Meeting on Forest Hill Avenue Project Tomorrow

12 Mar

Plans have been in the works for some time to widen the section of Forest Hill Avenue between Hathaway Road and the Powhite Parkway.  The city’s stated aim is to reduce accidents and improve traffic flow as well as drainage.  The widening will make room for some left and right turn lanes as well as a sidewalk and a bike lane.

There was a fair amount of debate about this project when it was first introduced, partly because the introduction of a median and turn lanes will probably increase speeds even while the design includes little in the way of pedestrian crossings.  The widening will also involve cutting down a large number of trees — something the city has been doing a bit too much of lately — and place sidewalks fairly close to some houses along the road.  One response of some residents unhappy about that has been to propose narrowing or eliminating the bike lane.

While it’s true that having a bike lane for this relatively short stretch of Forest Hill will not change things on either end, it’s still important for several reasons.  First, cyclists following the designated route along the south side of the river have to travel along this section of Forest Hill to get over the Powhite.  Second, it sets a very important precedent that any time a road is widened or altered that the inclusion of a bike lane be considered.  And finally, if a bike lane is not included now, there won’t be another chance in a very long time.  Changes may well come at either end of this section of road in the future, and the existence of bike lanes here would make it compelling to extend them.  So it’s important to ensure that the bike lanes stay in the plans.

So, if you are concerned about this sort of thing or have been following this Public Works saga, you should know that city traffic engineers will be presenting detailed plans for this project tomorrow, March 13, 5:30 to 7:30 pm at Southampton Elementary School, 3333 Cheverly Road.  The plans and other documents are available on the project’s web site.

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