VDOT, citizens ponder Va. 42 improvements

People filled the chamber of the Woodstock Town Council to hear Adam Campbell of the Virginia Department of Transportation talk about the VA-42 corridor. Melissa Topey/Daily.


WOODSTOCK – The Woodstock town council chamber was full Thursday night with people interested in hearing about the possibility of improvements to Va-42.

Town officials, along with the Virginia Department of Transportation, hosted the public meeting to gather input from people who drive the route frequently.

Administrators are looking at ways to handle projected  traffic increases on the road from Hisey Avenue to East Reservoir Road while making it safer for drivers and pedestrians. The road acts as a town gateway, connecting U.S. 11 to Interstate 81.

Adam Campbell, Virginia Department of Transportation assistant planner in the Staunton district, spoke to the crowd.

“The corridor has always been on VDOT’s radar for needs,” Campbell said.

VA-42 has a number of crashes on it every year, he said. They are mostly minor because of the low speed limit.

Traffic on the road is expected to increase to about 10,000 vehicles in the upcoming years, as a result of activity at Seven Bends State Park and the fairgrounds as well as development in the area.

Town officials do not want the area to become so congested that people do not want to get off the Interstate in Woodstock and are trying to address the anticipated traffic growth now.

Campbell unveiled a conceptual design of possible improvements to spark thought and discussion among those at the meeting.

The drawing is a tool to help those interested see various methods (known as treatments) that VDOT uses to control traffic patterns. It is not meant to represent any final design of improvements to the road, officials stressed, adding traffic data still needs to be collected and studies conducted.

The drawing showed a roundabout near the VA-42 and I-81 off ramp, changed turn patterns, sidewalk improvements and added medians along the road to make it safer for pedestrians to cross in two stages as opposed to one crossing made in a sprint. The conceptual drawing added turns into the back of businesses to help pull the turning traffic off of VA-42.

After Campbell’s presentation, Kate Grisdale and Marsh Cooper, both of Woodstock, looked over a board that displayed examples of different measures that could be utilized on VA-42.

Both were excited about the possibility of improving the corridor, saying it has been needed for a long time.

The board included a photo of a roundabout found at Carlton and Reservoir streets in Harrisonburg, a photo of a Florida T intersection in Fisherville, and a photo of a partial access reduced conflict U-turn intersection on U.S. 33 in Harrisonburg

“It sounds like a combination of these things would be needed,” Grisdale said.

Cooper said she skips Va 42 from Motel Drive down to U.S. 11, taking Fairground Road instead.

“I bypass a lot of that traffic,” Cooper said.

Both woman were going to take time to consider the information they heard before sending back to the town a comment sheet that was given to those at the meeting. The sheet asked for their thoughts on what they like about the corridor, what they don’t like about the corridor and what changes they believe are needed.

Joan Comanor was intrigued by elements in the proposed conceptual drawing, such as the roundabout.

“There is a lot of elements that would make it safer and more efficient,” Comanor said. “Va 42 needs help and this is an opportunity to help everyone — businesses, residents.”