Council committee votes to close street

Three members of a town council Public Safety, Public Works Committee voted Tuesday against the recommendation of a taxpayer-funded $32,400 traffic study that measured traffic volume and impact on nearby intersections if Burgandine Avenue was closed at Ira Hoffman.

The study recommended keeping the street open and implementing traffic calming measures.

Councilmen Jon Russell, Pranas Rimeikis and Bobby Ryan voted to recommend to the full town council to place barricades, estimated to cost between $15,000 and $20,000, at the intersection, closing the street and relieving cut-through traffic that Madison Grove residents had been complaining about for several years, along with speeding problems. Councilman Keith Price voted against the measure.

Before the vote, five Madison Grove residents took issue with the report, its data collection methodology and its recommendation for traffic calming methods.

â??We are not going to support any traffic calming,â? said Rick Fields, a Madison Grove resident who has been the spokesman for the subdivision. â??VDOT does not support traffic calming.â?

Fields said the study was â??mired with inaccurate information.â?

Scott Beasley, an engineer with Hurt and Profitt, offered a brief overview of the 27-page report. He admitted that cut-through traffic was a problem.

However, he said that closing Burgandine Avenue at Ira Hoffman Lane would, at times, cause traffic attempting to make a left turn at Ira Hoffman Lane and Brandy Road, to back up as much as 350 feet, blocking both entrances and exits to Dominion Square.

â??Unquestionably, closing Burgandine Avenue would reduce traffic volumes on Burgandine and solve the cut-through traffic,â? Beasley wrote in the report.

However, he said disadvantages include increased emergency response times, use of a local driveway to circumvent the barricades, limit access to commercial property and result in increased traffic on Brandy Road and increased delay in the corridor.

Culpeper County Volunteer Fire Chief Kenny Mills said closing the road would limit his firefighterâ??s ability to respond to the neighborhood.

â??It puts my personnel in danger,â? said Mills.

E-911 Director William Martin said response to emergencies will be delayed.

Public Works Director Jim Hoy recommended spending $10,000 for four modular mini-speed bumps to be placed in four strategic locations in Madison Grove as a traffic calming measure. Two would be placed on Burgandine Avenue and one each on Montanus Drive and Great Bridge Lane.

â??This is not an absolute solution,â? said Hoy. â??This will not eliminate cut-through traffic.â?

Hoy said closing the road and creating a cul-de-sac would require an engineering study, land acquisition and addressing stormwater management regulations. He said that solution would cost between $300,000 and $500,000.

â??We have come to a point where we have to make a decision,â? said Committee Chairman Russell.

After discussing the pros and cons, the committee voted to close the street.

A request by Steve Lane, owner of the building at 302 East Davis Street, requested permission to build an outdoor dining deck. The building currently has the Davis Street Pier restaurant as a tenant.

Several councilman members questioned the request.

â??I wouldnâ??t call that a dining space,â? said Rimeikis. â??I would call it a smoking lounge.â?

He also expressed concern about trash generated from the deckâ??s use.

Councilman David Lochridge, who attended the meeting but is not a committee member, was concerned how the deck would appear to downtown visitors.

â??Is this really the kind of structure we want right now?â? said Lochridge.

The committee took no action, directing town staff to clarify the request process.

Wally Bunker is a freelance contributor with the Culpeper Times. You may reach him at wallybunker@outlook.com