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Letters to the editor

To the Editor:
As a resident in the Dahlgren district I am writing with grave concerns about the proposed design changes to the intersection of Owens Drive and Rt 206, Dahlgren Road, and Rt 218.
As the intersection is currently configured, it is becoming increasingly dangerous as traffic loads seem to grow every month.  I personally have witnessed several very serious accidents.  The number of near misses is also very high, as drivers are forced to take chances to enter or cross traffic. It has become a game of chicken to see who is bravest to jump first, a driver crossing or turning on to 206.
The proposed addition of turn lanes will only make these actions more dangerous. Instead of solving any problems,  these lanes will only create greater distances and more lanes of traffic to ‘read’ as the driver decides on a window of opportunity to move through traffic.
As a driver of 35 plus years, I find myself avoiding this intersection unless I am leaving my home to make a right turn to 206 west.  As an experienced driver I am teaching my 15 year old son the skill of driving.  My husband and I make every effort to avoid exposing our son, ourselves and other drivers to situations where his inexperience causes undue risk.  Imagine the driver who shares his inexperience, who is late for work, impaired of vision or mobility, limited by age or distraction or fatigue.  Driving is an offensive and defensive skill.  With all these factors converging where congestion and lane configuration are already creating undue risk it baffles me to think adding more lanes is considered the best solution.
My mother was killed in an auto/pedestrian accident in a situation where a car was sitting in a left turn lane and she stepped into the path of a car.  A well-meaning driver waiting to turn left waved her across and into the path of a family on their way to church.  This was a four lane divided highway with left and right turn lanes.  Had there been a light and a pedestrian crossing she could have arrived home safely with her groceries.
As you can imagine traffic safety is a very personal and important topic in our family.  We recognize the responsibility that comes with driving.  On behalf of my family I implore the members of the Board of Supervisors to ask VDOT to reconsider the addition of turn lanes at the intersection of 206, 218 and Owens Drive.  As residents who use this intersection daily our family of six drivers all feel turn lanes would only increase the danger for those trying to cross or enter traffic on 206 from Owens Drive or 218 where a left turn is required.  As it is now drivers pass illegally on the right as cars wait to turn.  There is no question that changes must be made before more accidents occur.  However, adding turn lanes without signals would only increase the danger.
As Dahlgren continues to grow traffic counts will rise.  I implore the Board and VDOT to work collaboratively to diminish the dangers to drivers.  For the safety of people who live and work here please do not add turn lanes.  Adding turn lanes would help keep traffic flowing on 206.  Thus 206 traffic will move through this intersection faster.  This, in turn, will create a greater probability of accidents, injury and death for drivers entering or crossing traffic on Owens Drive and 218.
Statistical data aside, please drive this intersection yourselves and experience firsthand the perils drivers face here daily.   The busy morning and afternoon rush of traffic heading to and from work are especially daunting.
In this case more isn’t better.  Please do not add additional lanes without traffic signals to reduce the risks drivers must take here each and every day.

Betty Grigg,
King George

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