By Brent Wilson, Field Officer
On Tuesday, May 28th, the Greene County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing concerning the restriction of semi-trucks through downtown Stanardsville. This is one of several steps required to make it illegal for semi-trucks to travel through downtown Stanardsville.
The issue has gathered quite a bit of momentum among residents and business owners of Stanardsville, in fact, many wore a sticker with a line drawn through a truck. A total of 21 people spoke to the Board taking several different points of view, however, the main issue raised was safety with most of the county’s schools being located in Stanardsville.
Gary Lowe, mayor of Stanardsville, was the first speaker and Chairman Jim Frydl asked that he give an overview of the project. He indicated that this public hearing is one step that the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) . If the BOS passes the issue to VDOT then a study would be performed by VDOT which could then be forwarded to the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) for a final vote. The issue is the semi-truck traffic through downtown Stanardsville with the alternative being to route traffic east of Stanardsville onto Business 33 to connect to Route 230 heading to Madison County . Mr. Lowe pointed out that this t-intersection is problematic however traffic is managed as it is a narrow two lane road and the turning radius is very difficult for semi-trucks to navigate in either direction. Semi-trucks having business in Stanardsville will still be permitted to travel down Main Street as they currently do. Mr. Lowe summarized that this is a safety issue and with the Streetscaping Project beginning the reduced truck traffic would cause less wear to the street in town.
The issues that the speakers brought up ranged from the noise of the truck traffic, the vibration and potential damage to the sewer system, the owner of a preschool expressing concern for the children in her school, etc. The owner of the Lafayette Hotel, Alan Pyles , expressed concern over the noise of trucks changing gears in front of his hotel. Several speakers brought up the issue of dining outside being interrupted by truck traffic in town. Don Pamenter, head of the County’s Economic Development Authority, agreed that restricting truck traffic from downtown Stanardsville is not the ideal solution but hopes that Greene can work with Madison County to totally restrict semi-trucks from Route 230 and make Stanardsville more inviting. Jackie Pamenter, President of the Greene County Historical Society, gave some history of Stanardsville and how it was laid out with its narrow streets. She felt that truck traffic should be restricted through town and believes that Mr. Stanard would agree with her.
However, some speakers supported leaving the traffic pattern alone. Several speakers expressed concern about the turn radius if you force trucks to head westbound on Main Street and have to make the right hand turn onto Route 230 North. Trucks have to swing into the oncoming traffic lane and go up onto the grass of the opposite lane – blocking oncoming traffic – to complete the turn. The logic was that restricting truck traffic through town was just trading it for another problem making the right hand turn onto Route 230 North.
After the public speakers, Joel DeNunzio from VDOT addressed the BOS and outlined the process if the BOS passed the issue on to VDOT. There are 4 criteria of which 3 must be attained in order for the project to be approved.
1. A reasonable alternative route is available that is appropriate as the old route.
2. Is the character of the truck traffic not compatible with the area.
3. Roadway is residential – meaning per 1,000 feet there are 12 homes.
4. Rural alternative road – this alternative is not available
He confirmed that a safety study would be performed and made available to Greene County. Mr. Cox asked if there was any recourse if VDOT denied the change, which Mr. DeNunzio said there was none. Mr. Deane asked Mr. Lowe about the crosswalks in the streetscapes project and was told that they are to be stamped asphalt – the most cost effective alternative . Mr. Cox confirmed that making the right hand turn onto Route 230 is dangerous and that it is safer to make the left hand off Main Street onto Route 230. Mr. Deane stated he had not seen trucks speeding through Stanardsville and while restricting truck traffic through town may make it safer, there is an increased safety issue at Main Street and Route 230. Mr. Peyton stated he believes that truck drivers are safer than regular traffic as their CDL license depends on being safe and not being cited.
Chairman Frydl agreed with many of the points that the other supervisors raised and doubted that VDOT would approve the restriction but he placed a lot of value in receiving the analysis that VDOT would perform. In addition, he cited the overwhelming support of the public of passing this issue on to VDOT for their analysis and encouraged the BOS should let VDOT do the analysis and make a recommendation. At that point, the motion to pass on to VDOT was unanimously approved.
The Free Enterprise Forum applauds the open discussion and citizen activism that generated this request. We agree this is a safety issue that should be studied by the engineers at VDOT rather than be a political issue in Greene County.
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.