3-leaf clover

Brent Finnegan -- March 11th, 2008

A month ago, I wrote about VDOT’s plan to fix the cloverleaf traffic issues at exit 247 on Interstate 81. The problem, VDOT says, is that the loop from 33 west onto 81 south is too dangerous.

Their plan is to take out that loop, effectively making the interchange a 3-leaf clover.

15 Responses to “3-leaf clover”

  1. Justin says:

    I like the continual traffic through westbound 33 over the bridge. It will be interesting to see how they handle the signs and new line paint.

  2. Renee says:

    That is a scary place to get on and off the highway. I’m glad they’re doing something about it!

  3. eso says:

    To state the obvious, a lot of people use that on/off ramp. I wish the “doing something about it” wasn’t putting it out of service.

    I drove that route for a number of years, the biggest problem I see with that exit are the “drivers” entering the interstate who come to a dead stop at the beginning of the merging area. It causes a chain reaction where everyone behind them are not able to merge speeds with interstate traffic.

  4. Karl Magenhofer says:

    Why is the answer to local traffic problems always seem to include a traffic light? Harrisonburg’s traffic issue is traffic flow and that flow is not promoted by traffic signals.

    With the damage to the environment caused by cars needlessly sitting at the multitude of Harrisonburg area traffic lights there should be some public outcry by those that consider themselves environmentally conscious. That is unless the ultimate plan is to make driving in the area such a pain in the neck people park their cars.

    VDOT should keep its 2 million bucks, come back when they have five and make some superstructure improvements that will benefit safety and traffic flow. Let’s also start saving now for the cloverleaf and overpass that needs to be built a little further down Route 33 east.

  5. Emmy says:

    Well considering I’ve narrowly avoided numerous accidents on the cloverleaf and try to avoid it at all cost, I’m really glad they are doing something about it. If I understand where the light is going, then I think its necessary. I was somewhere else the other day where I thought a light would be very helpful. Personally, there’s only one place in Harrisonburg where the traffic lights bother me and that is by the rescue squad on Reservoir. Other than that, I think driving here isn’t that big of a deal. Of course, I’m usually not in a big hurry and I leave in plenty of time.

  6. Justin C says:

    This seems like just a patch to the problem. Now, I’m not complaining, a patch from VDOT is better than nothing.

    There is nothing wrong with the cloverleaf model of getting on and off interstates. The problem at this intersection just seems to be the cloverleaf is too small and many drivers too hesitant to drive it properly.

    A light will fix that, but it will just slow traffic down on 33 east. All you need to do to wonder how much this will back up traffic is look at the Port Republic exit.

    I’d like to echo Karl’s comment. It’s great they want to help, but could we wait a little while longer and get a full solution instead of half a solution?

    Finn – props on the video interview, it helped a lot

  7. Karl Magenhofer says:

    You’re right Emmy, much of my problems are probably caused by running behind a couple minutes and trying to make them up on the roads. You’re also probably smart enough to avoid the crazy section of Port Road at the I-81 interchange.

    I agree that the interchange is dangerous, just think that a ramp that passes over 33 would be better than a light. Why stop traffic when you can keep it moving?

  8. Bubby says:

    These combined on/off, acceleration/deceleration lanes (exit 247) are a terrible design; and this was the only one I know of on I-81 in Virginia…until VDOT designed one for their newest interchange at Exit 118 A, B (Christiansburg).

    Let’s also start saving now for the cloverleaf and overpass that needs to be built a little further down Route 33 east.

    Karl, what are you talking about?

  9. Emmy says:

    I avoid Port Road at all costs. I can’t tell you the last time I went down that road on purpose. I will have to travel part of it this summer while my kids are in daycare, but other than that, there is always a way to avoid it. A ramp may be a better solution to this problem.

    I don’t think the cloverleaf would be any where near as dangerous if people would read the signs and merge into the left lane until they pass it. I can tell you that I’d rather be rear-ended trying to merge, than pull out in front of a tractor trailer that is going entirely too fast.

    Maybe I’m just overly defensive of my town.

  10. Karl Magenhofer says:

    Bubby,

    The road names escape me, but there are two major intersections headed out towards Spotswood High School. If I remember correctly the proposed connector roads will cause extra traffic at the intersection called “the crossroads.” It’s already very busy and cutting lights out of that intersection would prove very beneficial in the future. That benefit would be even greater if development proposed for Elkton, McGayesville and Penn Laird ever materialize.

    Hope that vague description makes sense. I hate to be short on hard facts as well, but I’m sure you get the point.

  11. Bubby says:

    Yeah, Rt. 33 is about to get a new connection and light for a road to connect at the back of the Preston Lake development. It will funnel traffic around the southeast side of Harrisonburg. The Boyers Road/Rt.33 light will remain.

    There will also be improvements and increased traffic at Cross Keys Rd (Rt276) as that becomes the Harrisonburg bypass to the Mt. Crawford exit on I-81. That shortcut is in jeopardy as the House of Delegates continues to fritter with their Transportation funding responsibilities.

    All of these intersection ‘improvements’ are at-grade and were funded by the adjacent developers – no overpasses, or on/off ramps.

    The I-81 improvements are a priority and paid for by the state. Things like overpasses on Rt.33 are secondary road improvements and will have to be proposed and funded largely by the County…so don’t count on it in your lifetime. This is the price of sprawl into the County – inadequate transportation funding.

  12. Karl Magenhofer says:

    I’m not counting on overpasses or real traffic solutions at any of those intersections, just thinking out loud on what would be nice and would make travel in the area better.

    Board of Supervisors were told yesterday that VDOT will fund 30-40 percent less for construction this year. I think I heard Joe Paxton say that the county would be spending more on just the roads for the new schools than VDOT will be spending on the county’s entire secondary road system this coming fiscal year. Don’t hold me to that, but I’m pretty sure that’s what I heard during yesterday’s meeting.

    I guess one major point is that the county really needs to begin worrying about extra funding for the 33 corridor. I know they have studied it and that the MPO is aware, but they need to start finding some cash.

  13. Bubby says:

    VDOT is funding less construction because their primary responsibility is maintenance of what is already built. In fact they are using construction money to meet this requirement. That decreases the amount available to match Federal money, so we are digging a hole. Virginia needs to better fund road construction or find another way.

    Another way would be to decrease the need for new road construction. The County could start by restricting connections to our key highways, like Rt. 33, until we find a way to fund the something better than at-grade stop light intersections.

    By way of reference, a typical budget for a correct overpass on Rt. 33 would be $8 million each. By adding yet another intersection on Rt. 33 the County has sent us down the path of expensive highway improvements, or an eventual Harrisonburg Beltway to, which has been HUGELY unpopular. But I see that as inevitable, and conveniently beyond the tenure of our current BOS members.

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