Posted by: project151 | December 17, 2007

Media Watch : From NBC-29 Charlottesville, VA : Short Term Safety Solution for Route 151

From: NBC-29
Reporter: Jenn McDaniel
December 17, 2007

Link to video of this story by clicking here.
NBC 29 Screen Grab

Short Term Safety Solution for Route 151

Route 151 in Nelson County is in the spotlight. A string of fatalities has people demanding change.

A mother and her two children were killed trying to turn onto Greenfield Road off of Route 151 in August. Reports show the driver who hit them, fell asleep at the wheel.

Then, in October, another woman died on the road after being struck by a car that crossed the double yellow line.

Although it’s too late to turn back time, work is being done to make the highway safer in the future. In early November, VDOT put together a working group composed of local leaders, members of the General Assembly and concerned citizens to brainstorm possible solutions. Now, not even two months later, they’ve successfully completed their short-term plan of attack.

Traffic is slowing down on Route 151 in Nelson County. Last week new signs were installed, showing a reduced speed limit of 45 miles per hour.

People who live on the road and VDOT agree that change can already be seen on the two-mile stretch of Route 151 between Route 6 and Route 784.

“What we’re seeing right now and just looking at it, here right now it looks like it’s working and the traffic is beginning to slow down,” said VDOT’s Kevin Wright.

Radar trailers are also in place to help train people to change their ways.

“There’s a lot of having to learn that there is a new speed zone in effect. You wouldn’t expect people to know that immediately,” said Tommy Stafford, leader of Project 151.

In addition to the speed decrease, increased police presence was part of the plan. More officers are monitoring the 7,000 drivers passing through each day.

“We hope to see some major effect from that,” shared Wright.

The leader of Project 151, a community group working for a safer road, says change was needed because of a change in times. Stafford remembered, “This was kind of just a quiet little valley going through, you know.”

Now, it’s used by skiers, commuters, and is a cut-through for truck drivers. The modifications are a change from the past, but drawing attention that will hopefully alert people to be careful in the days to come.

“This is a rural highway that has quite a bit of traffic on it right now, and it does require attention to be paid when you’re driving,” stated Wright.

VDOT is applying for funding right now in order to accomplish more long-term goals. Ideas on the table include adding a turning lane to the Route 635 intersection and getting flashing lights installed.

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