February 24, 2014
Drivers in Louisa County have had a few days now to get used to a new traffic pattern on Route 15 through Zion Crossroads, but not all are happy about the changes taking place.
Despite the frustration and confusion, law enforcement officers say they've seen no traffic incidents or crashes since the diverging diamond interchange opened on Friday.
"The fact that it's a new traffic pattern that's only been seen in a couple places in the United States, I think, was a little worrysome at first," said Maj. Donnie Lowe of the Louisa County Sheriff's Office.
The diverging diamond is one of six such interchanges throughout the United States.
"It doesn't make sense to me," Buckingham County resident Sheria James said. "I think it's going to be more of a headache than anything else."
The interchange briefly shifts traffic into the opposite lane to eliminate the traditional left turns onto Interstate 64.
"It's a little confusing at first but I can see how the traffic pattern can be helpful," Lake Monticello resident Ken Albright siad.
With the change in traffic, police said they were expecting some incidents on the road. However, they've seen none.
"I think once it's up and running, it'll be a good thing. It's just going to take a little getting used to," Lowe said. "I think the fact that you see oncoming traffic going by on your right instead of your left could be a little nervewracking for the first few times you go through there."
Crews spent part of the day Monday adjusting the traffic signals to better increase the flow of cars, but some drivers say they're still skeptical that all of this will actually improve congestion on the road.
"Due to the patterns, the way that you have to go left, right, around, I don't think that's necessary when at first, all you had to do was just go through," James said.
The confusion was apparent for some drivers.
"[My light] had actually turned green, and there were cars still coming from the other side," Mineral resident Walter Carter said. "It's a little confusing at first. We thought we were on the wrong side of the road. Followed the barrels, finally made it through."
Construction on the remainder of the project is expected to continue through mid-April. Contractors will paint the lines on the road, eventually making it two lanes in each direction. Until then, the orange construction barrels will remain.
"Sometimes you can get a sense that you're trapped in a sea of orange barrels there and don't know which way to go," Lowe said.
But there's no undoing the new way of Route 15.
"I just think they didn't think it through all the way," James said.