By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: Oct. 2, 2017 | 11:09 a.m.
COLONIAL HEIGHTS – For drivers in the Tri-Cities who use Temple Avenue to commute to work, home, or to nearby shopping destinations, the construction along the roadway near the Interstate 95 interchange hasn’t gone unnoticed, but, as of this morning, that work has been completed.
During the early hours of Monday morning, the Virginia Department of Transportation opened the completed roundabout along Temple Avenue that will serve as the new link between the popular thoroughfare that runs between Colonial Heights and Prince George County and I-95.
According to VDOT, the roundabout was finished roughly a month ahead of schedule after work on the road began during the spring of last year.
The opening of the new configuration comes after an in-depth study of the area in terms of traffic flow and accident data along with public involvement that resulted in the new $20 million intersection improvement, which features a unique roundabout design and lengthened interstate on-and off-ramps custom-built for this busy area.
During the project, construction crews worked to improve Temple Avenue between where the old I-95 interchange linked to Temple to Hamilton Avenue, expanding the roadway and installing new traffic signals.
“The new design will reduce congestion at the intersection and along the I-95 corridor, improve traffic flow on the interchange ramps and reduce the risk for severe angle crashes,” VDOT Spokesperson Lindsay LeGrand said last week ahead of the roundabout’s opening. “Additional benefits include reducing air pollution, decreasing fuel consumption and lowering overall maintenance costs long-term. The center island will also offer opportunities for beautification efforts as a gateway into the City of Colonial Heights.”
The intersection, which carries approximately 30,000 vehicles per day, will now operate as a roundabout at its new location, slightly west of the previous signalized intersection.
The multilane roundabout design features three bypass lanes at each approach that will allow traffic in those lanes to travel through the area without entering the roundabout intersection.
The project also features new lengthened ramps which will remove the merge point from the ramps at I-95 north and south, allow for vehicles to easily transition from interstate speeds to city limit speeds, improve overall visibility and better accommodate increasing vehicle capacity.
Leading up to Monday’s opening, VDOT spent time in the community demonstrating how the new traffic configuration would work. According to LeGrand, the project team has provided over 20 community outreach presentations throughout the life of the project, including several demonstrations of life-sized, walkable displays.
Beginning this morning, traffic will use the new ramps to approach the roundabout intersection. Drivers are encouraged to use extra caution in the new traffic pattern and carefully follow signs, pavement markings and orange barrels. Curbing on the new roundabout’s concrete median and splitter islands will be in place; however, crews will work to complete them over the next few weeks. The curbs of the islands are angled specifically to guide traffic in a counter-clockwise direction.
In addition, LeGrand said, “While the roundabout is expected to open early, construction continues on the project through November to wrap up installation of drainage facilities and guardrails, paving and landscaping,” and, “Drivers can expect continued intermittent, alternating lane closures in both directions during this work.”
For those who may be unfamiliar with how the new roundabout will work, VDOT provides the following information and tips:
- Follow signs and pavement markings for your safety.
- Slow down when approaching the roundabout.
- Yield to traffic already in the roundabout.
- As you enter the roundabout, keep right and drive in the counter-clockwise direction.
- Do not turn left when entering a roundabout.
- Do not change lanes or stop when in the roundabout.
- Use a turn signal and exit the roundabout with caution.
Those with questions about the project can visit http://95templeimprovements.org and those who would like to experience the interactive walkable floor display or request a presentation can contact Lindsay LeGrand at Lindsay.LeGrand@VDOT.virginia.gov or call 804-524-6179.