VDOT agrees to change Route 460 speed limit near intersection
Published 4:41 am Thursday, July 13, 2023
The speed limit is changing for one part of Route 460 this week. The decision comes two weeks after the latest wreck at the intersection of Route 460 and Route 307, a two-car accident that claimed the life of one person. Officials with the Virginia Department of Transportation say before they could adjust the speed limit, a study had to be done. Now that part of the project is finished and the result likely won’t surprise anyone in the area.
“We did complete the speed study for Route 460 and the 307 area and we have determined we are going to lower the speed limit on the westbound side of 460 through that intersection,” said Scott Frederick. He serves as the Virginia Department of Transportation’s resident engineer in Prince Edward County.
The speed limit in and around the intersection will drop down to 45.
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“Then after you get through the intersection, it’ll go back up to 60 mph on the westbound side,” Frederick said.
One piece at a time
You’ll notice two changes. First, as you’re approaching the Route 307 intersection from Route 460, the speed limit will be reduced as of this week to 50 mph. Then, in the intersection itself and just past, the speed limit drops down to 45 mph. Once you drive past the intersection with Route 619, the speed limit will climb back up to 60 mph.
The original plan was to handle all of this over the July 8-9 weekend, but a series of severe thunderstorms put an end to that idea. Frederick said they have signs on hand, they’ve marked the utility lines so none get cut and in theory, have everything in place. The goal is to get all the work done by the end of the day on Thursday, July 13, with Friday possibly being the more plausible option, Frederick said.
What’s happening on Route 460?
In addition to lowering the speed limit, VDOT plans to install a speed mirror at the intersection this week. That’s the big billboard-looking sign telling people how fast they’re going. VDOT crews also did some more paving work on the intersection last week, redoing the crossover and moving the yield line up about eight feet. They also put in a striped median. Frederick said he and his department met with people from the Rice Fire Department, to address any concerns they had about the lanes. He added that more projects involving the 460/307 intersection could be on the way.
“We’re doing a traffic signal analysis (for that intersection), to see if it warrants a traffic signal,” Frederick said. He added that a couple years ago, they had done a similar study and the results showed a traffic signal wasn’t needed. “But things do change with time,” Frederick added.
Frederick said VDOT is also working on designs for an intersection conflict warning area. That would mean setting up lights to flash as drivers get close to the intersection, letting them know a car may cross their path. That’s still in the design stage, as it’s unclear what that would look like, how it would be set up or how they would make sure drivers see the lights in time.
What caused the issues?
You could say VDOT caused part of the problem, while working to fix another one. VDOT conducted a crash study at this intersection from November 2020 to June 2022. During this period there were no fatalities, one severe injury, nine visible injuries, no nonvisible injuries and 18 cases of property damage involving a total of 28 reported crashes. Since this study is based on reported crashes, this means more accidents may have taken place, but VDOT has no record of the other ones.
Previously, there was a problem with rear-end crashes happening on the Route 307 side of the intersection. But the new layout, designed to fix that, created the problem of drivers not realizing their lane turns into a dedicated right-turn lane at the intersection. This caused roadway departures and angle crashes, exchanging one problem for another.
During Tuesday’s meeting of the Prince Edward Board of Supervisors, board member Odessa Pride also asked Frederick to consider changing the warning signs. She argued that the sign warning people of a new traffic pattern ahead as you cross into Prince Edward from Nottoway County is too far back.
“It’s so far back by the time they get up there, they forget,” Pride said. “It needs to come up.”
She suggested moving it closer to the nearby Crossroads building.
Frederick said that sign, along with all other work zone material, including orange barrels and such, should be removed this week.
Overall, Frederick said he knows it took a long time, as the first request for a speed limit reduction came from the Prince Edward supervisors and Prince Edward sheriff’s office nearly two years ago. But the work is finally happening.
“We had to follow all the right steps to get it done, but we’re getting it done,” he said.