WINCHESTER — South Pleasant Valley Road has become so hazardous that the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has volunteered to perform a free study to determine the best ways to make it safer.
Terry Short Jr., planning manager for VDOT’s Staunton District, which includes Winchester, said the study will be part of the state’s Strategically Targeted Affordable Roadway Solutions (STARS) initiative.
“We want to provide a series of identified safety issues for your staff’s information,” Short told City Council on Tuesday evening. “There may be some concepts that seem a little out of the box, but we’ll share those.”
Short said VDOT is performing the study due to the high number of vehicle accidents on South Pleasant Valley Road between West Cork Street and Papermill Road. This includes the intersection of South Pleasant Valley and Jubal Early Drive, which he said has “significant safety issues.”
“When we get into November and December, the traffic is off the charts,” Councilor Kim Herbstritt said about Winchester’s busiest retail corridor.
Short said a special work group will be formed by VDOT to conduct traffic counts, monitor access points and develop an interactive map of South Pleasant Valley Road. In the near future, the public will be given access to the map so they can share their safety concerns and suggestions.
VDOT’s recommendations are expected to be ready by March or April, at which point they’ll be turned over to city officials. Short said the decision on whether to implement any or all of the recommendations will be entirely left to the city.
Should Winchester choose to make improvements to South Pleasant Valley Road, it could apply for Smart Scale funding from VDOT. However, Short said the STARS study will not give the city an advantage when seeking state funds.
“I think it’s great that VDOT has this program at no cost to the city,” Winchester Public Services Director Perry Eisenach said.
In other business at Tuesday night’s meeting and work session, City Council:
Unanimously approved the issuance and sale of $16.9 million in public improvement bonds to fund previously approved projects including Valley Avenue drainage and sidewalks, an extension of Hope Drive, renovations of the city-owned Creamery Building, and renovations of the Winchester Public Schools-owned Douglas Community Learning Center and Shihadeh Innovation Center.
Unanimously approved the issuance and sale of $6.165 million in refunding bonds and $17.5 million in public improvement bonds in order to capitalize on low interest rates and pay off existing debt.
Unanimously agreed to forward the issuance of an $8.6 million Taxable Water and Sewer System Revenue Refunding Bond to take advantage of favorable interest rates and pay off existing debt.
Unanimously approved an ordinance to rezone a 5-acre tract at 2508 Papermill Road, partially occupied by Winchester Noland Co., from Intensive Industrial (M-2) to Commercial Industrial (CM-1). The change aligns the tract’s zoning designation with two adjacent properties to the south.
Unanimously approved an ordinance to add a Planned Unit Development (PUD) designation to a 0.95-acre property zoned Medium Density Residential (MR) at 410 and 412 Smithfield Ave. The change legalizes the presence of three apartments already at the site.
Unanimously approved a conditional-use permit (CUP) to allow ground-floor residential use at 215 Sharp St., located in the Central Business (B-1) zoning district.
Unanimously approved an access easement to a 9-foot-wide strip of city-owned property at 218 Baker St. to allow Blue Ridge Habitat for Humanity to build a driveway behind a home proposed for construction at 216 Baker St.
Unanimously approved two CUPs authorizing the construction of new Shenandoah University signs at 1340 S. Pleasant Valley Road and 600 Millwood Ave.
Held a first reading of a proposed ordinance amendment that would create regulations for outdoor signs at school, park and public athletic complexes.
Unanimously agreed to appoint Geraldine Kiefer to an unexpired term on the Board of Architectural Review, expiring April 30, 2023, and Danielle Bostick to a four-year term on the Social Services Advisory Board, expiring Sept. 9, 2023.
Met in executive session for 65 minutes to discuss legal matters and prospective board appointments. No action was taken following the closed-door discussions.
Attending Tuesday night’s City Council meeting and work session in Rouss City Hall were Mayor and council President David Smith, Vice Mayor John Hill, Vice President Evan Clark and councilors Kim Herbstritt, John Willingham, Les Veach, Corey Sullivan, Bill Wiley and Judy McKiernan.