Tuesday, April 15, 2014
The big picture
A detailed look at the relationship between roads and land use in Centerville, specifically, the Broad Street-Ashland Road corridor, has been underway for a few months. Goochland’s supervisors received an update on the process at their April 7 meeting.
The urgency for this study was underscored by comments made by a resident of the area about the dangers of making a left turn onto Broad Street Road from northbound Rt. 288. She suggested prohibiting left turns there until a safer alternative is found.
This “arterial management and Interstate Access Plan for US Route 250 and State Rt. 623,” (AMP) may well turn out to be the elusive master plan for the Centerville Village.
Since last fall, representatives of Goochland County; the Metropolitan Planning Organization; VDOT; and the consulting firm of Kimley-Horn, have been collecting data about existing conditions in the subject area. Supervisors Bob Minnick, District 4--who represents Centerville--and Board Chair Manuel Alvarez, Jr. District 2, are part of the group.
This AMP, explained county planner Tom Coleman, is a pilot program to study important arterial roadways in the state that are targeted for intense development.
The project manager for the study is former Goochland Principal Planner Brad Shelton, who now works for VDOT. As a VCU graduate student, Shelton created a master plan for the Centerville Village as the studio design project portion of his degree program. That plan, created before VDOT’s final version of the 250 widening—AKA the Centerville Speedway—became reality, included a grid of internal roads parallel to Rt. 250. It also suggested subtle signals to differentiate Centerville from Short Pump.Shelton’s involvement bodes well for a successful outcome.
Creative solutions to problem traffic areas—not just more lanes that need to be maintained—is the goal of the study, as is a process that can be effectively repeated in other places.
Instead of a parcel by parcel review that results in lots of site specific turn lanes and entrances, which increase congestion and accidents, the study will use the “view from 30,000 feet” to look at the entire area. Ideally, this will provide tools to guide economic development to appropriate locations without overwhelming road corridors and encourage harmonious land use.
Although still in the preliminary stages, some of the possible solutions presented to move traffic through and around Centerville were intriguing. One possible road extends the stub of Three Chopt Road from Ashland Road to Rt. 250 just east of Rt. 288. It would curve behind, but have no access to, Bellview Gardens, providing access to interior parcels without impinging on the residential enclave.
The AMP team has already been out in the field investigating current problem areas, including the westbound turn onto Rt.250 from Rt. 288, and had photos to prove it.
Most of the raw land in the Centerville Village must be rezoned to facilitate growth, enabling the supervisors to guide development. By looking at the big picture, the AMP should provide useful information about how changing the use of one parcel of land will affect the rest of the village.
The notion of mixed use, Goochland style, has floated around for a while, but never been clearly defined. People need to live in a village to make it a community, rather than a shopping center. Perhaps the AMP can provide a practical interpretation of this idea that landowners can use right away.
While all of this is going on, the county is starting to design the realignment of Hockett Road to connect with Ashland Road and divert all but the most local traffic away from the existing intersection. Current projections indicate that project should be complete in the next few years.
In the near term, the AMP team will also take a look at the Hockett/Broad intersection. As the McDonald’s nears completion, many believe that something must be done to mitigate traffic hazards there, even if only to install a temporary traffic signal.
The AMP study is a needed follow-up to the expansion of the Centerville Village overlay standards. Crafting a vision for the development of Centerville that is flexible enough to attract a wide range of commercial activity, includes some sort of high density housing, and retains a sense of place is a daunting, but necessary task. The county needs to work with—not against—landowners to encourage appropriate development in Centerville.