On Feb. 2, Loudoun County Board of Supervisors will review the latest iteration of the Watson Road realignment plan. The existing Evergreen Mills Road and Watson Road intersection sits at the base of a steep river ravine within a 3,500-foot blind hilly s-curve.
The current plan shifts Watson Road 435 feet south to meet Reservoir Road — on a slightly less steep part of Evergreen Mills Road — and signalizes the intersection.
We, the S-curve residents around the Watson Road and Reservoir Road intersections, believe that the county’s plan will take more lives than it saves.
The inordinate amount of focus placed on the Watson Road intersection due to a tragic — though unrelated — 2017 fatality caused by a criminal with self-tampered failed brakes has taken much needed focus away from the s-curve as a whole. We are protesting this design because it not only fails to account for the horizontal and vertical curves of the s-curve, but also because it fails to account for the reckless speeds at which people race through it. Drivers cannot negotiate the turns and hills, and then they run off the road at the apexes or they smash into ‘unexpected’ left-turning sitting ducks.
Although the 2019 Safety Audit cites only 28 accidents, 59 accidents have actually occurred along the entire 3,500-foot s-curve, including three intentionally overlooked fatalities, all within 100 feet of the intersection. Forty-two percent were single car accidents, and 88% were driving the legal 55 mph speed limit. These data indicate that the legal speed is too high for the s-curve.
Reservoir Road already presents its own severe challenges. Residents are terrified of an icy slide down Reservoir Road’s 11% grade into crossways traffic. Sight distance is also even more limited on Reservoir Road than Watson Road because of the immediate hill crest to the north and the dramatic c-curve to the south.
We have developed a plan which will remediate the s-curve’s triple threats. The plan features an interconnected double roundabout — a peanut roundabout — to slow traffic to 35 mph, provide a protected flat connection onto Reservoir Road, and protect the Watson Road intersection without the need to shift Watson Road 435 feet south or waste $25,000,000.
We have been systematically refused a seat at the decision-making table by Supervisor Buffington and Supervisor Kershner. We need a seat at the table so that we may present our plan and incorporate its provisions into the final design.
Lauren Norkin, Evergreen Mills Road S-Curve, Blue Ridge District
Patricia Sweeney, P.E. (Traffic Engineer), Watson Road, Blue Ridge District
Reverend Daniel Duis, Reservoir Road, Blue Ridge District
Natriya Rampey Reservoir Road, Blue Ridge District
Deborah Daniel, Evergreen Mills Road S-Curve, Catoctin District
EDITOR’S NOTE: Loudoun County has allowed residents to comment on the project and held a virtual public information meeting on Sept. 22, 2020.