The George Washington Parkway may soon become a lot safer for drivers and cyclists, thanks to improvements that will be implemented later this month.
The National Park Service, United States Park Police, and Congressman Jim Moran (D-8th District) hosted a press conference Thursday to announce more details about the .
The National Park Service will begin installing 46 signs warning motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians on Friday. The signs will be installed on the George Washington Parkway and the Mount Vernon Trail by June 30.
“One of the things that we can do in addition to having a good public transportation system is to encourage people to bike to work,” Moran said. “But right now it’s difficult and dangerous for many people to do so. “
The road and trail improvements are based on an audit conducted in late 2011 by the Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division, the Arlington County Transportation Department, and the U.S. Park Police. The audit evaluated signage, striping, traffic operations as well as the crash history of high-risk locations near Memorial Circle.
“Using the audit report as a foundation and guide, the National Park Service developed a strategy for implementing those report recommendations that would be phased in as available funding, materials, and staffing would allow during the summer and fall of 2012,” said Jon. G. James, acting superintendent of the George Washington Memorial Parkway.
Additional safety improvements include:
- Replacing directional and regulatory signs in Memorial Circle and along the trail
- Installing rumble strips to alert drivers before one of the crosswalks
- Realigning one crosswalk away from merging traffic lanes
- Adding lane direction and destination directions painted onto traffic lanes of westbound Memorial Bridge
Congressman Moran noted that the improvements will help reduce the number of accidents in that area.
“It’s a preventative measure. We’re not reacting after somebody’s gotten hit,” Moran said. “It’s taking the measures to prevent those accidents in the first place.”
The current projects are being completed with funds within the National Park Service operational budget. However, many of the long-range concepts could be very expensive, James, the superintendent, said.
The Park Police will continue to maintain a visible presence along the George Washington Parkway to enforce the speed limits.
“Speeding is a concern anywhere on the Parkway from the Beltway all way down to Mount Vernon,” said Captain Scott Fear of the U.S. Park Police. “We’re always out here enforcing the speed limit. If we could increase patrols, we would.”