November 6, 2023

Fairfax Families for Safe Streets signed onto a letter sent to Gregg Steverson, Acting Director, Fairfax County Department of Transportation, supporting promised pedestrian safety improvements at the One University development near George Mason University.

November 6, 2023
Mr. Gregg Steverson
Acting Director
Fairfax County Department of Transportation
4050 Legato Road, Suite 400
Fairfax, VA 22033

Dear Mr. Steverson:

We are writing to reiterate our support for fully implementing all of the pedestrian safety improvements required as part of the rezoning for One University, and we urge Fairfax County and VDOT to fully enforce the applicant’s implementation and funding of these improvements.

The Board of Supervisors approved the rezoning for One University in September 2019. Proffer #11 requires the following improvements at the intersection of Route 123 and University Drive:

  • Construct curb extensions and tightened curb radii in the NW, SW and NE quadrants, as generally shown on the CDP/FDP
  • Create a new curb area in the SE quadrant, as generally shown on the CDP/FDP
  • Restripe Ox Road crosswalks (high visibility) and increase crosswalk width
  • Repaint and relocate University Drive crosswalks, as generally shown on the CDP/FDP
  • Install ADA ramps (2 per quadrant)
  • Install new pedestrian push buttons and count down equipment, 2 per quadrant
  • Install Accessible Pedestrian Signal (audio)
  • Install signage to restrict northbound left U-turn movement
    Install high-visibility pedestrian crossing signage and lighting
  • Create a lead phase whereby pedestrians can begin crossing Ox Road, southern leg, prior to vehicular movements.

However, staff from the Virginia Department of Transportation who evaluated the proposal rejected some of these improvements, stating that “no modifications will be permitted which do not accommodate the vehicles utilizing the movements in order to protect pedestrians from errant vehicles crossing the curb to make the turns” (Staff report, One University, 7-10-19). As a result, the rezoning also allowed a waiver of these improvements if “the required improvements proffered have been delayed (due to, but not limited to, an inability to secure necessary permission from Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) or other agencies to facilitate the improvements, etc.).”

To address transportation concerns related to the rezoning, the County authorized creation of a task force to review and study the 123-University intersection as well as nearby streets, including representatives from the County, the City of Fairfax and George Mason University. We have been informed repeatedly by the office of Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw that the implementation of the pedestrian improvements is contingent on the findings of the task force and the consultant conducting this transportation study. Yet more than four years after the rezoning was approved, this task force still has not held its first meeting. Meanwhile, One University (since renamed The Main on University) is scheduled to open next August.

Proffer #11 requires the applicant to make the pedestrian safety improvements as a condition for receiving its residential use permit. The timing of the plans for the task force are not aligned with this requirement. In an October 19th briefing to the Fairfax Campus and Community Advisory Board, FCDOT staff reported that the task force would meet quarterly over the course of the year. Based on that schedule, the Main on University will be seeking its residential use permit long before the task force has concluded its work and made recommendations.

The proffered improvements are all essential to the safety of the hundreds of new residents and other individuals who will walk, bicycle, and use other forms of non-motorized transportation along and across 123, as well as motorists. With 340 student units, each having 2-4 bedrooms, and 240 additional housing units, this new development will have well over 1,000 residents. Many of these residents will be crossing this intersection on a daily basis. All four legs of the existing intersection have wide curb radii, which allow motorists to turn at high speeds and force pedestrians to walk long distances in the path of turning vehicles that are often unwilling to stop, even during the “Walk” phase. With hundreds of additional pedestrians regularly crossing at this intersection, the risks of serious injuries and fatalities at this intersection will increase, unless all of the pedestrian improvements are implemented.

We cannot afford to wait longer to move forward with these needed safety measures. We urge Fairfax County and VDOT to fully enforce the applicant’s implementation and funding of all the required pedestrian safety improvements for the One University development now.

Sincerely yours,

Douglas Stewart, Sierra Club Great Falls Group

Chris French, Fairfax Families for Safe Streets

Sonya Breehey, Coalition for Smarter Growth

Bruce Wright, Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling

Hon. James Walkinshaw, Braddock District Supervisor
Hon. Jeffrey McKay, Chair, Board of Supervisors
Marcia Pape, Land Use Aide, Office of Braddock District Supervisor
Frank Anderson, Chief of Staff, Office of Braddock District Supervisor
Amir Abu-El-Hawa, Deputy Chief of Staff to Chair McKay
Commissioner Mary Cortina, Planning Commission
Nick Alexandrow, FCDOT
Lauren Delmare, FCDOT
Rachel Flynn, Deputy Executive, Fairfax County
John Lynch, District Engineer, VDOT, Northern Virginia District
William Cuttler, Deputy District Engineer, VDOT, Northern Virginia District
Steven Welch, VDOT
Heidi Mitter, VDOT
Wendy Block Sanford, City of Fairfax
Chloe Ritter, City of Fairfax
James Feather, City of Fairfax
Josh Cantor, George Mason University