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VDOT working on updated 151 corridor study

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The Virginia 151 corridor in Nelson County is shown in this file photo.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is conducting another study of the Virginia 151 corridor to develop updated safety improvement recommendations.

A roughly 14 miles stretch of 151 — from Virginia 6 (Afton Mountain Road) to 2.3 miles south of Virginia 644 (Beech Grove Road) — is the subject of the study, slightly longer than a similar 151 corridor study VDOT conducted in 2013. Eight intersections with 151 are included.

One of VDOT’s recommendations from the 2013 study is currently being implemented; drivers can expect a detour around the Virginia 151 and U.S. 250 intersection from Sept. 25 to Sept. 29 while crews start construction of a roundabout to replace the current signal-controlled intersection.

Lynchburg VDOT district planner Rick Youngblood recently told the board of supervisors his department already has conducted traffic counts, both with school in session and during summer break.

Youngblood provided a timeline for the study, with an “existing conditions analysis” in September and “recommendations development” scheduled for December to April 2023.

This month, consultants with VDOT are looking at the traffic count, crash history, freight movement through the corridor and bike and pedestrian issues, Youngblood said.

During the recommendations development phase, “we’ll be looking specifically at intersection improvement, corridor-wide safety improvements, taking a look at Nellysford specifically for bike ped [pedestrian travel] improvements and traffic calming through that area,” he said.

VDOT will provide concept designs and estimates in May and expects the study to be complete by summer 2023.

There will be two public engagement sessions at a location along Virginia 151: one in October following the “existing conditions analysis” and one in March 2023 to look at final recommendations, according to Youngblood. There also will be an online Metroquest survey, which Youngblood said typically garners 200 to 300 community inputs. He added the 2013 public engagement sessions drew around 200 total participants.

“So the folks along the Nellysford corridor were very invested in the corridor and they have strong interests and strong community support and that’s one of the things we’ve always enjoyed about working through the 151 corridor is because the citizens come out and they provide the input into the process, which is very important. We’ll pull 2013, previous study recommendations, to see what needs to be updated,” he said.

Supervisor Ernie Reed asked Youngblood to include events that produce “maximum traffic and maximum buildout” along the corridor in the study.

Supervisor Skip Barton brought up what would happen after the study, and Youngblood acknowledged that depending on the VDOT funding stream available — revenue share projects where the county and VDOT share the cost and Highway Safety Improvement Project (HSIP) funded projects get done faster, smartscale funded projects are “longer-term” — “it could be years before you see that project undertaking.”

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