Wed08272014

Last updateWed, 19 Nov 2014 8pm

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VDOT clarifies plans for flashing signal at Dahlgren Road intersection

The Board of Supervisors received clarification it had requested on a proposal by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to add flashing beacons at or near the Owens intersection on Dahlgren Road (Route 206) as part of the planned project to add turn lanes.
At a meeting on Jan. 15, VDOT’s Northern Neck Residency administrator David Brown talked about recent correspondence of Dec. 17 from VDOT’s Fredericksburg district administrator Quintin Elliott to the county that had come about as part of a meeting between them and the Board of Supervisors on Nov. 26.

Complaints from Supervisors had resulted in VDOT agreeing to a significant reduction of both the length and width of the right-of-way needed for the future project.

The November meeting had been set to discuss specific elements that would be included in the project to improve the safety of the Owens intersection, which is planned to add turn lanes at Owens Road (Route 624) and Windsor Drive (Route 218) when it gets sufficient federal funding.

The December letter had contained bulleted statements from Elliott, but a couple referring to flashing beacons were confusing to members of the board, so clarification was requested.  

FLASHING BEACONS
In November, Elliott had promised that VDOT would monitor the intersection to continue to see if/when state warrants are eventually met to enable installation of a traffic signal.

His letter also said, “If a traffic signal is not warranted before construction, the department will investigate the installation of flashing beacons to advise drivers of the intersection.”

It also said, “The department will review the possibility of installing flashing beacons on posted speed limit signs for Route 206 near the intersection.”

Because a traffic stoplight is eventually expected to be installed, VDOT officials had said they would install the foundations for a future light at the time of the road widening.

The location of those flashing beacons was a topic of confusion for Supervisors. Brown clarified that VDOT was saying it intended to install the flashing the beacons on mast-arm poles to be installed overhead at the Owens intersection.

Brown said they would flash yellow in both directions to traffic travelling on Dahlgren Road. They would flash red to motorists at the intersection on both Owens Road and Windsor Drive in conjunction with the stop signs in place.

He said that when a traffic light is warranted, the equipment would be switched out to install a regular stoplight at the intersection on the poles and foundations promised as part of the widening project.

But Supervisors don’t want flashing lights above the intersection. Chairman Dale Sisson clarified specifically that Supervisors want flashing warning lights on the roadside in advance of the dangerous intersection, with appropriate caution signage.  

Sisson stated, “The reason the board had questioned that was because it was a different take than we took away from our discussion that evening. What we heard was that the flashing warning for the intersection would be in advance of the intersection.”

Sisson added, “We experienced significant problems with flashing lights at Route 3 and Fletcher’s Chapel Road.” That was when flashing lights were installed at Sealston when the Sealston Elementary School was opened a few years ago.

Sisson reminded Brown that there were several rear-end accidents at the Sealston intersection resulting from motorists slamming on brakes, when they reacted to a yellow traffic signal, thinking it would next turn red.

Sisson stated, “We questioned it that evening when we had Quinton here. So that was why we requested the clarification. That was not the understanding that we took away.”

Brown said he understood and asked that the county administrator, Travis Quesenberry, put the request into writing, adding, “It’s an acceptable method on advising traffic approaching an intersection.”

Sisson responded, “I think that would be a much clearer type of signalization.”

FUTURE WEEKEND CULVERT REPLACEMENT

Brown also mentioned the topic of culvert pipe replacement that has been proposed to be performed over two weekends, instead of weekdays.

Brown said that project was also part of the future Owens intersection widening project.

The project is not yet funded and no dates have been set for any of the construction of the Owens project. VDOT officials hope to hear that federal funding will be available for the project beginning in the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

But Brown noted that when the weekend closures for through traffic are finally scheduled, that public notice would advise people as to when it would occur and would also allow local traffic to get to homes and business, though through-traffic would be detoured.

Phyllis Cook

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