HARRISONBURG — After a traffic study that took place from October 2015 to May 2019, the city will make changes Monday to improve the congestion on Port Republic Road.
With the help of the Harrisonburg Rockingham Metropolitan Planning Organization, 10 intersections were studied from South Main Street through Devon Lane to identify regional transportation issues.
The MPO is a federally mandated transportation planning group that includes representatives of Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, Bridgewater, Dayton, Mount Crawford and the Virginia Department of Transportation.
With Port Republic Road providing access to a number of commercial and residential areas, as well as being the primary entrance to James Madison University, increased growth sparked the need for changes to reduce traffic congestion and accidents along:
— South Main Street.
— Hillcrest Drive.
— Crawford Avenue.
— Bluestone Drive/Hillside Avenue.
— Interstate 81, exit 245 northbound and southbound ramps.
— Forest Hill Road.
— Hunters Road.
— Bradley Drive.
— Devon Lane.
Changes that will take place Monday include a no-left-turn policy for vehicles traveling on or off of Port Republic Road from Crawford Avenue, Hillcrest Drive and Hunters Road during morning and evening peak hours.
The restricted hours will be Monday through Friday, 7 a.m-9 a.m. and 3-6:30 p.m., although there will be no restrictions on weekends or holidays.
Tom Hartman, the city’s director of public works said the safety concerns only exist during peak hours and that the Public Works Department will make adjustments as needed.
“When traffic volumes are less than the peak hour volumes, the left turn can be made safely,” he said in an interview Friday. “Thus, we did not need to restrict the left lane turns during those non-peak hours.”
Flashing lights and signs will be set up to remind drivers of the restricted hours, which is focused on reducing crashes and congestion at the intersections.
The cost for the changes is about $9,000, according to Hartman.
The high crash counts take place starting from the Interstate 81 exit 245 northbound and southbound ramps, Forest hill Road, Hunters Road, Bradley Drive down to Devon Lane, according to the final report, which is available to look at by visiting, https://www.harrisonburgva.gov/port-republic-road-study.
According to a press release from the city, left turns off of Port Republic Road onto neighborhood streets have a high tendency to cause rear-end crashes because the vehicle turning left has to wait for a gap in traffic and comes to a stop in the through-lane. By doing so, it causes the drivers behind the turning vehicle to have to quickly or unexpectedly come to a stop.
Drivers traveling to or from the neighborhood between Main Street and I-81 are permitted to use South Main Street as an alternative route during peak hours. Anyone traveling from neighborhoods on Hunters Road are encouraged by city staff to use Bradley Drive as an alternative route.
“The changes will not decrease the amount of traffic but will improve safety for the vehicles that travel Port Republic Road during the busiest times of the day by removing the left turn conflicts,” Hartman said.