Letter: John D. Tew, Wheatland

Editor: So Waterford (and a neighborhood in Purcellville) are now amongst those having their ox gored? They have joined a chorus of complaints about the direct impact of the vigorous development in once bucolic western Loudoun. The impact is the intolerable traffic through their neighborhoods. We in the historic neighborhood of Wheatland could commiserate based on our traffic nightmare.

There is no question that the roads of western Loudoun were conceived in a different century and were not designed for the vehicle sizes,  speeds, and traffic volumes to which they are now subjected.  Waterford residents complain about “3,000 vehicles [cutting] through the village each day, mainly during rush hour.”  They cite traffic wakeup calls “every morning around 5 a.m.”  They note two car accidents in their village.  They complain that they have “become the arterial … the substitute” for a way around Rt. 287, Rt. 9, and Rt. 15 congestion. An anticipated solution to their traffic woes is the proposed roundabout at Rt. 287/Rt. 9 (which is seven years away according to the county’s own construction schedule).

The residents of Wheatland can empathize … to a point! We have an almost continuous backup of traffic through our neighborhood so that we cannot get into or out of our driveways (inconsiderate drivers stop right across the entrances). We risk our lives trying to get to our mailboxes across the road. We have no stop signs or calming devices, no speed signboards, no shoulders, no pullovers, and no enforcement by the sheriff’s office. We have children who wait for buses and blind curves, serious drop-offs, huge trucks using loud engine braking at all hours, motorcycles and sports cars that race from the intersection through our neighborhood, and numerous multi-car accidents in our neighborhood.

Waterford has 3,000 vehicles a day through their village?  We have on average 9,200 per weekday and 8,900 when weekends are taken into consideration—more than any other section of Rt. 287. The posted speed limit through our neighborhood is 55 mph (one of only two sections in the entire length of Rt. 287 where the speed limit is posted at more than 45 mph); yet VDOT’s latest speed study, based on their HI-STAR collection stations, determined that the 85th percentile speed northbound through our neighborhood is 64.5 mph while the same reading southbound is an unbelievable 67.9 mph!

We in Wheatland will not stand idly by and have Waterford’s traffic woes exacerbate ours. We will not let our traffic burden be increased by sending some of the 3,000 vehicles from Waterford onto Rt. 287 thereby increasing our daily volume to over 10,000 vehicles.  The bottom line is that as long as we have an antiquated road system in western Loudoun, the burden of increasing development—and the traffic it inevitably brings with it—needs to be spread around the available roads so the burden is shared.

Welcome to our world Waterford!

John D. Tew, Wheatland

One thought on “Letter: John D. Tew, Wheatland

  • 2017-11-20 at 7:10 am

    The author raises important points, though he frames it in an almost zero/sum manner. Improvements within the town of Waterford shouldn’t come at the expense of other neighborhoods nor does it have to. From where I’m sitting it looks like Wheatland and Waterford have way more in common than appears at first glance.

    287, just like 611/690, just like Evergreen Mills Rd, just like Rt 15 is carrying way more traffic than it was intended to and is unsafe in it’s current form. There’s no way the afore mentioned roads will be 4 lane anytime soon, nor should they necessarily be slated for such in the near term, perhaps ever.

    All of these roads need to have the speed limits dropped ASAP. There’s no reasonable rational that says traffic should move at 55MPH on 4 lane RT 7 that has clear sight lines, shoulders and such and should also more at 55MPH on 287. 287 doesn’t have shoulders, clear lines of sight, nor is it 4 lanes. Lower the speed limit, install rumble strips and speed humps and increase enforcement of traffic laws, now.

    Roads are a State responsibility. Our BOS needs to go on record asking the Virginia Legislature to be allowed to install speed cameras. You drive 75 MPH on 287? Simple- You pay a couple of hundred bucks into our road fund and get publicly shamed in the local papers. Who better to tax than those who abuse the commons?

    Unfortunately, Virginia Republicans have blocked this very effective enforcement method. Same goes with red light cameras (of which there is actually a little bit of debate as to their effectiveness in regards to safety- speed camera, not so much). We have to face that republicans of years past don’t like traffic calming as a theory and don’t usually support road ‘improvements’ that aren’t adding lanes and widening roads.

    Reality blast to LaRock- Speed kills. The faster people drive the greater the risk to human life. People die on 4 lane roads everyday- they’re not necessarily safer dude.

    Now that the GOP is back on it’s heels in the HOD maybe they’ll be open to a reasonable debate on how to improve safety on our crowded NoVa roads in the near term?

    I know, let me dream.

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