- Published on Wednesday, 20 March 2013 12:06
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Dave Brown, Northern Neck Residency Administrator for VDOT, addressed Colonial Beach Town Council at the March meeting to hear council and public opinion on the need for installing a regular traffic light at the intersection of routes 205 and 628. He also announced a traffic study for the intersection, which is near Hall’s Supermarket.
VDOT has already met with Westmoreland Board of Supervisors and new studies of traffic patterns will begin in June. Brown said the detour for the Tides Mill Bridge closing has changed traffic patterns temporarily and VDOT wants to wait for them to return to normal before conducting the study.
Brown announced that VDOT has recently installed advance warning signs advising of the intersection ahead, the possibility of turning vehicles, and a suggested speed of 45 mph. Posted speed limit at that intersection is 55 mph.
Earlier this year VDOT responded to Jean Staples’ request to replace the flashing beacons with a full traffic light after she was involved in a car accident at that intersection on Dec. 5. The department completed a review and determined the intersection did not meet the criterion for a traffic signal.
During the March meeting council members voiced their opinions. Council members Gary Seeber, Tim Curtin and Wanda Goforth felt a light was not needed but were in favor of lowering the actual speed limit in that section of Route 205.
Tommy Edwards said he was not in favor of a traffic light, but said it would not be a bad idea.
Brubaker said she did notice that the installation of the flashing light, years ago, did help to control speeds at that intersection, but is against a full traffic light. She suggested making the suggested 45 mph speed mandatory and putting in more enforcement.
Chiarello asked what were the costs associated with replacing the flashing beacons with a full traffic signal. Brown gave a rough estimate of $250,000 to $300,000, which would include the replacement of support poles and vehicle detectors.
Seeber said that people who will not obey the signs most likely will not obey the traffic lights.
“You can’t legislate against stupidity!” Seeber added.
Staples, 64, claims she nearly lost her life that December day.
“I was told by the eye witness and insurance adjuster that I was very lucky,” she said.
At the Jan. 10 Colonial Beach Town Council Meeting, Staples asked for the help of council and the citizens of Colonial Beach to join with her in a united community effort to also include the Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors, VDOT, Rescue and Fire personnel and any other concerned group.
On Jan. 14, Brown told Staples in an email that the department had completed a review of conditions at the intersection. Information pertaining to accident history, sight distances and existing traffic control devices were reviewed and evaluated.
The accident history and types of accidents were reviewed to determine if five or more reported crashes, susceptible to correction by a traffic control signal, may have occurred within a 12-month period. It was also determined that drivers stopped on the Route 628 approaches have adequate sight lines of vehicles approaching the intersection from either direction on Route 205. Therefore, no further actions were recommended at this time.
Brown told Staples in his email of VDOT’s intentions to install a “stop ahead” warning sign to warn drivers approaching the intersection of Route 628 from Pomona Road and also said that a larger stop sign will be installed.
In his email Brown also expressed that VDOT recognized there had been some increased traffic due to the Tides Mill Bridge detour and the department would continue to monitor the intersection and address matters accordingly should conditions change.
Staples was not happy with Brown’s response and sent a letter to The Journal expressing her frustration.
Brown said anyone with comments or concerns on this or any other matters can access contact information for VDOT at www.vdot.virginia.gov/info/contactus.asp.
VDOT discussed the situation with the Westmoreland Board of Supervisors on March 11 and listened to public comments. VDOT representative Dave Brown said the state is studying the situation to decide what, if anything, might be done. His comments were not well received by Staples, who said she believes “VDOT is stalling on the issue.”
Currently, the speed limit through the area is 55 miles per hour and with a caution light for traffic on Route 205 and red flashing lights, along with stop signs, for traffic on Route 628. “A caution light is awful close to useless in this day and age,” said Westmoreland Supervisor W.W. Hynson.
At the March 11 meeting, most of the supervisors appeared to agree with Stapes about the need for the light, which would be the county’s fifth, and for reducing the speed limit through the intersection to 45 miles per hour, or even 35 miles per hour.
In a letter this week to Fredericksburg District VDOT Administrator Quinton D. Elliott, Staples said, “That accident nearly took my life. I have been working very hard to get that stop light put into place. You have the authority to move this project forward, and yet you have remained silent. Why?”
Staples said the intersection has been a problem for more than 40 years. She said she was fortunate to survive the accident and now she is determined to making sure than other drivers are not injured or killed at the dangerous intersection.