After 16 years of local activism, tangible measures to address speeding on Fauquier County highways are one step away from becoming law. Two “traffic calming” bills passed the Virginia General Assembly last week and now go to the governor for signature. Both bills were sponsored by State Sen. Jill Vogel, R-27th.
Scott Filling, a Fauquier resident who lives on U.S. 17 near Belvoir Road, has lobbied for traffic calming measures on the road since 2004, eventually gathering about 400 signatures in support of action to improve safety on the stretch of U.S. 17 between Marshall and Warrenton.
“We just wanted to restore balance,” said Filling, who thanked especially Vogel, Fauquier Sherriff Bob Mosier and Fauquier Supervisor Holder Trumbo for supporting the legislation.
If signed into law, Senate Bill 556 would add $15 to the fine for exceeding the speed limit on the Fauquier stretches of U.S. 17 and U.S. 15, which combined total about 64 miles within the county. Under current law, the fine for exceeding the speed limit starts at $6 per mile-per-hour over the limit; the fine increases in school zones and residential areas.
Senate Bill 557 requires the state to place at least six permanent electronic speed-indicator signs on U.S. 17 between Warrenton and Marshall. Signs displaying the speed limit and the current speed of the approaching vehicle would be placed facing northbound and southbound drivers near the intersections of Belvoir Road, Old Tavern Road and Blantyre Road.
“The goal was speed signs and posting of increased fines, both to serve as a deterrent to traveling at unsafe speeds,” said Vogel.
Sheriff Mosier said that the speed indicator signs serve as a reminder to drivers, which is especially important on highways with few stops. He added that signs warning of increased fines would “put people on notice.” He emphasized that distracted driving, along with speeding, account for most vehicle crashes.
Filling said the success of the legislation was a testament to the power of a community working together. “If you have a common, big issue that affects the community,” he said, “get on board and stick together, and you can accomplish things you never thought you could.”