By Brent Wilson, Greene County Field Officer
The Route 33 by-pass around Stanardsville in Greene County was built in 2000. This project was first envisioned in 1964 as part of the Virginia Arterial System that was designated for 4-laning and bypasses around major towns. The connection between US-33 from I-81 at Harrisonburg to US-29 at Ruckersville was considered an important part of this plan. Elkton’s bypass was completed in the early 1970’s. In addition to improving traffic flow on the arterials, such bypasses also reduce the impact of through traffic on the towns bypassed, especially tractor trailers. Logically you would think that “if you build it, they will come”
But for traffic coming to and from the North, geometry wins out.
Traffic coming from the north and wanting to cross over to Route 81 have two options to get there. They can take the right triangle of Route 29 South to Ruckersville and head west on Route 33 and take the scenic bypass [16.0 miles]. However, the shorter route is the hypotenuse of the right triangle. From Madison take Route 230 South which ends on the east side of Stanardsville and then turn right through town on Main Street (old Route 33) toward the valley [12.6 miles]. Of course, this works in reverse for traffic heading north.
So, the economics of taking the shorter (less costly route) wins and one of the benefits of the bypass is significantly diluted. The question is should through truck traffic be prohibited in Stanardsville?
This issue is significant enough to be included in the Town of Standardsville Comprehensive Plan.
The Main Street of Stanardsville currently sustains an excessive amount of truck traffic, 9% of all vehicles. This leads to heightened safety concerns, increases need for roadway maintenance, and generates pollution and noise in close proximity to businesses and homes. The route is utilized as a shortcut by trucks travelling eastbound on Route 33 to northbound on Route 29, although there is little evidence that this alternative route saves time on average.
At the February 26th BOS meeting Supervisor Davis Lamb brought up a citizen’s request to hold a public hearing to discuss the Town of Stanardsville’s request to consider the restriction of truck traffic in Stanardsville
Chairman Jim Frydl said the BOS would be willing to hold a public hearing if there were any facts regarding safety issues and concerns.
Fast forward to the March 26th meeting. Stanardsville Mayor Gary Lowe was one of 14 people addressing the issue of truck traffic in Stanardsville. Speaking under “other matters from the public” Lowe explained that the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has four criteria to check before they will consider redirecting tractor trailer traffic of which the first three have been met. The fourth step is to have the BOS hold a public hearing and then decide if they will pass a resolution of support that would then be forwarded to VDOT. VDOT would then have up to 9 months to render a decision based on a study of alternative route safety, impact on trucks and does it benefit the community. VDOT must also have support and commitment of local law enforcement before they agree to redirect truck traffic.
Sherriff Steve Smith addressed the BOS and stated that his department is neutral on the matter but that he could enforce the new restriction if VDOT approved.
The other speakers expressed concerns from safety issues, the streetscape expenditures to happen this year, noise issues, aesthetic issues, etc. Only one speaker, after listing five negatives about the truck traffic in Stanardsville, offered up a positive – it is less traffic on the bypass.
The BOS made no comment in response to the issues raised under “matters from the public” session of their meeting. The Free Enterprise Forum applauds the public’s participation and encourages the BOS to go forward with the public hearing to allow comments from both sides of this issue.
Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.
The Free Enterprise Forum Field Officer program is funded by a generous grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® (CAAR) and by readers like you. To support this important work please donate online at www.freeenterpriseforum.org
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