The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors backed a potential roundabout at the intersection of John Warner Parkway and Rio Road on Wednesday.
The board approved a resolution of support for the project’s submission to Smart Scale, the state’s method for funding large-scale transportation projects, after asking for more information about the proposal in June.
County Transportation Planner Kevin McDermott said county staff and the Virginia Department of Transportation worked together to determine whether to apply for the roundabout, or an RCUT cut at the Rio and Belvedere Boulevard intersection or combine both projects into one application. The board ultimately threw its weight behind the roundabout.
“The John Warner Parkway intersection is more problematic from both an operational and safety perspective,” McDermott said. “There’s been a lot more accidents at that location as opposed to Belvedere, as well as there’s a lot more conflicted movements at that location.”
The entities are also more confident that the roundabout is the right solution for the parkway intersection, McDermott said.
In a restricted crossing U-turn, or an RCUT, side street traffic that wants to turn left would turn right and travel to a median cut and dedicated turn lane to make a U-turn. Vehicles turning left from the main street onto the side street would have a dedicated left turn lane.
“We are about to enter into the Rio Road corridor study, and that corridor study is really going to be evaluating these intersections, along with many others in the corridor,” McDermott said. “In reviewing this with our selected consultant on that project, we really looked at that John Warner Parkway roundabout, it’s the only real option we have there to address the traffic problem, whereas at Belvedere, I think there may be some other options that we could look at. That could be potentially signalization, potentially a roundabout or other innovative intersections.”
VDOT said during the design phase that the RCUT would work best if there was a roundabout in place, he said.
The latest cost estimate for the roundabout is $7.8 million, with the county kicking in $2 million if the funding is ultimately approved by the state.
Supervisor Ann Mallek asked if the county would be able to make changes to the application when the corridor study is complete.
“I really am concerned about the time we’ve lost on other projects where we have to just stop, and hopeful that will not happen,” she said.
McDermott said that Smart Scale has a policy that if significant changes are made to the proposed design, or if there’s significant cost changes in the final design, the project must be rescored, so it might not get removed if changes are needed after the study.
VDOT will announce the scores in January, but construction would not start on projects that receive funding until around 2027.
The Board of Supervisors also approved three remaining special exception requests for a Crozet lumber mill.
In July, the board approved 14 other special exceptions for R.A. Yancey Lumber Co., which had requested multiple special exceptions from Albemarle to reduce setbacks, allow buildings closer to dwelling units and allow expanded hours of operations.
The outstanding requests were to reduce two 100-foot setback requirements for a proposed sorter-stacker machine to 35 feet and to allow the location of the proposed sorter-stacker machine approximately 350 feet from a house. In July, the board deferred these requests, pending the addition of mitigation conditions, such as fencing for nearby neighbors.
At their Aug. 5 meeting, board members asked to delay the vote for more clarity on the conditions.
The mitigation conditions were finalized well before Wednesday’s meeting, and include installing three wooden fences that are at least 10 feet tall along three property lines, multiple sounds tests and a sound study.
Neighbors surrounding the mill have complained about lights and noise from the mill.