Saturday, June 15, 2024

JCC Looks to Citizens for Longhill Road Improvement Ideas

Longhill Road Symposium attendees ranked priorities for road improvements, including safety (red), traffic (yellow), environment (green), bike and pedestrian accomodations (dark blue), neighborhoods (light blue) and development trends (purple). (Photo by Brittany Voll/WYDaily)
Longhill Road Symposium attendees ranked priorities for road improvements, including safety (red), traffic (yellow), environment (green), bike and pedestrian accommodations (dark blue), neighborhoods (light blue) and development trends (purple). (Photo by Brittany Voll/WYDaily)

James City County staff is in the early stages of gathering information about a section of Longhill Road that may be widened.

The county held a symposium Thursday, run by design consulting firm Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. About 50 residents from the Longhill Road area, as well as a handful of business owners attended the symposium to participate in the planning process for the road’s possible improvements.

Consultants from Kimley-Horn and James City County Planner Ellen Cook made a presentation to the participants to start the meeting.

The road existed in 1863, Cook said, as she took listeners on a trip through Longhill Road’s lifetime. The road existed in its current location in the 1800s, and served the population as it grew over time. In 1953, the county’s population was 6,350. In 2011, the population was about 67,000. A website created specifically for the Longhill Road Corridor Study shows about 18,000 vehicles per day travel on Longhill Road.

The traffic volume has created some issues for the road regarding traffic and safety.

“During peak travel times it is not uncommon for westbound traffic on Longhill Road to be at backed up from Olde Towne Road, over the Route 199 bridge, and onto Route 199,” the website reads. “Further, Longhill Road is the primary or only route for several large residential communities, a high school, and the County’s Warhill Sports Complex.”

According to Kimley-Horn’s presentation Tuesday, the Virginia crash rate — calculated as the number of crashes per 100 million vehicle miles traveled — is 287. Longhill Road’s crash rate is 132. In 2012, there were 139 crashes on Longhill Road, 83 of which resulted in injuries. The highest number of crashes occurred at the intersection of Olde Towne and Longhill roads, with the Route 199 interchange taking a close second.

To solve these traffic and safety issues, and to fully accommodate bikers and pedestrians, the county is soliciting comments from the public and stakeholders about how to improve the 3 miles of the Longhill Road corridor from the Route 199 interchange to its intersection with Centerville Road.

One group created this vision for Longhill Road, with a center turn lane, bike lane and multi-use path. (Photo by Brittany Voll/WYDaily)
One group created this vision for Longhill Road, with a center turn lane, bike lane and multi-use path. (Photo by Brittany Voll/WYDaily)

At Tuesday’s symposium, attendees were asked to participate in activities to make their opinions about Longhill Road issues clear. Two interactive activities focused on the issues with the road and how it could be improved. One activity required tables of people to collaborate on identifying top priorities to be addressed: safety, environment, bikes and pedestrian accommodations, neighborhoods, traffic and development trends. Priority cards were arranged on sticks to show the rankings.

While each group ranked the priorities differently, safety and traffic tended to be top priorities. Lower on the list were development trends and neighborhoods. Environment was ranked at the top, middle and bottom across the board; bike and pedestrian accommodations were ranked in the middle to the top.

Following this activity, groups were asked to design their ideal Longhill Road, using a combination of lanes, medians, curbs, planted land next to the road, trees next to the road, bike lanes, multi-use paths and sidewalks.

Kimley-Horn will assemble all the input received at Tuesday’s meeting to make it available on the Longhill Road Corridor Study website. The website includes a projected schedule for the project. The public outreach is projected to last through August next year, when the project will go before the county’s Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.

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