City Changes Traffic Pattern at Giant Plaza
By STEPHEN SIEGEL
Falls Church Times Staff
August 6, 2012
City officials have made some changes to the traffic pattern in and around the plaza containing the Giant Food store on the city’s west side that may make the area safer, but possibly increase congestion on Birch Street.
The first change is a new sign prohibiting left turns to eastbound Broad Street from the area immediately west of the Citgo gas station and just east of the new BB&T bank that is under construction.
The second is a re-striping of Birch Street from the plaza to Broad, making the southbound lane only one car wide.
The re-striping is intended to prevent right-turning traffic desiring to head west on Broad from snaking past cars lined up to go left. It should make it safer for pedestrians crossing at Birch, and it also is being done to prevent damage to the “storm inlet” box — “damaging it and possibly their vehicles,” said City Spokeswoman Susan Finarelli.
The no left turn sign was required by the city as part of the traffic management plan for the new bank. “It was required to address safety issues associated with the proposed flow of vehicles on the site,” Ms. Finarelli said, adding: “The problem was identified in a third-party Traffic Impact Analysis and the solution was proposed by the submitting engineer.”
An emphasis on safety is certainly a good thing in the congested area around Broad and Haycock. But a key question remains: will congestion increase substantially on Birch as a result?
The light is short on southbound Birch, as it should be in order to facilitate traffic flow on Broad Street. But the no left turn sign will likely cause more cars to use Birch for eastbound travel on Broad, and limiting Birch to one lane will increase the length of the traffic backup on Birch as well.
The Times asked if a study was done examining the possibility of a negative impact on Birch, but has not yet received a response.
By Stephen Siegel
August 7, 2012