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Commuter lot near bridge troubles Front Royal officials


By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- State transportation planners picked a poor spot for a park-and-ride lot near the South Fork Bridge on the Shenandoah River, according to some Front Royal officials.

Plans call for the Virginia Department of Transportation to widen the South Fork Bridge north of town. VDOT needed to acquire the property at the southwest corner of the bridge for the right of way to accommodate for the wider span. VDOT proposed to build a park-and-ride lot on the remaining property and included the plans in the designs.

A demolition company recently razed the former Relax Inn on the property.

Several members of the Front Royal Town Council at a meeting Monday expressed concern that the park-and-ride lot as planned poses conflicts with traffic and access on Shenandoah Avenue at 18th Street.

Town Manager Steven Burke on Tuesday indicated the council likely felt more concerned over the bridge than the commuter lot.

"We've been in communication with VDOT regarding the proposed parking lot," Burke said. "VDOT has told us that the town should have been aware of its proposed location because it was included in the original public meeting that they had about the bridge project at A.S. Rhodes Elementary.

"Unfortunately I believe most, if not all our members of council were more focused on the proposed configuration of the intersection of [U.S] Route 55 and Shenandoah Avenue," Burke added. "We did not focus or did not recall the presence of a park-and-ride lot at that location. We are continuing to evaluate its presence and hope to provide further input to VDOT in the future."

Most of the council's concerns center on the placement of a parking lot at the entrance corridor to the town and the potential impact of the traffic on the neighborhood, Burke noted. The proposed lot is the first of its kind in town limits.

"Unfortunately its location is questionable since it's placed in the entrance corridor," Burke said.

Whether the state agency would alter the designs remains unknown.

VDOT Assistant Residency Administrator Edwin Z. "Ed" Carter gave an update on the project to the Warren County Board of Supervisors at their meeting Tuesday. Carter advised the agency plans to advertize for bids to build the project in January.

"However, we're $68 million short on funding," Carter said.

The proposed commuter lot includes 59 parking spaces.

"I think it would benefit a lot of the people in town because they'll probably be the ones using it, and then it would be less traffic on that bridge, too," said Happy Creek District Supervisor Tony F. Carter.

Studies dating back to 2007 show a lack of commuter lot space in that area, according to the VDOT official. He noted that all commuter lots in the county are either at capacity or over.

"So we think this would be a real enhancement to the town," Ed Carter said, adding that VDOT has a landscaping plan for the lots to make them attractive.

VDOT plans to install a left turn lane from southbound Shenandoah Avenue to 18th Street for traffic going into the parking lot, Carter said.

"I think it will be very attractive," Carter said.

VDOT can adjust the designs if the town brings up any concerns, Carter said.




8 Comments



I got a feeling I am about to confuse the ***p out of everybody with my directional descriptions, but so what? If you are confused now, just wait until the Town Council tries to sort this one out with VDOT and the land owners, then explain it all to us all over again. There should be a special needs slow learner class for Democrats. No classes for Republicans because they will never understand anything. (golly, did I just say all that out loud or am I dreaming?)

Get the popcorn ready, this is gonna be some show. I believe VDOT has designed more than one parking lot, one intentional and a second one resulting from all the new intersections. When all is said and done, the end result will appear to be you can't get there from here, you'll have to go somewhere else and start. And pack a lunch.

OK, here goes nothing..... literally....

A year ago I attended VDOTS South Fork bridge/intersection presentation at the elementary school located on Route 55 just west of its intersection with Shenandoah Avenue south of the new bridge over the North Fork. The new South Fork bridge northern intersection (the commuter lot is at the southern end of the South Fork bridge) with Route 55 west will have a loop located on the southwest quadrant of the North Fork north end to connect east bound Rte. 55 with southbound Shenandoah Avenue. (now you understand?) See, I told you this is one of those "you can't get there from here, you have to go somewhere else and start" explanations.

VDOT handed out a CD disc (my copy is lost somewhere within this mess I call my desk) containing all the new South Fork bridge information and an explanation of how the new loop design was so much better than a standard intersection, but I remain unconvinced because VDOT had a specialist on site to do the explaining... I guess the regular VDOT guys were not smart enough or something. The new loop will direct motorists into a Chinese fire drill of stop, turn right, go a short piece counterclockwise, then stop, then turn right onto the new South Fork Bridge headed southbound. This loop will be built on pylons elevating the roadway above the hillside below.

The existing "T" intersection of Route 55 and Shenandoah Avenue is at the north end of the South Fork bridge on the west side. This is where the "loop" connector will be located. The east side of the north end of the South Fork Bridge intersection holds a gas station and a church and I recall something will be changed affecting how these two will access Shenandoah Avenue southbound AND Route 55 westbound. I think I remember the existing road at the existing intersection disappears (except if you want to make a right turn and go northbound on Shenandoah Avenue it stays the same) , replaced by another new road from the church going behind the gas station and reconnecting with Shenandoah Avenue at Duck Street.

To get from the church to Route 55 westbound today you simply pull up to the traffic light, wait until it turns green, drive straight across the intersection and you are now on Route 55 headed westbound. The new intersection changes all that. Nothing is the same. From the church you will drive behind the gas station to the existing traffic light at Duck Street. When the light changes, you'll make a left turn onto southbound Shenandoah Avenue and drive down to the Route 55 traffic light (where you used to drive straight across the intersection) and make a right turn onto Route 55 westbound. You may want to gas up at the gas station before trying this new long distance journey.

I think they are saying the proposed commuter parking lot is at the south end of the South Fork bridge on the east side where the motel used to be before being demolished recently. I believe the lot and empty building (where Donovan Trucking used to hang out) on the west side of the south end of the South Fork bridge is owned by Ron Llewellyn. (There's that name again. He has his fingers in more pies than Simple Simon)

Hmmmm....... Seems to me that Stevo and the politicos should have been paying more attention when this whole thing was presented. Not sure how a parking lot on a set of plans gets overlooked. Unless, as most things involving the current Front Royal powers that be, it was never really looked at to begin with. Or, using another Front Royal trait that never ceases to amaze, the plans were scrutinized on one item so much that they didn't see the remainder of the forset due to that big ass tree! Not to worry; Stevo will donn his cape, wave his magical wand (while holding the mayor's hand) and all will be well in the hood!

ROF, where can I sign up for that class?

"Forest".....hahaha, brain moving faster than fingers!

All, here is a link to a more in-depth view of the proposed project. It appears less complicated than has been described here.

http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/staunton/warren_county_8211_south_fork_bridge_route_340-522.asp

Hey thanks JT, but where did the "more in-depth" part kick in? Was it the part that said "...the Route 340/522 intersection with Route 55 [will] require that non-traditional intersection treatments be considered"? Was it the part that said "A new left-turn lane will be built at 18th Street in Front Royal."? I suppose that means ANOTHER new traffic signal will go there at 18th Street too, huh? More stop and go?

Will Shenandoah Avenue become a divided road with traffic islands limiting access to roadside businesses? Whooops, up jumps the devil. Limit business? ( By 47%? ) How friendly is that? Circle the wagons, break out the pitchforks and torches. This could get 47% more ugly.

Where did it explain about the commuter lot and the non-traditional QRI (Quadrant Roadway Intersection) ? You were right about it being "less complicated". Lulled me right to sleep. Perhaps you should also have mentioned "waste of time"? And blame Obama or Romney, take your choice.

But, thanks anyway for the effort, JT. I feel smarter already. Look it too. Difficult to prove that last sentence. But, like Romney, you can take my word for it.

I was in the process of trying to decypher the geographic quagmire presented by NVD in this article when I read ROTFLMAO's comment. Although I am not sure how to interpret his clarification, I agree that the article, as written is very unclear. A map would be helpful. Thanks JT for the link.

Mr. Pierceall...we know you. You live in the County..so what's all this to you? Have you noticed that you are talking to yourself a lot more lately? I mean in using different names to answer your questions and comments and all of that? Don't try to make this your problem. You can't fix it. VDOT is bigger than you, and they will work with the powers that be (of which you are not one). Have a nice day.

Mr. Pierceall...we know you. You live in the County..so what's all this to you? Have you noticed that you are talking to yourself a lot more lately? I mean in using different names to answer your questions and comments and all of that? Don't try to make this your problem. You can't fix it. VDOT is bigger than you, and they will work with the powers that be (of which you are not one). Have a nice day.



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