By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: October 12, 2019 | 1:45 p.m.
Eastside Enhancement Center to serve as venue for VDOT meeting
DINWIDDIE – Residents and commuters are expected to make their way to Eastside Enhancement Center next week for a meeting hosted by the Virginia Department of Transportation where they hope to get their questions answered and concerns addressed regarding a proposed intersection reconfiguration at one of the county’s more dangerous intersections.
On October 17 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., representatives from VDOT will be on hand to gather more public comments regarding plans to implement, what the agency is calling a “modified median U-turn,” according to their public hearing disclosure, at the intersection of Courthouse Road and U.S. Route 460 in response to a series of accidents, including one that killed a Dinwiddie teenager in January of this year.
This configuration would restrict left turn and through movement from Courthouse Road by requiring all traffic approaching from the north and south on Route 627 to make a right turn followed by a U-turn along U.S. Route 460 at one of two locations, one for each direction of travel.
The moves comes after the agency delayed construction of the project, which had been planned to begin in August and completed before school resumed last month but, since that time, related equipment and temporary signage has been re-positioned or removed, with VDOT representatives explaining they wanted to garner additional feedback on the project from the community.
“Safety remains VDOT’s highest priority, and we want to make sure the public is engaged before next steps are taken,” Virginia Department of Transportation spokesperson Bethanie Glover said to The Dinwiddie Monitor when asked for a status report on the project in September. She continued, “A public meeting will be held to collect feedback and give the public an opportunity to discuss the project with VDOT team members,” with residency representative Scott Thornton informing county supervisors last month of VDOT’s intent to hold their information session at Eastside Enhancement Center along Boydton Plank Road.
This meeting will allow residents to be able to ask questions of representatives about the project and possibly see rendering and schematics of what the roadway would look like and how it would operate. In addition, According to their public hearing disclosure, residents will be able to submit written and oral comments during next Thursday’s meeting or by October 27 by providing them to Residency Administrator Thornton, Virginia Department of Transportation, 4608 Boydton Plank Road, Petersburg, Virginia 23803-6532.
Those comments can also be emailed to email@example.com, with the subject line “Dinwiddie RCUT.”
When it was presented during a local transportation committee meeting in February following the death of Dinwiddie High School student Dakota Reid, VDOT Residency Administrator Crystal Smith and Thornton showed an example of an RCUT intersection and explained this would be the best option for reducing the severity of accidents at the intersection, with the pair and other VDOT representatives detailing over the spring and summer that the implementation of a fully signalized intersection could increase the number of rear-end crashes along with the risk of drivers outright ignoring the signals, thus raising the risk of accidents further, and reducing the speed limit from its current rate of 65 miles per hour could also pose risks to drivers as some opt to drive the lowered speed limit while others would drive at the speed they felt was appropriate for the road’s geometry, creating a possibly significant speed disparity between vehicles traveling in the area of New Cox Road and Courthouse Road.
In the face of concerns from residents and county leaders, VDOT presented the county with an option to have the project added to their six-year road plan with funding from a separate safety project along U.S. Route 1 and Ritchie Avenue being used to cover the roughly $310,000 cost of the RCUT’s installation.
Following the Dinwiddie Board of Supervisors’ approval of their six-year road plan with the state agency, work proceeded to have the project designed, constructed, and completed by the start of school in Dinwiddie County but, as August approached and eventually transitioned into September, the transportation agency adjusted its posture on the project, wishing to attain additional comment on the project.
For some, next week’s meeting will be their first time hearing directly from the transportation agency about the project, save brief comments during monthly updates delivered to supervisors during reports provided by VDOT at board meetings and published reports in the media. At the time of this report, a check of the Virginia Department of Transportation’s website for Richmond District projects, either proposed, ongoing, or recently completed, doesn’t show the RCUT or modified median U-turn project listed and, according to the website, the page has not been updated since early July of this year.
The agency’s public hearing disclosure ahead of next week’s meeting states the community-at-large can review the project at VDOT’s Petersburg office at 4609 Boydton Plank Road in North Dinwiddie and at the Dinwiddie County Government Center.
According to Thornton during September’s board of supervisors meeting, following next week’s public information session and the approval of the design, weather dependent, they hope to start construction during the first week of November.
Last month, Dinwiddie County Administrator Kevin Massengill, who has been working with both supervisors and state transportation officials to address what many see as a dangerous intersection shared his thoughts on the project’s delay and VDOT’s plans to host the meeting next week, which the county offered Eastside Enhancement Center as a venue for the session.
“On the one hand, these are Dinwiddie citizens having questions, so part of me does feel good that VDOT is taking a step back to evaluate it and answer questions that people in our community may have,” he said. “The other part is that I hope the agency is able to swiftly respond and go through their processes so this improvement can be made because people may question what is to happen there, but most people who travel through that intersection feel something needs to be done. We know this is one of the more problematic intersections that we have in this community.”
The administrator added supervisors remain steadfast in their position that a speed reduction should be implemented in the area of the intersection despite the findings of VDOT’s engineers who found none of the thresholds for such reductions met in their spring speed study.
“The board unanimously feels that an average motorist speed of 67 miles per hour at that intersection is not ideal,” Massengill remarked. “We feel like people need to slow down going through that intersection.”
The meeting will be from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Eastside Enhancement Center, located at 7301 Boydton Plank Road, in North Dinwiddie.
Copyright 2019 by Womack Publishing
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