While Virginia Department of Transportation crews have been busy in recent months making spot safety improvements to Evergreen Mills Road and its intersection with Watson Road, more work is planned.
The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved spending more than $900,000 to commission a year-long “road safety audit” of the 11-mile Evergreen Mills Road corridor and the 4-mile Waston Road corridor.
The work was prompted by a Sept. 8 crash in which a food truck ran the stop sign at the northern terminus of Watson Road and hit a southbound car on Evergreen Mills Road, killing an Ashburn woman, Erin Kaplan, and seriously injuring her three children.
“As much as we want to thank you, and we appreciate the work that you’ve done, we want to urge that the safety audit is done as quickly as possible,” Stephanie Manning told supervisors at their meeting Tuesday. Manning led an effort to improve safety on Evergreen Mills Road after that crash.
Six people have died in three fatal crashes on Evergreen Mills Road during 2017.
Under the board’s action, the county will contract with engineering firm VHB to collecting operational data for safety analysis, evaluate existing crash characteristics, identify corridor crash trends and safety issues at hot spots, perform a field road safety review, recommend improvements to address existing safety problems, and conduct community engagement.
The work is expected to take 52 weeks to complete.
The audit contract for the two roads is in addition VDOT’s road improvement efforts.
State road crews have trimmed trees and vegetation along the right of way, and improved pavement markings and put down a high-friction surface treatment at the approaches to the Evergreen Mills Road/Watson Road intersection. New signs with flashing lights have been installed to alert motorists approaching the intersection. Also, VDOT is conducting an analysis to determine whether traffic conditions warrant the installation of a traffic light at the intersection. Those findings are expected next month. Another study, an active intersection warning system evaluation, is set to be complete in February.
Also on Tuesday, county supervisors earmarked $100,000 from the fiscal year 2017 budget surplus to purchase up to six pole-mounted speed display signs that would motorists on Evergreen Mill Road and Watson Road if they are speeding.
At that meeting, Kaplan’s husband, Faran, said he was pleased that safety improvements would be made, but said the crash that took his wife’s life had less to do with Evergreen Mills Road and more to do with food trucks.
He asked the county to require more documentation for when issuing permits for food trucks.
“Mr. Dane who drove the food truck that killed my wife did not have insurance, he did not have an inspected vehicle, and he did not have a driver’s license,” Kaplan said. “And I can’t help but wonder that, if those three boxes were required to be checked by Loudoun County, that my wife would still be here today.”
Tony Dane has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless driving, driving without an operator’s license (repeat offence), driving without insurance and failure to get the vehicle inspected. A trial is set to be held in March. Kaplan also has filed $10 million civil suit against Dane.
The safety audit comes as a result of a board member initiative by Supervisors Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin) and Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge).