The Town Council revisited the topic of Edwards Ferry Road and the Rt. 15 bypass during a work session Monday night.
Back in March, councilmembers approved a resolution in regards to right turn lane improvements at the intersection, which would include improvements consisting of dual right turn lanes for vehicles turning from eastbound Edwards Ferry Road onto southbound Route 15.
Some council members suggested that a crosswalk be included due to a large amount of people who cross the road every day. However, following a recent analysis, town staff recommended that it would be unsafe and cause delays.
“It's driver expectation. When you're on a high volume, higher speed limit road you're not expecting a pedestrian to be in the roadway," said Capital Projects Manager Renee Lafollette. "We're dealing with a speed limit of 45 mph and we're designing a free flow right turn lane off of Edwards Ferry onto the bypass. So you're crossing a free flow right turn lane as well. That' why, as staff, we don't feel it's safe."
Lafollette added that the addition of pedestrian clearance times would cause substantial delays on an already congested roadway. However, Councilman Dave Butler felt that many of those arguments could be resolved.
“If we’re going to be serious about making the town more pedestrian and bike friendly then there’s going to be an impact,” Butler said. “I’d really like to see staff give us an estimate on what it would cost to put a crosswalk in.”
Councilman Tom Dunn and Vice Mayor Kevin Wright disagreed.
“We have to keep people safe,” Wright said. “Putting a crosswalk on this road is not safe.”
Lafollette suggested that a second Virginia Regional Transit (VRT) Safe-T Ride shuttle be used instead. The current shuttle has been a safe way for pedestrians to cross the bypass and is used by 168 to 208 people daily, she said.
According to town documents, the average waiting time for a bus was found to be 30 minutes. With the addition of a second bus, at an estimated cost of $90,000, the headway could be reduced to 15 minutes while reducing pedestrian traffic.