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After fatal crash, Loudoun supervisors take steps to implement safety measures on Evergreen Mills

Facebook/Make Evergreen Mills Road Safe
After an outpouring of calls from the community to implement safety measures on Evergreen Mills Road in Leesburg following the death 39-year-old Erin T. Kaplan of Ashburn, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday night to take steps to make the roadway safer.

The vote came about a month after the Ashburn mother of three lost her life at the scene, when the driver of a 2000 Thomas bus converted into a food truck was traveling east on Watson Road and ran a stop sign, crashing into Kaplan’s 2014 Audi Station wagon traveling northbound on Evergreen Mills Road.

Under the safety measures proposed by Supervisors Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) and Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin), county staff will identify funds for a transportation safety consultant to develop a scope of work and plan to conduct a safety audit of Evergreen Mills Road between Battlefield Parkway and Loudoun County Parkway and Watson Road between Evergreen Mills Road and Route 50.

Once that initial phase of work is complete, staff will return to the Board of Supervisors and provide them with a cost estimate.

Just hours before the board considered the safety study, an accident took place, closing it down to one lane.

Kaplan’s husband Faran and dozens of the Kaplan's friends and neighbors wore green to show their support for the Ashburn mother. They warned that the community could not wait any longer for changes to occur on the road.

“Congestions have made the roads in this area virtually impossible to to pass during certain times,” Faran Kaplan said. “Congestion is what forces people off the arterial routes and into the secondary country roads. In this case, I believe it was congestion that took my wife.”

He said that after thinking about the accident, he believes the driver of the food truck took Evergreen Mills Road to avoid Route 50. Kaplan warned that as Route 7, Northstar Boulevard and others become more congested, drivers will use back roads more frequently.

“I’m not here to complain. I’m here to question how we can fix this before more lives are lost,” Kaplan said holding back tears.

Last January, Ashburn resident Kris Countryman said she received a call from local police informing her the school bus carrying her two daughters to school had been in an accident.

She said her 6-year-old was sent to the hospital, where she was informed that a cement truck had crossed the double yellow line heading straight toward the bus, which had nowhere to go.

“I am so thankful that today my daughter is fine, but there are so many people who cannot say that about that road,” Countryman said, adding that after the accident she had contacted the Board of Supervisors but nothing had been done

“Here we are nine months later still just talking. That is not OK, we have got to take action we cannot continue to wait … who’s going to be next?” Countryman said.

The two-lane road has been the site of accidents and fatalities for years.

Over the summer, a Suffolk woman and two children died after the woman apparently lost control of the car and landed in Sycolin Creek near Hogeland Mill Road, just off Evergreen Mills Road.

Since the Kaplan accident, a Facebook page called Make Evergreen Mills Road Safe was set up by local residents Kelly McGinn and Stephanie Manning and has garnered more than 2,000 followers.

Del. Randy Minchew (R-10th) attended Tuesday’s meeting to tell supervisors that the regional Northern Virginia Transportation Authority’s TransAction plan slated for approval in the next several weeks included at least two Evergreen Mills Road projects that could ease safety concerns on the roadway.

Those projects include widening the roadway from a two- to four-lane road either between Shreveport Drive and Battlefield Parkway or between Battlefield Parkway and South King Street.

Minchew said that although funding for the potential projects is being considered, it is not guaranteed.

“If the Loudoun board wishes to get NVTA funding for all or a portion of these two projects, it can submit a proposal in the  annual NVTA Request for Projects process, and then the proposal will be scored under the HB 599 process. The board has discretion on what to file for. It could seek NVTA-only funding or could file a proposal using some county cash proffer funds,” Minchew said in an email to the Times-Mirror.

Supervisor Buffington urged staff to move forward with the safety initiative, but not to let it impact other projects taking place on the roadway.

“I want to make sure that our intent here tonight … is not to do anything that would slow ongoing progress to the intersection of Evergreen Mills and Watson,” Buffington said. “The things that are in place already and are moving forward already, I don’t want this item to slow those down.”

Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or on Twitter at @SydneyKashiwagi.

Comments


We expect the next vehicle slaughter to be in Broad Run Farms. The school board and Debbie Rose figure it is a good thing to condense school bus stops in the farms. The problem is Broad Run Farms is much the same as western Loudoun. No sidewalks on either side of the street. Streets have no dividing line down the middle and yet Rose expects children to wait for the bus on the roadside. There are no paths just a ditch for rain by the side of the road. Answer me this the overhead managers have increased in number the budget has increased and we have 1/3 the service is that supposed to be better or safer. Debbie Rose has always been suspect as a school board member which will be amplified when a child is injured or killed in Broad Run Farms.


I think the one thing guaranteed by Minchew is his never ending funding by developers.  I am not sure why any Jane or John would want him re-elected.


Intersections like this need a traffic circle.  Yes, they are super annoying, but if it saves lives, then why not.


Issue a bond and fix the road from end to end. Then let our leaders work the politics to recoup our money from VDOT.


Odd that our county Supervisors have to pay for a study on this road….What does VDOT get paid to do?


.... because nobody ever speeds and dies on 4 lands roads.

Besides. We’ve got millions sitting around Richmond just waiting to be lavished upon NOVA.


VDOT will never look at the road in it’s entirety, but instead will do it’s usual 20 year improvement process of 1 intersection every couple of years and widening a mile at a time.  Often re-doing expensive fixes again after a few years (a new study on RT 7 / Battlefield, only a couple of years after the expensive intersection was finished…).

Look at Rt 7, Rt 50, and Rt 28 as examples.  Other states build entire limited access highways with parallel service roads, VDOT builds a series of band-aid improvements. Replace a stoplight with a $30 million overpass, then add 2 more stoplights within a half mile.

In other states, Rts 7, 50, and 28 would be limited true access highways, instead of high speed roads with random traffic lights driveway entrances.  Only a private toll road seems to have figured out how to build a safe highway & charges high tolls for a safe road.

Major secondary routes, like Evergreen, Rt 15, Rt 9 and others are even worse.  High speeds on narrow, winding, roads with no shoulders and private driveways. Ever drive south on Rt 15 from Harrisburg PA?  Nice, safe, highway, until one gets to VA at Point of Rocks – then a death trap (unless you get in a slow moving 10 mile backup…)

If you want safe roads, get the state to spend the money.  Other states seem to find the money.


I’ll bet that most accidents now are caused by some manner of “distracted driving.”  No amount of “safety measures” will cure:

-running stop signs/red lights because you just don’t understand that stop means STOP.
-texting while driving is a death wish
-your needs are more important than every other driver’s
-your SUV isn’t a safety cocoon for you and your kids.
-remember: you are driving 2 tons of metal that can become a deadly weapon if you don’t pay 100% attention to managing it.


Widen the entire thing to four lands.

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