James City County and Virginia Department of Transportation officials are taking another look at ways to improve a stretch of John Tyler Highway between Greensprings and Centerville roads.
Potential safety improvement pitches include intersection realignment or the construction of a roundabout in the area — which has seen its share of car crashes. In four-and-a-half months, VDOT expects to deliver safety improvement options, along with cost estimates, to the Board of Supervisors, residency administrator Rossie Carroll said.
“We’ll hit roadblocks as we go. At this point in the game, we’re trying to look at alternatives, trying to come up with good solutions, trying to get input to move forward,” Carroll said.
Carroll spoke to a few dozen residents inside the auditorium at Jamestown High School last week. The school is a stone’s throw from the roadway, which has given residents and officials grief for years.
An average of 8,000 vehicles travel John Tyler Highway between Centerville and Ironbound roads in 2017, which is east of the intersections under review, according to the latest data available from VDOT.
VDOT doesn’t provide a statistic for average daily traffic specifically for the section of John Tyler Highway that includes its intersections with Greensprings and Centerville roads. Greensprings and Centerville roads closely intersect John Tyler Highway.
There was a daily average of 5,200 vehicles on Centerville Road between Jolly Pond Road and John Tyler Highway in 2017. Another 3,100 vehicles drove Greensprings Road on average every day from John Tyler Highway to 4-H Club Road.
There have been 18 car crashes at John Tyler Highway’s intersection with Centerville Road from 2014 to 2018. Just up the road, there have been six car crashes at the John Tyler Highway and Centerville Road intersection. Seven of the crashes resulted in injuries, though there were no fatalities, according to an online Department of Motor Vehicles database.
“This intersection bothers me everyday that I see it,” Supervisor Ruth Larson said at the meeting. “I worry. I worry about all of you. I worry about the people who travel it. And I especially worry about our young people who are going to Jamestown High School because they travel it a lot.”
The county and VDOT completed a roadway safety analysis in 2015. The document, which recorded traffic patterns, traffic speed and provided safety improvement recommendations, is a springboard for an additional VDOT analysis that will expand on the recommendations offered in 2015, VDOT spokeswoman Brittany McBride Nichols said in an email.
VDOT has implemented short-term fixes as per the study, adopting a phased approach to determining what does and doesn’t work before trying more involved solutions. VDOT has done shoulder repairs, cleared brush and installed rumble strips. The rumble strips were removed at the county’s request and replaced by signs with flashing lights to alert drivers to the upcoming intersection.
“VDOT is continuing to monitor these improvements and moving forward with developing additional safety measures over the coming months,” Nichols said.
Carroll said the two biggest potential fixes — both mentioned in the 2015 document — would be either a road realignment or a roundabout.
Given their proximity, Greensprings Road could be realigned with Centerville Road to create a single four-way intersection.
That would be expensive. And land acquisition is a hurdle. The National Parks Service owns land that fronts the north edge of that section of John Tyler Highway, and the agency hasn’t been keen on the idea of giving up its land for a potential project, Carroll said. The county owns a parcel of land at the proposed intersection on the south side of John Tyler Highway.
A roundabout could also be a solution, though it comes with the same concerns about land acquisition and cost. A few people in the audience shook their head in disapproval when Carroll mentioned the roundabout.
“You cannot dispute the fact that roundabouts are safer than conventional four-way intersections,” Carroll said. “I know we all have different opinions on roundabouts and that’s fine.”
Jack Jacobs, 757-298-6007, email@example.com, @jajacobs_