The Virginia Department of Transportation’s plans to shake up how cars and pedestrians move through the Hydraulic-U.S. 29 area would take about two years to complete and construction could start by fall 2023.
VDOT’s Culpeper district shared a tentative timeline for the project, which would is expected to cost $24 million and take about two years to complete, at a public hearing Wednesday. Dozens of people attended to hear about the project, ask questions and submit public comments.
The project includes constructing a pedestrian bridge over U.S. 29 with bus stops and shelters near Zan Road and a multi-lane roundabout at the Hillsdale Drive and Hydraulic Road intersection. Additionally, VDOT is planning to eliminate left turns from Hydraulic Road onto U.S. 29 and add crossing options for pedestrians.
“It seems like lots of folks have seen pedestrians in and around this area having a tough time trying to cross 29, so that’s a big part of what we’re doing here,” said Hal Jones, the project manager for VDOT.
A grade-separated intersection for the U.S. 29-Hydraulic Road intersection originally was preferred by an advisory panel, but about a year ago, it was ultimately decided to pursue smaller projects after the proposal was not funded in a prior Smart Scale round. Smart Scale is the state’s primary method for funding large-scale transportation projects.
Other changes in the project include reconstructing the Angus Road intersection as a continuous green-T intersection. That means drivers who want to turn left from Angus onto U.S. 29 northbound would watch for oncoming traffic from the left and use a channelized lane to merge onto U.S. 29 after passing through the intersection.
This type of intersection would allow northbound traffic on U.S. 29 to keep moving instead of stopping for vehicles turning left from Angus Road. Southbound traffic at that intersection would be controlled by a traffic signal. This part of the project was a concern for some in attendance as they wanted to know how it affect those who live in the area.
As part of this section of the project, the entrances for the hotels at that intersection would be moved to Holiday Drive. Currently, vehicles in either direction can enter that complex off of U.S. 29.
Overall, Jones said the changes are aimed at improving safety and mobility in the Hydraulic-29 area.
The roundabout about the Hillsdale intersection will help to keep traffic moving, he said.
“This one is a hybrid roundabout so there are two circulating lanes on the Hydraulic component, so that makes it a little bit trickier for drivers to navigate,” he said. “So we’re looking at that one real hard. Keeping traffic moving and trying to get more folks moving safely is the goal of the project.”
Once the roundabout is constructed, VDOT is planning to eliminate left turns from Michie and Brandywine drives onto Hydraulic. Instead, those drivers will have to use the roundabout to make a U-turn.
Jones said he expects a lot of the work to be done at night.
“If we have closures, we’re going to try to limit those and keep traffic moving for the most part,” he said. “But there’s always painful situations when roads are under construction, so we ask for patience. It’s for the better good.”
The public comment period for the project will end June 6. The comments will be taken into account as VDOT prepares to issue a request for proposals, which should go out in late July. VDOT is seeking to award a contract for the project early next year, according to a tentative timeline provided at the meeting.
The changes can be viewed at https://virginiadot.org/projects/culpeper/hydraulic-road-us29-improvements.asp. Written comments can be submitted by mail to Hal Jones, Project Manager, 701 VDOT Way, Charlottesville, VA 22911. Email comments can be sent to Harold.Jones@VDOT.Virginia.gov.