City Recommitting to Bypass’s 35 MPH Limit

With a study supporting the 35 MPH speed limit on parts of the 250 Bypass, City Council intends to keep it there, Megan Davis writes for the Waynesboro News Virginian. (No, I don’t understand, either. Let’s chalk that up to a production error.) The study found that while most people are going faster, it also found that the lack of sufficient space for acceleration and slowing down necessitates the seemingly unreasonably slow speed limit. The westbound stretch after McIntire, in particular, is what strikes a lot of people as unreasonably slow until it hits 45 MPH just before the firehouse. (Councilor Dave Norris is one of those people.) Council intends to pass an ordinance restating that speed limit. All of this came about after a half dozen people appealed tickets for speeding, who argued that the limit is unreasonably low and was set in 1967 without a necessary study to demonstrate cause for it to be set so low.

36 Responses to “City Recommitting to Bypass’s 35 MPH Limit”


  • I wonder if the problem is that if you look at the stretch that is set for 35 MPH, when you’re traveling eastbound, it makes sense, because there are some side streets that feed onto the By-Pass and there is Covenant School and all that–but that same stretch, on the westbound side, has no side streets and just parkland on the side of the road (no school access). And perhaps the problem is that if you have 35 MPH on the eastbound side, you have to have 35 MPH on the westbound side too. I wonder if the speeders were all westbound? Full disclosure: I slow down to 35 MPH (or 38, whatever) when the signs say to do so, and boy does that make drivers behind me mad.

  • I always assumed that this was because of Covenant School and the Park being so close by, and the utter lack of related merge lanes for this entire stretch. Personally, I’d much rather that they undertake fixing the interchanges so that residents could safely merge rather than keeping the speed limit so low. (And perhaps get the county to fix the awful one at Ivy Road while they’re at it?)

  • In the westbound lanes, it is almost impossible to enter the bypass from McIntire Park. Increasing the speed would make it more impossible.

  • I read the report and found it to be very thorough and sound. Motorists who are just passing through tend to think the speed limit should be set exclusively based on their own current behavior and desires (known as the 85th percentile rule). But roads do not exist in a vacuum. They are part of a larger system, which includes schools, parks, homes, and businesses which are closely connected. Taking a context-sensitive approach, 35 mph is reasonable. The study reveals that the problem is not the speed limit; it’s the speeders.

  • I forgot about the entrance to McIntire Park and that little wading pool — it’s already bad enough with cars going 35 mph to make that sharp right turn onto the by-pass. I agree with Krues8dr that a solution would be to fix the interchanges. The by-pass from between Ivy to Free Bridge has always struck me as something halfway between an interstate highway and a regular city road, and, being only halfway between those two things, it does neither thing well. It “feels” like a highway, so people drive like it is one, but it doesn’t have the kind of on-ramps and merging structures that a true highway would have, so it isn’t safe to drive like it is one.

  • What gets me is “the actual study, though, could not be located.”

    Maybe it is waiting with the contents from that 1962 time capsule that couldn’t also be located without difficulty.

    Yeah, the problem is always the speeders. It could never be an indeficiency for deceleration and acceleration lanes. I’m sure the roads are maintained with priority for city traffic. Oh and bicyclists don’t unequally affect what gets allocated for keeping our streets in shape. No siree! No activist agenda to do away with cars or ulterior motives to reduce and rid off roadways.

    As New Reality said “roads do not exist in a vacuum.” Hard to argue with what’s painted anchor logic. Ah but to chalk it up exclusively to current behavior and desires makes such sound like an inviting excuse for future negligence. Besides, it’s so much simpler and far inexpensive to do little, such as solely invoking a low-speed limit.

  • Raising the speed limit would mean losing a certain amount of speeding ticket revenue, and that’ll never happen.

  • Perhaps if the City Council would vote to finish the Meadowcreek Parkway and pick a final design for the interchange this problem would solve itself. The really great part of this solution is they already have the money allocated to do this.

    Two birds, one stone

  • This is idiotic. Obviously there is plenty of room to accelerate and brake because EVERYONE IS GOING 45 MPH ANYWAY.

    I have to go 45 on the bypass because everyone else does. I get honked at when I go 35. It is socially acceptable to go 45 mph on the bypass and socially unacceptable to go 35. So in order to meet the expectations of the community, I have to break the law. When this situation occurs, the law has failed and usually needs to be amended to meet the real expectations of society.

    This creates a opportunity for unfair behavior by law enforcement. When a law is systematically broken by nearly everyone and there is an expectation that it will not be enforced, then you have a situation where a police officer gets to ticket and hassle anyone he wants for any reason that strikes him.

    Don’t like the Tea Party political bumper sticker on a car? Don’t like the dark skin and hoodie of a young driver? A cop can selectively decide to ruin the day of anyone he wants when speed limits are set absurdly low. When everyone is breaking the law then only the people that a cop really dislikes will get ticketed.

    This situation is unfair to everyone.

  • Yep, in the decades I have lived with that 35 MPH zone, I figure I have lost upwards of 20 minutes of my life slowing from 45 to 35. Problem is, of course, that once it is increased to 45 then everyone will want to go 50…

  • Seriously, who cares if the guy behind you is honking? Isn’t that his problem, not yours?

  • OK, never heard of fark before. Did some googling (it’s a verb) and now am praying this site won’t go down from too many hits.

  • Wow, I haven’t looked at Fark since…oh, I guess about 2004. I had no idea it was still around!

    I confess to driving 45 in that 35 section (from McIntire to the fire station) every morning, on the way to work. As a matter of habit, I do not speed. I have never gotten a speeding ticket, and that’s for good causeā€”I allow extra time to get everywhere, and don’t have to speed. But driving 35 in that section of road is just ridiculous. I appreciate that there are some theoretical reasons why 35 is better, and no doubt there are times when I do drive 35 there, in response to the reality of traffic. But most of the time, it’s just dumb, and I feel foolish driving that slowly, and so I do not.

  • No Barbara, it is not a verb. And this site wont crash as fark links back to the DP article. We have been hitting fark’s main page a lot more since McDonnel, Cucinelli and the rest of the bouffant encrusted thought police got voted into office. Just never at such a local level.

    Did anybody catch the police’s latest bypass speed trap? About a month ago they had white panel van parked right on the median, across from the fire station with the back door slightly ajar. Inside the van was a video camera and a speed gun. Up the road, near what I call the whale tail exit, they had every kind of cop car available. Marked, semi marked, covert… probably a dozen vehicles in all, just lined up plunking drivers one by one. Seriously, they looked like cabs lined up at the airport.

    Its one thing to have a random cop sitting on the side of the road with radar, but this full on covert ops drama, all to what? catch people going ten over on the bypass? felt a bit orwellian. But Im sure it was all about “safety” and “thinking of the children”, and not at all about revenue.

    Fortunately their shenanigans hit social media quick, and red flags were tossed to everyone wired. Im surprised there isnt an phone ap or two floating around to help facilitate the spreading of awareness of such alternative transportation tax collection points.

  • @belmont yo

    There is an app for that! Try Trapster (multi-platform).

  • What Jack said.

  • For those that simply use that area of 250 as a “thru-road,” I suspect it does seem silly. For those that use it as an entry/exit area the 35 limit can often be too much. Coming off Park going west can be tough with little too no time warning time from cars already on 250W coming over the hill/curve and under the bridge. This would include a significant amount of younger drivers from CHS. More than once I have had to hit the accelerator pretty hard to merge (because lets face it, most drivers in this area are stupid) , then hit the breaks just as fast to stop around the next curve at the stoplight.

    Further on, the stoplight at 250/Mac actually has warning flashers posted ahead as the road gives precious little time to respond to the light.

    The traffic at Covenant lower also tends to spill out, as well as back up and cause some disruptions, and cars going 250E have little advance time to the traffic.

    Turning into/coming out of the Golf Course/wading pool is the same. You really have to hit the gas hard, then suddenly you are trying to merge further due to the softball parks merge lane.

    More times than not I am stuck behind someone nervous to merge on 250W coming out of the softball fields due to the cars coming around the corner.

    These are all real issues that occur. ON the face it seems silly. But hey, if youu still think I am nuts, try to do those merges during rush hour.

    So my question is this, just how many of those who view this as silly are actual Cville residents? And how many actually have to use the on/off ramps on a daily basis, during rush hours?

    Or are there just a few Albemarle drivers rolling through to UVa and annoyed by the 30 seconds of their day they lost?

  • Dan – I’ll merge, no sweat at all, because I actually know the accelerator is there to provide merging power. Of course, my meager city car Honda Fit with 125HP seems meager, but it has plenty of power for the task. It’s those Escalades and Hemis with 300 to 500 hp that always seem to have a problem. Maybe its the tiny wattage power of their cell phones that are the real blockage?

  • I’m with danpri completely on this. All those on-ramps are way more challenging than a real on-ramp to a real 50-55 MPH highway (which is how fast people will go if the speed limit is set to 45) would be. the on-ramp at Dairy/Meadowbrook Heights onto eastbound 250 is ugly–you pretty much have to slow to a stop at the on-ramp and wait for a gap, and then gun it. That’s not how merging onto a highway is supposed to work. Plus, people traveling westbound on 250 who want to get off at the Rio exit at rush hour usually form a big long line that backs up onto 250, and there’s that curve right before the Rio exit so people coming around that curve suddenly run up on a line of stopped cars waiting to get off the main road and onto the exit road.

    My other beef? there are exits from 250 westbound that require you to get to the left-hand side of the road (at McIntire and at what I call the Bodo’s exit, the one that takes you to Barracks). So if I’m planning to take one of those left-side exits, I get into the left lane pretty well ahead of time (because that’s how you do it right) and the left lane is where people REALLY want to speed, but hell if I’m going to zoom along at 55 if I know I’m planning to get into the very short left-hand turn lane in just a few. This by-pass is nuts. It’s not a limited access highway. It’s a town road with a lot of not-controlled access traffic coming onto it and off of it. The solution is not to make it MORE like a limited-access highway.

  • From now on, we will travel in tubes. Get the scientists working on the tube technology immediately!

    (sotto voce: tube technology)

  • @Danpri and Claire, I lived on Hazel Street for years and I’ve used the bypass for local use as well as a throughway.

    You guys are going on and on with these descriptions of how the bypass sucks, but missing the point that EVERYONE IS ALREADY GOING 45 MPH. And the sky does not fall. We’ve always gone 45 on the bypass. In practical terms, nobody is talking about changing the way that people actually drive on the bypass. We’re just saying that its time to get rid of this situation that allows cops to ticket people for capricious reasons.

    Codifying the limit on the bypass at the speed people actually drive will not lead to people driving even faster. For the most part, drivers in Albemarle and Charlottesville obey the speed limits. I don’t see a lot of people going 75 mph on 64 through town. I don’t see people driving 55 mph down West Main. We all tend to follow the speed limits pretty well everywhere in the area except for this one place where the limit is so absurdly low that the law has failed to win the support of the governed.

  • Michael–

    I realize that you were joking, but it’s true that we already have the tube technology:

    http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2008/02/a-world-without.html

    but given that we can’t even keep our passenger rail system running in a way that wouldn’t make any other industrialized country ashamed of itself, I’m not hopeful.

  • I would say that it’s simply not true that EVERYONE IS ALREADY GOING 45 MPH. I’m not. And when I drive it the by-pass (which happens on average 2-3 trips every day), I’m simply not the only one putting along at 38-40 MPH. I’m not the only one who slows down noticeably at the point where the signs for 35 begin. Yes, lots of people are doing 45+ MPH. But not everyone. Some actual data besides my anecdotal data and your unsupported assertion would probably be enlightening for all sides of this argument.

    I would also dispute the idea that “everyone drives 45 already and there are no problems.” It’s possible that there ARE problems in that stretch marked 35 MPH that result from the cars that are doing 45+MPH. There are accidents; if they occur more frequently at the on-ramps in that stretch, then perhaps there is a relation. We don’t know what that data would show. I’ve certainly seen what seems like a high number of accidents at the on-ramp area by Locust and Park westbound. Could be related to the fact that many people are doing 50 MPH there.

  • @Jack. It is not the only place where the speed “seems” slow. Rugby going to the park @ 25 “seems” very slow as well.

    And no, “everyone” is not going 45 already. Some are going 35, some 40, some 45 and some 50 MPH.

    But hey, lets keep it as high as possible so we can save that 30 seconds. Or perhaps we need to be aware that these areas, are in reality, potentially problematic. Me, I think better safe than sorry. http://www.nbc29.com/story/8587289/vdot-presents-route-29-traffic-changes?clienttype=printable

  • So why are you going along at 40mph Claire? The sign says 35mph.
    That is the MAXIMUM speed, not the recommended speed.

  • Yes, Christian, you WIN, you noticed that I admitted (totally up front about it) that I exceed posted maximum speed limit by about 3-5 MPH. Big prizes await you! And you’re also right that once anyone goes 3-5 MPH over the posted maximum speed limit, they abdicate any right to suggest that going 15-20 MPH over the posted speed limit is worse! As we all know, the logic of one’s critique of a thing is secondary, perhaps even tertiary, to the purity of one’s personal conduct. That’s why critique has been pretty much invalidated as a public option these days, because if one can find the tiniest flaw in the personal conduct of the speaker, then one gets to throw out the entire critique — no need to engage with the merits of the critique itself! Yay!

  • I just drove into downtown cville and while I was driving a consistent 35.3* miles per hour, everyone else was driving 45-50 miles per hour. Now, as much as I dislike the “everyone else is doing it” argument, in this case, it makes sense. The effective speed for that segment of the bypass is at least 40 mph, if not 45.

    * I should have had my hazards on.

  • Claire, please. The point is quite clear w/o all that defensive arguing. Jack suggested people already drive faster there because everyone knows the posted speed is bullcrap.
    You argued the speed limit is valid, but then admit to driving over the limit.
    I didn’t WIN anything. Rather, common sense LOST.

  • On the opposite end of the spectrum, what is the justification for the speed limit on Emmet Street being 40 mph from the City line all the way to just south of Ivy/University Ave? This is a congested segment, with numerous crosswalks, driveways, bus stops, bicyclists, event traffic, etc. To set Emmet Street at 40 mph and the 250 bypass at 35 mph does not make sense.

  • Park Street saw a great deal of speeding until ‘traffic calming’ occurred.

    Monticello Avenue — the end result of Route 20 N from Scottsville — saw a great deal of speeding, until a) the traffic light was added to the Monticello/Bolling/Carlton intersection and b) ‘traffic calming’ was added at Clark School. Monticello Avenue is/was wide and invited speeding until a combination of compulsary stopping & pedestrian islands was added.

    Both roads had posted limits of 25mph which I followed both before & after.

    The traffic engineers who are, to me, beloved geeks, gave us those numbers for a reason. I have always believed them, even when it’s taken time and experience to understand their rationale (ah, a school; ah, a too-short-ramp; ah, limited line-of-sight). I even — gasp! — adhere to the yellow posted, suggested safe limits on curvy bits of country roads, much to the chagrin of drivers (often flashing their lights & being generally obnoxious) behind me.

    We have lots of older infrasctructure that doesn’t give the ‘correct’ subliminal clues to a contemporary mind. Oh, well: deal with it.

    Seriously, y’all are yelling at Claire for honestly admitting she drives 3-5 miles over the speed limit and equating that to driving 15-20 miles over the speed limit?

    We’re driving weapons, people. Weapons that kill about 40K Americans every year. Take a deep breath, would ya? Please?

    Just because people blow off a rule, isn’t, of itself, a reason to get rid of the rule. Just because people don’t blow off a rule, isn’t, of itself, a reason to keep a rule.

    “Popular support of the governed?” Really? We wouldn’t have civil rights laws. They weren’t popular, just the right thing to do.

    Put down the phone, give yourself an extra 60 seconds, and enjoy getting from here to there. Seriously. Give yourself, and me, a ‘brake’.

  • Those of us still in the productive part of our lives have places to go, things to do, within workable timeframes. Thank you for listening.

  • “Those of us still in the productive part of our lives have places to go, things to do, within workable timeframes. Thank you for listening.”

    Wow… just, wow. Look at you!

    Claire and Barbara, you need to understand that Christian is a very busy person and has important things to do (which you obviously do not, as demonstrated by your willingness to go at or near the posted speed limit). Please do your best to stay out of his way, thanks. Maybe Christian could get one of those magnetic signs for his car door, and have it read “I am a very busy man.” That would make it easier for the rest of us to spot him, and then give way in traffic, enabling him to get to his appointments and such more quickly.

  • Clearly the speed limit needs to be set to the cost of your car divided by 1000. That way the “productive” folks can be on their way and not let the rest of us slow them down.

  • Victoria – I too have some suggestions for what kind of stickers you could put on your car to properly represent yourself. But unlike you, I will restrain myself.

  • You *all* break some law every day. Probably several. Every. Single. Day.

    /is there a separate speed limit for high horses?

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