PRINCE EDWARD – Work on the new Route 786 south of Farmville is progressing and the new alternate to Route 628 could be finished as soon as November.
“Adjustments in the existing traffic patterns could possibly maximize the benefits of the new Route 786,” County Administrator Wade Bartlett advised at the August board of supervisors meeting. “With the completion of this project in as soon as three months, it's time to talk about various alternatives.”
That talk will begin with a newly-appointed committee, which are expected to weigh possible options and pros and cons. As recommended by Board Chairman William “Buckie” Fore, that committee will include supervisors Howard Simpson (who represents the district that includes the road) and Don Gantt, and School Board Chairman Russell Dove, Division Superintendent Dr. David Smith, Bartlett, and representatives from the Virginia Department of Transportation (which will include Residency Administrator Kevin Wright and District Traffic Engineer Gerry Harter).
The new road, connecting to U.S. Route 15 just south of the intersection with Route 648, is located across from the County's business park and would provide an alternate for traffic that currently flows through the County's school complex. The primary purpose of the road, Bartlett detailed, is to ease the traffic pressures on Route 628 and the intersection of U.S. Route 15 and 628.
As for the process, VDOT Residency Administrator Kevin Wright explained that it is still a state maintained road, “But we really like the idea of what you're talking about here as far as getting a committee together to look at some of the possibilities. Sometimes we and our traffic engineers don't know all the ins and outs of what happens out there on a road on a given day. So being able to get some information to make a educated and informed decision will be great for us and we really appreciate the input from this.”
Wright would further add that they will gather the information and do some studies of their own.
“We can actually look at some traffic patterns, maybe do some counts, look at turning movements and try to come up with also some information that may help make a decision,” Wright said. “Once the recommendation goes to the board and the board so makes that recommendation to us, then VDOT-myself and Gerry Harter-he will actually make the recommendation to me for my approval, and also through the district administrator. So we're getting a lot of input that will help us to make a decision. But, just to let you know, as long as it is a state road, it will be VDOT that does make the final decision on what is the safest and most efficient.”
Exactly what form a recommendation takes and, ultimately, how the traffic patterns through the area will shape out will take time-though not likely too much with the new road nearing service.
Bartlett also told The Herald, “We've had discussions with VDOT in the past and they understand the impact that the congestion has onto (Route) 15, all the way down to ramps onto 460. So they're gonna look at how the new road could help alleviate that.”
The committee is expected to look to the number of vehicles that go to the area in the morning and afternoon, how they feed onto the existing Route 628 and how best the new road can be used to help transition vehicles off of Route 460 without backing up onto Route 15.
It's also expected that they will also look to the impact on others using the existing Route 628 as well.
The committee is also expected to look at traffic counts, accidents (including those on Route 15), the added paved distance between Route 460 and the new entrance on Route 15, how children cross the existing Route 628, and how buses load and unload children.