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Falls Church community demands safety changes to Route 7 corridor

VDOT says it has been coordinating with Fairfax County on potential improvements.

FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Safety advocates and residents of the Culmore community at Bailey's Crossroads are demanding road safety improvements along Route 7. 

CASA, an immigrant advocacy group, and the Coalition for Smarter Growth held a rally at the corner of Leesburg Pike and Glen Carlyn Drive on Tuesday. They say the corridor has been notorious for accidents and injuries, including a 68-year-old woman who died after being hit by a car while walking along Leesburg Pike without a sidewalk in December.

CASA has launched a safe streets campaign to help shed light on the the issue. Many of the residents in the immediate area are immigrants who do not have a car.

"I do walk around here mainly at nighttime so I'm concerned for my safety all the time," resident and CASA member Catalina Balerde said. "I do feel like our voices are not being heard and I do hope that the safety campaign gets our voices heard from the authorities and everyone making rules around the area."

Sonya Breehey, Coalition for Smarter Growth Northern Virginia advocacy manager, said in 2021, there were at least three reported bike and pedestrian crashes with injuries. Fairfax County as a whole saw 17 bike and pedestrian fatalities and 190 crashes. 

Safety groups are requesting temporary pedestrian medians, speed limit signs and speed enforcement signage as a short-term solution. In the long run, they want more permanent, safer designs, more crosswalks, slower speeds and additional pedestrian-signal crossings. 

"We need these safety improvements now," Breehey said. "We took a look as we walked around this stretch and noted the missing infrastructure."

An analysis by Coalition for Smarter Growth, Fairfax's Families for Safe Streets and Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling said her death could have been prevented if there were better safety infrastructure. The analysis was submitted to the Virginia Department of Transportation. 

Posted by Fairfax's Families for Safe Streets on Sunday, January 16, 2022

A VDOT spokesperson said the team has been in ongoing dialogue with Fairfax's Families for Safe Streets. 

In a statement to WUSA9, VDOT said, "Our Traffic Engineering staff has been coordinating with Fairfax County on potential improvements that we are aiming to share with the community in June."

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