The Virginia Department of Transportation is holding an open house Jan. 23 to present plans to construct a roundabout to improve safety at the intersection of Virginia 122 and Hardy Road.
The meeting will be at Burnt Chimney Elementary School from 5 to 7 p.m. and will provide an opportunity for residents and organizations to provide input on the proposed project. VDOT staff will be available to answer questions and take comments.
The roundabout is a change from the original proposal to improve safety at the intersection. The improvements, which were scheduled to begin this spring, included a new northbound left turn lane and lengthening the southbound turn lane on Virginia 122, as well as widening the road’s shoulders.
“This will be a substantial change to the project,” said Jason Bond, VDOT spokesman.
The changes were proposed following a fatal crash in August that led VDOT to reexamine the intersection. The fatal crash occurred when a driver traveling east on Hardy Road failed to yield the right of way at the intersection of Virginia 122. The driver was struck by a vehicle on Virginia 122 and died at the scene, according to Virginia State Police.
VDOT made several improvements to the intersection in the weeks after the crash. Larger stop signs were installed with reflective strips on Hardy Road and rumble strips were placed on the roads near the intersection to warn drivers.
Bond said crash patterns at the intersection in the past were predominately rear-end crashes, which the previously proposed improvements would best address. During reexamination of the intersection following the fatal crash, Bond said angled crash patterns required a new plan for improvements.
A traffic signal had been considered for the intersection; however, Bond said a roundabout will reduce the number of points where vehicles can cross paths and can minimize the potential for right-angle and head-on crashes because all movements are right turns. Roundabouts are also designed to be yield-controlled, which means fewer stops, less delay and shorter queues for improved efficiency compared to a traffic signal.
The original cost for improvements at the intersection was $2.8 million that would be funded by Virginia’s Smart Scale program. Franklin County had applied for funding for improvements at the intersection in 2015. Bond said constructing a roundabout at the intersection would increase the cost of the project by $1.5 to $2 million.
VDOT is expected to bring the new proposal to the Commonwealth Transportation Board, which oversees funding of state transportation projects, in March. If approved, construction could begin on the roundabout as early as the spring of 2021.