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AN IMPORTANT bit
It doesn't have anything to do with planned improvements, but rather how emergency vehicles can get through the intersection safely and quickly.
Falmouth Volunteer Fire Department President Dave Stewart said his crews constantly have problems making it through the intersection, especially from Butler Road. One reason is that drivers don't know what to do when an emergency vehicle approaches with lights flashing and siren blaring.
The intersection's signals have sensors on them that change all other lights to red, leaving the travel lane for the emergency vehicle with a green light.
The problem is, most drivers sit there, even with the green light, forcing the firetruck, in Stewart's case, to use the left lane on Butler. He worries a northbound vehicle on U.S. 1 could turn right onto Butler and crash head-on with the truck.
In this case, and at other intersections with the sensors, drivers in the lanes with the green light and an approaching emergency vehicle should go through the intersection (cautiously) and safely move to the "nearest edge of the roadway," allowing the rescue vehicle to pass, as state code stipulates.
If drivers can't pull through the intersection, Stewart said they should pull as far to the right as they safely can.
There isn't much, if any, room on Butler to do that now. Hopefully, the intersection improvement project will fix that problem.
Dear Scott: Quite a while ago the left-turn (yield) signal at Garrisonville Road and Onville Road [in Stafford County] was changed to a left-turn signal. Since then most eastbound traffic on Garrisonville Road going to the Marine base goes through Barrett Heights Road and turns left onto Onville. The intersection of Barrett Heights and Onville can be dangerous at times.
If VDOT would change the left-turn signal back to left-turn yield, then more traffic would use that safer route.
--Robert Douglas, Stafford
The State Route 610 left-turn signal at Onville was changed after Stafford officials requested it following a high number of crashes, according to VDOT's Kelly Hannon.
She said there were too many crashes when the signal had a "permissive green," meaning drivers had to yield to oncoming traffic but could still turn.
VDOT looked again at the intersection, but still considers the crash risk too high to change the light back to the old pattern.
VDOT engineers also checked to see whether the turn signal time should be extended. They found that the left-turn traffic flowed well and that extending the length of the signal would cause too much delay for the other lanes.
VDOT also looked at the crash history at Barrett Heights and Onville between 2008 and 2010 and found that only one of five accidents was caused by a vehicle pulling from Barrett Heights onto Onville.
Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436