A roundabout will be coming down the pike for East Main Street and Delphine Avenue.

City Council endorsed a plan Monday night to move forward with replacing the signalized East Main-Delphine intersection with a roundabout — the increasingly common method of moving traffic through intersections without the use of signals. Council was asked by staff to approve an application seeking $431,000 from the Virginia Department of Transportation to pay half the cost of the project.

Council also agreed to match the state money with $431,000 from the city as part of the application for funding through VDOT’s Revenue Sharing Program.

The project is included in Waynesboro’s Capital Improvement Plan for the 2021 fiscal year. According to a memo from the city manager’s office, applications to the Revenue Sharing Program for FY 2021 must be completed by Oct. 1.

According to the manager’s memo, the existing signals at the intersection have been rated as deficient by VDOT inspectors.

“The signal poles there are in a state of deterioration,” Deputy City Manager Jim Shaw told council.

Shaw said the city asked McCormick Taylor, a Philadelphia-based firm with an office in Verona, to study two alternatives: a traditional signal intersection and a roundabout. Based on the city engineer’s evaluation, McCormick Taylor’s findings and VDOT guidance, which prefers roundabouts when feasible, staff recommended the latter, Shaw said.

“We understand roundabouts can be a controversial proposal in localities,” he noted, but added they are becoming more commonplace around the commonwealth. Still, Shaw said, there may be some reticence on the part of drivers.

Sam Styers, a McCormick Taylor traffic engineer, told council his firm’s study found that during the past five years there were 36 crashes with 14 injuries at the intersection. Styers said while that is considered below average and safety is not considered a major issue, a roundabout would reduce the number of “conflict points” — the point where vehicles might come in contact with other cars or pedestrians — from 36 to eight compared to a traditional intersection.

Styers said although a roundabout would be about 10% more expensive to build, the cost will be only about half as much over a 20-year period mainly due to the expense of repairs and replacing equipment for an intersection with traffic signals. He estimated the cost of a roundabout will be about $5 million during that timespan while the signalized intersection would cost $9 million to build and maintain.

Council approved the application on a 6-0 vote; Mayor Terry Short, a planner with VDOT’s Staunton District office abstained.

Shaw, speaking Tuesday, said work on the project would likely begin in 2021 and take about two years to complete.

City Council also agreed to a staff request to ask VDOT for an additional $181,708 for the planned replacement of the A Street bridge, which crosses Steeles Run. According to staff, the original cost of replacing the bridge, estimated at $584,786, has nearly doubled to more than $948,000.

The increase is due to higher costs for concrete structures and the need to move a water line, which planners previously thought would not be necessary, Shaw told council.

VDOT and Waynesboro already agreed to split the previous estimated cost. The city is now asking the state to split the difference based on the new estimate.

Shaw told council the low-lying bridge, described as culvert-type span using corrugated metal pipes, has flooded several times, especially between April 2018 and this spring. During flooding, he said, emergency response times are increased by at least 20 minutes, essentially stranding about 30 homes in the area.

The new structure will be a VDOT standard box culvert bridge. Staff said the new bridge is expected to be less susceptible to being blocked by limbs and debris, reducing the chances of it being overtopped by the creek during times of moderate rainfall.

As with the roundabout application, council voted 6-0 in favor with Short abstaining.

Shaw expects work on the bridge to begin in 2021 and be finished in 2023.

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