Traffic safety was a hot topic at a Tuesday evening Halifax Town Council work session and business meeting at town hall.
The talk about traffic-related safety was a continuation of the discussion on the subject that started at the October council meeting.
“We had an hour and a half Zoom call with the Virginia Department of Transportation. They will perform a safety and operations study from a traffic standpoint,” Mayor Dexter Gilliam reported to council in the work session. “We talked about roundabouts as a traffic calming measure and additional crosswalks with there being flashing signs at those crosswalks that could be activated by a person attempting to cross the street.”
Gilliam said the town should have the results of the safety study in June, and during the course of the study, two public hearings will be held to provide the public an opportunity to comment on traffic-related safety concerns.
Later in the evening, a couple of town residents addressed council and commented on the need for more enforcement of traffic laws and town ordinances related to the noise caused by traffic late at night. The residents had previously voiced their traffic-related concerns to members of town council at their October meeting.
“It is loud, and there is a lot of speeding going up and down both ways. We need more police involvement. We’re here to ask for your help,” Main Street resident Tim Hudgins told council Tuesday evening. “There are a lot of loud mufflers and a lot of people are going very fast. If a car slows down, the noise would slow down with it…there’s a lot of disturbing the peace going on at all hours of the night. It seems like the disturbing the peace law we have is not being enforced.”
Gilliam said his hope is that the town will be able to implement “traffic-calming measures” as a result of the traffic-related safety study that VDOT is conducting in conjunction with Michael Baker & Associates.
“I agree with you. We have a tremendous challenge on the traffic along 501 and 360,” Gilliam told Hudgins. “I would like nothing better than to see at least three roundabouts, one at the Greens Folly crossing, one where 501 comes into North Halifax, and one where Sinai Road comes into Mountain Road. I think roundabouts work and I think the flashing lights could work.”
Another Main Street resident, Craig Wofford, reminded council that at last month’s meeting, he had inquired if the town could ask VDOT about the possibility of putting up flashing traffic signs to slow the traffic and bring attention to the 25-mile-per-hour speed limit.
“A lot of people are coming up Main, and they’re doing 50 and some of them as much as 55 miles per hour, and it’s just too much,” Wofford commented.
Gilliam told Wofford flashing signs at crosswalks was one of the items the town has discussed in its Zoom call with VDOT, as reported in the work session. The mayor also emphasized the need for Halifax residents to speak about the traffic-related issues at the public hearings during the course of the study.
“If nobody shows up and nobody speaks, they’re going to assume there isn’t a problem,” Gilliam said.
Wofford also said he sees the need for a sign with flashing lights at the crosswalk on Church Street for the sake of pedestrian safety.
Councilman Bill Confroy offered a suggestion.
“Years ago South Boston Speedway needed a sign on Route 58 directing people to them and for some reason or other VDOT wouldn’t do it, so the Industrial Development Authority of Halifax County put the sign up,” Confroy related. “There’s no reason why the town could not put up a sign if they have the property.”
Council also mulled the possibility of placing old police cruisers with mannequins in strategic locations in town where speeding typically is a problem as a deterrent.
The town recently received $93,800 from the USDA-Rural Development grant/ loan program for two new police patrol vehicles and equipment.
At Tuesday’s meeting, council also received a copy of Halifax Police Chief Stuart Comer’s department report for the month of October.
Last month the department made two felony arrests for stolen property and driving under the influence, seven misdemeanor arrests, responded to 452 calls for service, issued 41 traffic summons, responded to one traffic accident with no injuries, and issued 38 warnings for miscellaneous violations.