BOONES MILL, Va. – Route 220 might be Franklin County's most vital road, and the Virginia Department of Transportation is looking for ways to make it better.
VDOT has scheduled three public meetings to exhibit possible aspects of its Route 220 Preservation and Improvement Plan. The plan focuses on the 60-mile stretch of Route 220 from the Highway 419 interchange in Roanoke south to the North Carolina border.
"We aren't talking about a major realignment project or a major infrastructure investment," said Jason Bond of VDOT. "These are small, low-cost improvements that help with improved mobility, traffic flow and safety."
Bond says small improvements to Route 220 are the current strategy because VDOT does not have the funding to build the long-proposed Interstate 73 along 220's corridor.
Some sections of Route 220 south of Roanoke handle more than 30,000 drivers a day.
Ben David and Kenneth McFalls are both Franklin County residents who commute up Route 220 for work every weekday. Both say their stretch of road often becomes filled with traffic.
"I just have to prepare myself and give myself extra time to get to and from work," said David, who drives from Penhook to Roanoke for work. "I can't be in a rush."
"Normally I leave around 7, and I'll usually have a short delay," said McFalls, whose commute takes him from Boones Mill to Salem. "This morning, I left at 7:30, and there were four separate incidents on 220."
VDOT is still working out which concepts to pursue, but McFalls has a few ideas on how to improve Route 220.
"I'd like to see VDOT improve the timing on some of the lights to allow rush hour traffic to flow a little bit," McFalls said. "Also, they could maybe add a lane in a few places."
The meetings are Nov. 7 at Clearbrook Elementary School in Roanoke County, Nov. 13 at the Essig Recreation Center in Rocky Mount, and Nov. 14 at the Henry County Administration Building outside of Martinsville.