On Wednesday, July 17th, representatives of the Safety Circuit Rider Program, which is associated with the University of Virginia’s Center for Transportation Studies, visited the City of Martinsville for the purpose of conducting a Road Safety Assessment (RSA) in an area of the city prone to heavy traffic congestion and crashes. The program provides services to localities which maintain their own roads, and includes the RSA, which involves a field visit, as well as formulation of low-cost solutions to enhance safety on segments of the jurisdiction’s transportation system. According to the Safety Circuit Rider Program’s website, the initiative is a joint effort involving the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the Virginia Transportation Research Council, and the University of Virginia Center for Transportation Research.
The RSA focused on the portion of Commonwealth Boulevard which comprises the adjacent intersections of Market Street and Liberty Street – one of the most heavily-trafficked areas in the city, and one with numerous crashes – particularly the Market Street intersection. One issue which has been identified along this road segment is drivers turning right (westbound) from Liberty Street onto Commonwealth Boulevard, and then immediately transitioning to the left-turn lane to turn left onto Market Street – vehicular movements which result in safety issues and congestion. Another issue identified was drivers turning right from Market Street onto Commonwealth Boulevard (eastbound), pulling out to see if traffic is coming, and then getting hit by vehicles turning left onto Commonwealth Boulevard from McDonald’s. A third identified issue was lack of pedestrian accommodations across Commonwealth Boulevard, particularly crosswalks.
Following the RSA and field visit, the team presented several low-cost safety enhancements which could be easily implemented.
- One suggestion advanced by the team was enhanced overhead signage on Commonwealth Boulevard as well as on the Liberty Street approach to Commonwealth Boulevard. Specifically, more visible diamond-grade sheeting was recommended to enhance visibility of these signs.
- The utilization of thermoplastic arrows, which are more visible to drivers than traditional arrows painted on the pavement.
- A recommendation to pull the pavement stop bar further back on the Market Street approach to Commonwealth Boulevard, which will reduce the likelihood of vehicles turning right on the red light and colliding with vehicles turning left onto Commonwealth Boulevard from McDonald’s.
- The placement of thermoplastic pedestrian crosswalk lines at the Liberty Street intersection with Commonwealth Boulevard to more safely facilitate pedestrians to cross Liberty Street onto the traffic island in the roadway.
- Another recommendation put forth for the City to consider was a mid-block pedestrian crossing on Commonwealth Boulevard to include a crosswalk and a pedestrian-activated signal to more safely enable pedestrians to cross this busy roadway.
The Safety Circuit Rider Program is available to localities throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, and more information can be obtained at http://www.cts.virginia.edu/safety-circuit-rider-program/.