North Main Street-460 intersection plans disappoint neighbors

By Bethany Teague - Reporter
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BLACKSBURG (WSLS 10) - The future of a dangerous Blacksburg intersection has many neighbors disappointed.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board approved the R-cut plan, which will eliminate the left turn options at the North Main Street-460 intersection.

Blacksburg town council originally submitted the R-cut proposal. However, this received community opposition.

"There are going to be greater problems created by the R-cut expanding from the intersection," said resident Joel Herbein.

There is concern among neighbors that the R-cut plan will make the North Main Street-460 intersection safer, but it will force U-turns at other dangerous intersections. Because of this, town council asked the CTB to discard that plan. Town leaders and residents worked with VDOT for months to come up with a grade separated interchange plan instead. But the CTB ultimately decided to deny the request to withdraw the R-cut proposal, and therefore it refused to consider the grade separated interchange plan.

The R-cut plan will cost around $3.3 million. The interchange project was estimated to cost $37.7 million.

"The $37.7 million dollar cost of the grade separated interchange would absorb almost all of the expected District Grant allocation for the entire Salem District," said Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne.

Layne went on to explain why the CTB did not discard the R-cut plan, as Blacksburg asked, and why it did not consider the interchange proposal.

"First, the CTB decided that it was in the best interests of the motoring public to continue with the more cost effective, timely, and targeted intersection safety improvement project.  Second, a project that has been selected for funding may be cancelled only by action of the Board.  Because project scores are measured relative to one another, to allow the withdrawal of a project after scoring would unfairly affect all the other projects that competed for funding in that round of scoring."

Blacksburg leaders said they will lobby for changes in the current R-cut design to address more safety concerns. Residents said they would like to see modifications like a lower speed limit and extended turning lanes.

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