Site of deadly 2017 food truck crash in Loudoun Co. to be replaced with new intersection

The new Watson Road intersection would be a four-way intersection with a stoplight, across Evergreen MIlls Road from Reservoir Road. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

Loudoun County is set to remove a dangerous intersection just over three years since a decrepit school bus that had been converted into a food truck killed a mother of three by failing to stop there.

The Board of Supervisors will hold a virtual public meeting Tuesday evening to discuss a road construction project which would dismantle the intersection of Evergreen Mills Road and Watson Road, where the food truck driven by Tony Dane slammed into the station wagon driven by Erin Kaplan, 39, of Ashburn.

Dane was sentenced to nearly 12 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter in Kaplan’s death.

In its current configuration, northbound drivers on Evergreen Mills Road go down a steep slope, toward the bridge over Goose Creek, with no turn lanes or paved shoulder, posing the risk of rear-end collisions for cars planning to turn left onto Watson Road.

VDOT figures show about 9,300 vehicles approach the intersection every day.

On Watson Road, where Dane was driving, motorists on the two-lane road approach the intersection with Evergreen Mills blindly, with little advance warning of a stop sign.

Since the crash that killed Kaplan, signage and warning signals have been installed, but the dangerous configuration still exists. Steep rock embankments on either side, combined with growth from trees and bushes, provide minimal sight distance for drivers in several directions.

The project would widen Evergreen Mills Road and realign Watson Road, creating a four-way intersection with Reservoir Road, which is about 430 feet south  — and up the hill — from the current intersection.

Turn lanes would be created, as well as 8-foot wide paved shoulders, to provide an escape route for drivers fearing a rear-end collision.

Under the current plans, the county would acquire land to enable Watson Road to take an earlier, more gradual approach to Evergreen Mills, ending at an signaled intersection with Reservoir Road, which is a small road that carries about 180 vehicles per day, mostly to homes set in hilly farmland.

A Facebook group, Oppose Watson Road Realignment, some of whose members’ properties would be affected by the new project, suggest the plan’s focus on the Evergreen Mills and Watson Roads intersection doesn’t take into account the number of cars that leave the narrow roads in other locations.

The county says the ultimate configuration for Evergreen Mills Road will be a four-lane, median-divided roadway with room for pedestrians separated from the road.

evergreen mills improvement
Click to see a full-size image of the rendering.
Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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