What to Know
- With a superstreet configuration, traffic on a minor road is not permitted to proceed straight across the major road or highway.
- Drivers wishing to turn left or go straight must turn right onto the major road, then wait at a U-turn or crossover lane.
- When traffic clears, they make the U-turn and then go straight or make a right turn when they intersect the other half of the minor street.
Route 123 in Tysons, Virginia, is considered one of the most congested roads in the area. Part of the problem is drivers who get stuck behind someone trying to make a left-hand turn.
Traffic officials are considering limiting left hand turns and eliminating cross traffic on Route 123, creating a superstreet, so traffic just keeps moving. The change could affect tens of thousands of commuters.
Opinions are split.
"Yeah, that's going to jack some stuff up. I'm not in favor of that,” said commuter Darien May. “You have to make a left."
"It could help, because then you wouldn't have the people waiting for the left-hand turns," said commuter Jeremy Hashiguchi.
Part of the plan being considered could completely eliminate the left-hand turns in the superstreet design from Route 123, only allowing them at key intersections. Those intersections haven't been decided yet.
Also, at a superstreet intersection, traffic on a minor road -- one crossing Route 123 in this case -- is not permitted to proceed across the major road or highway.
Drivers on those minor roads who want to turn left or go straight must turn right onto the major road, then wait in a designated U-turn (or crossover) lane in the median a short distance away.
It is a traffic design that has a lot of rules, but it is expected to help keep traffic flowing.
Stewart Schwartz, with the Coalition for Smarter Growth, isn’t sold on the idea.
“It's about movement of cars and not necessarily about pedestrians, and it could make it less safe for pedestrians and give them a much longer crossing time, further discouraging connection between the two sides of the road, rather than taming it down to a more urban boulevard. A K Street-like boulevard," Schwartz said.
Fairfax County planners said with all the growth happening with more jobs and housing, Route 123 can't stay in its current form.
"We think this concept is necessary in order for Route 123 to function at a reasonable level," said Leonard Wolfenstein, with the county Department of Transportation. We don't have an option other than this."
More studies are underway.