Why no crosswalks at Broad St. and Willow Lawn?

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – A viewer Called 12 wondering why there are no crosswalks to help pedestrians at W. Broad Street and Willow Lawn Drive. This week, we got some answers.

If you want to walk across, you have to dodge all the lanes of traffic on Willow Lawn and even more on West Broad, but the authority on this says crosswalks would just make the intersection worse.

Watch Lissa Searfoss make it across the busy intersection all by herself.

"Yay! Can I come back?" she said, Monday, with a smile.

That day, we asked if she would keep walking, to help illustrate her problem.

"When you go to lunch, you know, it's like taking your life in your own hands," she said.

Lissa works just a block away, and she wants to know why an area with so many shops and places to eat isn't more pedestrian friendly?

ANDY: "And you can walk on the sidewalk, but to cross the street's a whole different story?"

LISSA: "Right, you  cannot cross the street without someone…you have the chance of getting hit."

So after Lissa Called 12, we called around wanting to know who's responsible. What we eventually found out is that Broad Street is a state roadway. That makes it VDOT's responsibility. And while they may sound simple, crosswalks just can't be put in overnight.

There would have to be new signal heads, push buttons, and maybe even a redesign of the traffic signal. But those aren't even the biggest reasons for no crosswalks.

"You'd have cars backed up on all three approaches," said Robert Vilak, a VDOT traffic engineer.

Vilak explained, Thursday, that there's too much traffic and too many turning lanes to make a crosswalk that's both safe and effective.

"That would, essentially, turn Broad Street into a parking lot in that area," he said.

ANDY: "What makes a good candidate for a crosswalk, then?"

ROBERT: "Usually a location where we don't have really  heavy turning movements."

So, for now, the intersection stays the way it is, making Lissa feel like she's come to a dead end.

"I think a lot more people would use these businesses if we could get across the street," she said.

We did, however, discover that VDOT, this fall, will be studying pedestrian traffic on W. Broad Street. The study will attempt to identify if there are other more appropriate places for crosswalks.

We'll be On Your Side with the new information as it develops over the next several months.

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