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Culpeper council has a roundabout discussion
By DONNIE JOHNSTON
Town of Culpeper public works director Jim Hoy inadvertently used the word "hysteric" instead of "historic" near the conclusion of a grueling update concerning the controversial "inner loop" project.
"No, no, I didn't mean 'hysteric'!" Hoy quickly told the Town Council and the audience.
It was too late. The slip of the tongue caused even the most ardent supporter (if there is one) of the inner loop project to chuckle.
In the 30 minutes previous, Hoy and Virginia Department of Transportation engineer Chuck Proctor attempted to explain drawings of the .75-mile project which, with roundabouts at each end and another in the middle, resembled three plates of spaghetti on a table.
The colored lines and arrows that were designed to represent traffic flows between the Sperryville Pike and North Main Street (with the Old Rixeyville Road in the middle) connected the three plates and seemed to indicate that they had been placed on the table by some inebriated waiter.
The lines and circles left many, including Mayor Chip Coleman, more than a bit confused.
Some of the councilmen were even more amazed (and confused) to discover that under the new configuration it will be virtually impossible for motorists coming from town (the south) to get into the drive-through line at Wendy's.
The new route would bring northbound traffic into the fast-food restaurant via a service entrance behind the building that would move in a clockwise direction. The drive-through moves in a counter-clockwise direction with no space to change directions.
Motorists leaving McDonald's just up the street would also not be able to turn left onto Main Street and could only leave the restaurant on James Madison Highway if heading back into town.
Although food concerns were a big issue at the 5 p.m. special meetings, historic worries were ever greater.
The council learned that the roundabout at Virginia Avenue on the Sperryville Pike would take out about 130 feet of the historic rock wall in front of Fairview Cemetery and also eliminate the easternmost entrance to the town's oldest public graveyard.
This third roundabout was not part of the original configuration of the new road but Hoy said the town was almost trapped into building it instead of using a traffic light as had been planned.
"A signal there couldn't keep up with two roundabouts," Hoy said. "Traffic would back up."