Dear Lane Ranger: Is there anything that can be done to stop vehicles from “cutting in line” northbound on the Va. 234 bypass right before the exit to Interstate 66 eastbound? Every morning, the right-hand lane backs up right before Balls Ford Road because motorists don’t have the patience to wait their turn. They will get in or stay in the left-hand lane, speed up and cut in right before the exit to I-66.
Fully understanding the commuters on Balls Ford Road, coming from Gainesville, I have no choice but to get over to the right-hand lane, but my complaint is the drivers that are already on the bypass.
It’s infuriating when you have to wait several minutes to access I-66 westbound and continually get cut off by an aggressive driver. It is my belief, if everyone adhered to the right-hand lane, there probably wouldn’t be such a long wait to get on I-66 eastbound.
Don’t the white grid lines, right before the exit, that guide you towards I-66 eastbound, have any meaning? It seems it gives the people that cut in line the chance to do so…
Most of us have resorted to taking a right at Balls Ford Road right before the exit. Unfortunately, I’ve seen the traffic on Balls Ford Road significantly increase in the last couple months, just to alleviate the frustration of trying to access I-66 eastbound.
It is my opinion, if a police officer sat in the median between the light at Balls Ford Road and right before the exit on the bypass, preferably between the hours of 6:00 a.m. to 7:30 a.m., it might deter a number of the motorists who cut in line. Unless it is perfectly legal that they cut in and back up the turning lane. — Mariana Turgeon of Manassas
Dear Mariana: “Rudeness is not illegal,” said Kim Chinn, spokeswoman for Prince William police. There is no law that says you must stay in the right lane for a certain distance before an exit or turn.
Common courtesy is what is in play here, said Chinn and county public works spokeswoman Deb Oliver.
Chinn said police could send someone out to check for infractions, but what is going on sounds legal, as you describe it.
It can argued that line cutting makes traffic flow more efficient. Take for example the Prince William County Parkway heading toward Manassas at the Minnieville Road intersection. I cut to the far right and zip past the backup of cars waiting to go left, and then merge left to go straight through the intersection.
I do not see myself as an aggressive driver since the maneuver is easy. My merge does not result in others waiting longer because there is always a space between accelerating vehicles because some go slower than others.
Dear Lane Ranger: I would like to follow on to the remarks of Terry Davis of Manassas regarding Minnieville Road, Cardinal Road and Estate Drive. My issue is not the merging traffic so much as the patrons of the 7-Eleven attempting to head north on Minnieville (towards Dale Blvd) and east on Cardinal. As currently configured, there is no access to Estate Drive from the 7-Eleven. Thisprohibits use of the existing traffic light at the intersection to access northbound Minnieville and eastbound Cardinal. There isa concrete median on Minnieville in front of the 7-Eleven prohibiting theleft, which is necessary to travel these routes also. Motorists therefore routinely exit the 7-Eleven onto southbound Minnieville, following it to the end of the concrete median and make a U-turn. This is a dangerous maneuver, given the high traffic volume and speeds upwards of 40 mph in both directions, but further compounded because this is also the merge area discussed by Terry Davis. Motorists attempting the U-turn do not attain thespeed of the flowing traffic and then are almost immediately braking to make the U-turn. Furthermore, they often partially block the southbound lane awaiting the northbound lane to clear. The patrons of the 7-Eleven are not entirely to blame either. Those traveling southbound Minnieville, not wanting to wait in the long left stacking lanes to access eastbound Cardinal, pass through the intersection andmake the same dangerous U-turn and access Cardinal by making the right from the northbound direction. At a minimum, “No U-Turn” signs or a barrierextension from the existing concrete one must be installed. Ideally, access could be granted from the 7-Eleven to Estate Drive, but I realize that is not going to happen.However, I feel strongly something must be done, as this is a deadly accident waiting to happen. — Dave Stadelmyer of Dale City
Dear Dave: That intersection is a difficult one. You have merging from two to one lane, 7-Eleven traffic, but you shouldn’t have this U-turn activity, said Public Works spokeswoman Deb Oliver, because it’s illegal.
The yellow lines around the median island are off limits to vehicles, she said.
“That’s a no-driving area,” she said.
Not knowing it was illegal, the Lane Ranger was able to sit in the yellow area and negotiate a U-turn last week. The yellow area is sized so I am not impeding traffic coming up behind me.
But it’s illegal. I made a wrong assumption, so I guess others are doing the same.
I passed along a suggestion to VDOT that a “No U-turn” sign be placed in front of the 7-Eleven. There is already one at the intersection further down at Statler Drive. However, as VDOT said in my previous column on this intersection, accident data does not indicate a problem there.
Lane Ranger welcomes and encourages your correspondence. Please send any questions or comments on area transportation to: Lane Ranger, c/o Potomac News, P.O. Box 2470, Woodbridge 22195; fax: (703) 878-8099; e-mail to [email protected] or by phone: (703) 878-8062.