Port Republic Road Corridor Study

The Port Republic Road Corridor Study addresses operational and safety issues at multiple intersections along the corridor between South Main Street and Devon Lane. The corridor provides critical access to commercial and neighborhood entrances, and is a primary entrance into the James Madison University campus. Increased demand from all modes of transportation, combined with closely-spaced intersections and interchange ramps, create traffic congestion and safety issues that have an impact on regional travel conditions.

The study is conducting an operational and safety analysis of the corridor, and testing the outcomes of specific treatments to determine their effectiveness. The study will provide decision makers and the public with recommendations supported by 3-D visualizations and measurable benefits to travelers including reduced travel times, improved level of service, and improved safety. The study corridor is broken into three sub-areas/elements:

  • Neighborhood access between South Main Street and I-81 Exit 245
  • Commercial, Neighborhood, and Interstate Access east of Exit 245 to Devon Lane
  • Corridor-wide Safety Analysis

Regional Significance: Port Republic Road (VA 253) is a regional link to Interstate 81 and serves travel markets between Harrisonburg and Rockingham county, including James Madison University, Sentara RMH Medical Center, and more.

Study Objectives: Evaluate operational and safety issues at multiple intersections along the corridor between South Main Street and Devon Lane. Determine access management solutions that improve operations, capacity, flow, and safety.

Status: Ongoing. A public open house meeting is rescheduled for Monday, March 11, 2019 at Harrisonburg City Hall, Council Chambers, 409 South Main Street.

Operational and Safety Analyses

As part of the study, an operational analysis of signalized and key unsignalized intersections along the project corridor was conducted. The evaluation examined 2018 existing corridor conditions, the year 2030 no-build conditions (no changes or new projects), and the year 2030 build conditions. The analysis of existing and 2030 no-build conditions (see photo below) demonstrates that several intersections within the corridor are operating over capacity, creating undesirable level of service metrics as well as significant queues which contribute to slow speeds and increased travel times throughout the corridor in the PM rush hour. The results of these analyses guided the operational recommendations that were included in the 2030 build model.

A safety analysis was conducted along the corridor to measure current crash trends and develop site specific improvements to achieve a reduction in the number of crashes or the severity of crashes. Five (5) years and six months (January 2013-June 2018) of crash data was used to assess the current safety of the Port Republic Road study corridor. The crash reports were categorized by several factors, including crash frequency per location, time of day, and crash types. The data was processed from multiple perspectives to provide the most comprehensive evaluation of the roadway conditions. The results were used to recommend projects called "countermeasures" that have been shown to reduce crash rates in various engineering studies.

DRAFT Operational and Safety Recommendations

The recommendations can be organized into four (4) categories: traffic control measures, geometric changes, access management strategies, and future considerations.

DRAFT Traffic Control Measures
  • Optimize corridor signal timings including cycle lengths, splits, offsets, and phasing sequences; (for information on traffic signal phasing click here)
  • Eliminate the split phase operation at the relocated NB I-81 off-ramp and Forest Hills;
  • Eliminate the split phase operation at Port Republic Road and Devon Lane;
  • Eliminate the northbound and southbound pedestrian crossing at Port Republic Road and Bluestone Drive; Construct a pedestrian overpass over Port Republic at Bluestone Drive/Hillside Avenue.
  • Signalize Port Republic Road and Bradley Lane;
  • Install flashing yellow arrows (FYAs) where protected/permissive left turns are used. This allows for lead/leg left turn phasing which will assist in bi-directional coordination.
  • Install High Visibility Signal Backplates;
  • Evaluate the implementation of red-light running cameras;
  • Install programmable, or louvered, signal heads for the westbound direction at the intersection of Port Republic Road and I-81 southbound ramps;
  • Install yield sign on the right side of the roadway for the northbound channelized right turn at Port Republic Road and South Main Street;
  • Install green markings in the bike lane across driveways and intersections; and,
  • Restripe the westbound left turn lane at the intersection of Port Republic Road and Devon Road to clearly designate the transition from a two-way-left-turn-lane to a dedicated left turn lane.
DRAFT Geometric Changes
  • Construct a westbound right turn lane with 50 feet of storage and a 100 foot taper on Port Republic Road at the intersection of Port Republic Road and Forest Hill Road;
  • Increase the eastbound left turn lane storage length on Port Republic Road and Blue Stone Drive from 100 feet to 300 feet;
  • Reconfigure the westbound Port Republic Road approach at South Main Street to include two left turn lanes, one through lane, one through/right and one right turn lane;
  • Reconfigure the northbound approach of Devon Lane at Port Republic Road to include one left turn lane, one through lane and one right turn lane. Widen the southbound Devon Lane approach to include one left turn lane, one through lane and one right turn lane; and
  • Install high friction surface course at downhill approaches to increase skid resistance and reduce stopping distances.

DRAFT Access Management Strategies
  • Implement peak hour turning restrictions at Hillcrest Drive, Crawford Ave, and Hunters Road;
  • Install a median to restrict turning movements within the proximity of all signalized intersections; and,
  • Close driveway at the Gas Station, located just east of Forest Hill Road on Port Republic Road.
Future Considerations

Below are considerations that are excepted to involve significant financial investment, or will require more study, and should be considered in the future.

  • Transit stop enhancements;
  • Evaluate intersection sight distance;
  • Install left turn lanes at the unsignalized intersections;
  • Evaluate the design of the vertical curves to current geometric design standards to provide adequate sight distance; and,
  • Investigate a bus pull-out for transit vehicles in the westbound direction on Port Republic Road just east of Forest Hill Road.

If you have any questions, please call Jonathan Howard at 540-885-5174, extension 115.