Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hazard on Fairfax Co Parkway Trail

There is a new hazard for cyclists on the shared-use path along Rt 7100 Fairfax County Parkway at Rt 50 Lee Jackson Memorial Hwy. Sometime between snow falls, when most cyclists were kept off two wheels, heavy construction took place on the side path along the ramp connecting northbound 7100 Fairfax County Parkway to eastbound Rt 50 Lee Jackson Memorial Hwy (Google Map image). The path is an extension of the shared-use path that follows the right turn lane leading to the ramp until the ramp diverges from the Parkway, at which point, the shared-use path crosses the ramp in a poorly-designed fashion -- at a right angle to the ramp.

This warning stems from the fact that a trench was dug cutting the asphalt of the path, and the start of the trench at the top end severs the shared-use path right where it is most dangerous: cyclists must slow here both to make the 90o left turn to cross the ramp while at the same time looking over their left shoulder for cars entering the ramp, while one's bicycle tires risk being tripped by the sharp break in pavement, just as surely as running up against a curb. We strongly recommend any cyclist approaching this area, do so with extreme caution, and dismount, walking past the area.

VDOT has been notified of the problem, but they have no record of any permit issued for the work, and so they seem to be unable to pursue the offending party to restore the damaged public property. The Parkway trail is one of the few trails in the County for which VDOT is officially responsible. VDOT is facing approximately $10M in winter storm damage, along with a dire financial situation, but this trail is a critical part of their transportation system and we expect it to be fixed.

We suggest all cyclists call the VDOT hot line (800.367.ROAD -- though the waits can be interminable) or enter a complaint via the on-line form. Sometimes, this can make a difference.

For the general case, we urge ALL cyclists, when noting damage, particularly if the offending equipment is still on site, PLEASE make a record of the precise location, name(s) on the side of the trucks/equipment, time and date; let us know while letting the County and/or VDOT know.

FABB will discuss the possibility of setting up an online reporting system for tracking problems like this. The program SeeClickFix is being used by several communities for this purpose.

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