Traffic study recommends Turner Drive improvements

Published 7:35 pm Friday, September 2, 2022

A traffic study recommends that Turner Drive be “strongly considered” for safety improvements.

According to the study by the engineering firm Kimley-Horn, an s-curve spanning from Smithfield High School to the road’s connection with Scott’s Factory Road sees crashes two to three times as often as other rural secondary roads in Hampton Roads and statewide. Crashes that result in injuries are also more common on Turner Drive than comparable roads.

The study recommends improvements be “targeted to correct for roadway departure-type crashes,” which, according to Isle of Wight County Transportation Director Jamie Oliver, refer to crashes where a vehicle runs off the road.

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The study proposes four options, each of which would entail widening the road’s travel lanes and shoulders.

Alternative No. 1 would widen each lane to 12 feet and each shoulder to 3 feet at a cost of roughly $9.2 million. This should decrease crashes by roughly 49%, the study estimates.

Alternative No. 2 would widen each lane to 12 feet and each shoulder to 6 feet at a cost of roughly $10.5 million to achieve a roughly 5% reduction in crashes.

Alternative No. 3 would widen each lane to 12 feet and each shoulder to 3 feet, but focus only on the segment of Turner Drive where the most severe crashes have been reported. The cost estimate for No. 3 stands at $4.17 million, and would achieve the highest cost-to-benefit ratio with a 49% reduction in crashes.

Option No. 4 would widen the lanes to 12 feet and the shoulders to 6 feet, again focusing only on the most problematic area of the road. No. 4 achieves the second highest cost-to-benefit ratio with a 55% reduction in crashes and estimated $4.72 million cost.

Cost-to-benefit data is one of the key factors the Virginia Department of Transportation examines when deciding which projects to award state funding, Oliver said.