Traffic Improvements in North Downtown to Address Safety Concerns

By: Chris Stover Email
By: Chris Stover Email

March 11, 2014

Changes are ahead with the traffic pattern in one Charlottesville neighborhood after a tragic event on its streets last year.

"The important thing is something has to be done," Charlottesville city councilor Bob Fenwick said.

Fenwick, joined by fellow councilor Kathy Galvin and Mayor Satyendra Huja, met with residents of North Downtown near a traffic circle on Nelson Drive -- an intersection that residents say doesn't work in their neighborhood.

"We're trying to drive a conversation about opportunities to improve the design of our streets," North Downtown resident Matt Trowbridge said.

In October 2013, a 6-year-old girl was hit and killed by a truck traveling along Nelson Drive.

"Now there's so many children that there's a real concern to protect families who live here from traffic that is often dangerous," North Downtown resident Ariana Williams said.

Fenwick says the traffic problem in this neighborhood and others around Charlottesville needs to be addressed. He said many drivers use neighborhood roads as shortcuts in their commute.

"There's enough talking. We've got plans coming out our ears," he said. "It's time to start implementing some of those plans."

Neighbors got a glimpse at some of the plans on Tuesday. A new traffic pattern would remove the roundabouts painted on the roads -- which many drivers just pass over, anyway -- and replace them with stop signs and barriers.

The goal is to make drivers more alert.

"I think it's safe to say that none of us have an interest in pointing fingers," Trowbridge said. "We just are looking for ways to improve things going forward."

The Charlottesville Fire Department painted markups on the road earlier Tuesday to test out the new traffic pattern. The informal results were a success.

"We're going to see from there, if they work, great, we'll take it across the city. If they don't work, we're going to find some other way to do it," Fenwick said.

The new traffic pattern is scheduled to be installed within a week, and many say they hope this conversation and action is the beginning of changes in other parts of the city, too.

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