Making the Memorial Bridge Detour Safer

The Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail recently went on a bike ride with Katie Harris from WABA’s Capital Trails Coalition and Josh Nadas from the George Washington Memorial Parkway to discuss safety improvements to the Memorial Bridge detour.  Below are the recommendations the FOMVT provided to NPS. Thank you to everyone who provided feedback ahead of the ride and to Josh for being open to suggestions.

Crossing 1 is the crosswalk crossing across Arlington Boulevard north of Memorial Circle: 

Safety issues for people on foot or bicycle include:

  1. High speeds of cars attempting to reach highway speeds for Arlington Blvd and 395.
  2. Poor sight lines of the crosswalk for car drivers moving around the bend off Memorial Bridge.
  3. Sight lines of the crosswalk are obstructed by other vehicles.
  4. Long crossing distances (3 lanes) for people on foot or bike.5. Drivers distracted from seeing pedestrians by attempting to merge from Memorial Circle or on to 395 in heavy traffic.
  5. Faded crosswalk and lane markings.

Proposed Solutions for Crossing 1

  1. Removal of one travel lane of northbound traffic to lower speeds.
  2. Pavement treatments to slow northbound traffic coming off of the circle and accelerating onto South Arlington Blvd. Treatments could be thermoplastic pavement markings, speed humps, or other treatments.
  3. Stand up “Yield to Pedestrians” signage on the lane markings in front of the crosswalk to promote traffic calming and indicate a pedestrian crossing. These are MUTCD R1-6 signs.
  4. Install a temporary Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB) to alert car drivers that a pedestrian is present at the crossing. The current RRFB across the GWMP has been effective in allowing safe crossings. RRFBs are IA-21 in the MUTCD.
  5. Restripe current crosswalk and lane markings which are badly faded. 6. Pilot NPS proposed changes to Memorial Circle through use of temporary devices such as jersey barriers

Crossing 2 is the crossing across Memorial Ave west of Memorial Circle:

Safety issues for people on foot or bike are:

  1. Westbound drivers traveling at high speeds around the traffic circle.
  2. Eastbound drivers diverting attention from pedestrians crossing to begin navigating entrance to the traffic circle.

Proposed solutions for Crossing 2:

  1. Narrow the westbound lane exiting the circle to a 10 or 11 foot traffic lane utilizing temporary physical barriers. This will provide traffic calming and lower speeds exiting the circle.
  2. Install a temporary pavement treatment such as thermoplastic bumps on the westbound lane to provide speed calming.
  3. Install a stand up “Yield to Pedestrians” sign in between opposing lanes on Memorial Avenue. These are MUTCD R1-6 signs.
  4. Continue to maintain the current reduction of Memorial Avenue to one lane each way.

Crossing 3 is the crossing of Washington Boulevard south of Memorial Circle:

Safety issues for people on foot or bike are:

  1. High speed traffic on Washington Boulevard
  2. Lack of signage directing users towards the Memorial Bridge detour (we’ve observed cyclists taking a lane across the bridge)

Proposed solutions for Crossing 3:

  1. Restripe the crosswalk
  2. Install thermoplastic bumps to warn of an impending crosswalk
  3. Install a stand up “Yield to Pedestrians” sign in between opposing lanes on Memorial Avenue. These are MUTCD R1-6 signs.
  4. Provide detour signage in large lettering indicating Memorial Bridge Detour and providing a large map of the detour route.

Recommendations for entire Memorial Bridge Detour:

  1. Provide additional detour signage in large lettering at each road crossing of the detour. Include full detour map.
  2. Provide encouragements signage through the detour to assure Park users they are still on the detour and encourage use of a safe route.

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