The Virginia Department of Transportation has announced plans to build a $4 million weigh station and lower the speed limit on a 7.8-mile stretch of Route 17 just north of Interstate 66.
According to the Washington Post
, citizen complaints about the number of trucks traveling on a two-lane stretch between I-66 and Route 50 in Fauquier County prompted the changes, which include a new weigh station just outside of Warrenton.
Concerns over the growing amount of truck traffic along Route 17 have increased because it appears as though many vehicles have been looking for ways to avoid congestion at Springfield, where massive construction is snarling the Mixing Bowl interchange.
Transportation Department statistics showed that trucks make up about 30 percent of all traffic on the stretch between Route 50 and I-66, when the desired average for a two-lane primary road is about 10 percent or 15 percent.
Other state statistics showed nine accidents on that segment since the beginning of the year, with six of them involving trucks. In all but one of those six accidents, the trucker was alleged to be at fault, according to the state figures. None of the accidents involved fatalities.
In addition to the weigh station, the speed limit will be lowered from 55 mph to 45 mph, effective Oct. 1. He added that the VDOT decided not to ban trucks along the route, despite pressure from local residents to do so. Some local residents argued that truckers have been using that leg of Route 17 to do an end-around at a weigh station on Interstate 81. Route 50 intersects I-81 at Winchester.
Officials say the new weigh station in Warrenton will be a way to capture not only the traffic headed north on Route 17 but also the heavy truck traffic on Routes 15 and 29. All three roads merge outside Warrenton, and a recent mobile weigh station on the combined route found a "surprising" amount of illegal traffic, including oversize loads. The station is expected to be finished by 2002 and will be the first weigh station on the Route 29 corridor, which runs the length of the state.