Prince William County, Virginia, saw its highest number of traffic deaths in at least a decade in 2021. Car crashes killed 32 people this year, including seven pedestrians that were struck and killed.
Two of those pedestrians were 13-year-old boys that were killed at the same intersection 9 months apart.
Both happened at the intersection of James Madison Highway and Dominion Valley Drive, which is referred to as Graduation Drive on the street connecting Route 15 to nearby Battlefield High School and Reagan Middle School.
The first happened on Jan. 17 just after 11 p.m. Police said the boy was hit by two cars.
The second child was struck by a minivan just after noon on Oct. 19. Police determined the driver had a green light at the intersection as the teenager was attempting to cross James Madison Highway.
“Every parent in this community has had a conversation with their children about walking across that highway,” Mary-Elizabeth Roesch told WTOP back in October.
She is a member of the DVCC Route 15 Safety Initiative Facebook group, formed by a coalition of eight mothers who live in the Dominion Valley community, which is located across Route 15 from the schools.
Since the two deaths, some in the Haymarket area have called for a pedestrian overpass across the two busy roads.
Pete Candland, who represents the Gainesville District on the County’s Board of Supervisors, is hoping for rapid change to improve pedestrian safety.
During a November board meeting, he proposed adding a bond referendum on the 2022 ballot that would allow the county to build better pedestrian safety members without having to wait for funding from the Virginia Department of Transportation
“I know this is a big step to do another bond initiative. But I believe it is critical that we make significant investments in pedestrian safety,” Candland said. “I’m tired of telling my constituents ‘Well, we’re going to have to see what VDOT says,’ or you know, ‘It’s going to come down to can we scrape together money.’”
Others suggested impelling members of the General Assembly to push VDOT for a faster response on these higher stakes traffic projects.
Data from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles shows that crashes caused an additional 210 serious injuries in Prince County in 2021, with 5,111 crashes overall.
The number of deaths is the highest since at least 2010. Crash data from previous years is no longer available.