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Accident reports for Dahlgren Rd.

There are at least three separate accident report compilations floating around from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and/or King George, each gathered to provide information about Dahlgren Road in regard to a planned $4.1 million project whose completion is now considered to be up in the air.

The VDOT project is planned to widen a portion of Dahlgren Road (Route 206) at the intersections with Owens Drive (Route 624) and Windsor Drive (Route 218). It calls for acquisition of land from at least 30 property owners, taking some large and small swaths of land from businesses and residences, many to within three-feet of their front doors. 

THREE ACCIDENT COMPILATION REPORTS

In the last couple of weeks, Sheriff Steve Dempsey distributed two sets of accident reports, which he presented at last week’s meeting on Aug. 21.

One was a compilation of accidents at another, similar, intersection along Dahlgren Road, at Indiantown Road (Route 610). That report covered the period from 2002 through 2012 so far, with four accidents for the current year. 

The other accident report provided by Dempsey was for the Owens intersection, planned for improvements. That report also covered a time frame from 2002 through 2012, with zero accidents indicated for 2012, to date.

A third accident report was brandished by VDOT’s District Administrator for Preliminary Engineering Michelle Shropshire at a July 10 work session appears to provide information on all accidents occurring at the Owens intersection with Dahlgren Road from sometime in 1999 through the end of 2010.

There is overlap in the time frames between the two reports on the Owens intersection, but they vary significantly when comparing numbers and dates for several of the accidents. 

The VDOT accident compilation reports 35 accidents from 1999 through 2010, with no accident data provided after 2010.

Looking at the time frame overlap between the two reports (2002 through 2010), VDOT’s report indicates a count of 28 accidents during that nine-year period. 

During that same overlap time provided in Dempsey’s report for that intersection, there is a count of 34 accidents. 

But the number of the same accidents that are reported in BOTH reports during the 2002 through 2010 time frame only totals 15 accidents. 

That means that the two reports for the same time period each report a number of additional accidents that need to be compiled together to make up a total count.

~ Dahlgren & Indiantown Roads – The accident compilation report mentioned above from Dempsey for the Dahlgren Road intersection with Indiantown Road indicates 55 accidents between the 2002 through 2012 timeframe. 

All three reports provide some interesting information about Dahlgren Road accident history, though piecemeal. 

COMPREHENSIVE TRAFFIC/SPEED ANALYSIS NEEDED?

Instead of looking at Dahlgren Road in a piecemeal fashion, it might be expected that traffic accident and speed data should be analyzed all along the length of Dahlgren Road prior to going forward with a $4.1 million project. 

The Owens project has been engineered to accommodate traffic traveling at a higher speed than posted at the Owens intersection, as stated to Supervisors on May 15 by VDOT project manager Kevin Northridge when explaining the intent of the Owens planned project. That was reiterated again by Shropshire on July 10, saying the road needed to be wider at the Owens intersection so traffic could go faster and not be slowed by turning vehicles. 

Supervisor Ruby Brabo’s contention is that the higher speed of traffic through the intersection could cause more accidents for motorists attempting to find a break in the traffic to turn left, across a wider expanse of roadway lanes.

REDESIGNATE DAHLGREN ROAD?

Supervisor Dale Sisson put forward the possibility of downgrading Dahlgren Road from a primary road to secondary, also on July 10. VDOT officials dismissed the notion. 

Brabo brought the idea up again on Aug. 7, but the idea has not yet gained enough traction with the board for it to be actively pursued. But Supervisor Joe Grzeika has also suggested that the county make changes to its Comprehensive Plan that will result in a conflict with the VDOT 2025 State Highway Plan that calls for Dahlgren Road to become a four-lane divided highway between Route 3 and US 301. 

Dahlgren Road does not appear to fit VDOT’s definition of a primary road. VDOT’s website describes a primary road as, “two-to-six-lane roads that connect cities and towns with each other and with interstates.” Dahlgren Road doesn’t do either. 

Instead, Dahlgren Road is largely residential, with numerous driveways accessing the road along its length between US 301 and Route 3.

The bulk of its traffic is during the morning and afternoon rush hours, with commuters using it as a short cut that can shave off as much as 10 minutes for motorists traveling from Dahlgren to Route 3 and beyond, many to their homes in Stafford, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania.

(please press image to see the reports)

 

Phyllis Cook

 

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