Vienna debuts roundabout 1

Possibly confused by the novelty of Vienna's first-ever mini-roundabout at Park and Locust streets, S.E., a motorist in 2016 improperly drives over the central hub instead of driving around it. Meanwhile, Vienna officials are now working on rewrites of rules related to parking in the town. (Photo by Brian Trompeter)

Vienna officials are reviewing a set of multi-modal transportation priorities that would improve mobility and enhance pedestrian safety.

Members of the town’s Department of Public Works outlined the proposals at the Vienna Town Council’s Jan. 13 work session.

Town staff members are recommending the Council approve plans to:

• Eliminate a right-turn lane on eastbound Church Street, N.E., at Mill Street, N.E., and install pedestrian-friendly hardscaping. The project would create two additional on-street parking spaces on the eastbound side of Church Street just before the intersection, and would allow the town to relocate the crosswalk on the south side of the street to give pedestrians a shorter distance to cross Mill Street.

The $150,000 project would be financed from the town’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) funds, and officials have recommended that it be completed by fiscal year 2022.

The intersection is one of the most picturesque in town, being located near the Freeman Store & Museum, original Vienna Library, Vienna Presbyterian Church’s old chapel and Bouton’s Hall. A triangular traffic island, located next to the turn lane that would be hardscaped, is home to an evergreen that the town  festoons with electric lights during the winter holidays.

• Redesign crossings where the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Regional Trail intersects with Park Street, S.E., Maple Avenue, E., and Church Street, N.E.

The Church and Park street intersections would receive raised trail crossings (speed tables), which are designed to reduce conflicts between motorists and the pedestrians and bicyclists sharing the road with them.

The Maple Avenue crossing is not suitable for a speed table, but would receive relocated signal push-buttons, consistent signage and high-visibility markings.

Officials hope to complete this project in fiscal 2021. The project, which would be financed using CIP funds, would cost about $50,000 per intersection, town leaders said.

• Implement “leading pedestrian intervals” at five intersections heavily trafficked by pedestrians. The intervals would give pedestrians a 3- to 7-second head start when they enter the intersections going the same way as traffic.

The idea is to improve pedestrians’ visibility, reinforce their right-of-way and reduce the likelihood of vehicle-pedestrian collisions by up to 60 percent, based on statistics from the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

The concept’s drawbacks include potential conflicts with leading left-turn signals and right-turn-on-red rules. Town officials also would have to study the crossings to confirm that the adjusted signal timing would not impede traffic flow significantly along Maple Avenue and its side streets.

Officials hope the project, which would cost about $15,000 per intersection and be financed from the town’s general fund, can be completed by fiscal 2021. 

• Implement two local-circulator, or micro-transit, bus routes. One would travel along Nutley Street, S.W., and Maple Avenue, with a tight loop on Center Street, N., Church Street, N.E., and Mill Street, N.E. The other route would execute a figure 8 going from Maple Avenue, W., to East Street, N.E., then Church Street to Lawyers Road, N.W., Courthouse Road, S.W., and Nutley Street, S.W.

This $400,000 initiative, slated for implementation in fiscal 2021, first would be subjected to a study.

Metrobus no longer operates in Vienna, but the town is served by the Fairfax Connector bus system, said Vienna Public Works Director Michael Gallagher.

Council member Douglas Noble recommended the town extend the bus routes up to Tysons to take advantage of more potential ridership.

“Our businesses are used by more than just our residents,” he said.

• Fill important sidewalk gaps along Church Street, Glyndon Street and Courthouse Road. Town officials did not have a cost figure for this initiative, which would be ongoing.

• Implement Capital Bikeshare in fiscal 2021 at a cost of $300,000.

Council member Nisha Patel said the town should be focusing on a much larger priority.

“We’re missing the bigger picture here,” she said. “We’ve got to fix the traffic on Maple Avenue.”

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