Blacksburg Town Council voted in favor of a controversial plan to fix the North Main Street intersection at the US 460 bypass, which has been the site of numerous wrecks and fatalities.
The plan, which council members as well as many outspoken citizens believe to be lackluster, is said to make the intersection safer than it is now. From 2008-2014, there were 46 injuries and four fatalities from crashes at the site, 40 percent occurring due to left turns from North Main Street onto US 460, and 37 percent from turning left onto North Main from US 460.
The “R-cut” plan that passed last Tuesday was designed by VDOT, which has said that the major safety benefits include eliminating drivers having to cross multiple lanes of traffic (removing left turns from North Main Street and Farmingdale Lane) and reducing crossing distance for the high volume of left turns onto North Main Street and Farmingdale Lane as well as providing turning lanes for both east and west bound 460.
The project fits within the $3.3 million allocated by VDOT for the project, but those opposing it say it does not completely alleviate the problem.
“There is no doubt that the R-cut plan will improve the safety at that location. The downside is that it shifts the problem to other parts of the region (both in town and in the county),” said Javad Torabinejad, a Blacksburg resident who gave the council a 450-signature petition opposing the plan.
Other citizens echoed Torabinejad’s sentiments, pointing to Coal Bank Hollow Road/U.S. Route 460 intersection and North Main Street/Southgate intersections as areas that would see increased traffic.
Other complaints included the restricted access to Farmingdale Lane and the ability to make U-turns on 460, where vehicles often drive in excess of 60 mph.
The plan was proposed by VDOT after they failed to even consider a graded interchange that was proposed by the town because it would have cost approximately $38 million to build.
All of the council members voted in favor of the plan except for Krisha Chachra. Those who voted in favor reiterated that even though the plan was far from perfect, but it was better than doing nothing.
The town’s vote was essentially a formality as VDOT has the ability to go forward with a project without the consent of the town.