VDOT gets turn lanes figured out

Dear Lane Ranger: The exit from the Park Ridge shopping center is very confusing to drivers.

As you exit the Park Ridge shopping center just north of Interstate 66 on Va. 234 Business, there are four lanes.

The left lane is for left turns to go north on Va. 234. The second lane from the left is to go straight across Va. 234.

The two right lanes are for right turns.

The furthest right lane has signs indicating vehicles are to go west on I-66 only.

The lane second from right has signs indicating vehicles are to go south on Va. 234 or east on I-66.

There are two lanes as you head south on Va. 234. The right lane is to go south on 234 and the left lane is to head east on I-66 only.

The problem is the new striping on the turn lanes.

The south Va. 234 east and Interstate 66 lane striping now goes over to the lane that is to go east on I-66 only.

The old stripping properly enabled drivers in this turn lane to go south on Va. 234 or move over to the east on I-66 lane.

There is no stripping on the far right turn lane to indicate to drivers that this lane is to go west on I-66 only.

The right turn lanes need to be restriped.

The furthest right lane should have stripes indicating the vehicle should remain in the lane headed to I-66 west.

The other right turn lane should be restriped to allow drivers to head south on Va. 234 or to merge into the left lane of Va. 234 south which is restricted to head east on I-66 only.

There are signs indicating the proper turn lanes, but vehicles in the furthest right lane are always merging over into the Va. 234 south lanes.

I might add that this is always the lane with the fewest number of vehicles.

Another option is to change the furthest right lane to be for Va. 234 south or I-66 west traffic and leave the lane striping as is.

This would entail correcting the signs at the exit.

Also, the signs indicating no right turn on red should be improved.

It is not clear if the no right turn on red is for the Va. 234 south lane or if it applies to both right turn lanes.

I use this intersection five days a week since the shopping center allows van and car pool parking.

I am sure that the exit lanes are more confusing for shoppers and moviegoers who are not used to the exit lanes.


Dal Crabb

Dear Dal: Engineers from the Virginia Department of Transportation went out and looked at the intersection and “got it figured out,” said VDOT spokesman Ryan Hall.

The engineers decided that you were correct in saying that the stripes and signs were confusing, Hall said.

He added VDOT field staff will remark the pavement to match the signage and provide clearer lane use signs to help reduce confusion.

Look for the changes in this area beginning the first week of October, Hall said.

In addition, the “No right turn on red” signs apply to both of the right turn lanes, according to Hall.

Dear Lane Ranger: My husband and I drive to Potomac Mills mall almost daily to walk and we enter off Smoketown Road at the Burger King.

Incoming traffic has the right of way but the road which circles the mall property has stop signs on both sides of this entrance.

This arrangement causes much confusion and many near-misses as some drivers stop after entering and those with the stop signs often proceed, challenging the incoming cars.

We recently saw the perfect solution to this in another state with an identical entrance situation.

There were signs below each stop sign which stated, “Incoming Traffic Has No Stop Sign.”

Hopefully the mall management would consider doing such a simple thing to help traffic flow smoothly and safely for its customers.

Thank you.

Mitzi Roman


Dear Mitzi: The Lane Ranger got in touch with Jim Roman, the Potomac Mills mall general manager.

Roman thanked you for your suggestion and thinks it’s a good idea.

“Although our mall operations team has not identified this situation as one that presents recurring traffic problems, the solution presented is reasonable,” Roman said.

“We’ll definitely look into making this happen,” Roman said.

Dear Lane Ranger: When driving on Virginia’s interstates, we are all familiar with the signs near major exits that are supposed to inform us about the restaurants, hotels, and gas stations that are accessible from the exit.

The sign boards are nice, with a graphic of each business.

Unfortunately, there is no information before exiting on how far these businesses are from the interstate.

One doesn’t find out about that until one has already made the exit.

I am sure that many people will agree that there is a subtle scam here, with the intent of luring unsuspecting travelers into little one-horse towns several miles from the interstate whose only business is an old Exxon station.

Perhaps this was a “bone” thrown to these little communities 30 years ago when the interstates were built.

I can attest to the irritation of this setup, having made dozens of trips up and down Interstate 81 to go to Virginia Tech.

It seems that it is an irritation on every trip, despite an effort to take notes on the bad exits.

Given the expense of adding more information to the signs, one thing I thought of was a Web site where one can get a list of the amenities at each exit and their distance from the highway.

In my dreams, every business that is more than one mile from the highway should be marked with a red “X” on the signboard.

Bob Hugman


Dear Bob: The Lane Ranger has a rule of thumb about highway exits: If you can’t see the golden arches or any other sign from the highway, don’t get off.

Businesses are allowed to get logos on highway signs if they are within three miles of the exit, said VDOT spokesman Ryan Hall.

So if you do get off on one of those desolate exits, rest assured that you won’t have to drive more than three miles to get gas, food or lodging.

Hall said he is not sure if VDOT could incorporate your suggestion in its Web site at 511virginia.org, but he’s asked the question.

If VDOT does incorporate your idea, the Lane Ranger will certainly let you know.

As to the big red Xs, those might confuse people and make them think the gas stations, motels and restaurants are no longer in business.

Fort Belvoir to close gates by Oct. 1

The U.S. Army has decided to cut the number of contract security guards it uses to guard its gates.

The Army-wide move will affect Fort Belvoir, reducing its security force by 40 percent, from 131 to 78, said a recent press release from the Fort Belvoir public affairs office.

The cuts to the security force is expected to force the closure of at least two gates onto Fort Belvoir, the release said.

There are currently four gates. J.J. Kingman, Woodlawn Village, Woodlawn Road and Telegraph-Beulah open onto the north post, while three gates, Tulley, Pence and Walker, open onto the south post as well as the Ferrar gate onto the Davison Army Airfield, the release said.

Of those gates, Tulley and Farrar must remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the release said.

The decision on which gates to close will be determined by “force protection rather than convenience,” Col. Brian Lauritzen, Fort Belvoir installation commander, said in the release.

Other factors include volume of traffic, access control infrastructure already in place at the gates and the local artery of traffic at gate exits.

For example, a control point with anti-terrorism mechanisms in place, such as barriers and permanent guard sheds, has a better chance of remaining open than a less developed point.

It’s also better to avoid having two access control points located along the same roadway, the release said.

When a final decision is reached, it will be published on the Fort Belvoir Web site at belvoir.army.mil, and will be released to local media.

It will also be posted on the Fort Belvoir Information Hotline at (703) 805-3030, the release said.

Please send questions or comments on transportation to Lane Ranger, c/o Potomac News, P.O. Box 2470, Woodbridge, VA 22195; fax: (703) 878-8099; e-mail: [email protected]; or by phone: (703) 878-8063.