16 September 2014
Most people in Fluvanna have to navigate Rt. 53 occasionally – and some drivers have to do it twice or more a day. But tucked into a four-mile stretch just over the Albemarle County line are three of the trickiest intersections in Fluvanna County.
First comes the intersection between Rt. 53 and Rt. 618, Lake Monticello Road, where drivers turning left onto Rt. 618 can back up a whole line of traffic, causing frustration at best and potential rear-end collisions at worst. And forget about turning onto Rt. 53 from Rt. 618 – finding a hole in the continuous line of cars at rush hour is next to impossible.
According to statistics from the Virginia Department of Transportation there have been 16 crashes within 250 feet of that intersection in just five years: from 2009 through 2013, the last year for which statistics are available. And fully half of them took place within one year: 2011.
So that year VDOT began the lengthy process of improving the intersection. Since 2011 the schedule has been pushed back, and now VDOT expects to advertise the project this December. But hopefully by the fall of 2015, and at a cost of $1.08 million, the intersection will be completely revamped.
First, VDOT plans to add a left-turn lane on Rt. 53 eastbound, so that cars trying to turn left onto Rt. 618 don’t have to hold up the entire line of traffic. Next, VDOT will offset the right-turn lane on Rt. 53 westbound, also onto Rt. 618. And finally, it will move the stopbar at the end of Rt. 618 to the south to increase what is currently a limited line of sight.
Less than half a mile down the road from that intersection is another dangerous intersection at Lake Monticello’s Tufton Gate. That gate sits on Monish Road – a tiny downhill stretch of pavement with limited lines of sight in either direction on Rt. 53. And, just as with the intersection with Rt. 618, the absence of a left-turn lane means that any drivers wishing to turn into the gate must hold up the entire line of traffic.