Frequently Asked Questions

Traffic Calming for Virginia’s Rural Route 50 CorridorFauquier and Loudoun Counties, including Aldie, Middleburg and Upperville

What is traffic calming?

Traffic calming is the physical alteration of the design and role of streets to encourage motorists to comply with posted speed limits and to enhance the viability and character of the community. Traffic calming measures produce a safe environment for pedestrians and facilitate the safe movement of motorists.

Where is traffic calming in use?

Traffic calming began about 30 years ago in The Netherlands and has been implemented in many places including Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, France, Great Britain, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. In the United States, it has become an accepted transportation tool with a growing number of jurisdictions establishing their own traffic calming departments. Although traffic calming in a rural setting such as the Route 50 corridor is unique in this country, its application has been highly successful in Europe.

Where is the rural Route 50 corridor?

The focus of this project is the stretch of Route 50 from just west of Lenah to just east of Paris, a distance of about 20 miles. This part of Route 50 lies half in Fauquier and half in Loudoun County and includes the villages of Aldie, Middleburg and Upperville.

What is the character of the area?

The Route 50 corridor bisects the John Singleton Mosby Heritage Area of the Virginia Piedmont, which contains historical structures dating from the 1600s in a scenic and largely undisturbed landscape. The history and the singular environment attract visitors from all over the world. This tourism, along with the agricultural economy, contributes significantly to local and state revenues.

What are the transportation issues?

The overwhelming concern about traffic in the corridor is that of excessive speed within and between the villages and the problems of pedestrian safety in the villages. Pedestrians, particularly children and seniors, frequently have difficulty crossing the main street of their community. Route 50 is not just a commuter route – it is a multi-purpose historic facility of key importance to the local communities, farmers and tourists as well as through traffic.

What are the benefits to the villages on Route 50?

Within the villages, traffic calming will improve the safety and mobility of pedestrians and will produce a safer environment for drivers. All this improves local business and quality of life. Such measures also enhance the character of the villages and add to the scenic and historic qualities of the area, thereby increasing its economic potential.

How was the traffic calming concept developed for Route 50?

Local residents came together in support of the development of the traffic calming plan in order to regain control over the future of their community. They drafted a vision statement for the rural Route 50 corridor, stating that the area is to remain “a scenic, unique, rural community in an historical, agricultural, quiet and natural setting,” with the intent that all proposals for change be judged by this standard. Community workshops were held where citizens learned about the concepts, and the types of measures possible, and adjusted them to fit the local situation. This pilot project is thus rooted in the local community and reflects citizen involvement in every phase. Continued public participation will be required as the plan is refined and as engineering design, materials, and structural details are worked out.

What specific traffic calming measures will be used?

In general, the plan calls for entrance features at the borders of the Mosby Heritage Area and at the boundaries of Aldie, Middleburg and Upperville. These will be clear indications to drivers that they should be more alert and respect the community through which they are driving. Within the villages, measures include raised intersections and pedestrian crosswalks, tree planted medians, small traffic circles, cobblestone or paving stone strips that signal changes in the speed limit, various paving materials to indicate parking, walking and driving areas, strategically placed greenery along the streets, and safer pedestrian walkways which are badly needed in each village. Speed limits would be posted at 25 mph in the villages and 50 mph outside, with 35 mph transition zones. No additional traffic lights or stop signs are proposed and there are no speed bumps planned for Route 50.

How does traffic calming affect safety?

In traffic calmed settings around the world, collisions and pedestrian accidents have decreased greatly and severe injuries have decreased as much as 80 percent. Along Route 50 and in the villages, where the traffic calming features are proposed, the slower pace of traffic will result in a safer environment for motorists, drivers of farm equipment and pedestrians alike. Aldie and Upperville residents suffer especially from high-speed through traffic.

How will the traffic calming plan affect emergency vehicles?

The traffic calming plan features specific provisions to facilitate the movement of emergency vehicles. For the villages, these include carefully designed turn radii, mountable curbs, and clear identification of entrances to fire and rescue stations. Between the villages, the plan calls for a 50 mph speed limit, safer shoulders, and pullouts so motorists can permit emergency vehicles to pass.

How will traffic calming affect driving time?

Volunteer drivers conducted timed test runs through the Route 50 corridor at various hours, including the most and least busy times of the day. Driving the full 20 miles of the corridor, the difference between traveling at the current speed limits and the speed limits proposed in the traffic calming plan was less than four minutes. The difference driving through the village of Upperville was 30 seconds.

How long will it take to implement the traffic calming plan?

It is estimated that once the traffic calming plan is in final form, detailed drawings, specifications and cost estimates are obtained, funding is secured, and various permits and approvals obtained, the actual work on the entire 20 mile section could be accomplished within two years. Before and after studies will be conducted to monitor the success of the project, so that the results can be shared with communities throughout the nation. 

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