In the end, the hazards of an unforgiving rural road -- not a national controversy over inflammatory textbooks -- nearly derailed an expansion of the Islamic Saudi Academy.
The narrow passage of the school's proposed expansion project follows months of testimonials from community members on the precarious nature of Popes Head Road in Fairfax, whose lack of shoulders and winding turns have bedeviled motorists for years. Some supervisors on Monday said the road was ill-suited to handle the about 230 new students in the morning and evening rush.
Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity said he nearly killed a motorcyclist while driving on the road. Braddock District Supervisor John Cook said he drove down Popes Head Road after a public hearing on the proposed expansion and had a close call with an oncoming motorist, as well.
"If there are errors in judgment, there will be accidents," said Cook said.
Neighbors of the campus had urged the project's denial largely based on the woes of the road, and lodged similar complaints about new traffic at a July public hearing.
The road is already traveled by Fairfax County school buses, and the Islamic Saudi Academy has committed to provide buses for all of its students in an effort to cut new traffic, according to a Fairfax County transportation analysis. The new students will add 215 additional vehicle trips in the morning peak hours, and 120 in the evening, the analysis found.