VDOT public hearing in Wirtz

Photo by JASON DUNOVANT

Jay Crumpacker (right), of VDOT, discusses a proposed roundabout at the intersection of Brooks Mill and Burnt Chimney roads with Wirtz resident Mark Allman.

Plans for a roundabout at the intersection of Brooks Mill and Burnt Chimney roads faced opposition at a public hearing hosted by the Virginia Department of Transportation on Aug. 27.

Residents voiced their concerns to VDOT staff members during the public hearing at Burnt Chimney Elementary School. Barbara Lenco questioned why a roundabout was proposed when the four-way stop was seemingly an already effective solution to prevent car crashes at the intersection.

Lenco said the $3.9 million proposed cost for the roundabout should be used for other projects such as repairing potholes or installing guardrails around the county.

“This money could have been better spent in this county than with that,” Lenco told a VDOT staff member following a presentation.

Other residents questioned why VDOT had not focused the same amount of attention to the intersection of Hardy Road and Va.122 where multiple crashes have occurred. “It needs to be a priority,” said Rick Smithers.

VDOT’s current plans to extend the right turn lane onto Hardy Road from Va. 122 and add a left turn lane from Va.122 onto Hardy Road do not go far enough in solving the problem, Smithers said. “A stoplight is needed there.”

Improvements at the intersection of Hardy Road and Va. 122 are scheduled to begin next spring. The $2.4 million project was part of the first round of funding from Virginia’s Smart Scale program in 2015.

The roundabout at the intersection of Brooks Mill and Burnt Chimney roads was part of the second round of Smart Scale funding in 2017. Construction is expected to begin on that project in 2022.

The proposed roundabout will have a 130-foot inscribed diameter, a 15-foot concrete apron and 15-foot travel lanes, according to a project description on the Smart Scale website. Improvements to the approaches of the roundabout will include 11-foot lane widths, 4-foot paved shoulders and accommodations for pedestrians.

The project also will realign the intersection eastward to provide better sight distance for motorists traveling on Burnt Chimney Road.

VDOT spokesman Jason Bond said the roundabout is more effective in reducing the number of conflict points where vehicles can cross paths. It reduces the number of conflict points from 32 at a normal four-way intersection to eight for a roundabout. Bond said the roundabout also improves traffic flow and forces drivers to reduce speeds unlike a stop sign that requires drivers to comply to be effective.

“It provides a more physical barrier,” Bond said.

More than 20 comment sheets were completed by residents at the Aug. 27 hearing. Bond said VDOT will review and evaluate any information received as a result of the hearing.

VDOT will continue to accept comments on the proposed roundabout until Sept. 16.

Comments can be submitted by email to c.cumbie@vdot.virginia.gov.

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