U.S. 220 map

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U.S. 220 north through Virginia from the North Carolina line to Roanoke.

The Virginia Department of Transportation has started working on its master plan for a 60-mile section of U.S. 220.

VDOT officials call it the “Route 220 Preservation and Improvement Plan,” and they want input on what that plan should say.

Three public meetings have been scheduled, including a session Nov. 13 at the Essig Center in Rocky Mount, which will follow with a similar event Nov. 14 in Henry County.

VDOT’s announcement said the study is designed to help the counties and cities involved identify strategies “to preserve capacity, enhance safety and support future growth” between the North Carolina border and Virginia 419 in Roanoke.

That would imply that perhaps the proposed construction of the U.S. 220 Southern Connector, a currently defined 7.4-mile path from roughly the North Carolina line to the U.S. 58/220 bypass, would be part of this discussion. But that would be incorrect.

“This is a completely separate study,” VDOT spokesperson Jason Bond said. “This study looks at safety and operational improvements.

“What we are presenting [at these public meetings] would be some concepts of things that we could do along intersections throughout the corridor.”

VDOT’s release said ideas include “preliminary design concepts to enhance mainline traffic flow and improve safety.” Examples listed were restricting median crossovers, something described as “minor intersection turning movements” and improving the operations of traffic signals.

Bond explained that there could be a minor intersection along the route that stymies traffic flow because it has a traffic signal that requires a complete rotation to clear pathways. He said to think of how long it takes for four directions and turning lanes to execute a signal’s sequence and multiply that by the volume of vehicles that travel U.S. 220.

“We would look at alternative intersection design concepts,” Bond said. “There could be a cut-through that is eliminating through movement of traffic. We could eliminate phases of a signal to help with mainline traffic flow and cut down wait times at signals.”

He said these public discussions will be looking at “different ways to manage traffic along the corridor” all the way to Roanoke.

The Nov. 13 public input session will be from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Essig Recreation Center at 295 Technology Drive.

This session, like the previous public event on the Southern Connector, will be interactive, with about 30 minutes of formal presentation to start the meeting before the attendees can review maps and other documents and ask questions of the representatives in an open house format.

Residents also can submit written comments at the meeting, by mail to Michael Gray, 731 Harrison Ave., Salem, VA 24153 or email Michael.Gray@vdot.virginia.gov.

Reference “Route 220 Preservation and Improvement Plan” in the subject heading. The deadline for written comments is Nov. 29.

Other meetings scheduled include:

Roanoke: Nov. 7, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., at Clearbrook Elementary School, 5205 Franklin Road.

Martinsville: Nov. 14, 4:30-6:30 p.m., at the Henry County Administration Building, 3300 Kings Mountain Road.

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