Sunday, January 29, 2023

JCC Working Toward Safer Pedestrian Crossings in Jamestown H.S. Area

James City County is working toward safer pedestrian connections to Jamestown High School and the surrounding area. (Alexa Doiron/ WYDaily)

JAMES CITY COUNTY — The James City County (JCC) Department of Planning Division will apply for funding for the potential addition of safer pedestrian connectivities around the greater Jamestown High School area.

The JCC Department of Planning Division recently released a survey asking community members to provide input on pedestrian accommodations in the area.

Ruth Larson, JCC Berkeley District supervisor, said that safety in Route 5 Corridor has been a concern of hers for some time.

“I travel that section of Route 5 daily and have noticed an increased usage of that intersection by pedestrians of all ages,” she said. “I had asked James City County Staff to please look into the possibility of putting in a crosswalk and so I am very appreciative of the efforts to do so.”

The intersection provides pedestrian connectivity to Jamestown High School and its track, tennis courts and fields, a number of homes on both sides, a private school on the Greensprings side, a church on the Jamestown side and the Capital Trail which provides connectivity throughout the Rt. 5 corridor and out to Jamestown.

Larson said that she has noticed that a number of people that use the intersection “cross in an unsafe fashion with apprehension as they try to beat the traffic.”

“It is imperative that crossing Route 5 be safe,” she said. “That intersection can also be tricky in the late afternoon due to the sun conditions so again, any improvement to that intersection that will help open up increased connectivity in our County to allow for more pedestrian, bike, skate board traffic, but doing so in a safe manner, is very important.”

Paul Holt, Director of Community Development/Planning Director, said that the timing was right to address these issues as every two years, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) opens up a source of funding through the Transportation Alternatives (TA) Set-Aside Program.

The TA Set-Aside is part of the federal Surface Transportation Block Grant program and provide funding for transportation projects for non-motorized traveling, particularly for pedestrians and bicyclists.

With the 2021 application due Oct. 1, Holt said that, based on community feedback over the last two years, the County felt the project would be a right fit for the grant.

“When we asked where we should prioritize putting crosswalks and sidewalks, overwhelmingly, the number one priority request that we got from citizens was to connect neighborhoods to schools and parks,” Holt said.

The County encourages JCC citizens to fill out the survey, as Holt said that incorporating public input in the grant application will be helpful.

Holt said that once the application is submitted by October, it will likely be several months or through the end of the calendar year before the County learns if the project will be funded or not.

The survey, which closes Sept. 15, asks community members to rank if there are any barriers preventing them or their children from walking or biking safely to the school, as well as providing input on whether they would use additional sidewalks and crosswalks if they were to be added.

The survey can be found here.

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