FULKS RUN — Va. 259, also known as Brocks Gap Road, had six fatal crashes over six years between 2014 and 2019, according to statistics provided by the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office.
On Thursday, about 125 local residents filled the gym at Fulks Run Elementary School for a traffic safety input meeting hosted by the office of Del. Tony Wilt, R-Broadway. However, the delegate was stuck in committee meetings in Richmond and could not make the event, according to Chad Funkhouser, Wilt’s legislative aide. Rockingham County Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson was present at the meeting.
Between 2016 and June 30 of last year, there have been 112 crashes on the road resulting in fatalities, injuries or $1,500 or more worth of damage, according to the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office.
The most recent death on the road was Aug. 5 when Joshua Morgan, of Broadway, crossed a solid yellow line to pass a Dodge Challenger and tractor-trailer in the westbound lane, according to Virginia State Police. While in the eastbound lane, he hit the vehicle of Raven Morgan, 30, of Bergton, an employee of the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Department. Morgan died at the scene.
“I just feel like 259 is a dangerous road,” said Chris Hottinger, Morgan’s mother who was at the meeting.
She said passing zones on the road were too short and people were speeding on the straight stretch of the route.
“It’s dangerous and people don’t realize the amount of harm that they’re going to do, maybe not to themselves, but to someone else,” Hottinger said.
A plan with funding that is slated in the near future for a roughly 9-mile segment between the West Virginia state line and Hopkins Gap Road would install rumble strips as the road’s shoulders are widened, according to David Morris, a traffic engineer with the VDOT Staunton District.
He said the project is planned to begin construction in 2022 if all goes as planned, and other improvements on the roadway are being considered as VDOT listens to residents’ concerns.
Attendees were encouraged to fill out a comment sheet to submit thoughts on roadway conditions, driver behavior, improvements and personal usage of the road.
“I don’t really see a problem with the way 259 is now,” said Butch Hottinger of Bergton. “It’s the truck traffic and the distracted driving, cell phones; that’s the big thing.”
According to the provided statistics, in three of the six fatal crashes between 2014 and 2019 distracted driving was a contributing factor.
Morris said that 259 had roughly 3,000 cars travel over it each day, with about 200 trucks also using it.
Butch Hottinger said he has driven it for 55 years and seen the truck traffic increase every year over that time.
“The Sheriff or state troopers need to patrol heavier,” said Carolyn Probst, of Bergton.
Chris Hottinger said stiffer penalties were needed.
“They get the ticket, pay a fine and they think ‘Oh, OK, I can go out and do it again and pay another fine,’” she said.
“I don’t have the answers,” Chris Hottinger said. “I don’t know, but something has to happen because it’s going to just continue.”