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It's back to drawing board for Lynchburg engineers wanting to make major intersection safer

City officials hope to finish environmental study on U.S. 501/ U.S.221 July 2019

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Jane Rennyson moved to Lynchburg five years ago. She is one of the 66,000 people who drive through U.S. 501 and U.S. 221, also known as the Lakeside Drive, Old Forest Road intersection, every day.

"I like to avoid this area around lunchtime. And just recently I've noticed around 5 or 6 o'clock it gets really congested. So, I try to head over here early in the morning,” Rennyson said. 
 
In 2006, the city did a traffic analysis to fix the highly congested intersection and were not successful in finding grant money. 

Up until now, city transportation engineer Donald Deberry says they're looking for state and federal help. 

But to reduce the cost of the project, they've got to an environmental study with a price tag of $1.5 million.

VIEW A MAP OF CRASHES AT THAT INTERSECTION SINCE 2011

"We have to look at other alternatives that might be less impactful on the environment. And from the environment we're talking about wetlands, wildlife and endangered species, water quality, noise and air quality,” Deberry said. 

They also have to develop a design, splitting the total cost of $4 million with Virginia Department of Transportation.
 
"We don't think the design will cost quite that much. But it will be close. The balance of those funds after we negotiate the design fee will be used for right-of-way acquisition; if we need some easements. If we can get those two pieces of the job then we're that much closer to construction,” Deberry said.

But getting closer to construction might not be as quick as some drivers would like. City engineers say if everything goes according to plan, they're looking at six years until they can get the money.

"That's a long time. I feel like a lot more people are going to move to this area in that time. And I guess that's just a problem with any city that's growing. There's going to be a lot of traffic,” Rennyson said. 

We’ve attached a PDF file, explaining the number of crashes the city has seen at the intersection. 

City officials also tell 10 News they hope to finish the environmental study in July next year, design will take another 18 months. Once they have enough information to present to the public. They will post when and where they will host public meetings on the city’s website.