Lawyers Road.

Frank L. Willingham, chairman of the eight-member transportation advisory group, said the study found a large percentage of non-resident drivers used the street during morning and evening rush hours. Willingham also concurred with the residents' contention that the heavy traffic flow was a detriment to the safety of the elementary school children.

"And another eyebrow-raising thing we noted was the number of traffic tickets given out for failure to stop at the stop sign," Willingham said. "We the safety commission recommend to council that they go along with the petition for a permanent westbound one-way street there."

Last summer residents Michael and Marie Horton circulated a petition on Locust Street to bring the trafficissue to the Town Council's attention.

"As a community we realize we can't close the entire street down so we're hoping to restrict it at least one time during the rush hours," Horton said.

In addition to concerns over their children's safety, residents are also worried about the safety of their cars parked along the narrow street, said Horton. "One time a school bus went by and ripped the side mirrors off a car," she said.

Laura Alonge, a seven-year resident of Locust Street, said some mornings she has to wait 10 minutes for a break in the traffic to pull out of her driveway.

She said most of the commuters using her street as a bypass for the usually congested Maple Avenue are not Vienna residents. "I can sympathize with people using back residential roads to get out of town, but that doesn't mean they should be using my street as the shortcut," Alonge said.

"There's a pine tree that's probably eight to 10 feet from the curb that has been hit by a car before," she said. "I just don't feel the street is safe with a high volume of traffic."

Alonge said she doubted restricting the street to one-way traffic would solve the area's problem, but that limiting its access would make it "manageable."

Vienna Mayor Charles A. Robinson Jr. said the Locust Street issue was "a classic confrontation between the desire of people on a residential street to minimize traffic flow, and the need to maintain the availability of the streets."

Robinson said restricting Locust Street to one-way traffic would have major impacts on the town, and the council will hold an additional public hearing at its Jan. 28 meeting.