Ready for the stoplight

Published 12:02 pm Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Though Charlotte County is soon to lose its sometimes-celebrated status of being one of the only counties in the region without a stoplight, it’s set to gain more notable recognition, and that’s of improving safety at the Crafton’s Gate intersection where U.S. Route 360 and 47 meet.

The announcement, which came from a Virginia Department of Transportation report during a board of supervisors’ meeting in August, came with a standing ovation from Drakes Branch Supervisor Garland H. “Butch” Hamlett.

We too are glad the stoplight, which will soon be operational, is at the intersection.

“I tell ya, I think this is long overdue,” Hamlett said in August. We agree with him.

Last June, VDOT officials told supervisors the intersection project had scored high on the agency’s new SMART SCALE program, and the project had been approved for funding for safety improvements. SMART SCALE rates projects considering factors affected like improvements to safety, congestion reduction, accessibility, land use, economic development and the environment.

According to VDOT’s study of the intersection, during a 12-hour turning movement, total entering volumes were fairly consistent and ranged from approximately 425-725 vehicles per hour.

The main reason we’re glad the stoplight is eminent stems from the number of crashes the intersection has seen. From February 2010 to November 2015, there were a total of 16 crashes at the intersection, resulting in 19 injuries, according to VDOT.

“There has been so many studies and so much money spent down there to try to help that situation, and in some people’s minds, it looked liked it hindered things more than it helped,” Aspen/Phenix Supervisor and Board Chairman Haywood Hamlet said last year. “We have felt like, for some time, that a stoplight would be the answer. It is now in the works. I just hope that this is going to eliminate all the confusion that is happening down there now.”

Like Hamlet and his colleagues, we too hope the stoplight will result in a plunge in traffic crashes and injuries at the intersection.