A group of residents at Arlington County's River Place cooperative is unhappy with a county plan to build a ramp road near the northwest entrance of the complex. The ramp road is designed to pull traffic from North Lynn Street onto a loop road system around Rosslyn.
Last week, about 45 of the residents met to discuss how they could prevent the county from building the ramp road, which they say would present a major safety hazard because many River Place residents regularly walk north to the Rosslyn Metrorail station and would have to cross the ramp.
Since the late 1960s, Arlington County officials have been planning a loop road system around Rosslyn to get traffic through the area and out of busy intersections.
"A primary purpose of the road is to keep through traffic not destined for the core of Rosslyn out of Rosslyn," said John Hummel, chief of Arlington's Planning and Engineering Division.
The roughly mile-long counterclockwise ring road is nearly complete. Bounded by North Nash, 17th, Kent and 19th streets, it will be completed by one bridge over North Lynn Street and another over Wilson Boulevard.
The first bridge will join North 17th Street to a section of road between the twin USA Today buildings. The second bridge will connect that section to North Kent Street.
Hummel said construction of the two bridges is to begin late this summer, with completion of the ring system expected during the summer of 1987.
When complete, the loop will enable traffic heading down 17th Street from the Courthouse area or across Key Bridge from Georgetown to travel around Rosslyn instead of through it.
Also scheduled to begin this summer is construction of the elevated ramp road near River Place. The ramp would handle cars heading from Fort Myer toward Rosslyn on North Lynn Street.
If the ramp is built, drivers wanting to avoid the center of Rosslyn would be able to turn right on the ramp just past the residential complex and hook onto the loop between the two bridges.
Hummel said the ramp is crucial to the success of the loop road system because it would be a major access point for traffic.
"Not to build the ramp would defeat a lot of the purpose of having the loop road," he said.
But David Kendall, vice president of the River Place Unit Owners Association, said he believes that the ramp road as proposed is too dangerous to justify.
"Our objection is that it is a very unsafe design," he said. "Pedestrians would be crossing traffic going onto the ramp. That's about a 25 or 30 mph ramp."
Kendall said there is a certain irony about the situation.
"They're trying to create better pedestrian safety by reducing traffic in Rosslyn, but they're creating a safety hazard," he said.
"We're also concerned about the noise problem," he said. "This ramp will be open to trucks."
Hummel, however, who has met with representatives of River Place during the past several months, said he thinks that much of the concern over safety and noise is not warranted.
"It will be very difficult for a car coming down Lynn Street to get on the ramp at 30 mph," he said. "It's a fairly steep grade."
He also said that the ramp would make the area "no noisier than Rosslyn is today."
Hummel said pedestrians heading from River Place into Rosslyn would be able to cross the ramp at a crosswalk along Lynn Street or through an underpass beneath the ramp road about 100 feet east of the street.
But Kendall said that a crosswalk is unsafe and an underpass 100 feet from the street is impractical because pedestrians will not be willing to walk a total of 200 feet out of their way, especially in the morning when they are rushing to Metro.
"Our only chance is to fight the ramp altogether," Kendall said.
"Concerns about livability in Rosslyn have been a low priority in its development," he said. "For once, let's make that the overriding concern. Livability."