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VDOT’s promises on Dahlgren Road/Owens improvements

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) reiterated some of its numerous promises made by the agency last month regarding changes it plans to make to the Dahlgren Road (Route 206) intersection at Owens Road (Route 624) and Windsor Drive (Route 218).


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

The King George Board of Supervisors last week on Dec. 18 reviewed a letter on the topic dated Dec. 17 from VDOT’s Fredericksburg district administer Quintin Elliott.

Supervisors had heard the words from Elliott and other agency officials at a special work session meeting last month held on Nov. 26.

Now they have it in writing, but not with all of the specificity agreed to in regard to the significant reduction of the length and width of the right-of-way.

The letter contained six bulleted statements from Elliott saying, “to help improve the safety of the intersection.”

 

ACQUISITION OF PROPERTY
It was stated at the November meeting, that the properties needed for right-of-way are to go from a planned 24 parcels down to six parcels. Most of the eliminated properties are on the southern side of the intersection toward the direction of Route 3. Elliott had said that reduction of right-of-way would be a 75 percent reduction in the number of individuals being impacted.

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

He said overall length of the project was reduced from 3,400 feet to 2,300 feet, which is a 1,100 feet reduction, or 32 percent.

In regard to the previously-promised reduction of right-of-way and easement, the first two bulleted statements say:
We will work with the individual property owners whose property has been acquired as a part of the original design.

Based on the revised project plan, we will review the proposed right-of-way acquisition at the intersection to insure there is adequate room to facilitate the installation of the foundations and associated equipment for a traffic signal, which is subject to meeting the required warrant criteria.

The lack of specificity on the acquisition of property was not questioned by any of the supervisors.

TRAFFIC SIGNAL & STUDIES
The Board of Supervisors has over the years 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.

The next two bullets are in regard to a future traffic signal that would be expected to be installed when the intersection meets VDOT’s standards and its promise to install the foundations for a future light, along with more traffic studies to take place to monitor if warrants are met by increased traffic.

They state:
A traffic signal study will be performed following notification that construction funds have been obtained prior to the project being submitted for construction.

If a traffic signal is not warranted before construction begins, another study will be performed one year after the project has been completed.  

FLASHING BEACONS
Elliott had promised last month that VDOT consider other safety measures that could be employed to address safety concerns. The last two bullets have to do with that pledge. They state:

If a traffic signal is not warranted before construction, the department will investigate the installation of flashing beacons to advise drivers of the intersection.

The department will review the possibility of installing flashing beacons on posted speed limit signs for Route 206 near the intersection.

COST & FUNDING
The project is only funded through the acquisition of property phase and has not yet received funding for construction. Elliott said at the November meeting that VDOT would resume acquisition of the needed properties.

80 percent of the funding is intended to come from federal funding, with that not expected until July 1, 2013 at the earliest. That would put 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.

Phyllis Cook

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