Contact Carly: Preston and Grady crossroad concerns
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Some people call the intersection of Preston and Grady avenues by the Dairy Market "the worst intersection" in Charlottesville.
With its cluster of cars and confusing curves, it's easy to get mixed up.
"Enough to where I've seen a few collisions in the middle and sometimes people go in the wrong direction even because sometimes the signs are a little tricky to navigate," said Chris Davis, an assistant manager at Martin Hardware.
Martin Hardware sits right in the middle of the intersection, and Davis said people get thrown off when trying to pull into the parking lot since they're unable to make a left turn into the location.
"You have to go down and kind of make a U-turn and then some people try to go straight across," Davis said.
The intersection is left over from a road expansion project that happened in the 1960s. The crossroad concerns were nailed down back in 2014, when city officials got public feedback on Charlottesville's traffic design and put it into a report.
"That document said this was the number one problem intersection in the city," said Brennen Duncan, the city traffic engineer.
Duncan said there are two traffic lights within a hundred feet of each other, which lead to traffic back-ups. There are also five or six streets that all feed into one road, as well as major problems for pedestrians.
"There's not contiguous sidewalks and pedestrians facilities; it's very difficult to get from one side to another," Duncan said.
The city has brainstormed improvements to include only one traffic light at the intersection, new curb and sidewalks, pedestrian signals for all parts of the intersection, and larger median islands for pedestrians when crossing a wide street.
To pay for the redesign, the city applied for Virginia Department of Transportation Smart Scale funding, which fully covers the cost of certain projects if it helps Virginia's transportation goals.
The city put in $6 million and the application was approved, but the money isn't coming until 2025.
"Sometimes, if other localities have backed out of their funding and have more available, they'll ask can you accelerate a project," Duncan said. "But right now they're limited on cash so it will be five years."
The specific improvements aren't set in stone at the moment. Once the money comes in, the city will still have to get more public feedback, churn through the design process, and do the construction.
"Even after we receive those funds, it's still a three-, four-, five-year process before the final project is done," Duncan said.
Another concern was Preston Avenue itself. City staff have submitted proposals to start addressing the issues with just the road.
If the Charlottesville City Council approves, the process could get rolling as soon as next year. In other words, the city is planning to work on Preston while waiting until improvements to the specific intersection can be made.