New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | August 19, 2022

VDOT recommendation causes snag to prohibit thru-truck traffic on Charles City roads

By Andre Jones | July 27, 2022 12:03 am

What was once thought to be an assured resolution to prohibit thru truck traffic on two roads in Charles City County hit a massive roadblock Tuesday night.

Charles City County leaders were disappointed to hear a presentation from Virginia’s Department of Transportation (VDOT) Assistant Residency Engineer Phillip Frazier that allows thru truck traffic to continue utilizing Charles City Road and Old Union Road.

The issue arose in Oct. 2019 when concerned residents living on Old Union Road voiced displeasure about thru trucks utilizing their road as an alternate route for deliveries. Residents raised concerns about safety and damage to the roadway because of vehicles traveling at a high rate of speed. In February 2020, residents along Charles City Road echoed those sentiments about traffic, saying that any traffic that was diverted from Old Union Road would affect them.

Charles City County Administrator Michelle Johnson began investigating, discovering that assistance from Henrico County was needed as part of Charles City Road occupied their locality. After nearly a year-and-a-half of negotiations, Charles City supervisors approved a resolution to prohibit thru trucks in June 2021.

But Tuesday night’s regular board of supervisors’ meeting left county leaders displeased on Frazier’s recommendation. During his presentation, the VDOT engineer said that utilizing guidelines provided by the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) would not warrant a prohibition on the two roads.

Frazier said that the main criteria not being met is having a reasonable alternative route. Guidance recommended that any alternate route to prevent thru truck traffic must not be three times longer than the current route, not exceed 10 miles, or exceed 10 minutes if used. The closest alternate route, which is Route 60 that travels through Henrico and New Kent, would be 6.8 times longer, be 12.7 miles longer, and also account for 18 minutes of travel time. Frazier added that crash data collected over the last five years also played a factor into VDOT’s guidance to address the restriction.

While supervisors were visibly disappointed about the news, District 2 representative and chairman Bill Coada was more upset about the waste of resources to address the situation.

“Why couldn’t you all [VDOT] done this criteria two years ago?” he questioned Frazier. “This could have been done right out the gate.

“We had to go back to resubmit our request, wait for Henrico, and go through all of these steps to get it done for citizens,” Coada continued. “This has caused us a lot of aggravation here tonight. I wish we could have gone over this a year-and-a-half ago.”

District 1 leader Gilbert Smith followed Coada’s lead, echoing his disappointment on VDOT’s recommendation.

“It’s not the information that I wanted,” Smith said. “I am very, very disappointed. I can understand the criteria, but I’m hoping that the citizens, especially of those on those two roads, are not sitting here and waiting for someone to get killed before it’s [criteria] is changed.”

Frazier said that the county could opt for trench widening, but it would be on the expense of Charles City. He also said that the inclusion of Charles City Road in the proposal had an impact on the study. According to the VDOT representative, Old Union Road could get a restriction because it would meet all the criteria required for it. The caveat, however, is that Charles City Road would have all the truck traffic as it would be the alternate route. County leaders did not even want to consider that option.

Meanwhile, it was a former Charles City County sheriff who wanted to send a message to VDOT on the issue.

“I thank the board for what they have done on this issue,” said B.A. Washington Sr., who lives in the vicinity. “But to me, one life loss is one life too many. I hope the board continues to work on the issue and not give up.”

Coada concluded the discussion, hoping for a better outcome.

“The issue is not dead, but it doesn’t look good.”