Near Reeds Gap
Blue Ridge Parkway
Nelson-Augusta County, VA Line
By Tommy Stafford (some editorial content included)
On Friday yet another semi tractor trailer blocked Route 664 near Reeds Gap. This is the forth big rig this week to get stuck there and block the roadway. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday law enforcement and emergency crews worked scenes near Reeds Gap.
It has become a consistent problem along Route 664 where it meets the Blue Ridge Parkway and on Route 151 heading up the mountain toward Brents Gap. Wintergreen Fire & Rescue Chief Curtis Sheets told us earlier in the week, they’ve easily worked over a dozen instances in the last 90 days.
On up 151 in Afton the continued problem of big rigs using 151 as a cut through between I-64 and U.S. Route 29 continues. It’s been a regular problem now for well over two decades.
In full disclosure, Project 151 was created by myself and numerous other people living in Nelson after the increased traffic along Route 151 and other highways in the country had become increasingly deadly.
During the year Project 151 was created, in 2007, 5 people had been killed on 151. Three at one time after smaller delivery type truck driver caused a wreck killing Laura Cavedo and her two young children. The driver rear ended their car at an intersection shoving it into the other lane hitting a car head on.
To be clear, none of the fatalities in 2007 were caused by semi trucks. This was a large box delivery truck. But the argument, then and now, has been that increased tourism traffic coupled with semi rigs simply cutting though to points beyond has created a huge mess along the highways in Nelson.
After numerous meetings and petitions to the Nelson BOS and VDOT, speed limits were reduced along parts of 151 and the deadly intersection in Greenfield was completely redone adding a turn lane from 151. An attempt to stop through trucks (those not with a destination in Nelson for deliveries) was highly sought by the group, but the resistance from the trucking industry was great and a request for the local BOS to ask the Commonwealth Transportation Board to look into such a restriction was never made. Years earlier before Project 151, a similar request by the late Kim Cash of Montebello was successful in stopping semi cut through traffic along 56 West (Crabtree Falls Highway.)
So what does this all have to do with semis blocking Brents Gap and Reeds Gap? It’s all been an increasing problem in particular along Route 151, Route 6 River Road, and Route 664 over the Blue Ridge Parkway. This on highways that were never designed to be carrying this load of traffic. Slowly over the years the clogging of these roadways with semis cutting through, combined with a heavy increase in regular passenger / tourism traffic, has made any travel difficult often creating accidents and numerous lengthy road closures.
In his Facebook page post above, Nelson West District BOS David Parr expressed concern this week over the semi problems on Reeds Gap and Brents Gap, vowing to having something done.
“4 trucks in three days. I spoke with VDOT and they called a special meeting this afternoon. They have a three-phase plan: First, electronic reader boards will be installed Monday October 26, 2020. Next, additional permanent signs will be erected. Finally, we hope to look at Truck Restrictions for the road.”
Additionally, Nelson Commonwealth Attorney Daniel Rutherford told us late Friday evening he plans to pursue changes as well. Rutherford said he has contacted the Virginia State Police area first sergeant about increasing VSP enforcement in these areas.
More as we know.