A two-lane road in central Virginia that's become a destination for brewery and vineyard visitors is overdue for a series of safety upgrades. The Virginia Department of Transportation is releasing the results of a six-month study of crashes and congestion along Route 151.
VDOT surveyed the 14-mile stretch from Route 250 in Afton to Beech Grove Road, just south of the entrance to Wintergreen Resort. The study recommends short- and long-term safety improvements for the rural route that's becoming a highway for tourism.
From the tasting room at Flying Fox Vineyard, owner Lynn Davis looks out on Route 151 at traffic flying by. Nelson County has tapped itself a tourist attraction for breweries and wineries since Davis opened Flying Fox six years ago.
"We have more traffic, more customers, more people out enjoying Nelson County," Davis said.
That business boom is what prompted VDOT's study.
"It has become more of a destination area, not just as a pass through," said Rick Youngblood, VDOT district transportation planning manager.
The study recommends a long-term transportation and pedestrian plan for Nellysford.
"We're looking at access management - trying to reduce down some of the intersections - maybe lower the speed through there," Youngblood said.
Fifteen intersections could use safety upgrades, including left turn lanes and a straighter intersection at Route 6 in Afton. High crash rates and congestion are a concern from there into Albemarle.
VDOT says the intersection at 250 is the only one that needs upgrades because of the amount of traffic coming through. Right now, a stop sign is the only thing that controls cars turning off 151, but the study recommends putting in a roundabout or a stop light.
"There are concerns, of course, with any type of alternative that you're looking at, so we'll evaluate each one of those and see which one fits best," Youngblood said.
Davis reminds drivers 151 remains a rural route to fit with Nelson County's country charm.
"We have a two-lane road, so we are hoping people drive safely and drive considerately," Davis said.
VDOT will share this study with supervisors in Nelson and Albemarle counties to get their feedback. The state already approved funding for the study's recommended safety improvements at Route 6 and the Rockfish Valley Community Center.