Isle of Wight seeks solution to Channell Way traffic

Published 1:54 pm Monday, June 6, 2022

Isle of Wight County is looking for solutions to a problematic intersection in Carrollton.

According to Jamie Oliver, Isle of Wight’s director of transportation, motorists turning left onto Carrollton Boulevard from Channell Way, heading toward north Suffolk, must frequently stop at the break in the highway’s median and wait for a gap in traffic – blocking northbound traffic from Deep Bottom Road from crossing the four-way intersection.

“If you stop to wait for traffic to break, you’re in somebody’s way,” Oliver said.

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Channell Way is one of two access roads that would connect a proposed 52-home expansion of The Crossings development to Carrollton Boulevard. The Crossings’ condominium and commercial phases are underway, but the expansion, which is projected to generate an additional 491 average daily vehicle trips, has not yet secured approval from county supervisors.

“As traffic continues to build in that particular area, with these other developments, that particular place is going to get more problematic,” said Carrollton-area Supervisor William McCarty.

The Virginia Department of Transportation has proposed three solutions based upon anticipated traffic conditions in 2045. One is to signalize the intersection and convert it to what Oliver called a “full quadrant” for $22 million to $26 million; she described as being similar in concept to what was done for the intersection of Benn’s Church and Brewer’s Neck boulevards when the Benn’s Grant housing development began building out. A scaled-back, $21 million-$23.5 million “partial quadrant” option would also add traffic signals to the intersection. Both options, according to VDOT, would achieve an estimated 10% reduction in crashes.

VDOT’s third proposal, estimated to cost $15 million to $20 million, is to create what Oliver termed a “partial displaced left-turn lane.” Option No. 3 would avoid the need for traffic signals and would achieve an estimated 20% reduction in crashes by cutting off Deep Bottom Road’s access to Carrollton Boulevard and turning the street into a cul-de-sac.

“Closing (Deep Bottom Road), I think, is probably going to cause other issues with citizens that utilize that direction, so I’m not sure what the solution is that’s not super-expensive,” McCarty said.

Traffic projections for 2045, Oliver noted, are “not necessarily real-life.” Should Isle of Wight supervisors wish to address the issue sooner, they have the option of funding their own traffic study and looking for alternatives.

An “easy first step,” Oliver said, would be to do a traffic count to find out how many people are using the Channell Way intersection to turn left onto Carrollton Boulevard.

“When you look at it, independent of VDOT, then you can consider your choices independent of VDOT,” Oliver said.

Another option would be for the county to ask VDOT to conduct a safety study. The advantage of going through VDOT, Oliver said, is that once the safety study is completed “VDOT is obligated to implement those changes.”

The disadvantage in going through VDOT is that Isle of Wight would lose any say as to what those changes are, Oliver said. Should the safety study agree with closing the median break as proposed in Option No. 3, then VDOT would close the median break regardless of whether the solution is popular with residents of Deep Bottom Way who would lose their direct access to Carrollton Boulevard.