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When the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Metropolitan Planning Organization presented plans to improve Port Republic Road from Devon Lane to South Main Street, it included a proposed pedestrian overpass over Port Road onto Bluestone Drive at the James Madison University entrance.

Nearly two years later, planners are presenting a new study to the public, one without the pedestrian overpass.

The Harrisonburg-Rockingham Metropolitan Planning Organization is seeking input on suggested improvements for walking, bicycling and signal timing at the intersection of Port Road and Bluestone Drive.

Comments will be accepted until March 28.

According to Jakob zumFelde, transportation planner for Harrisonburg, the new study evaluated four aspects: travel time for vehicle trips on the corridor, travel distance and time for people walking across Port Road, potential pedestrian safety benefits and estimated cost.

In the plan presented in 2019, the pedestrian overpass was estimated to cost more than $5 million.

Seeking less costly alternatives, the MPO conducted a second study that “built off” the original study, zumFelde said in a presentation. The study was completed by the firm A. Morton Thomas and Associates.

“Port Republic Road at this location is very busy, lots of drivers, lots of bus routes going through here and also many people walking and biking on the corridor and in the area,” zumFelde said. “As part of the study, many alternatives were considered.”

All alternatives included removing at least one crosswalk on the southern/eastern side of the intersection.

ZumFelde said removing one crosswalk will improve operations of the intersection.

“Crosswalks take a considerable amount of time in the current reconfiguration, so removing the southern/eastern crosswalk for example would allow more green time for Port Republic Road,” he said. “This would decrease delays, improve coordination with other signals on the corridor, leading to decreased travel times for vehicles and buses on the corridor.”

Three crosswalks will remain in the proposed plan, but the crosswalk on Hillside Avenue will be relocated up the street to make it farther from the traffic lanes.

Vegetated buffers will also be added between the sidewalk and roadway where crosswalks are located to improve safety for pedestrians at the intersection, zumFelde said.

In total, new alternative plans are estimated to cost roughly $350,000. Comments can be made at

Contact Jessica Wetzler at 574-6279 or Follow Jessica on Twitter @wetzler_jessica

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