VDOT hosts discussion on county’s third roundabout

Major changes are coming to the intersection of Route 53 (Thomas Jefferson Parkway) and Route 618 (Lake Monticello Road). The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has unveiled plans to install a roundabout at that location by late 2020.

The plans were presented at a June 13 public meeting at Fluvanna County Public Library.

Data from VDOT's Smart Scale monitoring program shows that about 7,700 vehicles pass through the intersection each day and more than a dozen accidents have occurred at the junction over the last five years. 

VDOT planners initially considered installing a left-turn lane on Route 53 to alleviate some of the problems, but ultimately settled on a roundabout as the best way to enhance traffic flow and reduce rear-end and left-turn collisions.

Fluvanna County received $2.9 million in funding for the project in 2015. Additional money was provided by the Commonwealth Transportation Board in June 2016.

Roundabouts have been used for decades in other parts of the world but have only become popular in the United States in the past few years. Traffic experts say they reduce traffic injuries and fatalities by up to 75 percent, allow traffic to flow with fewer delays, and are considerably less expensive to maintain. 

Project Manager John Rose assured those in attendance that the proposed design should prevent some of the issues residents have had with the roundabout at Route 53 and Route 600 (South Boston Road). Larger vehicles, including trucks and buses, should have ample space to navigate the circle.     

Since long-term planning for the area includes the installation of a park and ride lot adjacent to Effort Baptist Church, the design also calls for a marked crosswalk across Route 618. This will allow commuters to reach the Jaunt bus stop in the church parking lot.

Rose said other end of Route 618, where it hits Route 600, is also "definitely on our radar." The location of the main Lake Monticello dam and other topographic challenges does not allow the construction of a roundabout, but there is a proposal on the table to install a left-turn lane on Route 600 and make improvements to the sightlines in both directions.

If all goes according to plan, construction of the roundabout is expected to extend from the fall of 2019 to the winter of 2020. Total estimated costs are currently $3.7 million.

Details of the project can be found at http://virginiadot.org/projects/culpeper/53-618roundabout.asp and VDOT will be accepting public comments until June 23. 

Written comments (postmarked no later than June 23) can be mailed or delivered to John Rose, Project Manager, 1601 Orange Road, Culpeper, Va. 22701. Submit emailed comments to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .