Posted by: project151 | December 6, 2007

Media Watch: Editorial : Lynchburg News and Advance : A Small Step to a Safer Va. 151

A Small Step to a Safer Va. 151
Lynchburg News & Advance
Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Virginia Department of Transportation has taken one small step toward making Virginia 151 in Nelson County a little safer. The speed limit on a section of the highway that has seen five fatalities in the past six months has been lowered from 55 mph to 45 mph.

Other steps remain to be taken to make the road safer. But the reduced speed limit should help slow down traffic on the two-lane scenic highway that runs through the northwestern section of the rural county.

The section of highway with a lower speed limit runs from the intersection with Virginia 6 north to the intersection with Virginia 784. It has been called “a critical area” by Nelson Supervisor Allen Hale.

The supervisors, along with a group of concerned residents who live along the roadway, have been pushing for a number of items that they believe will make the highway safer. A turn lane at the site of an accident that killed a mother and her two daughters in August is one of those proposals. It is still under discussion.

Hale pointed out last week that another of the proposals “centered on removing (tractor-trailer through traffic) on the road.” The big trucks use Virginia 151 and Virginia 6 as a shortcut between Interstate 64 and U.S. 29.

Removing the truck traffic from the curvy, two-lane highway would make it safer, but the Commonwealth Transportation Board has said the number of houses along the road and the number of trucks that use it don’t make it eligible for a ban on the truck traffic.

Try explaining that to someone who has either been involved in an accident with a truck on the highway or had a close call with one.

Paula Jones, the Lynchburg District’s VDOT public affairs manager, acknowledged that the increase in traffic has been a significant change for the rural community. “It’s a faster pace than I think a lot of people may have expected in their neighborhood,” she said.

Central District Supervisor Connie Brennan, who has been involved with the project to make the road safer, greeted the news that the speed limit had been lowered on that one section with, “That’s music to my ears. That road is so dangerous just because of the increased traffic and there’s so many distractions,” she said.

Lowering the limit to 45 mph on a section of the highway will achieve two goals for the time being. It will make the highway safer and the slower speed limit could ultimately discourage truck drivers from using the shortcut.

That the level of truck travel has increased on Virginia 151 in recent years is not in dispute. The concern now is what to do about it – on a highway that was never intended to accommodate huge tractor-trailer rigs.

The lower speed limit will make that section of Virginia 151 far safer for those who live and work in that section of Nelson County. It’s an appropriate response to a critical need. Now, to make the slower speed effective, the state and county must diligently enforce it.



  1. A great editorial and P-151 appreciates the continued support of the News and Advance editorial staff.

    Just to be clear in defense of VDOT regarding this sentence in the editorial:
    “A turn lane at the site of an accident that killed a mother and her two daughters in August is one of those proposals. It is still under discussion.”

    The turn lane proposal is well beyond that point. VDOT has asked for the money regarding this intersection, and will be making the modifications over the coming months. Though it takes time, P-151 can personally attest that local supervisor Tommy Harvey and VDOT are committed to seeing the work gets done.


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