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Should I-95 have added rail instead of asphalt?

AT SEVERAL points during the mostly congenial town-hall-type meeting held recently by Spotsylvania County Supervisor Gary Skinner, the conversation became tense.

And some interesting things were said.

At one point, a frustrated Skinner wondered off the cuff if running a rail system along the Interstate 95 median wouldn’t have been a better plan than the coming conversion to electronically tolled lanes.

It’s a moot point, of course, because the I–95 express lanes are coming. But one has to wonder if rail wouldn’t have been the better choice to ease congestion problems along the I–95 corridor.

Too expensive? Maybe.

Too much change? Probably.

Not enough demand for the trains? Possibly.

Train tracks carry more people in a lot fewer cars, though. And that seems to be the problem on I–95.

SCORE ONE FOR BIKERS

Motorcyclists got some bipartisan backing last week in a Senate bill aimed at eliminating motorcycle-only checkpoints.

Isn’t that called profiling?

The law has been in place since 2009, according to a story by The Hill.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defended the checkpoint program, saying that motorcyclists are more likely than car drivers to drink and drive.

ROUNDABOUT WAY

Score one for roundabouts, too but also a few against.

At the recent meeting set up by Skinner, he showed the plans for the Mudd Tavern Road interchange off Interstate 95. Those plans include the addition of a pair of roundabouts, and that drew a collective groan from the crowd of about two dozen.

One person lambasted the innocent things, proclaiming that New Jersey is getting rid of all roundabouts.

If following New Jersey transportation decisions is the new benchmark, we’re in trouble.

How about something from the real world?

A recent study shows that roundabouts can indeed make for safer travel.

The study, in Denmark, monitored 332 intersections that were converted to roundabouts. Crashes dropped 27 percent and injuries fell 60 percent. Deadly crashes plunged 87 percent.

Roundabouts are by no means perfect—e.g., the area’s favorite whipping circle, the Spotsylvania Towne Centre mall roundabout—but it’s hard to argue those kinds of findings.

So, love ’em or hate ’em, roundabouts are here.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436, sshenk@freelancestar.com 

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