Local residents and travelers remain concerned over the safety of Evergreen Mills Road, a major corridor through the middle of Loudoun County.
They will have a chance to share their concerns at an upcoming virtual meeting as Loudoun County continues its efforts to address safety along the corridor and realign the heavily used Evergreen Mills Road at the intersections of Reservoir Road and Watson Road.
Some residents are eager to speak with planners virtually on Sept. 22 starting at 6 p.m. and share their frustration with the process. Despite the county hosting open houses and soliciting for input, some say they’re upset they were not contacted directly.
“The reason why it’s so important to get this right is because we know who will die,” Lauren Norkin, a native of the area, told the Times-Mirror. “We’re terrified to leave and to drive on Evergreen Mills Road, and we can’t have this megalith coming in and taking over without listening to the local people who live there.”
County staff said the input session will provide for the planning, design, right-of-way acquisition and construction of the realignment of Evergreen Mills Road, a two-lane undivided roadway, at the intersections of Reservoir Road and Watson Road.
The improvements propose a new four-way signalized intersection between Evergreen Mills Road, Watson Road and Reservoir Road.
The roads carry relatively high levels of traffic during peak hours, according to county staff. The corridor provides an alternate routes to James Monroe Highway (Route 15), John Mosby Highway (Route 50), the Dulles Greenway (Route 267), and Loudoun County Parkway (Route 606).
This project is an existing Capital Improvement Program (CIP) item that was identified as a long-term recommendation in the Evergreen Mills Road Safety Audit and Improvement completed last year.
Daniel Duis, a longtime resident, said one of major issues is the speed drivers are traveling down Evergreen Mills Road. The speed limit for cars is 55 mph and 45 mph for trucks. He also says drivers have difficulty exiting off of Watson and Reservoir roads.
Duis has responded to accidents and helped drivers in trouble.
One notable accident in the area occurred in September 2017 when 39-year-old Erin T. Kaplan of Ashburn and mother of three was hit by a food truck. The food truck was traveling east on Watson Road and ran a stop sign, crashing into Kaplan traveling northbound on Evergreen Mills Road.
Her three children and another family member were in the car and hospitalized.
“Cars coming down Evergreen Mill come too fast, particularly trucks, and they just can’t stop and then they end up crashing into the back of other cars or hitting the ditches,” Duis said.
Norkin believes the county rushed its application for funding from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority. To be considered, the county had to submit its application three months after Kaplan’s death.
She said the county ignored the geometry of the “S-curve” road that sits on a hill, according to an email exchange with a county representative.
The county representative said the intention of the safety audit was not to address the geometry configuration. Instead, the scope of the county’s Capital Improvement Program project was to determine the best alignments for the relocation of Watson and Reservoir Roads.
Realigning Reservoir and Watson Roads farther north possess constraints as it would require reconstruction of the Goose Creek Bridge, according to the email. The county representative said any reconstruction is outside of the project’s scope of work.
Norkin said she believes that the county was expected to look at all of the accidents along Evergreen Mills Road and then look for clusters, not just the one intersection.
“This safety study cannot center around the intersection because it’s the road as a whole that needs work,” Norkin said. “So, although you might use this tragic death as a political vehicle for people to rally behind to get the safety study to happen, you cannot neglect the road as a whole.”
Local resident Deborah Daniel said she was shocked to see only one death included in the safety report.
“It’s not the only accident that should be taken into account because the other things that have occurred show that it’s a whole long S-corridor of danger,” Daniel said. “What they’re talking about doing, in my opinion, isn’t going to fix the problem. In fact, it could potentially make it worse because if you put a stoplight in on a blind curve that doesn’t work very well.”
Daniel said she plans on tuning in for the public input session on Sept. 22. (More information on the meeting can be found at loudoun.gov/5410/Evergreen-Mills-Realignment-Public-Input.)
County officials said pole-mounted speed display signs will be installed on Evergreen Mills and Watson Road this month. Timing is still being determined as to when turn lane improvements will be added to Evergreen Mills Road turning onto to Shreve Mill Road.