THE Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Area Planning Organization marked its 25th anniversary last week.
MPOs are federally mandated organizations that handle transportation planning for specific regions. Virginia has 15 MPOs, according to the federal database.
In noting its quarter-century of existence during the Policy Committee meeting last week, FAMPO Administrator Paul Agnello highlighted some interesting statistics about how the Fredericksburg area has changed during that time:
In FAMPO’s inaugural year, 1993, the region’s population totaled 157,000.
In 2017, nearly 305,000 people were living in the region.
A 25-year population projection from 1990 estimated the region’s population would grow to 218,199.
In 2015, the region’s population totaled to 292,231.
Average cost for a gallon of gas in 1993 nationally was $1.16.
Average cost for gas in 2018 is $2.70.
Average new car cost in 1993 was $12,750.
Average new car cost now is $31,400.
Dear Scott: Is there any way to have VDOT check the length of the green light at the corner of State Route 3 and Bragg Road when heading from Bragg Road onto eastbound Route 3? The time is so short that only two cars can make it through a green light before it turns yellow, then causing a backup on Bragg. It has been going on for months with most of the traffic trying to make it onto Route 3 through a red light.
—Beverly Bley, Fredericksburg
VDOT staff checked the signal and vehicle detectors and all checked out OK, according to local spokeswoman Kelly Hannon.
She added that the green signal may seem quick because the onus is to move traffic on Route 3, which Hannon said operates at maximum capacity most of the day. And the Bragg Road intersection is one of the busiest along the highway.
“We expect that motorists waiting to turn from both sides of Bragg Road during peak hours will wait through two traffic signal cycles to clear the intersection,” Hannon said. “This wait is necessary to prevent Route 3 from being completely gridlocked.”
She also highlighted how the signals along Route 3 can vary in length depending on the time of day and amount of traffic. Bragg Road traffic turning left onto Route 3 always has a minimum of five seconds of green light, Hannon said.
“If the signal detects traffic is still present at 5 seconds, it will extend the amount of green time based on the time of day, ranging from 14 to 21 seconds,” she said. “However, even 14 seconds of green time should be enough time for seven to eight vehicles to clear the intersection.”
Hannon also noted that if there is a three-second gap between cars, the detector will think there is no more traffic and flip the switch to red.
Drivers who want longer green lights can help themselves by simply paying attention to the signals and traffic around them.
Sometimes the fix is that easy.