The intersection by the Ebb and Flow shop in Faber has officially been approved for an improvement project, which will unfold over the next 10 years.
The Commonwealth Transportation Board approved eight intersection improvement projects in the Lynchburg District at its meeting in June as part of the fiscal year 2020-2025 Six-Year Improvement Plan. In this approved SYIP, the intersection of Virginia 6 — River Road — and U.S. 29 in Nelson County received $2.7 million for intersection improvement.
Nelson County Administrator Steve Carter said he had a good feeling it was going to be funded in this round of applications, but due to the number of projects considered and amount of money each project costs, it’s never guaranteed. Carter said this intersection improvement project, which totals $2,725,677, will be a big change.
“It will be a lot safer for the public and residents of Nelson County,” Carter said.
The intersection will receive funding through the Commonwealth’s Smart Scale program. Smart Scale is a scoring system to help the state determine which transportation projects the commonwealth should fund. Nelson County is part of the Lynchburg District, which includes the city of Lynchburg, the counties of Amherst, Appomattox, Buckingham, Campbell, Charlotte, Cumberland, Nelson, Pittsylvania, and Prince Edward as well as the town of Halifax.
Carter credits Rick Youngblood, Lynchburg District planner, and others in Lynchburg District, for making this funding approval possible.
On July 8, Youngblood said the money was approved, but Nelson residents and passers-by won’t see any change for at least the four to five years.
“The way the applications are processed we potentially won’t see anything until 2023 or 2024. That will be the initial design phase,” Youngblood said.
Youngblood said that the RCUT design that will be implemented at the intersection, while new, is the safest option for intersection improvement. RCUT — or restricted crossing U-turn — is an intersection design that restricts left turns at an intersection, but allows the same movement downstream via a u-turn.
Youngblood said due to the type of accidents that frequently happen at the intersection, an RCUT design would prove more beneficial than installing traffic signals.
“An RCUT greatly reduces the conflict points for the type of accidents at the intersection and requires safer U-turn movement down stream. People have different options for safer turns,” Youngblood said.
According to a VDOT traffic study conducted in 2017, the intersection of U.S. 29 and Virginia 6 saw an annual average daily traffic count of 13,000 vehicles. Of the 13,000 vehicles, 12,000 were recorded traffic on Monday through Thursday. Vehicles with four tires made up 89 percent of the traffic, buses made up one percent, and trucks of various sizes made up the remaining traffic.
In 2016, the intersection of U.S. 29 and Virginia 6 saw an annual average daily traffic count of 14,000 vehicles with about the same percentage of vehicles making up the traffic.
The Lynchburg District has been allocated over $343 million total in project funding in the SYIP. Amherst County was allocated $3.3 million in funding for the intersection of U.S. 29, North Amherst Highway at Route 151, Patrick Henry Highway. Youngblood said this intersection is similar to the one in Nelson and an RCUT design will also be implemented there.
With funding allocated, the jurisdictions will go through the standard VDOT design and approval process over the next few years. After everything is approved, the public will have the chance to speak at required public hearings in each jurisdiction to give their feedback on the intersection improvement plan. Youngblood said this will happen closer to 2023 and 2024.
“This is one of the most valuable options for the general public to have input and a say in what we do,” Youngblood said.