Read this Oct 4, 2017 ARLNow article about our neighborhood:
Parents Petition for Traffic Calming Near Thomas Jefferson Middle School
New Signs for an Old Street
October 30, 2017
On Monday, October 30, Arlington Heights became a safer place.
For many years, citizens of Arlington Heights have asked for traffic calming measures at 2nd Street South and South Irving Street in neighborhood conservation plans, and more recently, more than 500 neighbors petitioned Arlington County to add a four-way ("all-way") stop at the corner of 2nd Street South and South Irving Street.
Today, that dream became a reality.
At that intersection, 80 to, at times, more than 100 students cross 2nd Street South each morning from the 200 to 900 blocks of South Irving Street, perhaps the oldest street in Arlington Heights, to go to school at Thomas Jefferson Middle School.
The increased traffic on 2nd Street South caused by construction of the new elementary school exacerbated pedestrian danger at 2nd Street South and South Irving Street. Traffic on 2nd Street South was already hazardous since the street run between two Virginia state highways, South Glebe Road (Route 120) to Washington Boulevard (Route 27), from a commercial district to an entrance to Fort Myer.
Soon, many more students will cross at that intersection when construction is completed on the new school to the west of TJ.
On the morning of September 20, 2017, Thomas Jefferson Middle School parent and Arlington Heights resident Alisa Key witnessed a TJ student nearly get hit in the crosswalk at 2nd Street South and South Irving Streets when an Arlington County truck failed to yield to the student in the crosswalk.
Key "rallied the troops"—her neighbors Liz Fried, Colleen Godbout, and Susannah Keefe—and they joined her the next morning at the intersection and saw yet another TJ student also nearly hit when a vehicle failed to yield to the student in the crosswalk.
This group of four concerned parents knew they had to act and embarked on effort of outreach to Arlington County Board, Arlington School Board, Thomas Jefferson Middle School, Arlington County Police Department, Arlington County Department of Environmental Services (DES, managers of County street signs), Arlington County Pedestrian Advisory Commission, Arlington Safe Routes to School program leaders, friends, the community, and others.
They met with County and Arlington Public School officials; spoke at meetings of PTAs, County Board, and School Board; solicited volunteers to help them at the intersection; and invited County officials who joined them at the intersection to see what they saw each morning.
They also collected more than 500 signatures on an on-line petition and presented those signatures to County Board and School Board.
From the beginning, they sought an all-way ("four-way") stop and a crossing guard, among other traffic calming and safety measures. Through their persistence, perseverance, and hard work, the petitioners convinced DES to open a study of the intersection. After fast-track consideration because of the clear risks involved to student and pedestrian safety, DES determined that an all-way stop was warranted, in a report issued on October 13, four years after a similar determination against an all-way stop.
DES installed the all-way stop Monday, October 30.
Said TJ parent and Arlington Heights neighbor Alisa Key, "This is only one piece in the puzzle. The parents continue to seek a crossing guard at this intersection, but we have been facing resistance from those who oversee this function. This resistance presents a serious obstacle to that needed resource and safety measure. Nonetheless, we continue to be present at this intersection every morning since that first morning in September to ensure that those crossing can do so safely."
Arlington Heights Civic Association vice-president Evan Farley sent a letter of support for the all-way stop signs to Arlington School Board and Arlington County Board, reminding them of their commitment and obligations to pedestrian safety when they decided to add a school to the already crowded site of Thomas Jefferson Middle School, Park, and Community Center. After DES determined a all-way stop was warranted, AHCA's letter urged the County to provide interim measures to improve the safety of the neighborhood's school children until the all-way stop was installed.
Arlington Heights neighbors welcomed the new signs to the neighborhood in a flurry of e-mails following the installation.
AHCA president Molly Calkins said, "Arlington Heights residents noticed that the increased traffic on 2nd Street caused by construction of the new elementary school at Thomas Jefferson exacerbated pedestrian danger at 2nd & Irving. Pedestrian safety was an issue the County and Arlington Public Schools were supposed to have addressed when deciding to add a school to the already crowded site of Thomas Jefferson Middle School, Park, and Community Center. [After the neighbors organized their effort and circulated the petition,] Arlington Heights Civic Association sent a letter to Arlington School Board and Arlington County Board reminding them of their pedestrian safety obligations and demanding stop signs be added to that intersection without further delay."
Photographer and neighbor Jay Jacob Wind just happened to drive by at the very moment when Arlington County sign installer Kevin Boatwright and signage supervisor Marcus Butts installed the new signs.Arlington County sign installer Kevin Boatwright (left) and signage supervisor Marcus Butts
install new all-way stop signs at 2nd Street South and South Irving Street
Photos by Jay Jacob Wind © 2017 - All rights reserved