ReThink9: Traffic Calming
Route 9 serves as a key travel route through the Blue Ridge Mountains, connecting Charles Town, West Virginia with Northern Virginia and Washington, DC. Along this highway sits the Town of Hillsboro—a small Loudoun County, Virginia, community of roughly 100 residents.
Seeing the significant increase of commuter traffic, town leaders knew they needed to develop a plan to relieve the traffic, maintain safety for drivers and pedestrians, preserve the history of the Town, and protect the quality of life of its residents.
In the 1990s, there was exponential growth in the number of commuters using Route 9. The Town needed to develop a plan to relieve the traffic, maintain safety for drivers and pedestrians, and protect the quality of life of its residents.
Volkert was selected in 2017 to provide multi-disciplinary, multimodal design services for the $30-million ReThink9 traffic calming project, offering a range of services from roadway streetscape and utility infrastructure design to NEPA approvals to construction management and inspection services.
The Town hired Volkert based on its shortlist presentation of a comprehensive approach which addressed all of the key historic, traffic, pedestrian, utility, permitting, and construction phase elements. That approach had all of the design and construction management disciplines working together from the beginning to develop plans that were aesthetically pleasing, safe, constructable, and cost effective.
As part of Volkert’s design, two roundabouts, three at-grade and three raised mid-block crosswalks, safe parking, a new sidewalk network, and three multimodal trails now provide safe transportation infrastructure through the town.
Volkert also designed the proposed water systems; HDPE low-pressure sewer mains; underground Dominion Energy and Verizon utility conduit systems (coordinating with the utility companies to ensure proper delivery); and power and telecom duct bank systems (including upgraded utility services to all properties along the main corridor).
Contractor Archer Western officially began construction on March 6, 2020. Later that month, the COVID-19 pandemic began impacting daily life in the United States. With many people working remotely, commuter traffic through Hillsboro decreased dramatically.
Volkert saw the lighter traffic—and a significant water main break under Route 9—as an opportunity to alter the project plan and schedule. After completing a thorough traffic analysis, a two-month full closure of Route 9 helped accelerate construction and provide safer work zones. These plans were developed in conformance with VDOT and Loudoun County standards and also allowed for simultaneous utility work.
Despite the early closure, at least one lane has been open to traffic throughout most of the project. It re-opened to two-way traffic in Spring 2021.
By tackling the construction of all infrastructure components at once, the Town of Hillsboro reduced costs and negative impacts to community residents and businesses.
Throughout the fall and winter, utility lines were installed, two roundabouts were completed, 13 retaining walls were erected, stormwater infrastructure was added to control runoff from adjacent mountains, sidewalks were poured, and raised crosswalks were introduced.
All of the project partners, including Volkert, were committed to preserving the Town’s historic elements. Volkert ensured that native trees and shrubs were planted, and appropriate bricks and other construction materials were selected to honor Hillsboro’s history.
The three multimodal Transportation Alternative Project Grant trails total 3,400 linear feet. The .22-mile, 10-foot-wide GapWay Trail connects the existing Mountain Road Trail to the historic downtown area using a combination of asphalt pavement and decorative surface finishes that match other historic elements.
The Gaver Mill Road and Stony Point trails—which are also included in the Pedestrian & Bicycle Trail Connectivity Master Plan—are under partial construction.
Route 9 construction was completed in June 2021.
The partnership between Volkert and the Town of Hillsboro won’t end with this traffic calming project. Volkert looks forward to providing additional services to the Town, including site plans for the historical Post Office and Old Stone School event venue, as well as the design of a new wastewater treatment plant.
Photos courtesy of the Town of Hillsboro and Flying Fox UAV.
Town of Hillsboro