“The road is so narrow, there is no room for errors, please help the future kids,” said Bahman Haftsavar, the father of Ariana, who died in the crash. “I lost the biggest piece of my life.”
The crash happened on Jan. 10 when three students from South County High School were on Lee Chapel Road when they hit a set of hills at high speed, causing the car to leave the road and flip onto the roof, killing two and injuring one student who is still hospitalized.
The potential solutions discussed on the call this past Monday night included a complete roadway sign pattern that includes four warning signs, another “hill blocks view,” sign and a lighted “feedback sign,” that “will start flashing ‘slow down’ if the vehicle is going 40 miles per hour,” VDOT engineer Claudia Llana said.
The sign plan is a short-term measure to address the hazardous issues at this spot on Lee Chapel Road immediately. There were also mid-term and long-term solutions discussed in a VDOT slide show called “Measures & Initiatives.” A multi-level approach was part of the discussion too, and this included a training initiative as part of the school-based driver’s education that most teens go through. School board member Karen-Corbett Sanders suggested that include an appearance before a judge when getting a driver’s license as was part of the process years ago.
Other steps VDOT mentioned included rumble strips, a “shoulder wedge treatment” to help cars return to the road, and targeted tree removal. Tom Biesiadny from FCDOT added that they are working on a plan to flatten the rolling hills.
“Eliminating the hills will go a long way,” he said. Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay (D) added that since there are property owners along that stretch, “the long term fixes will take a lot of community input,” he said.
Virginia Sen. George Barker (D-39) is the chairman of the Virginia transportation subcommittee and vowed to pursue funding.
Taking out the hills was on everyone’s list but in discussing the time frame, there were no actual dates.
There was a discussion of working with the park authority, since some of the land is park land. Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) has meetings scheduled with the park authority this month.
School board member Laura Jane Cohen lives near the accident site and remembers hearing the helicopter after the wreck that night. “Many of us have worried about that stretch of road,” she said.