• 61°

Route 20 project discussed

Members of the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors and area representatives of Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) met to discuss upcoming work on Route 20 in Buckingham.

VDOT Resident Engineer Scot Shippee gave members of the board details regarding the upcoming construction project. He said the purpose of the discussion was to have a Q and A session.

Donnie Bryan

Resident Engineer Carrie Shepheard and Lynchburg VDOT Representative Matthew Connor attended the discussion.

Shippee said, referencing a VDOT press release written Dec. 5, that VDOT had identified $5 million for safety improvement measures along Route 20.

He said construction could being by March 2018.

“In the past five years, from September 2012 to August of this year, there have been a total of 160 crashes in the 19-mile stretch of Route 20,” Shippee read during the meeting “60 of those were identified as roadway departure crashes.”

He noted that these sort of crashes include head-on crashes, side swiping, crashes coming from vehicles going opposite directions, non-collision and fixed object off-road crashes.

“There have been a total of nine fatals during that five-year period on Route 20,” Shippee said. “And eight of those were classified as roadway departure crashes. So we identified a problem with that particular type of crash on Route 20.”

Shippee said the purpose of the roadwork would be; “in an effort to systematically reduce the frequency and severity of these roadway departure crashes on the Route 20 corridor.”

Shippee said the project is being paid by highway safety improvement funds.

He said the projects would include widening shoulders along Route 20, mentioning that 80 percent of the route would be able to get a 2-foot wide paved shoulder. New center-line raised pavement markers with reflectors, six-inch edge lines, upgrading guard rails and installing sinusoidal strips, or rumble strips. Describing the rumble strips, Shippee said the strips would allow the noise to be audible from within the vehicle, but less audible outside of the vehicle. He said when comparing the decibel of typical rumble strips with the sinusoidal strips, that the typical rumble strips by vehicles driving 55 miles per hour was 81 decibels. The sinusoidal strips, he called by a nickname “mumble strips,” were only 70 decibels. Typical conversation, he said, is roughly 60 decibels.

District Two Supervisor Donnie Bryan asked about the potential setbacks the project could have on area traffic.

“How is this going to affect the traffic flow?” Bryan said. “Because we have a lot of citizens who go back and forth to Charlottesville. I guess that will be the big question. When is the construction going to be done?”

Shippee said the construction would most likely be done with single lane closure, meaning there may be some flagging operations taking place. He said the construction would take place during daylight hours of construction season.

“We’ll try our best to mitigate any possible issues with traffic flow,” Shippee said. “It’s actually pretty aggressive scheduling to get the entire 20 miles done within the 2018 construction season.”

Bryan asked how far the project would approach the county.

Shippee responded that the project would travel through the entire length of Buckingham County.