Cumberland Notebook: Supervisors consider traffic problems

Published 10:00 am Friday, March 24, 2023

CUMBERLAND – Route 45 needs some work. So does the area of Route 616 and Route 684 that intersect with it. During their Tuesday, March 14 meeting, members of the Cumberland County Board of Supervisors heard concepts and considered ideas about how to fix the problem.

During the Virginia Department of Transportation update, the discussion focused on the Route 45/616/684 intersection. A safety study was done again after one previously in 2017.

Keith Rider, a traffic engineer from Lynchburg and his assistant Matt Connor presented the findings of this study. Fortunately, there has been a reduction in crashes and a decrease in the severity of crashes since the 2017 study but the intersection is still a problem.

Email newsletter signup

An engineering firm took a look at the intersection from an outside perspective for this study. The firm looked at peak-hour traffic, looking at what is already in place, crash data and operational analysis.

“This is a very unique intersection,” said Rider. “The through movement is on 45, which is the primary route, but based on the peak traffic count data, Cartersville Road has more traffic. So, it makes it a very unique situation.”

Consultant offers Cumberland suggestions

Rider and Hunter announced the recommended actions from this consultant which boiled down to not creating a four-way stop yet but adding more markings and signage. They proposed to install a pavement message on Route 45 southbound and northbound approach with a curved arrow and a “slow” message to let drivers know they are coming to a turn. The markings were suggested for Route 45 as the study showed it had more traffic than the others.

Other changes include changing the first chevron sign in the series to a one-way sign, installing a skip line on the edge line, taking out the route shield and removing some of the embankments to improve the sightline.

Chairman Brian Stanley expressed concern that they are only doing signage and marking and not changing traffic.

“An informational sign is not going to do anything to get traffic under control,” said Stanley. “Trimming the bank is very needed, especially during summer when the grass is three feet high so I applaud you for that. Everything else is cosmetic.”

According to Rider, the next step after the signage would be to investigate the four-way stop option. Stanley suggested skipping the signage as it’s mainly locals who know the traffic pattern and look into the four-way stop.

Derek Stamey, the county administrator, asked about the possibility of adding rumble strips as they do for roundabouts to keep people alert and slow them down.

Supervisor Ronald Tavernier added that the signage is a “shot in the dark” agreeing with Stanley that the locals know that road and don’t need more signs to tell them it’s dangerous.

“Why not do the right thing the first time around?” he asked.

Details from Cumberland library 

Meanwhile, as Library Director Lisa Davis passed away on Tuesday, Feb. 21, Glenn Mozingo gave an update as the chairman of the Board of Trustees for the library.

“The community, and certainly the library, will miss her enthusiasm, her creativity and her hard work,” he said. “Having dug into what she was doing for the last three weeks I don’t know how she did what she did, but she was everywhere all the time advocating for the library in the community.”

During this time, the Library has only had to close one day due to the committed members, employees and members who have pitched in to help fill the gap after Davis’ passing.

Moving forward, the priority is to find a new director. This could be challenging as many areas surrounding Cumberland are also looking for library directors. Fortunately, the Board of Trustees has met with the Library of Virginia who has offered to help with the search.

Going forward, the Cumberland County Public Library will continue to provide services provided historically. However, there won’t be certain programs as Davis personally did a lot of the programs herself.

Data from EMS and fire 

Fire Chief Andy Aigner gave an update on February’s numbers and how the department is saving money on new equipment.

Aigner met with an EMS equipment supplier to help save some money on new gear by buying through other contracts across the commonwealth. The supplier showed two types of gear and that could save the department between $250 to $1,500 a set. They also gave the option of another style of gear for non-entry folks for $800 instead of $3,000.

“We’re constantly trying to evaluate ways to help [the volunteer stations] save money,” said Aigner.

For the call data update, Aigner reported an average of 78 calls with an average response time of 14 mins and 4 seconds across the board. The average on-scene time was 22 minutes which is good since the goal is 20 or under which shows the stations are meeting the requirement. Hospital times increased a bit lately with an average call time of 1 hour 47 minutes and they transported 74% of their calls.

The fire data the board requested at the last meeting reported 23 calls in Cumberland and 11 in Randolph for the month of February. For the year, there were 40 calls for Cumberland and 21 for Randolph.

The hours shown for volunteers when they were available added up to 1,116 total hours of availability for last month, which did not include their on-call times.

Schools detail their achievements 

Superintendent Dr. Chip Jones gave an update on the achievements of the students of Cumberland County Public Schools.

The Future Farmers of America competed in Southeast Area Rally in several areas. Students placed first and second and now moving on to the state level. Students also went to Blacksburg for the 2023 Virginia Tech Block and Bridle Livestock Contest and the high school finished 15th overall in the junior division and 22nd in the senior division.

The high school indoor track team participated in the state competition with one student placing in the 1A/2A 55-meter-hurdle as the runner-up and also earned medals for the 55-meter and 300-meter dash.

“That makes me tired to even think about that,” joked Jones.

The Cumberland County High School Wrestling Teams also competed at the state level. Two of the Lady Dukes participated in the first-ever girls’ wrestling state tournament in Virginia. You can read more about their achievements by clicking here.

The boys’ team also competed at the state level with two placing third and one placing sixth.

The Lady Dukes High School Basketball Team also competed at the Region 1B Tournament and finished their season with an impressive 20-2 record.

Jones also thanked the community and local businesses and organizations that participated in the Cumberland County Public Schools Foundation’s 5K. This year had over 100 participants at High Bridge State Park.