Controversial roundabout in Richmond hits another roadblock

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A controversial plan to build a roundabout in north Richmond has hit another roadblock. The plan is to build it at the intersection of Laburnum Avenue and Hermitage Road. Some say it's needed to prevent accidents, but the plan hit another bump Tuesday night.

Councilman Chris Hilbert wants to stop a roundabout from being built there saying it would create new traffic problems. The city land use committee talked in great length about Hilbert's proposal. But in the end, the city administration was told to go back to the drawing board.

City traffic engineers told the land use committee the intersection of Laburnum and Hermitage was the fifth most dangerous in the city in 2008 with one accident every 19 days.

VDOT has provided a $380,000 grant to build the roundabout. $75,000 of that has already been spent in planning. But if the plan does not go forward, the city would have to reimburse VDOT the 75 grand.

Councilman Hilbert doesn't want the roundabout built. He says it would reduce the severity of accidents, not the amount. He's worried there wouldn't be adequate warning for drivers.

"You have a tremendous space between getting off interstate 195 there's no impediments between your vehicle and that intersection," said Hilbert.

Councilman Charles Samuels brought up concerns about driveways in the area.

"As I was backing out of McDonald's I counted to 10 to see if I could back out of my parking space safely and go forward and I had a hard time doing it. Is 10 seconds enough time on Laburnum or Hermitage when the cars are going 35 miles per hour," said Samuels.

Traffic engineers said a roundabout would slow those cars down to about 18 miles per hour. Some residents told council something needs to be done.

"This is now the fifth most accident prone intersection in the city up from six or seven if you do nothing we'll make it to number one," said resident Roy Reynolds.

City traffic engineers said a brochure about the roundabout would be distributed to residents and they could also watch an animated video on the public access channel. But, they were told to go back to VDOT and re-engineer the plan to address safety issues and concerns from citizens.

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