Sponsor:                                                Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

Sharon Grove McCamy, Lee District Supervisor                   November 17, 2003

Staff Lead:                                                                                Department:

Garrett Moore, Resident Engineer                Virginia Department of Transportation

Elizabeth A. Cook, Chief of Planning                             Community Development

Topic: A Resolution to Support and Implement the Findings and Recommendations of the Virginia Department of Transportation Safety Improvement Plan for Crossovers Along U.S. Route 17, 15, 29, & 211 in Fauquier County, Virginia

Topic Description:

At the request of the Fauquier County Transportation Committee, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) initiated an assessment of the existing crossover (median break) locations along Route 29 from the Culpeper to Prince William County lines.  The purpose of the study was to target potential safety improvements and possible closures.  This study provides a detailed review for all crossovers along Route 29, and targets potential safety improvements and possible closures.  VDOT indicates that nationwide studies have successfully shown the importance of four factors when considering median breaks:

1.      Sight Distance:  The traveler along the mainline as well as the occupant of the median break should have clear sight of potential conflicts.  In most cases, this is measured in relationship to the mainline operating speed.  VDOT uses approximately 10 feet for every mile per hour speed.  Simply put, if you are entering a roadway with traffic averaging 60 mph then your minimum length of sight should be no less than 600 feet.

2.      Reaction Time & Breaking:  The amount of time required for the average driver to respond to obstacles in the roadway.

3.      Deceleration and Storage:  This is the amount of lane and taper needed to allow the vehicle leaving the mainline at speed to safely decelerate and negotiate a turn without a rapid stop.  A critically undersized turn lane can lead to vehicles "spilling out" into mainline traffic that presents a hazardous situation.

4.      Separation:  The amount of roadway between two median openings.  This factor carries with it many issues.  For example, the speed, rural or urban environments, growth potential, terrain and access points are included in this consideration.  The sum of all of these issues makes ridged spacing intervals difficult to project.  The American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHTO) recommends preferred spacing of 0.25 to 0.5 mile.

While all the above factors have interrelated considerations, the safe operation of the highway and a desirable level of service are the goals of improvements recommended in VDOT's Safety Improvement Plan for Crossovers.

A component of the Safety Improvement Plan is access management, which is described as follows.  "Access management is the process that provides access to land development while preserving traffic flow for the purpose of enhancing highway safety and capacity.  One component of the access management process involves providing adequate spacing between intersections or median crossovers to allow motorists sufficient time to react to potential conflict locations.  With a good access management plan the flow of traffic can be improved and safety enhanced with less potential for accidents.  The goal of this safety improvement plan for crossovers is to provide a comprehensive and uniform implementation strategy to improve overall safety along the U.S. Route 29 corridor."

Copies of the Virginia Department of Transportation Safety Improvement Plan for Crossovers Along U.S. Route 17, 15, 29, & 211 in Fauquier County, Virginia dated October 30, 2003 may be reviewed at the Warrenton Residency Office of the Virginia Department of Transportation, located at 457 East Shirley Avenue, Warrenton, Virginia.  In addition, a copy of the report is available in the Department of Community Development for review.  The Board of Supervisors has been provided a paper copy of this report.

Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:

Consider adoption of the attached resolution. 

Transportation Committee Recommendation:

On October 29, 2003, the Transportation Committee unanimously recommended approval of the Virginia Department of Transportation Safety Improvement Plan for Crossovers Along U.S. Route 17, 15, 29, & 211 in Fauquier County, Virginia.

Financial Impact Analysis:

VDOT has submitted estimated costs for some of the potential improvements including:

1.      Restricting turning movements through signage with an estimated cost of signage at $400 per median break.

2.      Lengthening or installation of turn lanes with an estimated cost of $15,000 per lane.

3.      Closure of existing crossovers with an estimated cost of $8,000 per closure.

While the report makes recommendations on the priority timing for some of the recommendations, to date no funds have been set aside for these improvements.  Some of the proposed turn lane improvements, identified crossover closures, and median break relocations are included with development plans for current projects, such as the Jamison Farm residential subdivision and the Suffield Meadows continuous care development.  If the Board of Supervisors implements the Plan, staff and VDOT will work with future developers of residential and commercial projects along Route 29 to insure their participation in these recommended safety improvements.

Identify any other Departments, Organizations or Individuals affected by this request:

VDOT, land developers, business owners, the traveling public and the citizens of Fauquier County

*(Copies of the Virginia Department of Transportation Safety Improvement Plan for Crossovers Along U.S. Route 17, 15, 29, & 211 in Fauquier County, Virginia are available in the Fauquier County Board of Supervisorsí office for review upon request.  A printed copy has been provided to each member of the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors.  Due to the size of the document, the memory consumed for Agenda Review, and current computer capabilities we are unable to present the draft on the Board of Supervisors Meeting Agenda Web Page at this time.)