ROANOKE, VA. – The Virginia Department of Transportation is looking for feedback before possible changes come to Route 460 to improve congestion and safety issues.
Thursday night, VDOT officials hosted a public meeting at the Berglund Center in Roanoke to educate the public on traffic and safety along a five-mile section of Route 460 (Orange/Challenger Avenue), located in Roanoke and Roanoke County between Williamson Road (Route 11) and Route 220 Alternate (Cloverdale Road). They also encouraged feedback and ideas about what changes or improvements drivers would like to see.
“I’ve been really concerned about the traffic issues along 460,” said Katie Pyne, a driver who attended the meeting.
When Pyne and her husband moved to Roanoke 20 years ago, she said rush hour wasn’t a problem. Though, as the city grew, so did the number of cars on that road.
“It’s probably one of our most congested corridors in the Roanoke area,” said Michael Gray, the planning manager for VDOT’s Salem district.
Some of VDOT’s solutions could include constructing innovative intersections, optimizing signal operations, installing pedestrian and bicyclist safety measures, and improving transit operations.
“It could be something as simple as the timing of the signals out there, improvements to turns, turn lanes and things like that," Gray said. “Or it could be, you know, a little bit bigger. Situations where we’re looking at multiple intersections."
Max Beyer, who lives in Bonsack, had other suggestions.
“The road’s going to have to be widened all the way through," Beyer said.
“Increase the length of some of the left turn lanes," Pyne said. "I hope they don’t add any new lights.”
That stretch of 460 sees over 40,000 vehicles a day and experiences significant congestion during weekday peak commute times. VDOT also found that 67% of accidents that occur along that route happen near intersections with traffic signals.
From 2014 to 2018, there were 865 total crashes along this stretch of 460. Six of those were deadly. More than 200 crashes resulted in injuries and there were also 12 pedestrian/bicycle crashes, two of which were deadly.
City officials and citizens alike have discussed widening 460 for years. The idea has never been approved.
Gray said that proposed lane expansion between 11th Street NW and Gus W. Nicks Boulevard would have cost around $70-80 million. Such an expensive project couldn’t compete with other needed improvement projects statewide.
The new improvements VDOT is considering would cost $1-5 million each.
Drivers at the meeting agreed that as Roanoke has grown, the region’s infrastructure has been coasting in neutral. They say now is the time to switch into gear.
“Traffic is not going to slow down. Development is not going to slow down," Beyere said. "Something’s got to be done now, and not 10 years from now.”
“It’s just, it’s just a recipe for a lot of troubles,” Pyne said.
VDOT posted an online survey to receive public input on a planning study to consider potential safety and operational improvements.
The survey closes on Dec. 1. VDOT officials then hope to come back to the public in January or February with a recommended improvement plan.
More information about the project can be found on VDOT’s website.