Thursday, January 6, 2011

Review of Millwood Avenue closure plan near completion (NVDaily)

By J.R. Williams --
December 31, 2010

WINCHESTER -- The Winchester-Frederick County Metropolitan Planning Organization is completing its review of a draft analysis on the closure of a stretch of Millwood Avenue near Shenandoah University.

The study, contracted to Gainesville-based engineering firm Gorove/Slade Associates Inc., is expected to include summaries of public comment, the study process to date and data gathered on the proposal.

The draft likely will be made available next week, said Chris Price, MPO secretary and executive director of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission.

Although the consultant may indicate a preferred alternative in the draft study, the MPO ultimately will make a recommendation.

A final decision on the proposal rests with the Winchester City Council.

"We're moving toward recommendations, but we're not going to come out with an official recommendation until after we go through another round of public comment," Price said.

A public comment meeting on the draft likely will be scheduled in mid-January, although a date has not yet been set, he said.

The MPO commissioned the study earlier this year to examine closing Millwood between Jubal Early Drive and Apple Blossom Drive and adding a right-turn lane for westbound traffic on Jubal Early at its intersection with Apple Blossom Drive.

Working groups studied alternatives for the intersection at previous public meetings.

Among the options explored were building a pedestrian bridge over Millwood, closing Apple Blossom Drive or closing Jubal Early between Millwood and Apple Blossom.

Closure of Millwood and adding the turn lane at Jubal Early is estimated to cost about $1.5 million, according to Gorove/Slade materials. That option would improve safety at the intersection, correct an awkward traffic pattern and improve aesthetics, the materials say.

Meanwhile, a local businessman who opposes the closure has gathered more than 500 signatures on a petition since introducing it about six weeks ago.

Mike Brill, owner and manager of the Midas auto repair shop at 824 S. Loudoun St., said Thursday the signatures are only from visitors to his business. A wooden sign at the edge of the shop's parking lot, at the corner of Loudoun and Gerrard streets, directs people inside.

If the stretch of Millwood Avenue is closed, Brill said, "that traffic is going to keep going to the left. It's not going to come back downtown.

"My business depends on traffic flow. ... They're hurting downtown businesses. We just went through a year of construction."

Brill said he eventually will turn over the petition to the City Council.

MPO Technical Advisory Committee and Policy Board meetings are scheduled for Jan. 19 at 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m.

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