Finally, a smart approach on Route 460

Published 9:33 pm Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Now that the Virginia Department of Transportation has been stymied in its silly efforts to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on either of two unwanted and unnecessary plans to upgrade Route 460, the state agency is finally doing what it should have done from the start: looking at ways to improve safety in the areas of that road that have proven to be most dangerous in recent years.

VDOT officials met with area residents in Windsor last week to get feedback on a series of intersections and segments of the highway where a high number of accidents have occurred. The goal is to collect enough supporting information for Suffolk and Isle of Wight to use to seek various improvements and safety enhancements at some or all of 14 identified “hot spots” in the corridor between the Route 58 interchange and the town of Windsor.

The areas VDOT has identified as needing some sort of intervention include Northfield Drive, Robs Drive, Kings Fork Road, Lake Prince Drive, Prudence Road, 1,200 feet east of Gardner Lane, Gardner Lane, Old Myrtle Road, 2,200 feet west of Old Myrtle Road, 1,750 feet east of Ennis Mill Road, 1,000 feet east of Old Suffolk Road, Lovers Lane; Church Street, Bank Street, Windsor Boulevard and Court Street as one area; and Prince Boulevard (Route 258).

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During the officials’ presentation in Windsor on Thursday, they showed sketches of the areas in question that included representations of the accidents that had been recorded in each area, along with information about property damage, injuries or fatalities, as well as the types of crashes that had occurred.

When the assessments are complete, VDOT will make recommendations for mitigating measures. Some of those measures — improved signage and road markings, for instance — will be simple fixes that VDOT can undertake on its own. Others will require Suffolk or Isle of Wight to submit plans for turn lanes or other fixes to the Smart Scale program for approval and funding.

“We’re concentrating on the sections outside of (Windsor) where the crashes have resulted in the most injuries so we can get the most bang for our buck,” said Jerry Pauley, transportation planning engineer for VDOT’s Hampton Roads District.

That’s precisely the place the agency should have started years ago.