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VDOT’s latest design requires less land

editor's note: we received revised numbers, to see the correction, please press here.

Traffic light likely to be added later
The latest design for the Owens intersection on Dahlgren Road (Route 206) would acquire significantly fewer properties than originally planned, down from 24 parcels to needing six parcels for right-of-way.


The Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) latest design plan for widening sections of Dahlgren Road where it intersects Owens Road (Route 624) and Windsor Drive (Route 218) was revealed this week on Monday, Nov. 26 at a special work session meeting of the King George Board of Supervisors.

VDOT’s Fredericksburg district administrator Quintin Elliott revealed the design flanked by
Michelle Shropshire, Fredericksburg District’s assistant district administrator for preliminary engineering, and David Brown, Northern Neck residency administrator.

All five members of the Board of Supervisors were present along with the county administrator, Travis Quesenberry. 18 members of the public were also present.

 

DESIGN
The basic thrust of the design is to add left turn lanes on Dahlgren Road for vehicles to sit while waiting to turn onto either Owens Road or Windsor Drive, and thereby keeping through-traffic moving.

The Board of Supervisors has repeatedly asked for a traffic light at the intersection, but VDOT has indicated time and again that traffic studies do not warrant a light at that location.

RIGHT-OF-WAY REDUCTION
Elliott noted that the Board of Supervisors had made several requests regarding changes to the project, saying the agency was trying to address two of the concerns regarding acquisition of property and safety.

Elliott said of the reduction in right-of-way, “That’s the 75 percent reduction in the number of individuals we are impacting.”

That does not count the property needed to be acquired for drainage and utility easements, but the number of those parcels has also been reduced from 25 to 15 parcels.

     below is the corrected numbers:
The overall length of the project has been reduced from 3,400 feet to 2,300 feet, which is a 1,100 feet reduction, or 32 percent.
Most of the properties that have been eliminated for acquisition are on the southern side of the intersection going in the direction of Route 3.
     end correction

SAFETY
The design adds left turn lanes on Dahlgren Road, which is used by commuters traveling between the naval base at Dahlgren, and associated defense contractors, to Route 3.

Elliott said construction of turn lanes increases safety at the intersection by creating a safe place for turning vehicles to stack up while waiting for a break in traffic. “Those give folks a safe haven to pull out of the main line of traffic,” Elliott said.

He added, “I’m seeing people making some unusual moves at the intersection trying to get through it.”  Brooks asked about whether it would assist turning vehicles to complete their goal of making a safe turn.

Elliott addressed that, saying, “It creates a better flow through this intersection, thus making it easier, it allows the intersection to clear out much quicker than it would if you just have those single lanes.”

Supervisor Ruby Brabo expressed concern that there would be a steady stream of traffic flow that would not allow traffic in the other direction to get across the intersection. Supervisor Dale Sisson verified the intent of the current design.

Elliott said the intent includes stacking up the vehicles waiting to turn thereby improving the traffic flow through the intersection to clear it. That is expected to result in increasing the gaps in through-traffic to provide opportunities for vehicles to complete their turns.

Supervisor John LoBuglio again urged the concept of constructing a roundabout at the intersection first pushed by Brabo.

Elliott said he was not interested in going back and doing a completely new design for the intersection, but has made adjustments to the design that has been developed.  

COST & FUNDING
Elliott said the project is only funded through the acquisition of property stage and has not yet received funding for construction.

He also said they would resume that part of the project to acquire the needed properties.

80 percent of the funding is intended to come from federal funding, with Elliott saying the earliest it could be funded would be July 1, with the best-case for advertisement of a construction bid about a year from now.

The original project was estimated at $4.1 million, with Elliott saying about half a million has so far been spent on design and engineering. The original budget estimated $1,500,000 for acquisition of right-of-way, and $2,100,000 for construction. Elliott said the cost of property acquisition has been cut by about one-third and estimated a construction cost reduction of about 20-30 percent.

PLAN B
Elliott promised Supervisors, saying, “Prior to advertising this project for construction, we will do another study of this intersection to determine if a traffic signal is warranted.”

Elliott added, “In addition to that, one of the things I’m willing to look at is not only is a traffic signal warranted, but lesser measures that we may implement. Again, I want to study and look at that. I don’t want to create a bigger problem with a traffic signal, because traffic signals do create fatalities. They do create accidents.”
Elliott also said that any future installation of a traffic light would likewise require the addition of the left turn lanes that are basic to the current design plan.

He also said that when the project for construction of the turn lanes goes forward that the foundation for a traffic signal would be built in for an easy retrofit to install a traffic light, so most of that cost would incurred on the current project.

Elliott said that after the current project is actually completed, VDOT would continue to monitor the safety at the intersection to determine what other measures might be needed, whether a traffic light, flashing lights or other progressive traffic safety measures to address safety concerns.

Phyllis Cook

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