Will a speed study work in Cumberland near the courthouse?

Published 4:25 pm Thursday, June 20, 2024

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Cumberland residents want to see people slow down when driving around the courthouse area. That’s been a request for several months, with residents concerned about the potential for accidents. But that’s not something Cumberland supervisors can do on their own. First, they need some help from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) in the form of a speed study. 

Brian Locker was on hand Tuesday, June 11, to talk with Cumberland supervisors about VDOT’s plan to do a speed study in the area. Locker works as an assistant director for the Lynchburg District, which includes Cumberland. 

“There was interest in evaluating the courthouse area, the speed and safety along there, so a speed study has been initiated within the department,” Locker said. “The plan is to actually go through a speed study, a formal speed study which will evaluate the corridor.”

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Now this does more than just monitor vehicle speeds. For a certain period of time, VDOT officials will keep track of daily and hourly speeds and traffic volume. They will also look at road design elements, making a note of anything that if adjusted, could help slow traffic down. In the end, the study comes back with recommendations for the speed limit and any other adjustments for the area. 

“I anticipate that will be complete sometime by the end of the summer,” Locker said. “With those findings, we’ll go ahead and coordinate and evaluate the next steps.”

How does a speed study work?

Basically, after going through the data, VDOT officials will decide if they believe speed is in fact a problem in the area. Then they’ll decide if lowering the speed limit will help and if not, what other options would work better? Would a new stop sign help? What about rumble strips? Or is it a problem with the way the road is designed?

There’s also no guarantee VDOT will agree to any changes on the first try. For example, Prince Edward County started asking the department to reduce the speed on Monroe Church Road back in 2021 and after multiple studies, they finally signed off on the idea in 2023.