Front Royal to restrict traffic on busy street

FRONT ROYAL – Residents on West 1st Street might see some relief from heavy traffic they say makes their road unsafe.

Town Council plans to consider ways to reduce the number of vehicles that travel on the street often used as a cut-through. Residents have asked the town to reduce the speed limit or introduce other traffic-calming measures to curtail speeders. Residents petitioned the town in May 2015 to reduce the speed limit. Traffic studies using speed trailers have shown the street attracts a high traffic volume more so than speeders, though some residents questioned the data.

Council directed staff at a work session Monday to post signs on West 1st Street prohibiting through traffic from using the route. The town would then monitor and enforce the restriction for 90 days and check the results of the prohibition.

Town Manager Steve Burke told council that staff recommended converting the street to one-way traffic. The town’s street crew suggested making the street one-way westbound going uphill, then south on Massie Street, Burke said. But council members voiced concerns about how the change would affect traffic flow on West 1st Street and adjacent roads.

Councilman John Connolly said the proposal would only take care of traffic traveling in one direction. The high volume of traffic heading in the other direction would continue, he added. The town should prohibit through traffic on West 1st Street, from Massie Street to Virginia Avenue, post signs and enforce the restriction, Connolly suggested. He added that the town likely will need to address this matter on other streets as Front Royal grows.

Burke said he didn’t know if town police officers could issue tickets to a resident of Main Street who travels on West 1st Street to go home given that the route leads to his or her residence.

Councilman Bret Hrbek warned that restricting the street to one-way traffic likely would push some motorists to travel through nearby church parking lots to reach their destinations.

Councilwoman Bébhinn Egger said restricting through traffic from using the road could serve as a less drastic first step. The town might need to go back to the drawing board should the restriction not work, Egger added.

West 1st Street resident Holland Daniels said the residents want to reduce traffic, and turning West 1st Street one way might help in the long term.

“A few speeders is one thing,” Daniels said. “Volume and speeders are another and that’s what we have.”

Daniels added that no-through-traffic restrictions deter motorists from residential streets, and law enforcement in other jurisdictions do enforce the prohibition by issuing citations to drivers who fail to obey the posted signs. The redevelopment at the former Avtex Fibers site likely would bring more traffic in the future but a through-traffic ban could help.

Daniels also referred council to a Virginia Department of Transportation document that lists various methods the town could use to handle high volumes of traffic on residential streets.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com