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Spotsy man seeing red over Mine Road light
Spotsylvania man says new signal turns his driveway into no-man's land

 A drainage system keeps rainwater from overflowing into Gathers' driveway, but he says the new traffic light causes him problems.
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Date published: 12/11/2012

BY SCOTT SHENK

The new stop light at the intersection of Spotsylvania County's busy Mine and Lansdowne roads boasts the latest signals, turning lanes and underground sensors, all aimed at creating better traffic flow.

The former three-way stop there just couldn't handle the number of vehicles, especially during rush hour, according to the county.

The new traffic-control system, activated at the end of November, is supposed to make the intersection more driver friendly.

That might be so, but Leo Gathers feels left out.

The driveway of the house Gathers and his wife have rented the past 12 years forms the fourth access point at the intersection.

When the stop signs were there, Gathers, who is retired, said it wasn't too difficult to get out of the driveway. Other drivers treated him as part of the traditional alternating flow of traffic.

Now there is no sign, or sensor to trigger the lights to help him get out of his driveway. And Gathers doesn't like it.

"All you have to do is look at it and you can see it ain't safe," he said. "It's a guessing game getting out of this driveway."

Spotsylvania County officials say 12,000 vehicles travel Mine Road each day, and 7,500 use Lansdowne. With the old stop-sign system, morning and evening traffic clogged up the area, leading to backups at the intersection.

Gathers agrees that traffic has gotten a lot heavier in recent years, but he thinks his driveway simply got left out of the equation. He said he's been left with an unsafe and difficult situation.

"We are very aware of Mr. Gathers' concerns," said Kathy Smith, spokeswoman for the county, which managed the $1.386 million project.

The Virginia Department of Transportation has final say on the county improvements such as the new signal.

VDOT's Kelly Hannon said they are monitoring the intersection to see if something needs to be fixed. At this point, there are no plans to do anything.

Smith said county workers have visited the site "many times" and have timed how long it would take to safely get out of the driveway. The longest wait time was 2 minutes 39 seconds, she said.

She also said the workers reported that traffic moved well without significant backups.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436
Email: sshenk@freelancestar.com