State officials say they want community input on plans to make Broadview Avenue less congested and safer.
Business owners along the commercial strip were ready with comments, criticisms and suggestions when they met with Virginia Department of Transportation staff for a focus group session Dec. 12 in Warrenton.
Among the business group’s suggestions:
- Include more median openings
- Ditch the planned U-turns
- Add traffic signals
- Lower the speed limit to 35 miles per hour
- Rethink the bike lanes in both directions for safety’s sake
Broadview Avenue business owners “do not want and will be severely and financially damaged by this new plan,' said Michael Cerny, president of the Foster’s Grille Companies, who read a three-page statement on their behalf.
The statement noted that nine median openings in a 2012 plan became seven in the current version, which doesn’t allow for any left turns from four existing roads or any of the business driveways. The statement said the new plan will funnel more traffic into fewer intersections and median breaks, creating more congestion.
“We’re not increasing the conflict points by concentrating the flow,” countered W. Mark Ledebur, project manager for Wallace Montgomery, which is working on the project.
VDOT remains open to other ideas as planning continues, said David Cubbage, project manager.
“We’re not here to force it through anyone’s front or backyards,” he said.
“We’ll include what we can and we’ll tell you why when we can’t include something you want,” Cubbage added. “There have been a number of crashes and we’re trying to minimize them as much as we can.”
Cubbage said the 2012 version was “a planning exercise” that has since been enhanced by survey work and data.
But Cerny said that earlier plan had the support of the town council at the time. Business owners got on board, too, but “very reluctantly,” he said.
“I can’t help thinking there’s a better solution,” said Brian Murphy of Murphy Motor Sports. He was referring to the Timber Fence Parkway, a proposal to link Route 17 North and Route 211 and one that would presumably take some of the traffic off Broadview.
“Part of that is in the county and it’s my understanding that it isn’t part of the comprehensive plan,” said Town Manager Brannon Godfrey.
Marie Pham, transportation planner for Fauquier County, later confirmed that.
A question was asked about what happens if the project is dropped.
If the plug would be pulled on the project and it didn’t go forward, Warrenton would have to pay back the money spent on survey work and staff time up to that point, said Mark Nesbit, resident engineer in VDOT’s Warrenton office.
The $8 million project has been split in two parts. A $2.59 million segment covers Broadview Avenue improvements. A $2.8 million portion will make improvements to the intersection of Broadview, Frost and West Shirley avenues. The state approved $5.4 million in funding in June. Another $1.6 million remains from an earlier allocation. The town of Warrenton will provide another $500,000.
VDOT will meet with the business group again in late January after taking into consideration the group’s suggestions. VDOT will have a new set of plans in March, hold a public forum in May and a public hearing in October.
About 35 people were at the Dec. 12 session, which was scheduled to run 90 minutes but lasted about 120. Town staff and several council members attended.
Reach James Ivancic at firstname.lastname@example.org.