Manassas Journal Messenger | Catharpin Road gets signal

Upon hearing that a signal will be installed at John Marshall Highway and Catharpin Road near Haymarket, people say “it’s about time.”

“It’s just frustrating that it’s taken this long and it’s taken too many accidents, it seems to me,” said Dawn Nelson, a Gainesville resident who lives in nearby Greenhill Crossing.

She’s glad to hear money has been set aside to fund a signal there.

About $1.2 million, to be exact.

Nelson said she called the Virginia Department of Transportation a year ago to complain about the dangerous intersection.

One morning, on the way to drop off her son at Bull Run Middle School, Nelson saw traffic backed up.

Someone was in an accident there and had to be taken by helicopter to a hospital.

On the way home, she saw another accident at the same location.

“It’s just a shame they didn’t do something sooner,” Nelson said.

Earlier this year, a 4-month-old baby died when her mother’s vehicle and a tractor-trailer collided at that intersection.

Supervisor John T. Stirrup, R-Gainesville, said he’s eager to see the signal installed at the busy intersection, where he says thousands of cars turn every day.

He’s been hearing safety complaints about the intersection since he was first elected in 2003.

“Unfortunately it’s something that’s much more complicated than saying ‘we have the money let’s put a light there,’ ” Stirrup said. “It’s not something that happens overnight.”

Most of the $1.2 million is going toward moving underground telephone wires and utility poles.

Stirrup and Supervisor Wally S. Covington, R-Brentsville, just gathered enough money to install the signal and a left turn lane for east-bound Va. 55 traffic.

“The fastest way to get this done was to have the county pay for it,” Stirrup said, adding that he hopes to see it up and blinking by this fall. “We’re hoping that that is the quickest route and we’re going to continue to move forward on it.”

Stirrup said if the county pursued funding from the Virginia Department of Transportation, a signal wouldn’t be there that soon.

The money comes from developers’ paid funds and taxpayer money.

Nelson said government should have installed something — perhaps a three-way stop sign — in the meantime to prevent more accidents, she said.

“As soon as Bull Run [Middle School] was put in there, there should have been a light,” said Nelson. She’s seen innumerable accidents at that intersection, including overturned trucks and ones stuck in the mud, she said.

There were five accidents that resulted in significant damage or injuries there in 2004, said Prince William Police Department spokeswoman 1st Sgt. Kim Chinn.


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