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The County Department of Planning and Community Development is working with the Virginia Department of Transportation to conduct a study of traffic levels on Durrette Road in Ladysmith Village, in response to residents’ concerns.
Durrette Road, also known as State Route 622, is a roughly 1.5 mile-long secondary gravel road that terminates in the east at U.S. Route 1, Jefferson Davis Highway. The last traffic study of Durrette, conducted in 2004, found an average daily traffic count of 110 vehicles per day.
In the past decade, however, development of the land surrounding Durrette appears to have changed the road’s usage and traffic burden, leading to complaints from residents about its maintenance.
Durrette is adjoined to the north by Ladysmith Village, a roughly 580-acre parcel being developed by Newland Communities under the name NNP-IV Ladysmith, LLC. Between June 2005 and April 2006 the same developer also purchased the parcel of land to the west of Ladysmith Village that was previously designated as Section 1 of the South River project zoned by the Board of Supervisors in January 2001. When fully developed, Ladysmith Village is projected to contain roughly 2,800 homes.
Under the terms of the Ladysmith Village proffer, Newland is responsible for relocating and reconstructing Durrette Road south of its current location.
The Planning Commission in 2010 clarified the timeline for these improvements, stating that they should “be designed and bonded no later than the completion of the final section of Phase I” of the project “or as otherwise approved by the County and VDOT based upon the approved traffic study, whichever occurs first.”
Although Phase I is not yet complete, a March 2014 Department of Planning memo from Director of Planning and Community Development Michael Finchum notes that the portion that is finished “contributes to the increase in traffic” on Durrette Road. Several roads that were intended to be built as cul-de-sacs currently provide access to Durrette.
Two other developments—the construction of Lewis and Clark Elementary School in 2006 and the construction of the Caroline Family YMCA in 2012–13—also appear to have contributed to an increase in traffic on Durrette. These projects additionally led to the pavement of two sections, constituting approximately 0.2 miles in total, of the road.
Under the design for the Lewis and Clark site, the school buses that travel to and from the elementary school four times daily access the school via a paved section of Durrette Road instead of the nearby Meriwether Lewis Street or Clark and York Boulevard. The Department of Planning memo notes that “the road improvements constructed to accommodate the school also facilitate the use of Durrette Road as a cut-through for those drivers who want to avoid the intersection of Ladysmith Road and Jefferson Davis Highway.”
Similarly, although the YMCA has only been open for a little more than a month, the memo notes that “the convenience of Durrette Road … makes it likely that there will be some traffic increase.”
Taken together, the developments that have occurred along the Durrette corridor over the past 10 years necessitate an updated traffic study, which is expected to be conducted by VDOT in the next month. If the study finds a greatly increased traffic burden, this finding may potentially hasten the timeline for the road’s improvement.