Steve MacFarland has had trouble keeping his Christmas lights, his work van and trees in his yard safe from collisions with out-of-control vehicles. And he’s worried his house is next.
“I’m just afraid one of these days a car is going to wind up in our living room,” MacFarland said. “It’s just a matter of time.”
MacFarland said his work van was hit five or six times while parked on a winding part of Liberia Avenue in front of his home. He said the too-frequent accidents occur because drivers, sometimes intoxicated, speed down the road and miss the bend.
And it’s all because there’s no four-way stop sign on the corner of Landgreen Street, according to some area residents.
“We’ve been trying for a long time to get a stop sign and they just laugh at us,” MacFarland said.
Another Point of Woods resident, Patricia Bailey, petitioned the City of Manassas after her son was hit by another car on his way to high school on a dark, rainy morning four years ago. As he pulled out of Landgreen, where cars parked on Liberia block the view around the bend, another car sped around the corner and smashed into his car, according to Bailey.
Bailey told Public Works Director Mike Moon that she and other residents wanted a four-way stop sign.
“He said it was too close to other stop signs on the street,” Bailey said. “But you’ve got a light at Route 28 and then Mathis Avenue, so that doesn’t make sense.”
Moon said two studies have been done in the area, and it doesn’t meet established criteria for four-way stop sign installation.
“We try to look at these things from an objective viewpoint and try to use discretion,” Moon said.
Police Chief John Skinner said the police are only involved peripherally, usually by providing accident and other information for the traffic study. But the police have no jurisdiction over where stop signs are located, and the department’s official stance aligns with the city’s.
More than 1,000 feet must exist between stop signs, and Moon said the city has tried to accommodate the residents in other ways. The city has installed parking lanes, trimmed shrubs and designated Liberia as a no-truck route.
“We can’t drive for people; there’s going to be accidents,” Moon said. “We didn’t say ‘no we’re not interested in doing anything for you,’ but we don’t throw away the policy typically.”
Bailey also worries about children waiting at a bus stop in the dark early morning hours on the corner in question. She wrote to state representatives when she found no reprieve from the city. And while they were sympathetic to her cause in their return letters, they referred her back to Moon.
Manassas Sen. Charles J. Colgan, D-29th, said in a letter to the City Manager Lawrence Hughes that Bailey made some good points.
“I would appreciate it if you would review her letter and hopefully the city can comply with her request,” Colgan said.
Bailey said residents even offered to pay for the sign, but Moon said the policy exists to prevent too many stop signs existing on one road.
MacFarland’s neighbor James Shelton, who also had a vehicle hit on Liberia, said he saw a car going so fast in front of his home, that when the vehicle missed the turn and crashed into a parked car, the moving car lifted the stationary vehicle. He said maybe a flashing yellow light or a speed hump would be acceptable if stop signs couldn’t be installed.
“I guarantee if they hit the speed hump too fast, they would slow down next time,” Shelton said.
Bailey’s husband Russ said he knows cars go faster on Liberia than the city’s study indicates and now all Patricia Bailey can do is hold on tight to her letters from city and state officials, just in case.
“If and when there is something that happens,” Bailey said. “I want people to know we tried.”