VDOT Designing Roundabout for Orange County, Seeking Public Input

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Intersection of Routes 20 and Route 231 Intersection of Routes 20 and Route 231
Image courtesy Google Image courtesy Google
Renee McElheney Renee McElheney
Will Merritt Will Merritt
James Waldrop James Waldrop

The Virginia Department of Transportation is designing a safety fix for a dangerous intersection on Route 20 in Orange County.

VDOT says around 4,300 vehicles travel through the intersection of Routes 20 and Route 231 every day.

“It's a very busy spot,” said Somerset Center Store owner Renee McElheney.

McElheney says she and her coworkers spring into action as first responders whenever they hear a crash at the intersection.

“Majority of the accidents we see are just people not stopping at the stop sign and they're T-boning cars coming from Orange or Barboursville,” said the store owner.

“VDOT has seen a history of angle-type crashes, which are commonly known as T-bone crashes at this intersection,” confirmed VDOT spokesperson Will Merritt.

Crews installed flashing, yellow warning lights along Route 20 back in 1999, and several sets of rumble strips on Route 231 in 1995. Those measures, however, have so far proved to be ineffective at reducing the crash rates.

Officials say the intersection has had 26 crashes - injuring 32 people - over a five-year period.

Now, VDOT is designing a roundabout to replace the intersection.

“VDOT wants to reduce the angle-type crashes we're seeing at the intersection, and we want to improve the traffic flow through this particular intersection as well, and a roundabout will help us do that,” Merritt said.

 “I think a four-way stop light would do the same thing, and be a heck of a lot cheaper on the taxpayer,” said Blue Run Baptist Church Pastor James Waldrop

Waldrop’s church is near the intersection. The pastor says drivers could solve some of the problems: “People just aren't paying attention to what they're doing.”

McElheney believes the roundabout would help to make the intersection safer.

“I think it's a great idea. Anything to slow people down. It keeps traffic moving, unlike a stoplight,” she said.

VDOT is hosting an open house event for people to get a look at the roundabout design and comment on those plans. That is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 20, in the Lewis Hall classroom at Montpelier.

The Virginia Department of Transportation plans to begin construction on the roundabout sometime in 2021.