Ashlanders concerned about walkers crossing Route 1

ASHLAND, VA (WWBT) – People living in Ashland are worried about pedestrian safety.  Lots of college students and folks who live in the apartments near Caroline Street often walk across Route 1 to get to work or go shopping, but some people say it's too dangerous and something needs to be done.

Police said while there's been no specific incident, this is a spot they keep a close watch on.

We watched as a number of people crossed Route 1 near Caroline Street.  A woman had to stop in the middle of the busy road and wait for a chance to make it all the way across with her groceries.  A man had a little better luck with fewer cars coming, but it still looked tricky.

People are concerned about the scary commute on foot and so are town leaders.  They are studying the area, but here's the hold-up: there's only so much they can do.

"The problem is that it's difficult for the town of Ashland to do anything in and of itself; we are regulated by VDOT's standards and guidelines in terms of how you manage your streets," said Terri Winston-Abri with Ashland Town Council.

The town asked VDOT to install a crosswalk across Route 1 at Caroline street, but the area just doesn't meet the right criteria.  It's not located at a light or stop sign, and isn't a spot drivers would expect a crosswalk to be, meaning it may hamper rather than enhance safety.

A crosswalk and a number of other improvements have been approved at the nearby intersection of Routes 1 and 54.  That should make the entire area more pedestrian-friendly, and people may choose the safe alternative by walking out of their way to use the crosswalk, but construction on that project won't begin for a few years.  Town council will keep working in the meantime.

"We are hoping in the very near future that we will be able to come to some sort of positive conclusion in regards to this area whether it's something we'll need to work out with the shopping center or however," she said.

Town leaders say if nothing else they are hoping to raise awareness about this issue so that drivers will slow down and pedestrians will be more careful.

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