Traffic shouldn’t be so bad at these Beach intersections; study suggests possible quick fixes

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It’s a sad fact of traffic engineering: Congestion is sometimes much worse than it should be on a road given that road’s location and design and the number of vehicles that use it.

Such roads should be performing better, and the fix could be as simple as better timed signals. Researchers at the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization looked for such trouble spots all over the region and came up with a list of those that have the greatest potential for improvement — “those likely to receive major benefit from minor improvement,” according to a presentation that will be delivered this week to a subcommittee of the organization.

The report lists 18 promising intersections in Hampton Roads — nine that are bad in the morning and nine that are bad in the afternoon rush-hour — and provided comments on what could be the culprit. Six of the intersections were in Virginia Beach — the highest number of any city on the list.

Here’s what the study said about those trouble spots:

A.M. analysis

Independence Boulevard/Baxter Road

Because so many turn lanes and through lanes exist here already, it is unlikely that more turn lanes or conversion of a through lane into a turn lane would help.

Independence Boulevard and Baxter Road. (Source: Google Maps, courtesy of Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization)
Independence Boulevard and Baxter Road. (Source: Google Maps, courtesy of Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization)

Recommendation: Check the signal timing with software. The fact that northbound Independence Boulevard at that segment also has a high “potential for intersection congestion alleviation” score gives more credence to timing issues being the problem.

Northampton Boulevard/Diamond Springs Road

It is also unlikely that more turn lanes or lane conversions would help here because of the large number of existing turn lanes and through lanes. Checking the signal timing may be fruitful.

Witchduck Road/Virginia Beach Boulevard

A $32m widening of Witchduck Road from I-264 to Virginia Beach Boulevarfd is planned, but in the near-term, it may be valuable to make a low-cost intersection improvement.

Checking signal timing may be fruitful. If the present timing is close to optimal, the high PICA value may be caused by vehicles making left turns to get on I‐264 West, or the school zone.

P.M. analysis

Indian River Road/Providence Road

Providence Road is a four‐lane road but has only one through lane in each direction at this intersection, so the greater-than expected delay here may be caused by the lack of dual through lanes on the eastbound and westbound Providence Road approaches.

The city’s capital improvement program includes an intersection improvement project at this location, so the analysis recommends the project use software to compare the following: the existing intersection configuration and optimized timing, the addition of through lanes on eastbound and westbound Providence Road approaches, and the addition of through lanes on eastbound and westbound Indian River Road approaches.

Witchduck Road/Cleveland Street

While that $32 million Witchduck widening project (mentioned above) is planned, a low‐cost improvement at Cleveland Street may be valuable. Given the number of lanes exiting this intersection, more approach lanes could be added to the westbound, northbound and eastbound approaches.

The city says it intends to improve the eastbound Cleveland Street approach to this intersection as part of a project involving Greenwich Road in coordination with a state project that will reshape the southeastern quadrant of the I-64/I-264 interchange. It is recommended that software be used to test the “delay improvement effect” of adding eastbound Cleveland approach lanes at this intersection.

Indian River Road/Reon Drive

Adding another left-turn lane on southbound Reon Drive could significantly reduce delay here, at least for motorists approaching on Reon Drive,

It is recommended that software be used to estimate the improvement that an additional Reon Drive left-turn lane would make. This lane could be added by building a new lane or converting the existing right-turn lane into a left‐through‐right lane.