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A group of roughly 40 local residents met at Matoaka Elementary School Wednesday night to discuss the Virginia Department of Transportation’s proposed design changes to the intersection of Centerville and News roads in James City County.
The proposal was more favorable to local residents than past design plans, according to VDOT spokesperson Brittany McBride.
“As long as it makes it safer for the residents,” said James City County Administrator Bryan Hill. “Our ability to make our residents, as well as any motorist, safer is key.”
The plans include construction of turn lanes, mountable curbs in order to reduce property impact, and the installation of a traffic signal at the intersection, according to a VDOT news release.
The project is expected to impact local landowners with an increased right of way of .26 acres and permanent easements of .60 acres. Past presentations by VDOT had indicated that a roundabout would require fewer acres eased, but more acres of land would be needed for the right of way than the current proposal.
“We expect this proposal is going to have a much more positive response because we’re spreading out the right of way easement throughout the corridor,” said McBride.
Past plans to construct a roundabout at the intersection were amended after VDOT received public criticism questioning both the necessity of the roundabout and the use of eminent domain to acquire the land for the right of way.
Land owned by John and Diane Thompson on the intersection had previously been threatened with eminent domain, and they had both been vocal in their opposition to the roundabout.
“It’s a lot better,” Diane Thompson said of the revised plan. “We know we have to have something for safety, but it’s not as intrusive on our property. Right now, we’re a lot happier with this proposal than the roundabout.”
McBride said she was pleased with the levels of constructive criticism at prior public comment hearings.
“Thanks to citizens coming out at the last meeting this project now reflects what they wanted,” she said. “It’s supposed to have that sort of public involvement in the process.”
The public comment period for the project will end on Nov. 26, and the comment for can be found here.