Crews from the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Fredericksburg District spent Wednesday clearing trees, brush and vegetation along Stafford’s Kellogg Mill Road in the vicinity of a fatal May 16 car crash that claimed the life of a local teenager.
Helen Wang, a 17–year–old Colonial Forge junior, was killed when the car she was driving collided with a truck as she attempted to turn onto Kellogg Mill Road from the Abel Lake boat ramp parking area. The Sheriff’s Office reported a 17–year–old boy riding with Wang that day was transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries and later released.
“Our district traffic engineer, who has several decades of experience, is on site today,” Kelly Hannon, VDOT’s Fredericksburg District communications manager, said Wednesday. “He’s there to ensure the motorists have a clear line of sight as vegetation is being cleared.”
Hannon also reported that a VDOT roadside program manager was on the scene Wednesday, providing direct oversight for the work crews.
During Tuesday’s board meeting, Stafford supervisors heard from a group of Colonial Forge High School students who voiced their concerns with the dangerous road conditions in the county. The emotional statements addressed the potholes, road hazards and obstacles on county roads the students said they encounter every day driving to and from school.
In the case of the May 16 crash, tree limbs, high grass and overgrown vegetation were all cited during Tuesday’s meeting as possible contributors to the fatal collision. Those conditions prompted Supervisor Gary Snellings to direct county officials to close the boat ramp area immediately.
VDOT conducted daily vehicle counts for Kellogg Mill Road between Poplar and Mountain View roads from 2000 to 2018. In 2000, 1,400 vehicles traveled that stretch of roadway daily. In 2018, the daily vehicle count in the same area had risen to 3,900.
VDOT also reported that on the 1.15-mile stretch of Kellogg Mill Road between Abel Drive and Lake Forest Drive, 12 crashes occurred between Jan. 1, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2018. Three of those crashes involved injuries and nine involved property damage. The May 16 crash was the only recorded fatality on that stretch of roadway in VDOT’s three-year tracking period.
VDOT’s Fredericksburg District maintains 1,621 lane miles of state roads in Stafford, 1,849 miles in Spotsylvania County, and 1,331 in Caroline County.
The transportation agency has a regular schedule for maintaining roadway right-of-ways, but also relies on the public for input to help fix hazardous roadways or roadside hardware—such as signals, signs and guardrails—that is damaged or our of service.
“VDOT clears roadway right-of-ways three times annually—in May, July and in September—but will deviate from that schedule when a safety concern is reported to us,” said Hannon. “It’s extremely helpful if someone is coming out of their street and they see something that’s not right, they should contact us. We will send the appropriate crew out to take care of it.”
Residents can report roadway issues online at my.vdot.virginia.gov, or by calling 800/367-7623.
Once the crash investigation is completed, VDOT will determine if further safety improvements–such as signs, pavement markings or other devices–are needed.
Stafford plans to pave the gravel entrance to the boat ramp. County officials said that both the ramp and the parking area will remain closed until work in the area is completed.