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By CATHY DYSON
Quentin Elliott, the top VDOT official in the Fredericksburg region, told King George supervisors and residents on Monday what they'd been waiting to hear.
He said that before his department starts construction of a controversial road-improvement project near Dahlgren, he'll have his office do another study to see if a traffic signal is warranted. If it isn't, he'll try to get a flashing light at the intersection of State Route 206 and Owens Drive.
"We're willing to look at those two things," said Elliott, district administrator for a 14-county region that runs from Stafford County to the Northern Neck. "Within a year of construction, we'll study it again and see if it meets the warrants for a traffic light. We're not going to put it in and walk away from you."
Supervisor Chairman Cedell Brooks Jr. thanked Elliott, who left his Virginia Department of Transportation office early on Monday so he could drive to the intersection and check out the traffic flow for himself.
"I think you did a good job. A lot of things have been answered," Brooks said. "I think most people in the area will appreciate a light."
Monday night's work session between the supervisors and VDOT officials came after seven months of discussion about planned left- and right-turn lanes from Route 206 onto Owens and Windsor drives.
Residents and Supervisors Ruby Brabo and John LoBuglio complained repeatedly about the design that required what they described as an inordinate amount of private land. VDOT designers went back to the drawing board and scaled back the needed right-of-way clearances, but King George residents still had concerns about safety.
Brabo and others, especially, were concerned about people trying to cross the intersection and having to travel over four lanes--without a signal to regulate traffic flow.
The supervisor said it reminded her of the old arcade game Frogger.
In a previous meeting, one VDOT official told supervisors that adding turn lanes would allow traffic to go through the intersection even faster.
That worried Brabo, who lives near the intersection where the speed limit is 40 miles per hour.
On Monday night, Elliott reacted quickly when Brabo brought up the erroneous comment from the other VDOT employee.
"That's why he's not here today," Elliott said, adding it was his job to make sure correct information is disseminated.
Elliott, Fredericksburg's district administrator, also showed the group the revised plans for the intersection. Engineers have redrawn the slope and length of the turn lanes to reduce the number of property owners affected. The first plan involved 24 parcels, the second includes only six. Likewise, VDOT has trimmed the number of parcels requiring easements, for road or utility work, from 25 to 15.
While VDOT was willing to scale back the length and breadth of the project and take another look at the need for a traffic signal, it wasn't willing to redesign the whole thing, Elliott said.
When LoBuglio asked if the department would look at putting a roundabout at the intersection, Elliott politely told him "no" in so many words.
He said it would cost another $500,000 for the design work, while roundabouts are beneficial in some situations, he doesn't believe the intersection on the road to Dahlgren is one of them.
"It's probably not the most ideal because there's not a balanced traffic flow," Elliott said.
Brabo asked VDOT officials to do their traffic count when school is in session. Its most recent count was done on June 27-28, when school was closed.
Elliott agreed, and at Brabo's request, said he'd leave a copy of VDOT plans at the county office. That way, Brabo said, other residents can look at the design changes to the intersection.
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425