Roundabout gets ranking: Proposed project at Routes 15 & 360 could cost over $7 million

Published 12:13 pm Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A proposed roundabout at the intersection of Routes 15 and U.S. 360 has made it through the second round of scoring under the new SMART SCALE prioritization process used by the state’s Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB).

“This project will include intersection improvements at the intersection of Route 360 and 15,” county leaders said in the project application. “Due to safety concerns and accident history, this project will improve the intersection with a roundabout concept.”

“More than 400 project applications submitted by localities, metropolitan organizations and other regional entities across the state have been scored based on key factors,” Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) officials said in a press release, noting improvements to safety, congestion reduction, accessibility to jobs and businesses, land use, economic development and the environment. “The CTB will not make a decision on which projects to fund until their June meeting this year, following a five-month review process.”

According to transportation documents, the project could cost $7.51 million, receiving a benefit score of 8.73. The project was fifth highest in VDOT’s Lynchburg District.

“The current intersection has a major road (two-way, not divided) as well as an off-ramp and an entrance leading to an off-ramp all connecting at a three approach stop-sign intersection that is in a grade curve,” county leaders said in the application to state transportation officials. “Sight-distance, as well as traffic flow currently contributes to driver error. This project will replace the stop-sign intersection with a roundabout to allow for a more fluid entrance and exit to the off-ramps as well as take the sight-distance issue out of the equation. This project will create a safer intersection. The Charlotte County Industrial Park is along the route of this project and the Heartland Business Park is adjacent to the project area.”

“Rebuilding the intersection of (U.S.) Route 15 and Route 360 to improve safety and traffic flow has been evaluated in the past and is included as a need in the county’s transportation plan, which is part of the Charlotte County Comprehensive Plan,” said County Planner Monica Elder. “The county considered submitting a funding application for this project in 2015, but because of the time needed to gather additional data, the application was delayed until 2016.”

Elder said the proposed roundabout is a solution VDOT developed after “reviewing the existing intersection and the traffic issues that have been identified. Both VDOT and the Commonwealth Regional Council, our regional planning district, were very instrumental in the preparation of the county’s application for this project. At present, the proposed project is being recommended for funding. However, final funding will not be announced until June.”

“What’s important at this stage is the process,” said Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne, “because of SMART SCALE, the commonwealth has an objective data-driven process to score projects based on their merits and the value they bring for taxpayer dollars. The SMART SCALE process has empowered localities to submit proposed projects based on objective measures.”

Layne said the new process has resulted in localities “working collaboratively and thoughtfully to select projects that will bring the most benefit to their areas.” 

All the projects will not get funded because “there is not near enough resources,” Layne said. “There are 404 scored applications requesting more than $8.5 billion in funding when $1 billion is available.”

“There will be further review and evaluation over the coming months and a draft list of projects for funding will be released for public review in the spring,” said VDOT Division Administrator Tamara Rollinson. “Following public review, the CTB will make the final selection to include in the six-year program in June.”