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Fifth Street corridor study reveals poor traffic conditions

A study of the Fifth Street corridor between Harris Road in Charlottesville and Ambrose Commons Drive in Albemarle County has moved into its second phase.

The road was identified by the Virginia Department of Transportation for a study to develop short-, mid- and long-term community-supported transportation improvements for the roadway.

An update on the study, which included some of the traffic analysis and traffic counts for the existing conditions, was presented Thursday to the 5th and Avon Community Advisory Committee to get feedback before transportation alternatives are developed.

“It is a rural road that has found itself in an urban environment, so everything’s kind of grown up around it,” said Patty Hurd with Kittelson & Associates Inc., the firm working on the study. “And so the problem is that we need to help this roadway also grow up to serve the [kind of users] that are finding themselves along the corridor today.”

There are some sidewalks along the corridor, Hurd said, but they’re not continuous and many do not meet current accessibility standards. There are also very few places for pedestrians to cross the main street, and only one of the bus stops along the corridor has a shelter, she said.

More than 90% of the crashes in the corridor between 2014 and 2018 happened at intersections, she said. Many of those were rear-end crashes or angled crashes.

“Those kind of help point us in the direction of where we need to look for really making a shift in safety issues along the corridor,” Hurd said.

In terms of level of service of traffic operations, which are measured on an A to F scale, Fifth Street’s intersections with Stagecoach Road and the 5th Street Station Parkway are operating at an E level during peak morning rush hour. The Interstate 64 eastbound ramp, the 5th Street Station Parkway and Fifth Street’s intersection at the Holiday Inn are operating at an F level during peak evening rush hour.

Based on a future population growth rate of 1.5% to 2% a year, projected future traffic volumes in 2040 show eight intersections with poor levels of service in the morning and seven intersections with poor levels of service in the evening.

The goals of the study are to improve safety and comfort, manage congestion, support economic development and support environmental sustainability and community health for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists in the area. Those goals and their objectives will be used to inform performance measures that will be used to rank different transportation options for the corridor.

“Our next step in the process is to develop a series of alternatives, both related to specific intersections — we have a couple of problems intersections that have popped up that will be focusing on — but then also to provide a series of alternatives related to changes corridor-wide to the existing cross sections,” said Meredyth Sanders with Kittelson & Associates.

One community member asked about a planned trail hub at the 5th St. Station shopping center and if that had been considered.

Kevin McDermott, the county’s principal planner for transportation, said that process was on hold and those involved are now looking for new ways to incorporate recommendations that were made for the trail.

“Eventually, we realized that the money that was available for that grant was not sufficient for what was planned out there,” he said.

As part of the study, the public can take a survey about the corridor until March 6 at virginiadot.org/projects/culpeper/5th-st-corridor-study.asp.

The transportation recommendations will be presented at a public meeting in May or June.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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