Public hearing on U.S. 460-Courthouse project set for tonight

By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: February 18, 2020 | 9:00 a.m.

Public hearings begin at 7 p.m. in the county boardroom

DINWIDDIE – Tuesday night will likely prove to be a pivotal moment in the life of a proposed intersection reconfiguration as supervisors will open the floor of their meeting to residents to garner their position on the project before deciding if they will give state transportation officials the go-ahead to proceed or decline VDOT’s pitch of a modified median U-turn at the intersection of New Cox and Courthouse Road.

During the Dinwiddie Board of Supervisors’ evening session, one of several public hearings that will be heard beginning at 7 p.m. will be related to VDOT’s proposal to redesign the intersection of Courthouse Road and U.S. Route 460 and convert it into a modified median U-turn, which restricts through and left-turn movements by moving traffic through paved in-median U-turns.

The MUT has been pitched by the Virginia Department of Transportation as the best option to address issues with angular crashes at the intersection. It is expected that VDOT will present another revised design for the MUT intersection as the agency hopes to begin the project as soon as early spring of this year, if approved.

The public hearing is being hosted by Dinwiddie supervisors as, according to VDOT Residency Administrator Crystal Smith, the agency had already completed their public information requirements through their hosting of a meeting at Eastside Enhancement Center in October and an accompanying open comment period.

The design of the proposed MUT has been altered several times since it was initially presented in the summer of 2019, with the most recent revision in November now seeing U.S. Route 460 reduced to one lane through the intersection and its surrounding vicinity, which could allow for a speed reduction from 60 miles per hour to 55, per transportation officials.

Despite the revisions, county drivers, members of the county’s business community, and public safety officials have expressed their own concerns about VDOT’s proposed “innovative intersection,” with many believing the changes could make the intersection more dangerous to navigate, particularly for large vehicles, like trucks, buses, and other heavy commercial vehicles.

Speaking with The Dinwiddie Monitor in December of last year, Dinwiddie Sheriff D.T. Adams felt VDOT should consider implementing a speed drop alongside the “temporary” improvements that were installed last summer, which included in-median stop signs, rumble strips, and other enhancements before moving forward with the construction of the MUT.

In retort, Smith said, when asked if the agency would consider a speed reduction in the area of the intersection without the MUT, that would not be an option for that corridor, saying the one-lane MUT design could allow grounds for a speed drop as has been seen in other locations in the state.

While the temporary improvements have seemingly made a positive impact on the intersection as local public safety officials reported only one accident in the area since their implementation last spring, they have also created their own problems as some oversize vehicles are unable to position themselves in the median to stop as required without blocking travel lanes behind them along U.S. 460.

As a result, some trucks are opting to outright ignore the in-median stop sign, a scenario witnessed by county and transportation officials during a group visit to the intersection last December with Del. Lashrecse Aird.

Following Tuesday’s VDOT presentation and public comment period, supervisors are expected to make a decision on whether they want the agency to move forward with the project or if they will move to have it removed from their six-year road plan.

Last spring, following the January 2019 death of Dinwiddie teenager Dakota Reid in a crash at the intersection, supervisors moved to have the then-proposed restricted crossing U-turn added to their six-year secondary road plan.

Funding was shifted from a planned intersection improvement project along Ritchie Avenue and U.S. Route 1 to help get the project started before the agency opted to forgo construction in August in order to receive additional public comment.

County Administrator Kevin Massengill, during a public hearing and presentation by VDOT in November 2019, confirmed that the board of supervisors could vote to have the project removed from the county’s six-year plan, if they so desired.

Public hearings will begin at 7 p.m. in the county boardroom.

Copyright 2020 by Womack Publishing
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