By Alexander Shedd
Construction is finally wrapping up on the new traffic circle at the intersection of Routes 311 and 419 at Hanging Rock. While some lanes are still being finished, the traffic circle is now open for regular commuters.
“It was a huge pain in the neck,” said Mona, an associate at the Hanging Rock Xpress Stop. “Business was slow… but it’s picked back up since the circle opened.”
The intersection sees major daily traffic as part of the regular commute for those coming to and from Craig County. VDOT estimates that approximately 14,000 vehicles use this intersection every day. The addition of the large traffic circle has been difficult to adjust to for some.
“People don’t know how to use the traffic circle,” Mona added, gesturing toward the VDOT crews still finishing their work in the heat. “They go in the wrong way… how can you not see the ‘Do Not Enter’ signs?”
“It hit us big,” commented Orange Market’s Bob Pinnell. Referring to the market’s full parking lot, he continued, “See these cars? There’d only be maybe two out there during the construction. Gas was hit hard too. It was rough… Coming from [the direction of the Hanging Rock Battlefield Monument], it’s the difference of ten minutes to two minutes.”
VDOT previously stated that the goal of the project was to “construct a roundabout that will enhance safety, improve traffic flow and cost less to build and maintain. The project will also improve and resurface the nearby park and ride lot, add paved shoulders for bicycle use and pedestrian crosswalks to connect to the Hanging Rock Battlefield Trail.” VDOT has also added on the official webpage for the project that, although the circle is now open, “drivers should still expect nighttime lane closures with flaggers between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday around the roundabout for final paving, pavement marking and sign installation.”
The $2.4 million dollar contract for the project was awarded to Roanoke contractor E.C. Pace in February.