By Kathy Johnson
Public turnout was somewhat low at the VDOT meeting held at the Rockfish River Elementary School May 16. Meanwhile VDOT’s plans for safety enhancements along Route 151 move ahead.
Over the past five years traffic crashes along a 14-mile stretch of the highway have resulted in four deaths and more than 50 injuries. Between 2008 and 2011, there were 111 reported crashes resulting in 53 injuries and two fatalities (the other two occurred in 2012). The full corridor, designated as being Route 151 between US 250 and Beech Grove Road, has a slightly lower than statewide average for similar areas in injury rates, but the segment from Afton Mountain Road to Route 250 is slightly higher.
VDOT staff at the meeting showed plans of possible safety changes and said the idea is to keep Rt. 151 a two-lane, rural highway. VDOT’s next step is to incorporate the public feedback in a final report for Nelson County.
Details from the report found “nearly 25 percent of all crashes occur on Saturdays” and the top four crash types comprise nearly 85 percent of all crashes: 1) rear end collisions; 2) deer or wildlife; 3) angle; and 4) fixed objects/off road.
Of the four fatalities, two occurred at the intersection of Rt.151 and US 250 (2012); one between Beech Grove Road and River Road; and the other between River Road and Afton Mountain Road.
Possible improvements at Route 151 and US 250 include offsetting the eastbound right turn lane; adding a northbound right turn lane; signalizing the intersection or turning it into a roundabout. VDOT says that roundabouts slow traffic and reduce the severity of crashes and that they provide service comparable to a signalized intersection.
VDOT wants to see more consolidation of existing driveways that are close to intersections along Rt.151, more shared driveways for closely spaced businesses, and the creation of inter-parcel connections. Other recommendations include the reconstruction of Route 151 to current geometric standards, installation of new guardrails and improved signage.
Most of those who attended the May 28 meeting were generally favorable to VDOT recommendations, according to Rick Youngblood, project manager and district planner.
VDOT staffers said plans to improve truck safety include continuing enforcement of speed limit and oversized regulations as well as improvements to the Interstate 64- Route 29 interchange, which VDOT has under study.