The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), with the assistance of EPR consultants of Charlottesville, is working toward the conclusion of a Strategically Targeted Affordable Roadway Solutions (STARS) study along a large segment of Riverside Drive (U.S. Route 58 Business) in Danville. The corridor study area extends from the intersection of Riverside Drive and North Main Street west to the Piedmont Drive off-ramp in the vicinity of the Honda dealership – a distance of approximately 3.2 miles (see a map of the study area below). The STARS program is administered by VDOT to “[D]evelop comprehensive, innovative transportation solutions to relieve congestion bottlenecks and solve critical traffic and safety challenges throughout the commonwealth,” according to VDOT’s website. Other partners of this effort include the City of Danville and the Danville Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), staffed by the West Piedmont Planning District Commission.
Riverside Drive was selected for the study largely because of safety issues identified along the corridor by VTrans 2040, Virginia’s statewide transportation plan. In particular, safety issues along numerous segments as well as at intersections along the roadway were identified as areas for potential safety improvements.
The Riverside Drive corridor is a major arterial road spanning the City of Danville from east to west, and is generally aligned parallel to and north of the Dan River. The corridor provides direct access to numerous commercial uses including a variety of dining establishments, hotels and motels, auto dealerships, shopping plazas, and many other retail and related establishments. Residential homes as well as apartments are also located within very close proximity of the corridor. Furthermore, Riverside Drive provides access, via Piedmont Drive and Mount Cross Road, to the Danville Mall and Coleman Marketplace – two regional shopping centers. Numerous roads intersect Riverside Drive, resulting in many traffic signals. And because of the large number of commercial establishments, many driveways exist throughout the study area, which can result in traffic slowdowns and a higher incidence of crashes.
The study process began early this year, and a number of draft concepts have been developed to address vehicular and pedestrian movements. Some of the vehicular recommendations may include adjusting the geometry of intersections to promote safety, and replacing conventional intersections with Restricted Crossing U-Turn (R-CUT) configurations. An R-CUT allows drivers to make a right turn from an intersecting street, but not a left turn; to turn left, a motorist would initially turn right, enter a left-turn lane and make a U-Turn (see the diagram below). This configuration enhances safety by prohibiting left-turn movements from intersecting streets so that motorists will not cross multiple lanes of traffic, thereby reducing the likelihood of collisions. Other vehicular improvements along the corridor include closure of some median crossovers, and various targeted spot improvements.
Despite the myriad commercial and retail establishments located directly along the corridor and residential uses within close proximity, the study area lacks sidewalks in most areas. Draft recommendations may include the provision of sidewalks on Riverside Drive to enhance safety and facilitate use by pedestrians. In conjunction with these improvements, the study may recommend the provision of crosswalks and traffic signal adjustments to safely enable pedestrians to cross the busy roadway. Bicycle facilities are unlikely to be included in this study because the popular Danville Riverwalk Trail runs parallel to and is in close proximity to the corridor. Lastly, a bus pull-off may be proposed in the study, since Riverside Drive is served by Danville Transit bus routes.
A public input meeting is planned for Wednesday, September 25th to enable members of the public, business owners, and other stakeholders to weigh in on the recommendations. A venue and time will be announced shortly, but it is anticipated that this meeting will take place during the late afternoon and early evening. Check the RIDE Solutions Facebook page, the West Piedmont Planning District Commission website, and the Danville Register & Bee for announcements in advance of the meeting. Following the public input session, final recommendations are planned to be developed in October.