Lynchburg leaders renew push to fund improvements at Route 501/221 intersection

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) -- Ask anyone who travels through the intersection of Routes 501 and 221 in Lynchburg, and they'll likely echo the sentiments of business owner Amy Lacks.

"There's always plenty of traffic," Lacks said of the crossroads.

Glenda Frye has owned a travel agency near the busy spot for 25 years.

"The road has not expanded, however the traffic has definitely increased," Frye told WDBJ7.

Nearby, Lacks owns a clothing boutique. From the window of her store, she often sees congestion.

"Sometimes it creates a problem (for) people trying to get in and out. I've had customers tell me they couldn't get in," said Lacks.

For more than 10 years, engineers have transportation planners have been developing a solution that involves re-routing some traffic at the intersection.

As Lynchburg's population has grown and more businesses have opened, addressing the intersection's problems has become a regional priority.

"This is an economic artery for us," said Christopher Feraldi, director of government relations for the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance, one of several groups that's urging the Commonwealth Transportation Board to fund improvements at 501 and 221.

"It is one of the most important intersections in the entire region, which includes the four counties that surround the city of Lynchburg," Feraldi said.

Improvements could cost around $38 million. This week Lynchburg leaders asked the Commonwealth Transportation Board to allocate money under VDOT's six-year improvement plan.

Business owners like Frye hope state leaders will respond to the plea.

"We are perfectly fine with alleviating some of that extra traffic," Frye said with a laugh.

Virginia's transportation leaders are gathering feedback right now about how the state should spend its money on road projects. Final decisions about funding are expected to be made in June.