Posted by: project151 | October 8, 2007

Media Watch: Fatal Afton Wreck, Community Meeting

If you missed Annie Scholz’s report on NBC 29 this evening in which she spoke to’s Tommy Stafford about the group’s efforts to make Rts. 151 and 6 safer, here is the web version:

Group Petitions for Road Changes

Reported by Annie Scholz
October 08, 2007

Automobile accidents on Nelson County’s Route 151 have inspired a group of residents to band together and get some changes made to the dangerous road. has distributed petitions and surveys so residents can express their concerns about who drives the road, the way they drive the road and what can be done to fix it.

The action comes after Gertrude Johnson was killed October 2 when another car crossed the double yellow line and hit her car head on.

Just one month earlier, and four and a half miles down the road, a mother and her two children were killed trying to turn off the road when they were hit twice.

“That was very close to home. It’s within 50 or 75 yards of the house. This has been an ongoing problem…and that just really resonated with us,” said Tommy Stafford with

Stafford is holding a public meeting Wednesday to discuss the results of the petition and surveys. He said he will then take it forward to legislators, law enforcement and transportation officials.

Also worth mentioning is Friday’s front page, above-the-fold piece by The News Virginian‘s Alicia Petska:

Brennan joins effort to get trucks off 151

By Alicia Petska

The News Virginian

Friday, October 5, 2007


A grassroots campaign to thin out truck traffic along Virginia 151 has picked up a supporter in Nelson supervisor and House of Delegates candidate Connie Brennan, who only last month expressed doubt about the plan’s feasibility.

“Anything we can do to prevent another accident, we should do,” she said. “… I think, in the long term, we need to get those trucks off 151 to prevent a truck accident before it happens. It just doesn’t make sense to have them there anymore.”

Brennan’s change of heart was revealed in an online post Tuesday in which she pledged to fight for a ban on through trucks. The commitment, written on the Web site of the newly formed advocacy group Project 151, was made just hours before a Nellysford woman was killed on the highway in a head-on collision.

That crash, which did not involve a truck, marked the fifth traffic-related fatality on the corridor in 34 days.

Brennan, a two-term supervisor representing the Central District, is also making a bid for the 59th District House of Delegates seat in the November elections. Running as a Democrat, she’s challenging longtime incumbent Watkins Abbitt, a conservative independent from Appomattox.

Abbitt, who’s been in the House for 22 years, said further truck restrictions aren’t the answer to the VA-151 problems, noting that driver error played a part in the recent fatalities.

“It’s going take a lot of things to improve the situation along that road,” he said. “But the only way to completely stop all accidents is to take all the traffic off, and I don’t think we’re going to do that.”

“There are some accidents we can’t prevent, but there are still some things we can do there. We do want to avoid every accident we can.”

Abbitt outlined a plan that included exploring lower speed limits – something Brennan also previously mentioned – and putting sheriff’s deputies through state training that would enable them to conduct truck checkpoints.

He also said he planned to meet with transportation and law enforcement officials on the subject. That discussion would take place after the election, he said.

Brennan describes the truck restrictions as a long-term goal that may take years to achieve. She continued to express concerns about the pressure a ban would put on the U.S. 29-Interstate 64 interchange near Charlottesville, where most commercial trucks passing through the area would likely be rerouted if VA–151 was blocked to them.

Any change to the Nelson truck laws would have to coincide with upgrades to that intersection, she said, a process that would take years. At the same time, she said, it was worth putting on the agenda now.

“I’m very keen on doing this because it’s just a matter of time – as the truck traffic increases and the amount of accidents increase – it’s just a matter of time before we have a big disaster,” she said. “We just have to fight for the whole package. … At some point, you’ve got to say, ‘That’s it. We’ve got to do something.’ ”

Brennan said she changed her stance after giving the issue more thought and listening to people calling for action.

Local residents created a group, Project 151, last month to push for a fix. Organizers have identified both tougher law enforcement and a through truck ban as its top priorities.

Through trucks refer to large commercial trucks passing through the area. Local truck traffic is not included in the definition.




  2. I have lived on 151 for 10 years and about 8 years ago a group of us that feared the big trucks and speed contacted Emily Couric and she tried to help us do something about our on going problem to no avail.. and the problem was “dropped”. My husband and I always felt that when are few deaths are sadly put in the mix maybe something will be done…

  3. I Knew Mrs. Johnson and my heart goes out to her family. Tracy, you and your family are in my prayers!

    We do need turning lanes, warning lights and slower speed limits in bad areas.

    I drive on 151 and 6 everyday and I have more respect for tractor trailers than the cars. This is the reason. To drive the rigs you have to pass a physical (if their blood pressure or sugar is high they can not drive) to keep their CDL license and they have training as well.

    I drive a school bus and my route is on RT 664 and 151 and I drive on 6 everyday. Let me tell you my day hauling your children. When I have vehicles backed up behind the bus I will pull over and let them by me, this is safer for them and the bus. I have cars pass the bus when I have my RED LIGHTS AND THE STOP LIGHT ON! When you see a school bus that have their yellow lights flashing, that means they are going to stop. When the red lights are flashing that means YOU STOP! I have cars with Wintergreen parking permits on their bumpers, people going to pick up their kids from school and are late, neighbors and contractors pass the bus that is stopped (RED LIGHTS FLASHING AND STOP SIGN OUT) pass the bus. I know who you are and see you everyday. A few years ago I had a child that was almost hit by a car coming out of Stoney Creek. I was stopped the child was out in the road across from her house, the car never slowed down. I will never forget that feeling ever. Dump trucks and Rigs have always stopped for the bus!! But I know someday one would not. I guess I need to start turning these drivers in and take out a warrant and take them to court. I could also have a child take pictures from the front seat.

    Yesterday I was right on RT 6 and a car pulls out in front of the bus, trying to beat me; I also hit him in the rear. This car didn’t speed up enough to get out of the bus way.

    People are in a hurry and do not pay attention to the road or their surroundings and they talk on their cell phone, not getting enough sleep and that is what is causing the accidents.

  4. This was miss typed

    Yesterday I was right on RT 6 and a car pulls out in front of the bus, trying to beat me; I also hit him in the rear. This car didn’t speed up enough to get out of the bus way.

    I should have read I almost hit him in the rear.

  5. I’ve seen more sheriff deputies working Rt. 29 rather than Rt 151 on one shift. Maybe if they spent more time patroling Rt. 151 it would make a difference.

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