New Lakeshead Drive Speed Limit Unsafe, Queens Lake Residents Say is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.

The speed limit between Bowstring Drive and Allendale Place will soon be reduced to 30 mph. (Marie Albiges/WYDaily)
The speed limit between Bowstring Drive and Allendale Place will soon be reduced to 30 mph. (Marie Albiges/WYDaily)

About a year ago, Queens Lake resident and Homeowner’s Association President Marie Homer received a call from one of her neighbors.

“I see VDOT out there changing the signs from 25 [mph] to 40,” the neighbor said of Lakeshead Drive, the two-lane road that leads into the isolated Upper York County neighborhood.

Unbeknownst to Queens Lake residents, the 25 mph signs that had been posted between West Queens Drive and Allendale Place for more than 10 years were illegal.

The unauthorized speeds were brought to the Virginia Department of Transportation’s attention in April 2014 by a Queens Lake community board member, and the speed limit between was changed back to VDOT’s mandated 40 mph to the dismay of some Queens Lake residents, who felt the faster speed was unsafe for both drivers and pedestrians.

Two speed limit studies later, the speed stands at 30 mph between Bowstring Drive and Allendale Place, but residents are pushing for it to be lowered back to the 25 mph they had become accustomed to.

“The residents that are here really would like it to be a safe residential speed,” Homer said, explaining she wants VDOT to conduct a third study during the summer, when pedestrians and cyclists are using the road more frequently.

Lakeshead Drive runs parallel to the Colonial Parkway, curving and winding for about 2 miles from West Queens Drive to the entrance of New Quarter Park with little or no shoulders and no sidewalks or bike lanes.

In the summer, many children frequent the mile-long stretch of road as they ride their bicycles to the community pool located at the end of East Queens Drive.

Homer said she often sees cyclists on the road heading to one of the many mountain bike trails situated in New Quarter Park.

Two crashes have been recorded in the stretch of road between Nov. 1, 2011 and Oct. 31, 2014, with no injuries reported in either of the crashes.

There is also no room for a police officer to park and enforce the speeds along Lakeshead Drive, Homer said.

She said the concerns were “overwhelming” at the homeowners association meetings. To her knowledge, no one in the community has expressed opposition to the speed limit going back to 25 mph.

Shortly after VDOT changed the signs back to the legal posting of 40 mph in April 2014, she asked for a speed limit study to be conducted in the hopes of bringing the speed limit back to 25 mph.

The study, conducted on May 22 and June 5, showed 85 percent of the drivers examined drove comfortably — meaning drove at speeds in which they felt safe and at ease — at an average speed of 47 mph between Hubbard Lane and Bowstring Drive, and at an average speed of 37 mph between Bowstring Drive and Allendale Place.

During the study, the Traffic Engineering Division looks at factors such as prevailing speed data, roadside development, parking practices, pedestrian activity and crash history.

The study resulted in an increase to 45 mph from Hubbard Place to Bowstring Drive and a reduction to 35 mph between Bowstring Drive and Allendale Place, with 25 mph continuing to the park.

This map shows the areas of the VDOT speed study. (Courtesy VDOT)
This map shows the areas of the VDOT speed study. (Courtesy VDOT)

The followup study executed Dec. 10 lowered the speed by 5 mph between Bowstring Drive and Allendale Place, but Homer, who has lived in the neighborhood for eight years, said the speed still is not where it ought to be to drive safely.

“Unfortunately I think there‘s going to be a tragedy before they listen,” Homer said.

Supervisor Walt Zaremba, who oversees the district in which Queens Lake is situated, said several residents have also approached him with concerns.

“That road essentially really belongs to Queens Lake,” he said at a March 3 Board of Supervisors meeting, when he brought the issue to the other members.

“I would venture to say that people going to work in the morning, people coming home at night — which are generally working-age people — blow down that road,” he said, adding he had a “hard time understanding” why the requests to have the speed set at 25 mph could not be granted.

Rossie Carroll, who oversees VDOT’s operations around the Greater Williamsburg area, said at the board meeting a number of factors go into speed studies, including inattention, crashes and how comfortably people feel they can drive on the roads.

He said he is working with the homeowners association and discussions are in place for another speed limit study.

“I’m not looking to wage war,” Homer said. “We’re not asking for the moon here. We’re just sticking to our guns with the residential part of the neighborhood.”