VDOT plans for safety assessment to be conducted along Hermitage Rd. in Augusta County

Published: Jun. 9, 2021 at 5:50 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 9:03 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - Route 254 along Hermitage Rd. in Augusta County has seen quite a bit of crashes over the past several years, with the most recent being the one that happened over the weekend, resulting in the death of a 12-year-old girl.

Those who travel and live along Hermitage Rd. are wondering what can be done to make the stretch between Staunton and Waynesboro safer.

Frankie Foust moved to her home along Hermitage Rd. two years ago and has seen a handful of crashes right from her front porch.

“The very first night living here, we had an accident at the curve right here. They were speeding. They hit the guardrails, and they went into the ditch,” Foust explained. “I saw lights and I heard sirens and everything, and I was like Oh... Welcome to Hermitage Road.”

And she says it didn’t stop there.

“A guy teared through my yard, went through our trees, went through my neighbors yard, took out their mailbox, took out the four mailboxes on the other side of the road and then proceeded to keep going,” Foust said.

Foust’s dog was also killed in a hit and run, and quite a few fatal accidents have all been within two miles of her home.

“There was a death right in front of my house. We need to have something that slows down traffic because obviously rumble strips, speed limits, state troopers, sheriff’s department, like they’re not... they can only do so much,” Foust said.

A DMV crash locations map shows 34 crashes along Hermitage Rd. in 2019, 22 in 2020 and 10 so far this year.

“Something needs to be done on this road because it’ll make me feel safer. I’m scared. There was months where I was scared to pull out of my driveway,” Foust said. “My neighbor [got] hit just going into their driveway, getting passed trying to come into my driveway, people honking, flipping me off because I’m slowing down.”

VDOT says they plan to conduct a safety assessment to learn what can be done to make the route safer.

“It’s going to look at everything from any potential hotspots where we see crashes, any kind of patterns we can see, it would include a speed study,” Ken Slack with VDOT said.

Some possible improvements could include widening shoulders and edge-line rumble strips.

Right now, there are center line rumble strips on the road to help reduce head-on collisions, by warning the driver by hearing or feeling when you cross the yellow line.

Augusta County has also submitted a Smart Scale request for improvements to be made to the stretch.

“It’s a variety of improvements that includes turn lanes, sight distance improvements and also better turning radius at one of those intersections as well,” Slack said.

If approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board, Slack said that project would be coming in a few short years. But in the meantime, there are things you can do to help make travel safer.

“First and foremost is 100 percent of your focus needs to be on the task at hand as a driver,” Slack said.

And following the speed limit is not only the law, but can also give you better reaction time if something does happen in front of you.

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