US 220 corridor study could get public input in December;
Martin asks for 460 right-turn lane onto Laymantown because of new school

Azalea Road residents will have to find help from someone other than VDOT to curb and slow traffic cutting through from Catawba Road to US 220 in Daleville, while a proposed study of the US 220 corridor from US 460 to Botetourt Center at Greenfield appears to be progressing.

Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) representative Ray Varney told the Board of Supervisors at its October meeting that a traffic study on the Azalea Road showed at peak times just 17 percent of the traffic was cut-through traffic. In order for VDOT to provide assistance, cut-through traffic had to reach 40 percent of the traffic in the residential neighborhood.

Cut-through traffic and speeding has been a challenge for residents of the area for a long time, when the supervisors were considering the rezoning request to allow Sheetz on the corner of Catawba Road and US 220, the supervisors asked VDOT to do a study on Azalea to see if there were some traffic calming alternatives that could be implemented.

Varney said VDOT did a four-direction study with timing and tracking during the 6:30-9:30 a.m. and 3-6 p.m. peak traffic times.

He said the 40 percent threshold was needed for VDOT to participate fully in implementing any traffic calming devices.

He said it would take 150 cut-throughs per hour in any hours measured to meet the threshold. “We had 72 total in the hours measured, so it didn’t meet the warrant…. So the county will be responsible for at least one-half of any traffic calming that’s done.”

Supervisor Steve Clinton asked Varney what the county’s next step is for dealing with the cut-through traffic.

Varney also noted that the average speed on the road was right at 25 miles per hour.

VDOT would likely recommend alternatives and the county could decide if there are control measures it’s interested in.

At the most, he emphasized, VDOT would pay 50 percent of the cost. “The county would decide what it wanted and VDOT would consider whether it would be appropriate to participate,” he said.

According to VDOT traffic count estimates, in 2017, on average, 790 vehicles a day traveled Azalea between Catawba Road and US 220.

The Board of Supervisors has been waiting close to two years for movement on the proposed study, and Varney told the board he expects a public meeting “probably in December.”

The request had to go to the regional engineer and then to the department’s central office in Richmond for funding approval.

In a road matter related to the construction of the new Colonial Elementary School, Supervisor Billy Martin asked VDOT to consider improvements to the US 460/Laymantown Road intersection so it will be safer for US 460 westbound school buses to turn onto the secondary road.

Martin said the intersection needs a dedicated right-turn-lane westbound so buses didn’t have to sit in the right lane to turn.

Varney said that kind of fix would be complicated because the small creek and bridge there doesn’t provide enough room to add the turn lane without replacing the bridge. He estimated that would cost about $3 million.

Martin called it a serious safety issue and asked for a way to get the turn lane in before the new school opens in the fall of 2020.

Varney said he’d look at the situation to see if there is a way to make improvements for turning right from the existing right through lane.

Martin also ask VDOT consider eliminating the eastbound blinking yellow left turn light at that intersection as well. He said the Blue Ridge Fire Department made the request because people “try to beat the light.”

Varney told the supervisors that Murray Drive where the new school is being built will have to be improved. “We’re not sure of the cost of that yet,” he said, noting the department is working with the county and school officials on that project.