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VDOT, don't make Dahlgren Road worse!

November 14, 2012 12:10 am



AS A RESIDENT of the Dahlgren district I am writing with grave concerns about the proposed design changes to the intersection of Owens Drive and State Route 206, Dahlgren Road, and State Route 218.

The intersection as it is currently configured is becoming increasingly dangerous. Traffic loads seem to grow every month. I personally have witnessed several very serious accidents. The number of near misses is also very high, as drivers are forced to take chances to enter or cross traffic. It has become a game of chicken to see who is bravest to jump first, a driver crossing or turning on to Route 206.

The proposed addition of turn lanes will only make these actions more dangerous. Instead of solving any problems, these lanes will create greater distances to cross and more lanes of traffic to "read" as the driver decides on a window of opportunity to move through traffic.

While it's true that adding turn lanes would help keep traffic flowing on Route 206, that will only make traffic move faster, creating an even greater probability of accidents, injury, and death for drivers entering or crossing traffic on Owens Drive and 218.

As a driver of 35-plus years, I find myself avoiding this intersection unless I am leaving my home to make a right turn to Route 206 west.

As an experienced driver, I am teaching my 15-year-old son the skill of driving. My husband and I make every effort to avoid exposing our son, ourselves, and other drivers to situations where his inexperience might cause undue risk.

Imagine, though, a driver who shares my son's inexperience, or who is late for work, impaired of vision or mobility, or limited by age or distraction or fatigue. Driving is an offensive and defensive skill. With all these factors converging where congestion and lane configuration are already creating undue risk, it baffles me to think adding more lanes is considered the best solution.

My mother was killed in an auto/pedestrian accident. A car was sitting in a left-turn lane. The well-meaning driver waved her across--straight into the path of another car containing a family on their way to church.

This was on a four-lane divided highway with left- and right-turn lanes. Had there been a light and a pedestrian crossing, she could have arrived home safely with her groceries.

As you can imagine, traffic safety is a very personal and important topic in our family. We recognize the responsibility that comes with driving.

As residents who use this intersection daily, our family of six drivers all feel that turn lanes would only increase the danger. On behalf of my family, I implore the Board of Supervisors to ask the Virginia Department of Transportation to reconsider the addition of turn lanes at the intersection of Routes 206, 218, and Owens Drive.

Individuals should drive this intersection themselves and experience firsthand the perils drivers face here daily. The busy morning and afternoon rushes of traffic heading to and from work are especially daunting.

There is no question that changes must be made before more accidents occur. However, adding turn lanes without signals would only increase the danger.

In this case, more isn't better. For the safety of people who live and work here, please do not add turn lanes.

Betty Grigg lives in King George County.

Copyright 2014 The Free Lance-Star Publishing Company.