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INTERSECTION WORK ABOUT TO GET BUSY

Photo by Allen Schmidt Sr.

Photo by Allen Schmidt Sr.

The real work is about to start on the Falmouth intersection widening project.

After decades of talk of what to do with the often-congested intersection and about a year of preparation, crews will soon start to tear apart the old intersection to make way for a new one with twice as many lanes.

Expect to see signs and construction barriers appear soon.

On Monday at the Virginia Department of Transportation, officials talked about project details and how the work will impact traffic during the next 18 months.

Until September 2015—the expected completion date—drivers should expect plenty of lane closures for the work.

But those closures are supposed to be limited to nights, from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Sundays. There will be no lane closures on Fridays or Saturdays.

About two dozen people showed up for VDOT’s informational meeting.

Stafford resident Vincent Dodd was interested to see the update and peruse the plans.

“I think this’ll help a lot,” he said, even though he preferred a flyover plan that was considered years ago as one potential fix for the intersection.

He’s also worried about another nearby intersection: Truslow Road.

Dodd has lived along that road since 1985. And he said getting onto U.S. 1 can be nearly impossible at times. He thinks a signal is needed there.

The project, however, is geared toward fixing the Falmouth intersection, not surrounding issues.

The current intersection setup—two lanes each on U.S. 17, U.S. 1 and Butler Road—has long been a choke point known to cause traffic backups in every direction.

Many different plans came and went over the years—a bypass, the flyover and even a roundabout. None of those will happen, but the intersection will still undergo drastic changes.

The $22.4-million project will add eight lanes to the intersection.

The new layout will separate the through and turn lanes, which is expected to improve traffic flow. Sidewalks and pedestrian crossings also will be added around the intersection.

Here’s what the new lane layout will look like:

  • U.S. 1 northbound: two through lanes; two left-turn lanes; one right-turn lane
  • U.S. 1 southbound: two through lanes; one left lane; one right lane
  • U.S. 17 southbound: one through lane; one left lane; one right lane
  • Butler Road: one through lane; two left lanes; one right lane.

Another important change will be made at West Cambridge Street.

At this point, southbound U.S. 1 traffic can turn right onto West Cambridge or pull left or right from the side street onto the highway. As part of the project, though, a barrier will be installed and traffic will only be able to turn right onto West Cambridge from U.S. 1.

VDOT’s Kelly Hannon said the change will be made to improve safety and traffic flow.

virginiadot.org/projects/

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

sshenk@freelancestar.com

INTERSECTION FACTS

  • If no changes were made at the intersection, the average wait time at the in 2016 was projected to be 234 seconds (3.9 minutes), and more than double that by 2036.
  • With the changes, the wait time in 2016 at the intersection is expected to be 56 seconds.
  • An average of 20,300 vehicles pass through the intersection daily, according to 2009 VDOT traffic counts.

 

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