The new Broomley Road Bridge project is coming up fast. The current timeline is for the project to post for bids in December, with work set to begin in mid-May, the bridge re-opening six months later and all construction finished in eight months.
Several of us from the Flordon neighborhood asked for a meeting with Diantha McKeel (our Board of Supervisors rep) and Joel DeNunzio (VDOT rep) to discuss the details.
Below you’ll find the key issues discussed, our questions and the VDOT responses:
- Timeline – We’ve heard timeframes that are all over the map (6 months, 8 months and a recent email thread from a local business saying it would be a year). At our meeting Joel shared that it is a total of 8 months with the road opening approximately 6 months after they begin. Initially he said the project would begin mid-April, but subsequent to our meeting he sent the following update:
At the meeting last week I told you that the start date is early April, the completion date is late October but the traffic should be restored in September. Today I received an e-mail from the project manager and it looks like the whole schedule may get slightly shifted to start the bridge closure around mid-May and have traffic restored around late October with completion in November. It’s the same amount of time only shifted due to the agreement we need to have with the railroad. I think what is important is that we keep the summer months in the timeframe and also ensure that the project only lasts one construction season.
One of the reasons VDOT chose this schedule was to insure it spanned the summer to reduce the number of months of downtime for school bus transportation.
- Detour – VDOT intends to route Flordon traffic West along Old Ballard to Owensville. For those heading into town they are suggesting the traffic take a left at the intersection of Old Ballard and Owensville. This feeds the traffic into the intersection of Owensville, 250 and Morgantown road just west of the railroad overpass.
We expressed concerns with adding substantial traffic to intersections that are already overloaded (Owensville/Old Ballard and 250/Owensville). To avoid this traffic, a lot of commuters will cut through West Leigh adding heavy traffic to their private neighborhood.
We shared the following suggestions for alleviating traffic bottlenecks:
Graded Railroad crossing just west of Flordon along Old Ballard Road – This would give those living in Flordon and along Old Ballard a place to cross the railroad and access to 250. Joel expressed safety concerns during our meeting, but researched the viability after the meeting. Here is his post-meeting response:
I have been reviewing the request for a railroad at grade crossing west on Old Ballard Road. I have had some conversations about this request and in addition to my concerns about safety, there are other factors that make a crossing not feasible. First, it is unlikely that the railroad would even consider permitting this crossing for the same reasons of safety. In addition, it is against the Commonwealth Transportation Board’s policy and the code of Virginia to construct new at grade railroad crossings and it encourages the closure of certain at grade railroad crossings. I understand the concern about the detour and the additional driving time to the residents but I do not believe that an at-grade railroad crossing is a safe alternative nor do I think we would get the approval from the railroad for a temporary condition based on the detour route.
Temporary traffic signal at intersection of Owensville and 250 – Joel explained that the initial traffic studies did not warrant a temporary signal at this intersection, and that when they do traffic studies they take into account how many rear-end accidents will take place by adding a temporary signal to a road that has not previously had a signal. They weigh this against the number of anticipated accidents that will result if no signal is added and they feed traffic into existing traffic patterns. In this case, there are concerns that the temporary signal would introduce more rear-end accidents than it would save in accidents from incoming traffic accessing 250 from Owensville. Joel committed to raising this post-meeting. Here is his latest response:
I have discussed the concern about a traffic signal with our traffic engineering section. The study was performed and as we discussed last week, a signal is not warranted at Route 250 and Owensville Road. My concern is that our study is based on projections of the traffic that will be sent to the intersections and we actually don’t know exactly the situation until the detour is in place. This is the case for all traffic projections and usually the traffic engineers do a good job at the projections. At this time we are not planning on a temporary signal but we will monitor the traffic when the detour goes into effect and I think the best way to address the concern if we do have more traffic than projected or other unforeseen problems is for VDOT to hire an off duty traffic control officer to control traffic in the morning peak hour. We will only need to do this if traffic is worse than expected.
Clearing obstructions at the intersection of Old Ballard and Owensville –This intersection can be dangerous when trying to take a left on Owensville due to the curve in the road and overgrown vegetation. Joel committed to reviewing this intersection. Here is his latest response:
We are currently reviewing the sight distance at the intersection of Owensville Road and Old Ballard Road. We will identify clearing of vegetation and what is on or off the right of way. We will contact the property owners if needed to ask for a right of entry to clear vegetation in the sight lines.
Intersection of Broomley and Old Ballard – This confluence of traffic is currently a bottleneck as we all take turns sharing a single lane bridge. We asked how the traffic at this intersection (on our side of the bridge) will work after the bridge is finished. Joel researched post-meeting and sent the following response:
The new intersection at Broomley and Old Ballard Road will be a three way stop condition. Attached is the traffic control plan sheet that shows the configuration (Note: Click Here to see the plan Joel sent).
As we get further along in the process, and we have updates to share, they will be posted to this site. In the interim, if you have concerns or questions please post them in the comments section of this post.