Lochner’s Route 50 Traffic Calming Receives America’s Transportation Award for Quality of Life/Community Involvement

Sponsored by AASHTO, AAA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, this 10th annual competition recognized eight state department of transportation projects that successfully addressed wrong-way driving fatalities and provided safety improvements for pedestrian and bicycle travel. Projects received awards in one of three categories: Quality of Life/Community Development, Best Use of Technology and Innovation, and Operations Excellence.

In 1995, citizens in rural Loudoun and Fauquier Counties, Virginia, were concerned about excessive driving speeds, as well as the consequent risks for pedestrians and motorists, along a 20-mile stretch of Route 50. A Route 50 Corridor Coalition was formed in order to conduct research, raise private funds, and hire a transportation engineer to develop solutions to these concerns.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) subsequently implemented the Route 50 Traffic Calming Project, a unique initiative in which VDOT worked closely with the Route 50 Task Force: a 12-person team comprising coalition members; elected officials from Loudoun and Fauquier Counties and the Town of Middleburg; and representatives of local businesses, tourism, historic preservation, farmers, and commuters. The task force worked to ensure that the project continued to reflect the vision and needs of the community. In a joint VDOT–task force decision, Lochner was selected as the prime consultant for this high-profile project.

During the first phase of the project, Lochner conducted comprehensive traffic studies along the corridor and ran an intensive public involvement program to maintain the project’s high level of community involvement, produced a design memorandum that discussed the feasibility of various traffic calming techniques, and recommended a context-sensitive plan to reduce travel speeds and improve safety. The plan recommended land and streetscaping measures; the preservation and renovation of historic features; the incorporation of architectural signs, signals, and lighting; and the use of aesthetic paving materials. One of the innovative techniques that Lochner put forward was the planting of small caliper trees within the clear zone to give the impression of a more crowded road and encourage slower driving.

In Phase II, Lochner prepared final design plans for the construction of the three projects recommended in the memorandum, one in each of the historic communities: Upperville, Aldie, and Middleburg. In Upperville, Lochner provided the design for an enhanced village entrance, a reduced speed zone, raised crosswalks and intersections, extended sidewalks, on-street parking zones, a closed drainage system, and extensive landscaping. For the historical community of Aldie, Lochner recommended similar traffic calming features to those in Upperville, with the addition of speed tables. In Middleburg, Lochner’s design made improvements to downtown intersections and added several pedestrian-friendly facilities, such as aesthetic brick crosswalks, which had the dual effect of increasing non-motorized mobility and reducing traffic speeds.