The plan to raise the speed limit on sections of certain roads in King George County is going the way of a traffic circle: round and round.
First, a number of county residents asked members of the Board of Supervisors to increase the speed limit from 55 mph to 60 mph on sections of State Route 3 and U.S 301 with divided highways, non-limited access and multiple lanes. Supervisors asked their representatives in the General Assembly to change the state code, which they did last year.
The change in legislation also affected four-lane routes on U.S. 17 and State Route 207.
The Virginia Department of Transportation had to do an engineering study and analyze accident reports and traffic data for the affected areas, then present information to each locality’s Board of Supervisors. VDOT representatives asked county officials to pass a resolution supporting the speed-limit increase.
Caroline County did just that, and the posted speed limit has changed along two sections of Route 207 and one stretch of U.S. 301. Speeds also went up on U.S. 17 in Gloucester County and Route 3 in Richmond County.
Stafford County voted for its speed limit to stay at 55 mph along Route 3 between Ferry Farm and the King George border and on U.S. 17 between Fauquier County and Poplar Road.
On Tuesday, VDOT officials presented their findings to the King George board, hoping to resolve the matter there. VDOT Administrator Stephen McKeever noted the majority of traffic already is traveling 60 mph and that the crash rate in the affected areas is less than district and state averages.
He also pointed out that local law enforcement and State Police supported the speed increase.
King George Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff Bueche wasn’t ready to put the pedal to the metal on the plan. He wondered if residents should get a chance to have their say-so, even as Supervisor Ruby Brabo pointed out later that the county had asked for the increase because residents requested it.
Supervisor Richard Granger asked McKeever if it would affect VDOT’s timetable if the King George board delayed matters to hold a public hearing.
“It’s entirely up to you,” McKeever told the supervisors.
Supervisor Cathy Binder said she had concerns about the impact on U.S. 301, because her daughter and other children board buses on the road. She’s seen vehicles try to cut around buses already and is concerned about what could happen if “they’re going faster before they realize they have to stop.”
Bueche acknowledged that raising the legal limit to 60 mph “means we’ll probably be looking at speed limits exceeding 70 mph.” He wanted those affected to have a chance to voice their opinions.
The Board of Supervisors plans a public hearing on the speed issue at its next meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 15 in the board room of the Revercomb Administration Center.