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VDOT puts hold on property acquisition for Dahlgren Road/Owens project

At last week’s meeting of the King George Board of Supervisors, David Brown, Northern Neck Residency Administrator, provided an update on the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) project for the Owens intersection on Dahlgren, saying acquisition of right-of-way is on hold.

Brown added that VDOT is considering reducing some of the right-of-way impacts along the length of the project. He also told the board that staff is working on addressing the other comments received from the county. 

Brown indicated that would be completed in about six week, saying staff expects to complete that work by the first part of November. He requested a work session with the board at that time to discuss possible modifications to the plans. With only three supervisors, Cedell Brooks, John LoBuglio and Ruby Brabo, present at the meeting, it is expected that a date will be set at the next meeting when all are present. Dale Sisson and Joe Grzeika were both said to be out of town.

Brabo also provided her analysis of VDOT’s $4.1 million project to widen a portion of Dahlgren Road (Route 206) at the intersections with Owens Drive (Route 624) and Windsor Drive (Route 218) The plan has drawn a lot of fire from landowners and county officials alike. 

Brabo likely planned her lengthy comments for Brown, but he hastily left the meeting before Brabo provided her commentary. 

But before he left, Brabo made some points suggesting that the focus of the proposed intersection improvements be changed to instead construct a roundabout. 

Brabo said VDOT recommends considering roundabouts for intersections. She quoted from the VDOT website on the topic saying, “The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) employs roundabouts to increase safety and reduce delays at intersections. Roundabouts also help reduce crashes.”

Brown countered that VDOT may consider roundabouts on new projects, noting that this current project “has been in existence for awhile.”

Brabo pointed out that the various iterations of the intersection designs don’t even have dates on them. She said VDOT’s roundabout guidance may apply because it was put in place in 2003 and the design for the intersection has changed repeatedly since then.

Brabo also pointed out that the original resolution that the board had requested asked for “solutions for safety.” 

After Brown’s departure from the meeting, Brabo’s subsequent remarks state, “The KG Board of Supervisors passed a resolution on Feb. 20, 2002, requesting VDOT review Route 206 for the purpose of recommending solutions to the excessive usage, speed and roadway conditions that present a safety hazard to the residents of King George County and also the occupants of vehicles using that roadway.”  

She contended that VDOT reps have told the board its goal for the project has been to improve traffic flow without reducing the speed for commuters.

That came from VDOT’s Kevin Northridge and Michelle Shropshire at two separate board meetings earlier this year, with both saying the goal is to keep traffic fast enough for commuters. They pointed out that traffic is already going faster than the current 40 mph speed limit for the intersection, so improvements need to be made to allow a faster speed. They contended that the purpose of adding the turn lanes is to keep turning traffic out of the way of commuter through-traffic.

Regarding a potential plan change for a roundabout, Brabo also told Brown that three of the property owners at the intersection have no issues with VDOT’s proposals for property acquisition, adding that Heath Taylor is amicable to acquisition of his property if for construction of a roundabout. Taylor also spoke during public comment, agreeing that a roundabout would be acceptable and would achieve a solution to the high speed through the intersection and.

Brabo’s complete comments from the meeting on the topic can be viewed by following this link.

TRAFFIC COUNTS

Both Brown and Sheriff Steve Dempsey supplied the board with recent traffic counts at the intersection. The traffic counts do not correlate, with Dempsey’s counts appearing to average considerably higher, though different parameters were used by the two.

Dempsey did the survey counts over two separate weeks. The first one included the Labor Day weekend from Aug. 27-Sept. 3. That seven-day week yielded a count of 57,949 vehicles, with Dempsey saying those were recorded for traffic only traveling eastbound on Dahlgren Road. 

Dempsey’s second count was from Sept. 6-14, yielding a count of 63,868 vehicles, which he said recorded only counting the vehicles traveling westbound. 

Both of Dempsey’s surveys were a few hours more than an exact week but each were said to be a count of traffic in only one direction on Dahlgren Road. The first one was three hours and 15 minutes longer than a week and the second one was 15 ½ hours longer than a week and included the overnight hours along with portions of the evening and next morning’s rush hours. 

Brown’s recent traffic counts took place on Wednesday, June 27. One was between 6 a.m. and 11:25 a.m. providing a count of 4,949 vehicles entering the intersection from all directions.

The second count on the same day was from noon to 5:45 p.m. and gives a count of 5,858 vehicles entering the intersection from all directions. 

 

Phyllis Cook

 

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