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    US 501 and US 221 Intersection Improvements Project

    The City of Lynchburg is proposing roadway improvements in the vicinity of the intersection of US 221 (Lakeside Drive) and US 501 (Lynchburg Expressway) to alleviate existing traffic congestions and delay, improve public safety, and accommodate anticipated traffic increases as growth continues to expand in the surrounding area.

    An Environmental Assessment (EA) is being prepared that establishes the project purpose and need, describes alternative solutions considered, and identifies potential project impacts, either positive or negative. The EA is being prepared pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA), in accordance with FHWA regulations for implementing NEPA and in coordination with FHWA, the Virginia Department of Transportation and in consideration of input from the City of Lynchburg community.

    As described below, the EA is available for review. There are several ways the public can participate in the NEPA and public participation processes and provide comments on the EA and the project overall.  

    1. THE ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT 
    The comment period for the Environmental Assessment closed on November 6, 2019. All public comments will be reviewed by the study team and FHWA and incorporated into a Revised EA, as appropriate. Responses to comments received during the comment period will be posted at a future date.   The EA and supporting technical documents will remain available to review at the following links: 
     
    1. LOCATION  OF WHERE THE PUBLIC HEARING WAS HELD 
    A Public Hearing was held on the following date and location:
     

    October 22, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
    City Hall, Council Chambers
    900 Church Street
    Lynchburg, VA  24504
     
    Prior to the public hearing, there was a project viewing session from 6 p.m.-7 p.m. outside Council Chambers for the public to review the alternatives, ask questions of staff, and provide written comment. Project information was presented at the 7:30 p.m. public hearing and comment cards was available. Please note the public comment period closed on November 6, 2019, or 15 days following the public hearing.
    1. PUBLIC HEARING COMMENT AND RESPONSE SUMMARY
       
      Six written comments were received from the meeting, and a summary of the comments follows. Please note that some comments covered multiple topics. Each topic is addressed individually. All comments are contained in this memorandum and are a part of the public meeting record. A summary of comments and responses is provided below.
       
      Comment 1: General comment asking how the public receives information related to new traffic areas.
      Response 1: To receive critical information about emergencies and other important community news, citizens may sign up for the Lynchburg Alert’s program. The system enables the city to provide citizens with critical information quickly in a variety of situations, such as severe weather, unexpected road closures, missing persons and evacuations of buildings or neighborhoods.  Sign up at: http://www.lynchburgva.gov/lynchburg-alerts
       
      Comment 2: Commenter would like to see new construction include wildlife crossings.
      Response 2: Comment noted and will be taken into consideration during the design and environmental permitting process. 
       
      Comment 3: Commenter states there is a need for safe pathways, not necessarily sidewalks, for pedestrians on Graves Mill Road.
      Response 3: This comment addresses an area outside the US501 and US221 Intersection Improvement Project area.  However, this comment has been noted and shared with the City of Lynchburg.
       
      Comment 4: Commenter expressed concerns about collisions on Graves Mill and Fort Avenue/Timberlake Road.
      Response 4: This comment addresses an area outside the US501 and US221 Intersection Improvement Project area.  However, this comment has been noted and shared with the City of Lynchburg.
       
      Comment 5: Commenter asks the trees that may be cut down be replanted elsewhere.
      Response 5: The preferred alternative (Split Intersection) would require land clearing. including tree cutting.  Efforts will be made to avoid (and minimize) tree removal and land disturbance to the extent practical.  The project design will include new landscaping, and all areas disturbed during construction will be stabilized (vegetated) as part of the project.   
       
      Comment 6: Commenter states the plan is not far-sighted enough and suggests use of overpass/ cloverleaf for more continuous movement on the expressway.
      Response 6: The Central Virginia Metropolitan Planning Organization develops a long-range transportation plan every five years for the entire Lynchburg metropolitan area, including portions of Amherst, Bedford, and Campbell Counties.  This long-range planning effort includes a comprehensive regional examination of existing and anticipated future land uses and projected traffic growth on the road network for the next 30 years.  The long-range planning effort examined potential changes in land use, which informed the selection of recommended projects.  The most recent long-range transportation plan, adopted in 2015, recommends the construction of the one-way pairs project at this intersection, and identified several improvement projects along both US 501 and US 221 outside of the US 501 and US 221 Intersection Improvements Project Study Area.  

      The US 501 and US 221 Intersection Improvement Project used traffic volumes from the regional travel demand model, which account for anticipated future changes in land use and the resulting growth in traffic across the entire region, not just at the intersections within the study area. 

      Early phases on the US 501 and US 221 Intersection Improvement Project included examining the impact of extending Jefferson Ridge Parkway to the Northwest Expressway.  The model results indicated that the impact to traffic volumes growth at the US 501/US221 intersection was minimal and did not impact the need for the intersection project.    The MPO is currently studying potential geometric upgrades to Forest Brook Road to better accommodate the mix of traffic desiring to use that route, however the traffic using Forest Brook Road and McConville Road provide connectivity for local trips in and around the immediate area versus serving the increasing levels of regional traffic utilizing the US 501 at US 221 intersection. 

      Three grade-separated configurations were considered in the preliminary screening of alternatives. The preliminary screening indicated all three grade-separated configurations had high potential for requiring additional right-of-way and relocating existing businesses, compared to the Split Intersection and the other three alternatives that were advanced for further analysis, in addition to higher construction costs. 

      The analysis of traffic operations indicates the Split Intersection will significantly decrease wait times through the intersections compared to the future No Build alternative.  Access to businesses will be maintained. The Whitehall Road connection will remain, and for businesses north of Whitehall Road northbound traffic on the US 501 will be able to make a left turn at the intersection with Old Forest Road for commercial access. Overall, the intersections with Lakeside Drive will have significantly decreased wait times with the improvements, versus the future no-build conditions. 
       

      Comment 7: Commenter questioned if a roundabout was considered at the main intersection.
      Response 7: In the initial screening of 15 alternative concepts a roundabout was evaluated and determined not to be a viable alternative.
       
      Comment 8: Commenter states the proposed alternative does not take into account the road network, future development outside of the area that would have travel through the area, or other solutions, simply because of cost. 
      Response 8: The Central Virginia Metropolitan Planning Organization develops a long-range transportation plan every five years for the entire Lynchburg metropolitan area, including portions of Amherst, Bedford, and Campbell Counties.  This long-range planning effort includes a comprehensive regional examination of existing and anticipated future land uses and projected traffic growth on the road network for the next 30 years.  The long-range planning effort examined potential changes in land use, which informed the selection of recommended projects.  The most recent long-range transportation plan, adopted in 2015, recommends the construction of the one-way pairs project at this intersection, and identified several improvement projects along both US 501 and US 221 outside of the US 501 and US 221 Intersection Improvements Project Study Area.  

      The US 501 and US 221 Intersection Improvement Project used traffic volumes from the regional travel demand model, which account for anticipated future changes in land use and the resulting growth in traffic across the entire region, not just at the intersections within the study area. 

      Early phases on the US 501 and US 221 Intersection Improvement Project included examining the impact of extending Jefferson Ridge Parkway to the Northwest Expressway.  The model results indicated that the impact to traffic volumes growth at the US 501/US221 intersection was minimal and did not impact the need for the intersection project.    The MPO is currently studying potential geometric upgrades to Forest Brook Road to better accommodate the mix of traffic desiring to use that route, however the traffic using Forest Brook Road and McConville Road provide connectivity for local trips in and around the immediate area versus serving the increasing levels of regional traffic utilizing the US 501 at US 221 intersection. 

      Three grade-separated configurations were considered in the preliminary screening of alternatives, which would more seamlessly connect the Lynchburg Expressway and Northwest Expressway.  The preliminary screening indicated all three grade-separated configurations had high potential for requiring additional right-of-way and relocating existing businesses, compared to the Split Intersection and the other three alternatives that were advanced for further analysis, in addition to higher construction costs. 

      The analysis of traffic operations indicates the Split Intersection will significantly decrease wait times through the intersections compared to the future No Build alternative.  Access to businesses will be maintained. The Whitehall Road connection will remain, and for businesses north of Whitehall Road northbound traffic on the US 501 will be able to make a left turn at the intersection with Old Forest Road for commercial access. Overall, the intersections with Lakeside Drive will have significantly decreased wait times with the improvements, versus the future no-build conditions. 
       

      Comment 9: Commenter requests to verify acute angle at north bound lane from expressway will work with design.
      Response 9: Comment acknowledged and will be taken into consideration.  Detailed analysis of roadway alignments will be performed during the design phase of the project.  The public will have an opportunity to review the design and provide comments during the design process.
       
       
      Comment 10: Commenter requests verify turning radius in front of Craft Honda will work with design. (Please note that this business has moved since comment was received)
      Response 10: Comment acknowledged and will be taken into consideration.  Detailed analysis of roadway alignments will be performed during the design phase of the project.  The public will have an opportunity to review the design and provide comments during the design process.
       
      Comment 11: Commenter asks to widen US 221 further to east and west.
      Response 11: The Central Virginia Metropolitan Planning Organization conducted a safety improvement study of the US 221 corridor from Cloverhill Boulevard to Forest Brook Road in 2014.  The study’s long-term recommendations include widening US 221 from two lanes to four lanes east of the Lynchburg Expressway and widening US 221 from four lanes to six lanes west of the Lynchburg Expressway.  The US 501 and US 221 Intersection Improvements Project is constrained in scope and funding to look specifically at the intersection of US 221 and US 501.  The US 501 and US 221 Intersection Improvement Project does not change the recommendations in the previous safety improvement study of the US 221 corridor.
       
      Comment 12: Commenter asks to consider full bypass and grade separation.
      Response 12: Grade-separated configurations were considered through the preliminary screening and were eliminated from further consideration due to high potential for requiring additional right-of-way, relocating existing businesses, and higher construction costs.
       
       
       
       
      Comment 13: Commenter asks to paint “Do Not Block” marking for fire station driveway.
      Response 13: Comment acknowledged and will be taken into consideration.  Elements such as signalization and pavement markings will be developed during the design phase of the project.  The public will have an opportunity to review the design and provide comments during the design process.
       
      Comment 14: Commenter asks to consider road tolls as a funding source.
      Response 14: Comment acknowledged. This comment is outside the scope of the Environmental Assessment.
       
      Comment 15: Commenter asks to add 501 north bypass and two left turn lanes for highway traffic.
      Response 15: The configuration suggested would allow northbound left turns from US 501 onto US 221 at the original intersection, which requires morel signal phases than the three-phase signal proposed for the Split Intersection alternative.  The three -phase signal processes traffic more efficiently because the reduced number of phases maximizes green time for the high-volume movements. Additional signal phases would lessen the efficiency of the traffic signal and result in longer delays and queues.  The configuration described in this comment would also introduce a new traffic signal on the limited-access portion of US 501 south of US 221, which is inconsistent with the function of this portion of the roadway. 
       
      Comment 16: Commenter is not in favor of large traffic circles and asks if such a design has been chosen. A response to your comment is provided below:
      Response 16: The preferred alternative (Split Intersection) presented in the Environmental Assessment does not include a traffic circle.  In the initial concept screening of 15 alternative concepts a roundabout was evaluated and determined not to be a viable alternative.
       
      Comment 17: Commenter requests keeping existing bus stops/service and asks for additional bus stops.
      Response 17: Bus routes and operations are planned and controlled by the Greater Lynchburg Transit Company (GLTC). The project team has communicated with GLTC during preparation of the Environmental Assessment and will coordinate with them during the design phase to evaluate/implement improvements they may suggest or request.  Your comment has been shared with the design team and will be taken into consideration.
       
      Comment 18: Commenter asks how vehicles will be able to access your home at 109 B Whitehall Road.
      Response 18: Property access will be maintained.  The details of access to individual properties will be addressed during the design phase of the project.  There will be another public hearing in the summer or fall of 2020 that will provide details of that access.  The public will have an opportunity to ask questions and provide additional comments at that time. Post cards will be mailed notifying stakeholders of the next public meeting date.
       
      Comment 19: Commenter requests information on how access to multiple roads will be handled.
      Response 19: City staff will work with the property owners to coordinate a future access plan for these parcels from Whitehall Road, Country Place Lane, or Old Forest Road. That plan will consider access needs for proposed development or redevelopment of those properties requiring access, based on the potential traffic generated by the proposed uses.
       

    PROJECT AREA

    The study area includes: South of Breezewood Drive on US 501, West of Breezewood Drive on US 221, North of RR Bridge on Old Forest Road, West of Old Forest Road/US 501 Intersection, East of Country Place Lane on US 221.

    PURPOSE

    The purpose of the project is to improve safety, increase capacity, and reduce delays along US 221 and US 501, which currently present some of the highest levels of congestion in the City of Lynchburg. Continued commercial, retail and housing growth has pushed the intersection over capacity, as exhibited by delays experienced during in the peak hours of travel.

    SCHEDULE

    ROLL PLOT

    Click here to view the roll plot.


    PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT

    A number of public involvement meetings will be scheduled to keep citizens engaged and gather input about the project area. Meetings will be advertised via postcard, email, media outlets, and this webpage.

    Pulbic Hearing held on October 22, 2019


    CONTACT

    Cella Molnar & Associates Inc., Public Information
    Heather Kennedy (434) 528-3041 or hkennedy@cella.cc

    Transportation Engineer
    Don Deberry (239) 565-8638 or ddeberry@pennoni.com