Roundabouts Seen as Managing Traffic Growth

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Joel DeNunzio speaking at the Crozet Board of Trade meeting November 21.
Joel DeNunzio speaking at the Crozet Board of Trade meeting November 21.

Traffic roundabouts are the long-term solution to problematic intersections in the Crozet area, VDOT resident engineer Joel DeNunzio told the Crozet Board of Trade at their meeting November 21 at Pro Re Nata Brewery. Meanwhile, he said, expect to see temporary traffic lights installed, starting with the intersection of Rt. 151 and Rt. 250 at the base of Afton mountain.

The meeting opened with CBT president Michael Marshall introducing Raphael Strumlauf, one of the new owners of downtown Crozet’s Great Valu grocery store.

Strumlauf assured community members they could expect that the things they’ve always loved about the store would remain unchanged, while there will be upgrades and additions. “For instance, there hasn’t been a major inventory restructuring for over a decade,” he said. “What we plan to do is listen to our customers, take that feedback into account, and seek to meet the needs that are presently taking you elsewhere.”

As an owner of downtown Charlottesville’s successful indie grocery shop, Market Street Market, Strumlauf stressed that, far from a big-box franchise model, his intentions are to create the same kind of niche, hyper-community-oriented grocery store that only a privately owned, small-business can offer.

Asked what, specifically, this might look like, he offered some examples: “One of the first things we intend to do is install a deli. Our customers have said they’d like to be able to get meats and cheeses on-site, so we’re going to try and make that happen… Additionally, we’re going to try and do more with local agriculture and craft brew beer. We want to expand what’s already happening here by getting more locally grown and raised seasonal produce and meats on the shelves and available to our customers.”

Following Strumlauf’s introduction, DeNunzio presented an update on local Crozet-area highway projects. Citing a recent study conducted by VDOT of the U.S. Route 250 corridor between Crozet and Charlottesville, DeNunzio discussed potential upcoming projects.

“The point of this study was to access the corridor and decide on what kinds of changes we can implement immediately that will be the most cost-effective and have the greatest impact,” he said.

For Crozet residents, the bulk of the study’s import had to do with proposals concerning what to do about a variety of problematic intersections. Making the short-list was the intersection of Route 151 and Rt. 250. While a $6.5 million roundabout is being considered as a long-term solution, for the immediate future, DeNunzio said VDOT plans to install a temporary traffic light soon.

Elsewhere, while a roundabout was stated as being ideal for the intersection at Harris Teeter, with budgetary considerations to be kept in mind, VDOT has proposed safely connecting pedestrians to the shopping center as a key concern. According to DeNunzio, a crosswalk equipped with a Charlottesville-style crossing light will likely be installed in the near future.

The intersection of state Routes 240 and 250 at Mechums River was discussed as well. While DeNunzio said that, again, a roundabout was being considered for the long-term future, as the area is presently not listed as being of high priority, another temporary traffic light will likely be installed.

Lastly, DeNunzio offered some insight regarding access to the Barnes Lumber development site in downtown Crozet. DeNunzio said he supports a block plan for downtown, but that it has to be done right.

“We’ve been meeting with the county to make sure that the area is safe and accessible for pedestrians and vehicles as well,” said DeNunzio. “The main concern is keeping speeds down and trying to stay on the same page [with regard to] the development to make sure the businesses are accessible and that they do well.”

He went on to say that VDOT is actively meeting with business owners and development representatives to ensure that parking and access issues on The Square are dealt with in a manner that is safe, efficient, and amenable to everyone involved. After listing a number of possibilities—a four-way stop being explained as unfavorable and a one-way street being a likely solution—DeNunzio stated that VDOT was presently open to input and would field any suggestions that were deemed to be beneficial toward the project’s overall success.

Closing the meeting was a discussion of a proposed 26-question survey that would essentially provide the town with the ability to officially cite ‘citizen opinion’ on a variety of issues. The survey is the first step in a review of the Crozet Master Plan and takes its start from a survey of Crozet opinion conducted in 2009 before the 2010 plan revision was made.

This time, besides the public survey that is not scientifically controlled according to the location of the respondents, a scientific sample of 500 Crozet–area residents will also be set up. That will involve a solicitation effort to get participants and that will involve mailing lists and postage.

“If the [CBT] could provide some of the funding to make this happen, I think it would really be a great benefit to the town and businesses, showing that we’re willing to help and that we’re really attempting to be as civic-minded as we can,” said Marshall.

“One of the benefits of the scientific survey would be that we would be able to look at a particular population—such as, say, residents within the Crozet growth area—and say 75 percent of residents living in this area feel this or that way about this or that issue,” said Tolson, president of the Crozet Community Association. “This sort of information would be very useful to planning commissioners and the board of supervisors as well.”

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