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VDOT to modify Food Lion intersection

No traffic signal warranted

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by Tom Chillemi

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has funded $1 million to modify the intersection of Route 17 and Route 17 Business North, said Sean Trapani, residency administrator for VDOT’s Saluda office. The intersection is in front of Food Lion in Saluda.

The project will be funded through a program designated to enhance safety, said Trapani. He explained that a 3-year review of traffic crash data gathered by VDOT found there were 12 reported crashes at the intersection between 2009 and 2011 that resulted in injuries and/or property damage greater than $1,500. There were three crashes in 2009, five in 2010 and 4 in 2011.

The proposed traffic pattern would use the north entrance to Food Lion, and the existing primary entrance, said Trapani. Motorists on Route 17 Business would no longer be able to drive straight across Route 17 into Food Lion via the existing primary entrance.

VDOT’s plan is to have all traffic that is leaving Saluda on Business Route 17 turn right onto Route 17. Those who want to enter Food Lion would immediately merge into the left lane and then into the proposed left turn lane at the proposed new crossover. This median crossover would be for entering only, he explained. Motorists would enter through the existing north entrance to Food Lion (see diagram).

Motorists leaving the north entrance of Food Lion who want to go to Saluda, would turn right onto Route 17 (south), merge into the left lane, and then into the left turn lane leading to the intersection of Route 17 Business, where they could turn left and proceed to Saluda.

Vehicles approaching from the south could still turn left from Route 17 at the current intersection. Raised curbing in the median of the intersection would funnel traffic to the correct place.

Motorists coming from Saluda who want to go south on Route 17 would first turn right and then make a U-turn at the proposed turn lane and median crossover. Current counts indicate there are only approximately 8 vehicles daily on Route 17 Business that turn south onto Route 17, said Trapani.

The project is still in the design phase, he noted, and new stormwater regulations that went into effect on July 1 will have to be incorporated, Trapani said.

The project is being accelerated. While the state’s transportation budget has the project scheduled for construction in 2015, VDOT will take steps to accelerate the project to begin in 2014, if possible, Trapani explained. “The project does not require the acquisition of any right-of-way, which may allow the project’s preliminary work to move more quickly than a project requiring VDOT to buy property,” he said.

Citizens will be able to give their input at public information meetings that could be held in late August or early September, he added.

For the past several years local citizens have voiced concern over the safety of the current intersection, and some have called for a traffic signal to be installed there.

However, Trapani said the intersection does not meet federal standards for a traffic signal. “It is also felt that a signal in this location would provide a false sense of security to motorists at the intersection,” he added. “The area is mostly rural and Route 17 traffic would not expect a signal to be present.”

Another project in the 2012 six-year plan includes a right-turn lane from northbound Route 17 onto Town Bridge Road. The right-turn lane, which will be about 350 feet long, will not be funded until 2014, said Trapani. VDOT has the necessary right-of-way.

posted 07.24.2013

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