LYNCHBURG (WSLS 10) – Lynchburg’s fastest growing commercial corridor is along Wards Road.
With that growth, comes more traffic and more crashes. About 30,000 vehicles pass through there every day.
Day and night, the road is packed with cars, something Lewis Preston, who lives on one of the crossroads, Atlanta Avenue, is very familiar with.
“You can hear cars coming up and down this hill during the night, just flying,” said Preston.
Police say all that traffic is adding up to a lot of crashes.
More than 120 in the past three years, sending 14 people to the hospital.
“Many collisions are rear-end-type collisions. Very low speed, very low mechanism of injury for the occupants, but it’s still a crash, we still have to respond,” said Lt. Anthony Martin with Lynchburg Police.
Martin said at this point, there’s very little that police can do to stop it.
“We’ve tried speed-reduction type projects out there. The issue with that is, it’s really not a speeding issue that’s causing the crashes,” said Martin.
Meanwhile, that backed-up traffic is causing drivers to cut through Preston’s neighborhood.
“People get cut off and almost hit and I have seen people down here that have been hit before,” said Preston.
VDOT has just completed a study of the Route 29 corridor (Wards Road) in Campbell County and determined, at least for now, the road shouldn’t be altered.
“Just widening a road does not necessarily fix the issues. A lot of times that can create more problems, and understanding our funding streams, where we’re at, it was realistic to acknowledge that access management was going to be one of the alternatives that we were looking at from a design perspective,” said VDOT Planning Manager Rick Youngblood.
Access management means looking at the side roads like Atlanta Avenue.
The city of Lynchburg worked with VDOT to spend more than $24,000 on another study there. The result? A proposed roundabout in front of the shopping center.
“We do anticipate the change in traffic pattern with the mini-roundabout should slow traffic down, because you need to yield when you’re coming up to the mini-roundabout,” said Lynchburg Transportation Engineer Maggie Cossman.
That roundabout would cost around $200,000 and Cossman said the plan is to begin construction this summer.
Other plans include widening another crossroad, Wards Ferry.
Martin said, he has hopes that those changes will reduce the number of calls his officers respond to, but in the meantime, he has a message to drivers.
“Pay attention, even more so in heavy traffic because cars are extremely close together during that, and if your attention is diverted anywhere else, the likelihood of you running into the car in front of you is pretty high,” said Martin.
The Region 2000 Local Government Council has actually launched an online traffic survey for people living in Lynchburg and its surrounding counties.
If you know of an area that is a specific risk to drivers, you can tell them about it by clicking here.