Stoplight could be finished soon

Published 1:29 pm Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Construction is underway at the intersection of U.S. 360 and Route 47 to install a traffic stoplight — the first in the history of Charlotte County.

“The existing warning beacons will be converted to a full traffic signal in order to improve safety at the intersection,” said Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Resident Engineer Scot Shippee.

The recommendation for a stoplight came after complaints of numerous motor vehicle accidents and the project’s receiving a high score based on VDOT’s SMART SCALE system.

“Finally something positive is being done,” said Drakes Branch Supervisor Garland Hamlett. “I tried years ago when I first came on the (board) to get VDOT to correct this place where too many motor vehicle accidents have occurred.”

The Crafton’s Gate intersection Project ranked 27 out of 287 projects in the SMART SCALE prioritization process and $255,691 was allocated by the state to address the safety risks at the intersection.

“That intersection is dangerous,” Hamlett said. “The last attempt to ‘fix’ the accident intersection failed, and failed miserably. Band aids do not, I repeat, do not fix problems.”

The existing flashing lights at the intersection were rotated horizontally, instead of remaining vertical, which was intended to avoid the confusion of thinking the caution light was a traffic light that was about to turn red.

After performing a traffic study, Shippee said in a previous interview, “the immediate improvement that is being recommended is (a) traffic signal being installed at the Crafton’s Gate intersection, with the understanding that, as a long-term recommendation, a part of a potential corridorwide improvement whenever traffic volumes and traffic movements warrant it.”

According to VDOT, during the construction process the warning flashers at the intersection and stop sign flashing beacons will not be working.

There are signs positioned along the roadway to alert motorists of the work.

VDOT’ spokeswoman Paula Jones said minor delays are expected during the work. “Work is due to be complete by (the) end of March,” she said.

The contractor for the project is Elite Contracting Group Inc., headquartered in Petersburg.