JAMES CITY – New signals, a roundabout and even a partial realignment were all included in a mix of possible changes to Longhill Road posed at a public meeting Thursday night.
The session was the third in a series of public workshops held by roads consultant Kimley-Horn & Associates, which has been hired to study the corridor and to recommend a design.
“We clearly are not doing this in a vacuum,” Kimley-Horn Vice President Stephen Stansbery told the crowd of about 40 people assembled at Lafayette High School. “What we’ve created together is a strategy…
“What you see tonight is not what is going to be built.”
But the county has been gathering feedback for months about what residents and businesses do and don’t want to see along the three-mile stretch between Route 199 and Centerville Road.
In response, Kimley-Horn presented a rough plan Thursday that included new signals at Ford’s Colony, Warhill Trail, Season’s Trace and Lafayette Boulevard.
A new roundabout at Williamsburg Plantation would slow traffic down while improving safety at Wellspring United Methodist Church and King of Glory Lutheran Church, an area prone to accidents, he said.
Rather than proposing a uniformly four-lane, divided highway, the designers also tried to respond to community concerns about overbuilding, he said.
As a result, the presentation Thursday proposed a three-lane option from Centerville to Ford’s Colony. The road there would have one lane each way, with a center turn lane making the third lane. A paved multi-use trail would run along the south, with a sidewalk to the north. There was also discussion of realigning part of Longhill near Centerville.
From Ford’s Colony to Route 199, the road would widen to four lanes with a landscaped center median. The multi-use trail in that section would run along the north side, with the sidewalk to the south.
Kimley-Horn has also proposed a number of dedicated areas for left turns to improve access to Lafayette High School as well as to many neighborhoods.
The changes start to address what residents and businesses have rated as their top three concerns: Cyclist and pedestrian safety, traffic safety and congestion relief.
Already the road has dropped to an “F” on VDOT’s service grading scale for people traveling west at peak evening hours, and it’s at a “D” going east. During peak morning hours, both directions rate a “C.”
The presentation Thursday responded to input gathered since the fall as well as a public session held the night before. Among other opinions, people have responded that they don’t want roundabouts at Centerville, Seasons Trace or Williamsburg West, nor do they want sidewalks scrapped in favor of multi-use trails, he said. On the other hand, they did support an intersection at Glenburnie Road , street lights, prominent crosswalks and a signal at Warhill Trail.
Kimley-Horn continued to gather input Thursday night, providing colored markers to people and encouraging them to make comments and suggestions on the printed plans.
“This isn’t my plan,” Stansbery said. “This is a plan you helped create.”
Neither did Thursday represent the last chance to offer opinion. Another public meeting will be held in May to consider Kimley-Horn’s draft recommendations, said James City senior planner Ellen Cook. From there, the consultant will present the final draft to both the Planning Commission as well as the Board of Supervisors.
More – Find project information, including maps, documents and contact information at www.longhillroadcorridorstudy.com.