Fri04182014

Last updateTue, 04 Nov 2014 9pm

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VDOT selectively sharing new drawings for Dahlgren Rd/Owens project

The Owens intersection on Dahlgren Road (Route 206) has been a topic of conversation for more than a decade, with the King George Board of Supervisors on the record with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) for wanting the intersection to be made safer.
VDOT currently has a $4.1 million project to widen a portion of Dahlgren Road at the intersections with Owens Drive (Route 624) and Windsor Drive (Route 218) Road that has drawn a lot of comments and criticism from landowners and county officials alike.
The plan for changes to the intersection have been a moving target, with drawings for the proposed changes to the intersection amended numerous times over the last ten years, with most plan documents undated, adding confusion to what is actually currently intended.
Supervisors asked for a pause in the acquisition of property by VDOT to allow the county time to research its legal options and to impress upon VDOT the board’s desire for a less aggressive design.
VDOT has agreed to a work session meeting with the Board of Supervisors on Monday, Nov. 26, at 5:30 p.m. in the board room on the ground floor of the Revercomb Administration Building.

NEW BUT ‘SECRET’ DRAWINGS AVAILABLE
But in the meantime, Fredericksburg District Administer Quintin Elliott has also agreed to meet with individual members of the King George board if they desire to see the latest iteration of the planned intersection ahead of time.
That consideration appeared to be agreed to by Elliott after it was pointed out to him that Supervisor Dale Sisson publicly stated at a board meeting on Oct. 16 that he had been shown the latest intersection design.
Sisson stated, “I’ve seen the redesign they have done and there are significant changes.”
It’s not clear which other supervisors, if any, have been shown the design by Elliott. But Dahlgren Supervisor Ruby Brabo followed up that Oct. 16 board meeting by pursuing a meeting with Elliott to also see the plans.

REPORTER EXCLUDED
She had informed The Journal about her meeting scheduled this week on Monday, Nov. 5, to take place at a county office and agreed to this reporter’s presence at her meeting with Elliott.
But when Elliott arrived with David Brown, Northern Neck Residency Administrator, he refused to meet Brabo with a reporter present.
Elliott told her, “We have a public meeting scheduled that I’ve scheduled with the board and that’s when we wanted to discuss it, at the public meeting.” He stated that the intent of the meeting was to have it be one-on-one, obviously discounting the presence of Brown.
Elliott stated to Brabo, “So if you want to have a public discussion, I ask that we have the entire board present and reschedule the meeting.”
Elliott’s penchant for privacy from the press forced Brabo to agree to his ultimatum and exclude the press since she was eager to see the latest drawings for the intersection.

WIDER AND FASTER
Brabo later told The Journal that the latest iteration eliminates more of the right-of-way that had been planned to be acquired by eminent domain from county property owners of homes and businesses at and near the intersection by primarily shortening the tapers for the turn lanes.
But the idea is to still make the intersection wider and to allow traffic to go faster.
She also said that Elliott appeared to be satisfied that the board would agree with Sisson’s opinion that the changes meet with his approval.
Brabo and Supervisor John LoBuglio both disagree with the concept of widening the intersection and increasing the speed limit to allow for a hoped-for shorter travel time for commuters.
Both have said the intersection design disregards county residents at the benefit of shortening commute times primarily for non-residents.
But Elliott and other VDOT reps continue to refuse or even address the possibility of a change to the plans that would incorporate a different design for a possible traffic signal, a slower speed limit and/or warning lights to indicate a dangerous intersection ahead. Both Brabo and LoBuglio and several landowners have publicly expressed a desire to discuss construction of a roundabout at the intersection. That has been dismissed by VDOT officials.
Brabo has on numerous occasions reminded VDOT officials that the county Board of Supervisors has, in writing, expressed a desire for a safer intersection.
Brabo and others contend that widening the intersection would only serve to increase the distance that turning vehicles have to cross, resulting in the likelihood of increasing ‘angular’ collisions.
In contrast, VDOT officials have stated that their intention for the intersection is to make it safer by improving traffic flow without reducing the speed for commuters. They have stated that the engineering design will allow for increased speed by through-traffic past the intersection.

Phyllis Cook

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