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Safety changes to be implemented along Evergreen Mills Road in wake of fatal crashes

Tree clearance in the vicinity of Evergreen Mills Road. Courtesy Photo/Kelly McGinn
Additional tree clearing is underway to improve driver visibility in the Evergreen Mills Road area of Leesburg where an Ashburn mother was killed Sept. 8.

Increased tree trimming and brush removal is taking place in the area around the Watson and Evergreen Mills Road intersection where 39-year-old Erin T. Kaplan of Ashburn died after the driver of a converted food truck traveling east on Watson Road ran a stop sign and struck her car traveling northbound on Evergreen Mills Road.

Kaplan lost her life at the scene. An adult passenger and three juvenile passengers were airlifted to Inova Fairfax Hospital.

The driver of the bus and two juvenile passengers were taken to hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

Speaking to the Times-Mirror, Supervisor Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) said he's been working since 2016 for safety improvements to be made after he witnessed an accident that had happened moments before he entered the Watson and Evergreen Mills Road intersection.

To date changes include the installation of a "Stop Ahead" by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) on Watson Road on the approach of Evergreen Mills Road. A painted stop bar adjacent to the existing stop sign was also been added as an additional reminder that drivers must stop before proceeding. Increased tree trimming and brush removal has also taken place throughout the corridor, and painted optical speed bar markings on the northbound Evergreen Mills Road are now present, designed to slow traffic prior to the intersection. Additionally, increasingly larger sharp turn road safety signs were added along with increased guardrail monitoring and repair in a bid to ensure maximum safety under existing conditions.

The Watson and Evergreen Mills Road intersection is in Buffington's district. He said he was devastated to hear about Kaplan's death.

“I started making phone calls right away,” Buffington said. “I started thinking about what could be done immediately. I have asked VDOT to consider adding rumble strips on Watson Road.”

In addition, Buffington said he has put in further requests including immediately repairing the guard rail, mandatory headlight use in the Evergreen Mills Road and Watson Road area and reviewed speed limits.

In the long term, he said partial funding has been approved by the Board of Supervisors to straighten and improve the road running from the south side of Goose Creek bridge to include Evergreen Mills Road and the intersections with Watson Road and Reservoir Road plus several hundred yards south. The approval was made as part of a six-year plan with work slated for 2022. Buffington said he will now be working to shorten that time frame so longer term improvements can be made “as quickly as possible.”

On Tuesday, Loudoun County Sheriff's Office spokesman Kraig Troxell said an inspection is being carried out on the food truck involved in the tragedy. Upon completion, the investigation will be reviewed with the commonwealth's attorney to determine whether any charges will be filed.

In the wake of Kaplan's death, a Facebook group called Make Evergreen Mills Road Safe was established by local residents Kelly McGinn and Stephanie Manning. The group has more than 2,000 members.

McGinn told the Times-Mirror she is pushing for a safety audit of the whole road.

“We are accelerating and pushing for short-term change,” McGinn said.

The crash that killed Kaplan came one month after a single-vehicle accident killed three people, including two children, near Hogeland Mill Road just off Evergreen Mills Road.

Comments


It would be worthwhile for those making comments to do a little research into what powers local governments have to limit development based on a lack of infrastructure.  I think you might be surprised how little power your local officials have in these matters, particularly if the land is already zone for the desired use.  Friends of development interests have very deep pockets and have rigged the game for many years.

As someone else suggested, all blame here goes to the driver of the bus who somehow didn’t see the sign warning of an upcoming stop sign and then didn’t heed the stop sign itself.  Little has been reported about pending charges against this driver, but I suspect they must be coming…


Everyone blaming the speed limit, VDOT, BOS, etc. how about just blaming the driver who was at fault?


VDOT and BOS are to blame allowing over Development on a country road. Same thing happened with Belmont Ridge Rd. That two lane gets backed up for miles in certain places due to over development. Those roads should have been made safer prior to any development. Just common sense. something both VDOT and BOS lacks.


Speed limit needs to be decreased and allowing passing on the straightaways is just crazy. At a minimum, these two items should already be rectified.


The primary issue with Evergreen Mills Road is that its a 2-lane country road handling a volume of traffic that exceeds its design.

This should be a lesson to the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission that when you approve hundreds of new homes/neighborhoods, those residents begin using the local infrastructure. If the infrastructure isn’t designed for the increased load, accidents happen.


Just turn it into a toll road.  That would dramatically decrease the # of cars and make the road safer.

$5 each way should do it.


Spot on.  The biggest culprit is excessive speed.  VDOT should lower the overall speed limit.  Having a 55mph speed limit for a 4 mile stretch is just dumb.  People gun it between the Leesburg bottleneck and the Ryan Road bottleneck and save something like 45 seconds on their overall commute.

Second, given the amount of concerns and complaints traffic generates from Evergreen Mills, where is LCSO???  How about holding trucks to that 45mph limit they have now and cars to 55mph?


Have they lowered the speed limit to at least 45 mph?

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