Virginia Department of Transportation and Berryville officials were on hand Wednesday evening for a marathon question and answer public meeting designed to answer questions about the proposed extension of Mosby Boulevard to Main Street. According to VDOT and Town officials, the road extension will provide significant benefit to Berryville and Clarke County.
In literature distributed to meeting attendees, VDOT says that the estimated $3.4 project, which includes a round-about at the intersection of Westwood Avenue and Main Street, will enhance traffic flow in and out of the new Clarke County High School with fewer vehicles lining up to stop and proceed at the intersection.
VDOT literature distributed at the meeting claims that Mosby Boulevard traffic, 1,200 vehicles per day in 2009, will climb to 1,800 vehicles per day by 2034.
“The Mosby Boulevard project is part of Berryville’s comprehensive plan to improve its collector roads and provides an entrance to the new high school” said Michael Fulcher, road design engineer for the project. “The project was originally planned for Westwood Avenue to provide turning lanes in front of the existing high school for safer ingress and egress. There is a lot of traffic through Berryville. The intent of the comprehensive plan is to alleviate through Berryville by expanding the roads parallel to Main Street. The Mosby extension is the last segment of this collector road.”
Berryville Mayor Wilson Kirby described the Mosby Boulevard extension as part of the town’s larger vision for bypass traffic flow.
“Our comprehensive plan includes a transportation plan” Kirby said. “This completes the bypass plan for Berryville’s northwest quadrant.”
Town Council Recorder Jay Arnold said that as a former fire and rescue squad chief, he sees benefit to extending Mosby Boulevard beyond simply improving traffic flow around Berryville. “It’s good to have two exits to a subdivision in case of an emergency like a gas leak. This also provides additional fire and rescue access to the new high school” Arnold said. “If we can get this now we should do it, especially if we can pay for the road using state funds.”
Berryville Town Manager Keith Dalton said that he saw many purposes for extending Mosby Boulevard.
“Mosby Boulevard will provide access to the new high school” Dalton said. “But in the bigger picture, completion of Mosby from its current terminus to Main Street completes the northwest connector road provided for by both the Clarke County and Berryville comprehensive plans.”
Dalton also said that there are other examples of collector roads in Berryville including Hermitage Boulevard, Jack Enders Boulevard and eventually a northeast quadrant collector road using Fairfax Street and First Street.
Dalton also said that Mosby Boulevard will alleviate traffic pressure in downtown Berryville where traffic patterns are much more difficult to modify.
“The intersection of Main Street and Buckmarsh is very hard to change because of the existing development patterns there” Dalton said. “Mosby Boulevard will allow some of the traffic coming into town to avoid that intersection and will improve public safety.”
Dalton pointed out that if the Mosby Boulevard extension project did not take place, improvements would still have to be made to the intersection of Westwood Avenue and Main Street as well as complete the connection between Main Street and the west entrance of the new high school.
“Right now we are able to use state funding for this requirement” Dalton said. “Otherwise the road would have to be funded and built by the school.” Dalton additionally pointed out that the VDOT designed round-about is a much less expensive intersection design than an traditional traffic light design, in part, because of the lack of alignment between Whitacre Circle and Westwood Avenue. Because the two roads do not form a natural alignment, Dalton questioned whether a traditional traffic intersection could be accomplished without additional easements to re-position one of the roads.
“I believe that it would be quite a bit more expensive than a traffic circle” Dalton said.
While there was plenty of official support for the extension of Mosby, at least one public official who attended the meeting still had a lingering reservation about the project.
“Back in the day when 94 homes were scheduled for that area I believe that the extension was need” said Clarke County Supervisor Barbara Byrd. “The only thing that bothers me now is that a commuter road will be going through school property. If traffic calming measures are implemented that may help to alleviate the concern.”