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The roundabout way of resolving traffic issues at Waynesboro intersection

The intersection of 13th Street and Rosser Avenue in Waynesboro is sorta, kinda, my connective tissue to the outside world, from my residence in the Tree Streets.

Back in June, the tissue suffered a tear, when a utility pole that had housed traffic signals was replaced by Dominion Energy, and the city wasn’t able to reattach the signals to the new pole.

Leaving those of us using 13th to exit the Tree Streets onto Rosser to fend for ourselves at stop signs, cursing the city under our breaths as we patiently await the open lane.

Bad news: it doesn’t look like we’re getting the traffic signal back.

The city is leaning toward installing a roundabout at the intersection to control traffic. City staff went through the options for City Council on Tuesday, formally recommending the roundabout solution, which would cost an estimated $420,000.

A new traffic signal would cost $425,000, so it’s not necessarily cost savings that are at the forefront, at least in the short term.

The roundabout does provide significant cost savings over time, and traffic studies have shown that they tend to be much safer than signals because they reduce conflict points and force traffic to slow down to move through the roundabout.

Which is fine, that the studies show that. I’ve had only limited experience driving through a roundabout, in the town in Maryland where my late mother had settled a few years ago, and I guess based on my limited experience, I never quite got what I was supposed to do when there were other cars to navigate through.

We’ll all no doubt get the hang of it with practice, based on what the studies have had to say.

Another, more salient issue raised by locals in response to the roundabout plan has to do with the routing of emergency vehicles through that intersection. The stretch of Rosser in question connects Main Street to the bustling Rosser-Lew Dewitt Boulevard-Interstate 64 business corridor, and is the logical connector for police, fire and rescue operations located downtown to that part of the city.

Re-routing emergency vehicles down Main Street east to South Delphine then to Interstate 64 adds two minutes to the access time, and going west on Main to Lew Dewitt adds three minutes, according to unscientific simulations that I ran using Google Maps online.

Two or three minutes might not sound like much, but add two or three minutes to a building on fire, or a person enduring a heart attack or stroke, and it can mean the difference between life and death.

This, of course, wouldn’t be an issue if city leaders had codified the results of the 2007 referendum in which residents overwhelmingly approved a West End fire station, but the will of the people being what it was, they didn’t.

That’s another column for another day.

The traffic signal solution, based on my cursory analysis just of the emergency-vehicle situation, seems to make the most sense, but it looks pretty clear that we’re going to get ourselves a roundabout.

Maybe we can leverage this into a renewed push for the West End fire station, which we will also need once the roundabout is in place.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press