Roanoke residents voice concerns about Williamson Road Safety Improvements Project

Published: Jul. 28, 2022 at 11:18 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Roanoke community members gathered to criticize the city’s Williamson Road Safety Improvements Project, which is one of a handful leaders are submitting to VDOT’s smart scale 2024 applications.

“To me you’re not listening to the people. You’re doing what you want to and it doesn’t matter,” said Clay McClintock, head of the Noble Neighborhood Watch at Thursday’s meeting.

The Williamson Road project and other smart scale projects were presented to Roanoke City Council Monday July 18.

“This is the first step in the project, we have a lot of work yet to do,” said Dwayne D’Ardenne, Roanoke’s Transportation Division Manager.

That work includes a proposed design which would be similar to what it looks like on Brandon Avenue. That means Williamson Road would drop from four lanes to two with a center median, and bike lanes on each side. There are also plans for crosswalks and new sidewalks.

“As always we want to be accommodating to every transportation form. Whether it’s pedestrians, whether it’s cyclists, whether it’s vehicles. But we want to solve the problem.”

That problem is the number of pedestrians being hit on Williamson Road, which the city said in its presentation was 12 from 2017 to 2021. But not everyone is on board with this specific project.

“I don’t think that they are taking into effect what bike lanes and going down to two lanes is going to do to Williamson Road. Not just business but to the neighborhoods,” said McClintock.

Community members and a business owner who attended the meeting also feel they haven’t had a say in what this project will look like.

“We just want them to put it on hold for a period of time, and hear us out and listen to some other ideas instead. I’m not trying to say not to try to get funding, that’s fine and dandy, get the funding, but we need to also listen to each and every person that is actually trying to give an idea,” said McClintock.

This is just a proposal so far and the City won’t find out if it will be chosen for funding by VDOT until spring 2023.

“The biggest thing on this project and all of these smart scale applications, is we’re trying to leverage VDOT and federal money. And make improvements within the city, because we need it here in the city and if we can do it without city tax funds that’s a boom for everybody,” said D’Ardenne.

These designs have also not been finalized, D’Ardenne said they will make sure to have the community involved with the project if it moves forward.

If Roanoke city is awarded the funding, the construction will not begin until at least 2030. The application deadline for the smart scale funding closes August 1.

For more information on this project, find its page here.

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