Longer turn lane endorsed

Published 1:09 pm Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Backups are a regular occurrence

         By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

After completing a review of early morning traffic on Route 10 in Smithfield, the Virginia Department of Transportation is recommending lengthening the westbound left turn lane to Turner Drive.  

The current length of the turn lane, which leads to Smithfield High School, is approximately 75 feet with a 100-foot taper, according a VDOT memorandum dated Feb. 14. The department is recommending the lane be lengthened to 250 feet with an increased taper length of 150 feet. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

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According to VDOT’s findings, 40-45 cars drive past the typically school bus-crowded turn lane during the first 15 minutes after 7 a.m., and make a right turn into the parking lot of Sherwin-Williams Paint Store, then wait for a light to cross the busy road onto Turner Drive in the direction of the high school.

The queue of school buses in the left turn lane will often overflow into the left most thru lane, creating what VDOT refers to as a “jug-handle” movement. The overflow also occurs during the afternoon, “but to a slightly lesser extent,” according to VDOT.

VDOT also reported that there have been 12 crashes in the past three years near the intersection, including four “angle crashes,” with three crashes directly involving Route 10’s westbound left turn lane, according to the memorandum.

The increase in the length of the westbound left turn lane “will help prevent the jug-handle left turn and increase utilization of the left turn lane,” according to VDOT.  {/mprestriction}