Va. road relief project receives national award

WASHINGTON – A pair of transportation projects that put two local roads on a diet is receiving a national award.

The D.C. region is notorious for terrible traffic, especially parts of northern Virginia, but there have been some innovative ideas aimed at relieving congestion and improving road safety.

On Monday, VDOT was recognized with a national award for the Reston “road diets” projects.

“The idea of a road diet is to take away a lane on a road that doesn’t need it to be able to use the pavement space for something more useful,” says Randy Dittberner, VDOT regional traffic engineer.

The problem: drivers were speeding along Lawyers Road and Soapstone Drive, causing numerous accidents and injuries.

“In both cases, we took away a thru-lane in each direction to make room for a center turning lane and bike lanes,” making the streets more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly, Dittberner says. “The pavement itself stayed the same width. We took the existing pavement and just moved the stripes around.”

As a result of these projects, crashes were reduced 65 to 70 percent on both streets.

“The nature of our crash reduction up to almost 70 percent is what’s really stunning,” Dittberner says. “It’s well beyond what we had anticipated.”

About 10,000 vehicles travel along these two roads every day.

VDOT was one of several transportation agencies from around the country to be recognized at the Roadway Safety Foundation and the Federal Highway Administration’s 2015 National Roadway Safety Awards.

Winning projects from Arkansas, Florida, Michigan, Montana, Texas, and Washington state were also recognized.

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