I moved to the Oakland community earlier this year. Having worked in Fairfax County for 30 years, I chose the Norge/Toano area because of the rural environment with the advantage of being close to the amenities of Williamsburg. I was not aware of the proposal to rezone two parcels of agricultural land adjacent to Oakland to allow for high-density apartments until after I moved.
I have several significant concerns regarding traffic safety.
First is the intersection of Oakland Road and Route 60. The Oakland neighborhood was developed in the early 80s and the intersection was more capable of handling traffic than it is now.
From the stop sign at the end of Oakland Drive at Route 60:
(1) Visibility to the left — the lanes coming from Toano — is reduced due to a hill and dip as well as shadows on the road.
(2) To turn from Oakland Drive to go toward Toano, a driver’s ability to see traffic headed westbound is zero. In fact, one must proceed into the crossover and sneak a peek to the right back toward Norge to determine whether there is any traffic coming westbound. And to make matters worse, if a car headed westbound on Route 60 intends to turn left into the crossover to get into Oakland, that driver has zero visibility of cars coming out of Oakland into the crossover.
In the short time I have lived here I have had several close calls just due to this design deficiency.
(3) The households in the proposed apartments will quadruple the volume of traffic exiting Oakland Drive onto Route 60.
(4a) Another deficiency of the crossover is that the distance between eastbound and westbound lanes of Route 60 is only big enough for two cars or one truck or one small truck with trailer in tow.
(4b) Any additional cars intending to turn left into Oakland Drive from westbound Route 60 have to stop in the travel lanes of westbound Route 60. There is no deceleration turn lane, so they are stuck blocking traffic on Route 60 in front of other vehicles, which are accelerating away from the traffic light at Croaker Road.
(5) To make matters worse, visibility from the crossover down Route 60 eastbound lanes, looking toward Toano is extremely limited. This is much worse in the summer when the vegetation in the median is two to three feet high.
So, a driver heading westbound on Route 60, wishing to turn left onto Oakland must be aware of cars coming up behind him as he slows (in the main traffic lane), must be aware of cars coming out of Oakland Drive where neither of the drivers have any way of seeing each other; and he must yield to the eastbound traffic on Route 60. A driver also must hope and pray that another vehicle traveling eastbound does not try to use the crossover to make a U-turn.
This is a lot of vital information to process in just a few seconds.
This intersection is dangerous now, and the significant increase in volume of traffic will certainly make it worse. The developer includes in their plan a 100’ long taper lane westbound Route 60 to Oakland Drive. The resulting narrower median strip will certainly restrict the number of cars that can occupy the already dangerously cramped crossover.
Don’t be fooled by two-dimensional charts and pictures. This is a three-dimensional problem. There are hills and valleys and curves and shaded areas, as well as trees and tall summer grass that restrict visibility. I strongly urge the supervisors to go look at the intersections from all angles, particularly at night and during high volume traffic.
Robert F McLain
James City County