VDOT recommends lowering speed limit to 35 mph on stretch of Richmond Highway

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner InsideNoVa.com and republished with permission. Sign up for InsideNoVa.com’s free email subscription today.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is recommending lowering the 45-mph speed limit on a 7.8-mile stretch of Richmond Highway (U.S. 1) from Jeff Todd Way to I-95/I-495.

The recommendation came from a speed limit study conducted by VDOT to improve safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers and transit users. The study investigated all crashes reported between 2016 and 2020 and suggested reducing the speed limit to 35 mph.

At a public information meeting in July, VDOT Project Manager Jessica Paris said speed limit recommendations are only based on existing conditions and not estimated or planned future conditions.

“This is a growing and transitioning corridor, and there have been safety concerns expressed regarding the relative rate of crashes as well as changes in development and access along this section of the roadway,” Paris said.

The study, which started last year, focused on pedestrian, bicycle and speed-related crashes. It also zoned in on locations and severity.

Study manager Warren Hughes presented the findings, which found the crash rate between Jeff Todd Way and Buckman Road was 74% higher than the statewide average.

VDOT Northern Virginia District Traffic Engineer Gil Chlewicki said research shows that speed could determine if someone survives being struck by a vehicle.

“The slower the speed is of the vehicle when it hits the pedestrian, the better chance the pedestrian has of surviving or having fewer injuries,” Chlewicki said.

Supervisor Dan Storck voiced his support for the study and said it was the result of the community speaking out about traffic-related deaths along the corridor.

“We know that this is a way to reduce some of those injuries and some of those deaths by making sure that we have a speed limit that’s proportional to the amount of density and traffic and people and pedestrians and bike riders that are on that road,” Storck said.

Hughes noted that the change in speed limit would have minimal impacts on traffic volume, a concern some people voiced.

“The change in the speed limit does not necessarily produce a reduction in flow or reduction in volume. We’ve taken a hard look at the travel times throughout the corridor during the A.M. and P.M. peak hours, as well as the midday period, and what we are concluding is that there would be very minimal change,” Hughes said.

VDOT will complete a final report by late summer, and the new speed limit could go into effect in early 2023.

The department also examined a section between Belvoir Road and Jeff Todd Way, but officials recommended keeping the 45-mph speed limit in place.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner InsideNoVa.com and republished with permission. Sign up for InsideNoVa.com’s free email subscription today.


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