Pedestrian bridge to be built near Prince William Co. school where students were killed crossing highway

A pedestrian bridge will be built over U.S. Route 15 in Haymarket, Virginia, near Battlefield High School — a dangerous crossing where two Prince William County students were killed crossing the highway in 2021.

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to appropriate $2 million to design the James Madison Highway Pedestrian Bridge Project.

The county has applied for Smart Scale funding in Fiscal 2026 to build the bridge, but the county said funding will be available to complete the project regardless.

Last October, hours after a 13-year-old boy was struck and killed by a car at the crossing, Prince William County leaders and the Virginia Department of Transportation began an investigation of the intersection. In Jan. 2021, another 13-year-old boy had been killed nearby.

rt 15 haymarket battlefield
A pedestrian bridge will be built over U.S. Route 15 in Haymarket, Virginia, near Battlefield High School where two Prince William County students were killed crossing the highway in 2021. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

“Every parent in this community has had a conversation with their children about walking across that highway,” Mary-Elizabeth Roesch, of the DVCC Route 15 Safety Initiative Facebook group, told WTOP last October.

The group was formed by a coalition of eight mothers who live in the Dominion Valley community, which is located across Route 15 from the school.

The project has been championed by Gainesville District Supervisor Pete Candland, who represents the area, in the quickly-developing section of Prince William County.

“Supervisor Candland has worked diligently to make this project happen for his constituents,” said Ann Wheeler, chair-at-large of the county board.

Last week, the Prince William County School Board approved a proposal to reduce the posted speed from 55 mph to 35 mph during the school’s drop-off and dismissal times. The Board of Supervisors is also expected to approve a speed camera pilot in the vicinity.

The signalized intersection is an example of the differences in road configuration and traffic flow along the length of Route 15, a major north-south state route stretching 230 miles through Virginia, from the North Carolina state line into Maryland.

The Dominion Valley Country Club community, built by Toll Brothers, first opened in the early 2000s — one of the earlier subdivisions in the quickly-growing Haymarket and Gainesville sections of Prince William County.

The modern four-way signalized intersection at Dominion Valley contains well-marked crosswalks and pedestrian lights. However, Route 15 traffic consists of several lanes in each direction.

“Route 15 through this corridor is a major thoroughfare for trucks, semis, construction traffic, you name it and we have it,” said Roesch. “It’s a major highway.”

Over the years, the county has received more than $15,000 per single family home from the developer for transportation improvements. As part of Tuesday’s vote, those proffered funds will be transferred to help pay for the project.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow WTOP on Twitter and Instagram to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2023 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up