Motorists can expect changes at a Frederick County intersection and site of a fatal crash over the summer.
The Virginia Department of Transportation announced Wednesday that it plans to fully activate the traffic signal at Lake Frederick Drive and U.S. 340-522 near the Frederick County-Clarke County line on Nov. 10.
VDOT installed the traffic signal in 2007 to serve future development in the Lake Frederick area. The agency left the signal in a yellow flash mode. VDOT conducted a traffic study of the area in September and October that showed the intersection meets the criteria for a fully activated signal.
VDOT spokeswoman Sandy Myers said Wednesday by phone that the study had been planned well in advance. VDOT did not conduct the study in response to a fatal crash that occurred at the intersection in late June, Myers said. Front Royal resident Ronald Travis died at Winchester Medical Center from injuries he sustained when he tried to avoid a crash in the intersection. His vehicle hit a utility pole.
“It was already planned for September prior to that happening,” Myers said.
VDOT regularly checked the amount of traffic that flows through the intersection.
“We’ve been looking at it about every other year or so, maybe a little more often lately but it has been looked at several times on a regular basis since the signal was put in,” Myers said.
The most recent study showed traffic volume warranted a fully active signal. The intersection needs to give motorists the opportunity to turn from Lake Frederick Drive onto U.S. 340-522, Myers explained. VDOT didn’t see enough gaps in traffic on a consistent basis to allow those opportunities.
“The traffic volumes are such that they’ve increased,” Myers said. “It’s difficult for people making that traffic movement and so that is what determined that we could go ahead and activate the signal.”
The Frederick County Board of Supervisors, particularly Opequon District Supervisor Robert Wells, had asked VDOT to look into ways of bringing the signal online, John Bishop, assistant director for transportation with the Department of Planning and Development, said Wednesday. The county has seen increased development in Lake Frederick over the past couple of years, Bishop added.
Motorists also can expect a change in the traffic pattern at the intersection. The new pattern reduces the number of left-turn lanes on northbound U.S. 340-522 going into Lake Frederick from two to one. A flashing yellow arrow allows northbound traffic to turn left into Lake Frederick. A flashing yellow arrow allows southbound traffic to make U-turns at the intersection. Single left- and right-turn lanes remain at Lake Frederick Drive.
VDOT placed message boards near the intersection to alert motorists of the change in traffic patterns.
The intersection is in a stretch of the four-lane, divided highway with a posted speed limit of 55 mph. A flashing yellow light serves as the only means of control at the intersection. An online petition started shortly after the fatal crash that sought support for increased control measures at the intersection quickly attracted signatures for the effort.
Matthew Shiley, regional operation director for VDOT, told the Northern Virginia Daily a few days after the crash that the agency installed the signal to accommodate increased traffic from Lake Frederick. Neither development nor traffic materialized, Shiley said at the time. VDOT studied the intersection traffic in the past six to seven years with the most recent evaluation conducted in October 2015, Shiley said. The caution light advised traffic to slow down in the intersection.
The most recent data showed that four reported crashes occurred in the intersection from April 1, 2011, to March 31, 2016. VDOT uses crash statistics as one of nine federally mandated criteria to determine traffic-control measures at intersections.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or email@example.com.