Local: Education

Fairfax wants say in Arlington school project

Local,Virginia,Education,Taylor Holland

Arlington County voters gave their blessing to a financial deal to build a new school Tuesday, but by then, Arlington officials had already heard from their neighbors in Fairfax County, who warned Arlington that it wanted a say in the project to avoid additional traffic in Fairfax.

The new school would be built next to Williamsburg Middle School along the county line, and Fairfax officials and residents who live near the building site said they worry that the additional traffic will make it next to impossible to drive on nearby roads.

"Several citizens in my district have expressed concern about this proposal and the process that is being used to examine alternatives and evaluate impacts on the surrounding communities," Fairfax Supervisor John Foust, D-Dranesville, told his colleagues recently. "There is a great deal of concern about increased traffic [in the area]."

Foust asked Arlington to allow Fairfax to review and comment on studies of the new school to head off any problems it could cause for Fairfax residents.

Arlington has a Public Facilities Review Committee and agreed to have a neighborhood resident sit on that committee. However, that resident representative, Ann Hafer, of North Harrison Street, said she's not looking to reduce traffic around the school but to scrap the school construction altogether. She said the school should be built somewhere else.

Any additional traffic in the area, she said, will make traveling more difficult, and for someone like her who has medical issues, that could be dangerous.

"What happens when it's cold and rainy?" Hafer said. "And I'm diabetic, so I'm deathly afraid that [attacks] I've experienced in the past will happen again, but that I'll be stuck in traffic."

Hafer said she plans to enlist the support of fire and rescue officials in both counties to help determine the impact the school would have on the community.

Arlington residents showed tremendous support for the proposed school, with more than 80 percent of them voting Tuesday to borrow $28.1 million to design and build the school.

The school, which is one of two new schools planned in Arlington, was planned to accommodate soaring enrollments, estimated to have increased by more than 18 percent in four years.

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