Work continues on Route 307, as VDOT addresses traffic issues

Published 8:21 am Tuesday, June 20, 2023

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RICE – The accidents keep happening on Route 307, especially at the intersection with Route 460. The good news is that Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) officials say the changes they’re making will solve the problem.

Scott Frederick, the district’s Virginia Department of Transportation resident engineer, updated the Prince Edward Board of Supervisors last week on the changes made and planned for the intersection. 

The recent changes to the 460 and 307 intersections included putting a turning lane on 460 West where it formally dropped off causing many drivers to hit the concrete island or quickly change lanes and cause an accident. There is now one lane approaching the intersection and there is a right turn lane to go to 307 East.

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“That should eliminate any crashes where we were having road departures for divers who had been not paying attention and hit those islands,” said Frederick. “There were a lot of skid marks on those islands.”

Before this project, about two and a half years ago there were a lot of rear-end collisions and, Fredrick estimated, around 20 or more of these collisions in those two years. Then there were 20 or so more crashes after work was done that were road departures or angle crashes. Then in the middle of doing this most recent project, there were three crashes that occurred. Now that this work is finished, the hope is that it will help with these road departure accidents.

 Speed limit changes

One change that many, including the sheriff’s office and the county, recommended was reducing the speed limit. Even though that hasn’t happened yet it is not off the table. According to Fredrick, right now VDOT is working on getting the 85th percentile speed, which is the speed that 85% of the traffic is going at that speed or lower. Once they have that information, they will make the speed limit within five miles of that speed to get the best compliance. Right now it’s still 60 miles per hour as the fear is if they make speed too slow could create a new crash pattern.

“They’re watching it extremely closely, and have a lot of focus on it right now,” said Fredrick. “By next month we should have a more solid feel on what we are going to do with the speed limit.”

Vice-Chair Patty Cooper-Jones commented that she knows the intersection is dangerous so she always slows down to watch what others are doing. Chair Llewellen Gilliam Jr. also mentioned going 45 miles per hour in that intersection. According to Fredrick, if enough people slow down like this then that will help with the 85th percentile study to reduce the speed limit in the intersection. 

Other changes

According to Fredrick, VDOT has looked at and is planning to implement dynamic flashers, like the ones in the Prospect area, for when a car is detected coming up in the turn lane or off 307 the lights would warn coming drivers. Also VDOT is looking to add more lighting in the intersection during the night.

Supervisor Cannon Watson suggested that he’s seen in other parts of the country a “high accident zone ahead” sign or something similar so drivers unfamiliar with the area can be alert. Fredrick said that would be considered as well.