On August 20th, the Danville Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), staffed by the West Piedmont Planning District Commission (WPPDC), adopted the Route 58 West Access Management Study. The study advances a series of recommendations to improve safety and functionality along the U.S. Route 58 corridor in the City of Danville and Pittsylvania County. This study serves as an update to the Route 58 West Access Management Study and Plan, which was adopted in 2012. That original study comprised the U.S. Route 58 corridor in Pittsylvania County from just west of Long Circle east to the Danville city line, which is a total distance of about 5.6 miles.
The 2020 study includes the same section of the U.S. Route 58 corridor in Pittsylvania County, in addition to U.S. Route 58 Business (Riverside Drive) from the Danville city limit east to Piedmont Drive. The entire portion of the segment studied, extending from just west of Long Circle east to Piedmont Drive is 11 miles in length.
The updated study was necessary for a number of reasons. First, with Southern Virginia Mega Site at Berry Hill infrastructure work nearing completion, development of the infrastructure of the Southern Virginia Mega Site at Berry Hill nearing completion, it is likely that investment at that facility will begin soon. Development at this industrial park will result in increased traffic volumes along the U.S. Route 58 corridor, both due to commute and freight traffic. Second, VDOT has embraced innovative intersection concepts (see the Restricted Crossing U-Turn [R-CUT] examples below), which the agency was not readily promoting at the time the 2012 study was underway. Third, and very significant, the state’s Smart Scale funding paradigm was instituted in the years following the adoption of the 2012 study. This, in combination with VDOT’s adoption of innovative intersection designs and the fact that the Southern Virginia Mega Site at Berry Hill is primed for development, necessitated the update of this study to implement the most effective improvements to the U.S. Route 58 corridor which would also be competitive for Smart Scale funding.
This updated study includes a number of recommendations to preserve capacity and improve safety along the corridor. Three high-priority recommendations were developed as part of this study, and they include the following:
- Restricted Crossing U-Turns (R-CUTS) at U.S. Route 58 Business (Riverside Drive) at James Road and Cambridge Drive in the City of Danville.
- An R-CUT is an innovative intersection design which permits both right and left turns from the major road onto the minor intersections, but only permits right turns from the minor approaches onto the major road. Drivers who wish to turn left from the minor approaches must, following a right turn, proceed a short distance to a designated U-Turn within the median. The R-CUT provides two major benefits to the traveling public and for commerce. First, the prohibition of left turns from minor approaches improves roadway safety, as vehicles entering the major road from the minor approaches can only turn in one direction – right – thereby avoiding possible collisions resulting from these vehicles crossing multiple lanes of traffic.
The second benefit involves a reduction in travel delays. This is especially true for vehicles entering the major road from the minor approaches. So often, delays result from vehicles waiting to turn left onto the major roadway, but since R-CUTS only permit right turns from the minor approaches, delays are reduced significantly. R-CUTS can also improve performance of the major roadway because many times, they can supplant traffic signals, thereby improving traffic flow.
- A Restricted Crossing U-Turn (R-CUT) at U.S. Route 58 Business and Barrett Street.
- An engineering study to determine the feasibility of reducing the speed limit from 55 MPH to 45 MPH from Barrett Street west to Oak Lane – a distance of 1.5 miles.
Other important recommendations developed as part of this study include the following:
- New turn lanes and the extension of existing turn lanes at intersections and median crossovers, which will help to improve safety and roadway function at these critical points along the corridor. Recommendations propose both limited-access turn lanes as well as those serving full access median openings.
- Closure of certain median openings along the corridor to comply with VDOT road design standards. Fewer median openings translate to fewer vehicular conflict points – and subsequent crashes – as well as a better functioning roadway.
- Identification of business access points that do not meet VDOT spacing standards. Some commercial establishments – particularly those in the vicinity of intersections – are served by multiple vehicular access points, some of which are very near to the intersections themselves. Multiple access points in one area can result in traffic slowdowns as vehicles enter and exit the roadway, and they often result in a greater number of crashes than at intersections with fewer or poorly-placed access points. For example, a business at an intersection may have an access point very close to an intersection so that, when a vehicle makes a turn at that intersection, it may conflict and collide with a vehicle exiting the business due to an insufficient amount of space between the intersection and the access point for both drivers to see and avoid each other.
- Locations for new median crossovers.
- The conversion of several other intersections to R-CUTS, in addition to those included as part of the high-priority recommendations.
- The possible addition of a multi-use path parallel to U.S. Route 58 Business between Barrett Street and Radio Lane, which is a distance of about 0.5-mile.