A week after a cyclist was hit at an Arlington crossing bikers refer to as the “intersection of doom” and then ticketed by U.S. Park Police, county officials approved changes to the area.
These modifications were in the works before the accident, and do not touch on the primary problem with the intersection — that cyclists on the Custis Trail have a green light at the same time as cars turning from I-66 onto the Key Bridge. But they will improve sight lines and make the bike and pedestrian crossing shorter.
The plan extends the curbs at the intersection to narrow the distance cyclists must cross. It also makes the turn sharper, which slows cars down. It also expands the trail leading up to the intersection, which gives bikes more space to wait, and lowers the buffer alongside it for better visibility.
The plan also includes updates to the lights and signs at the intersection.
Construction is supposed to begin in the spring of 2015 and end a year later.
County Board Chairman Jay Fisette said at a meeting Tuesday night that the location is “one of more accident-prone intersections” in Arlington and has attracted publicity recently.
Officials say that it’s hard to do more because the county only has control over the local roads; the Virginia Department of Transportation and U.S. Park Service must be involved in any more dramatic changes, such as rerouting the trail altogether.
The trail expansion was agreed to in concert with VDOT. “It’s highly unusual for the state to commit in writing to a reduction of a state route,” Dennis Leach, Arlington’s assistant director of transportation and environmental services, said at the meeting.
Police will be out enforcing traffic laws during rush hour at the intersection Friday, which is National Bike to Work Day.