By JASON DUNOVANT
The Virginia Department of Transportation is considering additional improvements to the intersection of Hardy Road and Virginia 122 following a fatal crash in August. A roundabout is now being proposed to slow down motorists and improve overall safety.
Several smaller improvements to the intersection were scheduled this spring before VDOT proposed the roundabout. The improvements included a new northbound left turn lane and lengthening the southbound turn lane on Virginia 122, as well as widening the road’s shoulders.
Jason Bond, VDOT spokesman, said the previously scheduled improvements addressed the predominate crash pattern at the time, which was rear-end crashes. In light of the most recent fatal crash in August, Bond said VDOT reexamined the crash pattern and found that it had changed to an angled crash pattern.
“The fatal crash prompted that they take another look at this intersection,” Bond said.
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 state police reports.
A month after the fatal crash, Bond said VDOT made several improvements to the intersection. 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.
A traffic light was originally considered for the intersection before deciding on a roundabout. Bond said a roundabout would allow traffic to continue moving at the intersection and would require less maintenance than a traffic signal. The roundabout also reduces the number of conflict points between vehicles and forces drivers to reduce speeds.
The original cost for improvements at the intersection was $2.8 million that would be funded by Virginia’s Smart Scale program. Franklin County applied for funding for improvements at the intersection back in 2015.
Bond said constructing a roundabout at the intersection would increase the cost of the project by $1.5 million to $2 million. VDOT is expected to bring the new proposal to the Commonwealth Transportation Board for funding in March. The board oversees transportation projects in the state.
If approved, construction could begin on the roundabout as early as the spring of 2021. Bond said plans for the project have not been finalized, and it is currently unknown how traffic will be impacted during construction.
VDOT expects to hold a public meeting on the proposed roundabout sometime in January.