Route 221 Safety Study: Changes Needed

Forest, VA- A safety study that looked at the stretch of road in the busy area where Lynchburg and Bedford County meet is calling for several changes. The main area of focus is the corridor that runs between Graves Mill Road and Grist Mill Drive. The draft study, which involved public participation and looked at traffic patterns, found that particular part of the roadway has an accident rate that is almost three times higher than the state average.

The summary of major findings found that, in addition, to a higher accident rate, the existing traffic signals are not coordinated. Jaime Smith, with VDOT's Bedford County Residency office, told ABC 13 that the signals on that stretch are in fact, "broken but probably past their life expectancy anyway and in need up upgrading." Robert White, Deputy Director of Planning for Region 2000, the commission which put the study together, said the congestion leads to, "rear ending as they're (drivers) stopping and accelerating and that type of thing." Other findings were the numerous bus stops along the route, none of which have sidewalks leading to them.

The report noted that some of the congestion and safety problems also come from the many driveways that exit the local businesses, as drivers seek to merge with 221 traffic. One of the safety recommendations in the report calls for limited left hand turning. Region 2000 has presented the findings to the Bedford County Planning Commission and will present the report to Lynchburg City Council in September. Recommendations will be taken under consideration by both Bedford County and the City of Lynchburg before any of the short and long term safety changes are funded and put into effect, said White.

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