Editor: The fatality on Rt. 9 just east of Hillsboro last week, a result of excessive speed and extreme recklessness, is a tragic reminder of a long-neglected, daily, threat to thousands of regional residents. This key 13-mile corridor that brings thousands of local residents, workers, and tourists into and through northwestern Loudoun every day has long been notorious for its unsafe conditions. The time to tame it has come.
For nearly 15 years the Town of Hillsboro has fought for a traffic-calming project within its limits designed to “Take Back our Main Street”—the historic Charles Town Pike. High volume, high speeds and reckless driving through the narrow and compact historic village of less than 50 homes has plagued us for decades. Fortunately, our project to slow traffic, provide safe sidewalks on both side of the road, safe on-street public parking, safe crosswalks and several speed-inhibiting features, is set to begin next summer. We are hopeful full funding to complete the system with speed- and congestion-mitigating roundabouts will be approved this year to ensure the entire project is built as one project, one time, saving millions and years of disruption.
While we in Hillsboro are now on the verge of reducing the dangers associated with the more than 16,000 vehicles passing through our town each day, we know the entire corridor must be addressed. With the extension of our town boundary approximately one-half mile east on Rt. 9, we’ve lowered all in-town speed limits to 25 mph, which will require reductions in the speed limit on the approaches, precisely where last week’s fatality occurred. I have called on VDOT for speed reductions along the entire corridor and we intend to work with the Sheriff Office and State Police for the initiation of a robust enforcement campaign in Hillsboro and all along Rt. 9.
The facts are clear: this corridor will continue to carry tens of thousands of motorists every day and no alternative highway will be built or corridor widening will occur in the foreseeable future. The only way to improve safety is through traffic-calming measures that will physically constrain speeds, prohibit passing, inhibit other opportunities for reckless driving and—most critically to modify the behavior of the inevitable irresponsible motorists—heightened, consistent and no-nonsense enforcement.
Taming Rt. 9 is not impossible. Willful resignation, and reluctance to taking assertive action, is entirely unacceptable. Because of relentless work by many, over many years, the taming of Rt. 9 inside the Town of Hillsboro has begun. It is time to ensure we are doing all that can be done to do the same for the entire corridor.
Mayor Roger L. Vance
Town of Hillsboro