Traffic Signal Retimed to Alleviate Congestion at Busy Intersection

Hopes for a left-hand turn lane from Mt. Vernon Avenue onto South Glebe Road remain slim.

In an effort to improve north and southbound approaches to a busy intersection connecting Alexandria and Arlington, the traffic signal at the corner of Mt. Vernon Avenue and South Glebe Road was recently retimed.

The cycle length of the signal was reduced in May by Arlington County to aid approaches to both Mt. Vernon Avenue and Arlington Ridge Road, especially in the peak morning periods.

Traffic routinely backs up on Mt. Vernon Avenue near the intersection in Arlandria during peak hours because vehicles have a hard time making the left turn onto Glebe Road.

The reduced cycle length does not provide the dramatic improvement that could be accomplished with the addition of turn lanes, but it does offer short-term mitigation, according to a memo from the Arlington Department of Transportation and the Alexandria Department of Transportation and Environmental Resources.

Hopes of adding a left-hand turn lane from Mt. Vernon Avenue onto Glebe Road remain slim because of constraints within the intersection, the memo said. 

According to the memo, the intersection is too narrow to construct turn lanes within the existing right-of-way. Upgrading and expanding the intersection with a turn lane would require the use of parkland along Four Mile Run. Such a proposal would present “numerous challenges,” the memo said.

Autoexec.bat July 11, 2012 at 02:24 AM
Left turn signal or GTFO.
heydelray July 11, 2012 at 11:28 AM
For some, there is always the option of heading to West Glebe Rd via Mt Vernon, or using Russell Rd and not approaching this E Glebe/Mt Vernon intersection. If there's not room for a turn lane, there's not room.
Lindsey July 11, 2012 at 11:35 AM
Currently there Mount Vernon Ave has two lanes heading north at that intersection - why not turn one of those into a left turn only lane and have all traffic going straight or turning right pass through the other lane?
John Fuller July 11, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Why does Arlington County insist on solving the left-turn problem only with the addition of a left-turn lane? Why can't they simply add a left-turn arrow to the light's cycle and paint the left lane with the combination arrow for left and straight ahead? i called them once and got an "It's complicated and would make matters worse" response.
Blair July 11, 2012 at 02:13 PM
The east and westbound traffic at that intersection each get their lights, thus alleviating any turn issues. Why can the same not be done for the north and southbound traffic?
Betty July 11, 2012 at 02:25 PM
I totally agree with Lindsey and John
Joseph M. July 11, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Drew, can you post the memo? It doesn't appear to be available on Arlington or Alexandria's websites. Maybe it will answer some of the questions in the comments above.
Drew Hansen (Editor) July 11, 2012 at 07:06 PM
I only have a paper copy. There was no mention of a left-turn signal. The meat of the memo is in the story. I think I should be able to scan it in and attach it as a PDF. I'll try to get to it soon.
Drew Hansen (Editor) July 11, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Just attached the memo.
Pete July 11, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Reading the memo, it does seem complicated and possible to make matters worse. But while it's understandable that converting the leftmost northbound and southbound Mt. Vernon Ave. through lanes into protected left (or left/through) lanes would result in the need to add some time to that cycle's through green for pedestrians to cross, I see no comparison of how much extra time that would be (fifteen or twenty seconds?) with how many more cars would make it through the left turns. Seems Arlington has made up its mind that it's a full rebuild or nothing. I'm loath to suggest studying that more because things get studied to death here, but it seems warranted.
Kate Theisen July 11, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Lindsey and John's approaches both make sense. Lindsey's works especially well since Arlington Ridge Road immediately goes down to one lane anyway.
Betty July 12, 2012 at 01:37 AM
Most of the traffic driving north on Mt. Vernon, including the 10B bus, turns left at S. Glebe. Just make one lane a dedicated left-turn lane and add 15 seconds to the cycle for left turns from both Arlington Ridge and Mt. Vernon as Pete suggests. Why does it need a complicated study? Data must be available from studies at similar intersections.
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