Long, winding road leads to roundabout

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, August 19, 2020

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Progress was made at the Farmville Town Council’s Wednesday, Aug. 12, meeting with regard to the proposed roundabout project located at the intersection of High and Oak streets and Griffin Boulevard. But completion of the project is still projected to be a decade away.

The town council voted 4-3 Wednesday to adopt a resolution authorizing support and the submission of a funding application to the Commonwealth Transportation Board through the bi-annual Smart Scale Program for the 643 (High Street) and Oak Street/Griffin Boulevard Roundabout project.

Voting in favor of adoption of the resolution were Ward E Councilwoman Sallie O. Amos, At-large Councilman Daniel E. Dwyer, At-large Councilman Thomas M. Pairet and Ward B Councilman Brian Vincent. Voting in opposition were Vice Mayor A.D. “Chuckie” Reid, Ward A Councilman Greg Cole and Ward D Councilman Donald L. Hunter.

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Either through email, on the phone or in person, 11 members of the public participated in the public hearing that preceded the council’s vote. Nine of the community members spoke in favor of transforming the intersection into a roundabout, and two spoke in opposition to the proposed project.

Rick Youngblood, Lynchburg District planning manager for the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), gave a brief presentation on the roundabout to the council and answered questions over the phone.

He said the intersection of High, Oak and Griffin is what VDOT calls a PSI intersection — potential for safety improvement. Enough accidents have taken place there that it ranks highly enough to where VDOT was able to go in, do some evaluation and see what type of alternatives are available.

Alluding to the meetings held and planning already done on this project, Youngblood noted VDOT has been able to build on those efforts.

VDOT officials have conducted surveys out of the intersection in question and have had communication with some of the property owners, met with Longwood University representatives, met with the town, and Youngblood added that VDOT knows of some economic development potential that is going on out at the intersection as well.

“Taking all of that information into play, we’ve come up with a conceptual design that supports the various types of issues that are going on out at the location,” he said.

“Should the Town of Farmville be successful in the funding of this (roundabout project), what kind of timeframe are we looking at?” Farmville Mayor David Whitus asked.

Whitus noted the last time the council had this discussion, it was decided it would be five to seven years before the town could expect to see major progress.

“And that still holds true,” Youngblood said. “Our Smart Scale, this particular round, we’re looking at (a) fiscal year start of Fiscal Year 26, so basically August of 2025 would be the start date.”

He said then Farmville would be looking at a six-year timeframe, with construction leaning towards 2030.

Seeking confirmation, Farmville Town Manager Dr. C. Scott Davis stated so in 10 years, people will be driving on the roundabout.

“Unless we get surplus funding through gas tax, and we’re able to accelerate projects,” Youngblood said.