VDOT including 'innovative' intersections in possible 220 plan, asking for public feedback

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ROANOKE, Va (WDBJ7) Say the words 'Route 220, and traffic is often the first thing that springs to mind.

Just ask James Mulinda. "220 is very congested," he said.

Not only does the Roanoke doctor live along 220, he owns several pieces of property he'd like to see developed. But that congestion has proved problematic.

"We have a development coming up, and it was almost held up because of traffic," he said.

It's an issue the Virginia Department of Transportation is very familiar with. As a result, they're now looking at a grab bag of improvements to the road, from Roanoke all the way to the North Carolina state line.

"These would be smaller, low-cost improvements. We're not talking about a major realignment or adding lanes," said VDOT spokesperson Jason Bond.

Thursday, VDOT held the first of three public meetings to gather feedback on those improvements.

Laid out on boards and on video spread out around clearbrook elementary were new turn lanes, added signs and guard rails, and what VDOT calls "innovative" road designs. That means things like a new "RCUT" intersection, where instead of taking a left turn, drivers turn right, then do a U-turn in a designated spot.

Bond says despite concern among some residents, these designs are both safer and easier to navigate. "After you go through it a few times, you get used to it," he said.

The improvements are targeted for specific intersections in Roanoke, Franklin and Henry Counties, including Yellow Mountain, Naff and Grassy Hill Roads. And all are designed to be relatively cheap and easy to complete.

But for residents like James Mulinda, anything that reduces traffic is an idea worth getting behind. "Without a doubt," he said.

VDOT will be holding two more meetings to gather feedback. The first will be November 13 at Essig Recreation Center in Rocky Mount from 5-7pm. The other will be November 14 at the Henry County Administration Building in Martinsville from 4:30-6:30pm.