Pulaski County to push VDOT for traffic light at new middle school

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PULASKI COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7) Families had the first chance Tuesday night to see new plans for the controversial Pulaski County Middle School project.

While there was a lot of excitement, there was one concern the whole county is now working together on.

The architects for the project, RRM Architects, spent more than two hours at the Pulaski County High School showing how the school had been rotated slightly, a new sewage line was put in the plans, and more specific designs to the interior were done.

But it was the issue over a second entrance to the new school with a traffic light that turned some heads.

Ben Motley is the Senior Architect and Partner at RRMM Architects.

He explained, “Our Traffic Engineering Consultant have basically said, given all the parameters and guidelines and regulations from the Virginia Department of Transportation, it just doesn't warrant a traffic signal.”

RRMM Architects in the meeting said V-DOT doesn't feel there's enough traffic at the start and end of school days in the area to need a traffic light. Plus there's another light too close to the intersection, so the County would need an exception granted to put the light in.

There's also an issue of realigning nearby Hatcher Road to create the entrance, which could cost more money and set the work back, according to architects.

Jean Cox of Pulaski reacted to this saying, “It's not so much the entrance and doing anything to the road, to Hatcher Road, what we're talking about is a light there, a red light there. It's just more of a safety issue than anything.”

Chelsey Schrants, also of Pulaski, added, “It is kind of disappointing to hear that it's not, as of right now, it's not likely to happen.”

Fellow Pulaski resident Jeffrey Phillips said, “We can still pursue a light, we can still pursue moving Hatcher Road at our own good time. But those do need to be done.”

After a unanimous vote by the School Board to allow RRMM to move forward with the design, County Supervisors and the County Administrator spoke up.

They said if the School Board wants the light, which the members do, the Board of Supervisors will step in.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Andy McCready explained, “On behalf of the School Board we can work with our elected representatives in Richmond to really kind of help VDOT understand how critically important this is to the safety of our community and the safety of the children attending that school.”

Motley said a potential fight with V-DOT over the traffic light would not set them back or hinder Tuesday night's vote to move forward. They're set up to move forward and add the light and second entrance in, if it's allowed.

The next step in the process of building the middle school is the Design Development Phase. The project is right on schedule Motley said.

The hope is to begin construction on the new school sometime late this Summer.

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