September 5, 2007
In the past three years, there have been more than 40 wrecks in a two-mile stretch of Route 53. All these accidents have raised some concern as to what is to blame and what can be done to help to prevent more lost lives.
A couple months ago, Jessica Lester lost her life traveling this dangerous stretch of road. Her Honda Accord was hit by a cement truck in front of the Monticello entrance back in June.
After that fatal accident, VDOT began looking closer at the area starting at Michie Tavern and ending two miles away heading toward Fluvanna County.
“It’s a stretch of road that's a primary road, but very rural and character,” explained VDOT Residency Administrator Allan Sumpter.
VDOT found most accidents were side swipes, running off the road or angle accidents, but almost all could have been prevented.
“Obviously going through the vicinity where Monticello is, the question is how can we do that and protect the elements of the road the way that it is,” said Sumpter.
To answer that question, some possible results of this study could be more warning signs like pavement messages, rumble strips or flashing lights.
With the growth of Fluvanna County and Lake Monticello, more residents are using the narrow road to make their way to Charlottesville, and now Albemarle County leaders are looking at making it safer.
“It’s a dangerous road. We need to improve it in whatever way we can, therefore, I’m in favor of not just studying it, but acting on it,” said Lindsay Dorrier, Albemarle County Board of Supervisors.
Widening the narrow road is not an option for at least the next six years. Sumpter said other road construction projects are in the front seat, like improvements to Route 29 and other primary roads.
The final conclusions of the study will be made in the next couple of weeks. VDOT is hoping to have all of the traffic improvements underway sometime this fall.