Route 1 speed limit drops from 45 to 35 in Fairfax County

The speed limit has been permanently reduced by 10 miles an hour in the crash-prone 7-mile stretch of Richmond Highway, also known as Route 1, between Mount Vernon, Virginia, and the Capital Beltway, south of the City of Alexandria.

The Virginia Department of Transportation and Fairfax County made the change, “to optimize safety and operations for pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers and transit users,”

Crews are changing speed limit signs Tuesday along Route 1, south of the Beltway to where Jeff Todd Way and Mount Vernon Memorial Highway cross the highway.

“We did a speed study the past couple of years, and saw there was an increase in crashes from Jeff Todd Way up to Alexandria,” said VDOT spokeswoman Ellen Kamilakis. “In particular, there was a increase in pedestrian-related crashes and high-speed related crashes, from Buckman Road up to the City of Alexandria.”

At a public information meeting in July 2022, 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

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

“There’s a lot of dense housing,” said Kamilakis. “There’s a lot of condos and apartments, and there’s a tremendous amount of traffic going through there every single day.”

With pedestrians and people cycling, “there’s a lot of people that are driving way too fast, not paying attention, and not following the rules of the road,” she added.

VDOT research has shown speed can determine whether someone survives being struck by a vehicle.

“If there are going to be interactions between modes of traffic, you want them to be going as slow as possible when that happens,” Kamilakis said.

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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.

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