What Should the Speed Limit be on Old Trail Drive (and Jarman’s Gap)

A letter to the editor entitled Old Trail Speed Limit Unreasonable in the Crozet Gazette prompted a good conversation on Twitter that I’m moving to the blog because I think it (and hope it) wants wider conversation.

Can the logic applied to the (absurdly, stupidly low) speed limit on the Charlottesville Bypass be applied here?

Megan Davis wrote in the Daily Progress in April:

Traffic data collected as part of the engineering study conducted by Maryland-based Rummel, Klepper & Kahl showed the 85th percentile speeds at four points in the 35-mph zone of the bypass is between 46 and 50 mph.
The 85th percentile speed, which represents the speed at or below which 85 percent of drivers are traveling in free-flowing traffic, is often used to determine speed limits, according to the study.

“Repeated research on speed limits consistently shows that the most appropriate, safe and enforceable speed limit will be within 5 mph of the 85th percentile speed,” the study reads.

Still, special conditions, such as adjacent residential neighborhoods, school zones and parks, should also be considered, the study said.
The study concluded that such special conditions make the 35-mph zone of the bypass appropriate.

What should the speed limit be on that stretch of Old Trail Drive?

When will they put in sidewalks and the bike lanes that I seem to recall being promised a long time ago?

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32 Replies to “What Should the Speed Limit be on Old Trail Drive (and Jarman’s Gap)”

  1. I live in OT and I can verify that rarely does anyone travel 25 on OTD. I believe 30 or 35 is a more realistic safe speed limit. I have even been passed on the road when driving 30. Since there is a sidewalk on most parts of OT drive, I would rather see the officer’s time spent on more dangerous roads.

      1. Having now read the letter to the editor, and given the author was so offended that some in OT would actually like the speed limit to be enforced, I would like to go to her neighborhood and just drive whatever speed I felt the road could “handle”.

        Watch out Grey Rock and Wickham Pond. 50 mph here I come!

        (sarcasm intended)

        I love how you want it to be debated here though, Jim. Yet 45 mph across from Harris Teeter and Cory Farms is not up for grabs? A debate based on someone that got a ticket and yet wants the speed limit changed because of it? Wow. That letter seemed like sour grapes to me.

        Yet profoundly American these days.

        1. Bebop –

          Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

          I think the difference between Grayrock, Cory Farms and Wickham , etc and Old Trail is that OTD (so much easier to write than Old Trail Drive 🙂 ) is that OTD is a connector road between Jarmans Gap and 250, the others don’t have such needs … although Cory Farm may have a similar discussion when the Eastern Connector (I think that’s what it’s called) is built.

          45 in front of Harris Teeter? Too slow? Too fast?

          1. I don’t see the difference. Connector road? Meh. OT is gonna balloon to include a county park, a church, more businesses — and all of that is gonna mean more people, more pedestrians, more reasons to be careful. Honestly, the only stretch that begs consideration is the part going downhill from 250, but that part will be razed and populated in no time.

            Connector road is going to be a silly phrase once OT is built out. Really, it’s just gonna be like an extension of downtown Crozet. And frankly, the traffic violations in OT are ridiculous, but they come from residents and non-residents alike. We all need to have more respect for each other and the communities we live in. I get tailgated on Crozet Ave all the time and I wonder just what people think of this 35 mph connector road?

            45 mph in front of Teeter would be fine I suppose, except that most drive faster than that. But doesn’t it “feel” as if you should be driving slower when you enter that area? It does to me. Or at least the speed limit I say.

            Which is ultimately my point.

          2. “Honestly, the only stretch that begs consideration is the part going downhill from 250, but that part will be razed and populated in no time.”

            That is exactly the part of OTD the letter writer was referring to. She never claimed that the speed limit in the populated areas was unreasonable.

        2. For the record, I wanted the speed limit changed on that stretch of the road (the hill where OTD connects to 250) to 35 long before I got a ticket there (I am not trying to get it changed “because of it”). I truly believe that 35 would be a better, perfectly safe and reasonably enforced speed limit for that stretch.

          I was motivated to write the letter to the editor because of that, but also because I was upset about the officer accusing me of using OTD as a “cut through” like I shouldn’t have even been on that road at all.

          Anyone can write a Letter to the Editor of the Gazette by emailing [email protected]. However, the Gazette does not publish letters or comments from anonymous/pseudonymous authors.

    1. I too live in OT and I think the speed limit is there for a reason. Drive 35 mph in front of the townhomes and the Village Center and you’ll see why. Given that the neighborhood will eventually sport homes and businesses on both sides of the street, it makes sense given more pedestrian traffic will most likely come with that growth.

      What most of us need to do is merely slow down, cut back on rolling stops, give up on the aggressive tailgating and respect the neighborhood and the law. OT residents like to complain about the “thru” traffic, when in some cases the OT residents are the biggest offenders. Speeding on OT drive recoups maybe one to two minutes of your drive, yet is it really worth it? I’m far from being a perfect driver, but we can all endeavor to be better ones, even those crazy high schoolers on a tear over the roundabout humps.

      So maybe what we need is more respect for our community and the fact that speed limits and traffic laws are there for a reason and they are good for our community. Remember your neighbors when your are just passing “thru” — no matter what section of Crozet you find yourself in.

      1. Speed limits need to be variable. 35MPH in open space w/o homes is business for police. 35MPH where homes exist is business for hospitals. Use common sense – a speeder will always speed regardless of laws.

        I have seen OT residents drive oh so gentle in OT but then driving fast and tailgating outside of OT (substitute any subdivision name here). Common sense needs to be extended outside your own neighborhoods. However, i’m giving these people credit…. They’re not deviants, they’re ignorant and clueless.

        Finally, i’m not trying to be a jerk here, but if you feared speeding on OT drive, why would you live on a street that would be used as a “thru” street. Did you not see this coming?

        1. I know this is a late reply, but since the topic is still a’blazin:

          How do you identify OT residents by their vehicles?
          You’re not a jerk, but yet they’re ignorant and clueless?

          1. From my understanding when I moved into old trail was that Old Trail master association was documented as a connecting route, therefore, you will get more transients on that stretch of the road. Can’t keep others from using it and since its a connecting route with more vehicles, statistically more speeders than on a dead end road.

            And yes, that is exactly what i said…. I can identify OT residents based on their cars they drive. I am glad you were able to extract that from my comment.

          2. I’m not sure I disagree with any of your points (although that first sentence is lacking some clarity); if you read any of my posts you would see what I’m saying. But connector road with housing right up and on the road in OT is like saying Tabor/High/Park is a connecting road to Crozet Park. Just ain’t buying it. Maybe now, but when the new team razes the woods up front, stand by my friend. This whole topic started because someone couldn’t apply their brakes going downhill. That’s what I call reasonable personal speed “enforcement” and I do it every day.

            As for ID’ing OT residents by their cars, the neighborhood has expanded greatly in the last few years (and who can memorize all the townhome vehicles over in Lower B?). Hard to keep track of all these speeders and tailgaters these days.

            Oh, the random snarkiness of Jim Duncan and Ed Strauss’s blog strikes again! Just kidding Jim.

          3. If you lived here any amount of time they are not hard to spot. Tract Housing appeals to certain types…

  2. Lets look at the source of the information. The Crozet Gazette prints what it wants from whoever it pleases. It is NOT an open forum like this. While it is a valid complaint. It did not show up in a place where any debate is allowed
    and only certain people are heard. Old Trail has a right to do what they want within their limits. They should put a fence around it like Lake Monticello.
    The ACPD likes to be able to generate revenue. When traffic is backed up
    or the roads are terrible due to weather, etc, they become real scarce.
    Most of the time when residents call for traffic enforcement more of them
    are caught than those passing through. I would not be surprised if this
    was the case this time. I have never driven through Old Trail and hopefully
    will never have to.

    1. The same group that vetoed your suggestion must of been the same group that placed the stop sign on Jarmins Gap Rd & Crozet Ave.

      Did anyone at VDOT actually try stopping at this position? If you really do stop at the stop sign (on JGP waiting to turn left or right on Crozet Ave) you have poor visibility. You can’t see to the left because of that huge bush (crepe myrtle). You can’t see to the right because of Arbor Life’s pillars.

  3. How was Old Trail approved with such a small main artery, without room to expand? The infrastructure is inadequate for the current residents, let alone future residents, customers, or people using it as a cut through. On top of that, 250 and the intersection at WAHS is a disaster, especially during school, not to mention Henley/Brownsville.

    And since the road is maintained by the State/County, it really irks me when people who live their think its their road. Its not a private road. It’s a public road, so get worked up about something else.

    I also would like to know what the APD uses as a criteria for setting up a speed trap. I’ve never seen one in any other neighborhood in Crozet.

    1. That is a very good point. I was talking to someone yesterday he said that the road is not adequate for what will soon be 6000 or so residents. Plus all traffic that is “through” traffic.

      I wonder if there have been any traffic studies that would speak to the future of that road.

      Once again, this is an indication of how the county seems to plan… They will wait until 20 years from now to say hello what did we miss?

      Please excuse any perceived brevity or curtness. Sent from my iPhone.


    2. criteria? (APD) We could use more funds….residents complaining about speeders…hmmm…. profit & we look good.

      I don’t think OTrailians think of it as their road no more than any road outside your own home.

  4. I’m jumping in on this discussion a little late but would like to also bring up the speed limit on the stretch of 240 in front of the library. Of the four directions there at the four-way stop sign, it is the only stretch with a speed limit of 35 mph. Of course, 35 means 40 to 45 to most drivers. Try crossing with a toddler and a bag of books and it’s pretty dangerous. I called Albemarle County about the speed limit a couple of years ago and after a traffic study they did not feel a change was necessary. 25 mph on an extremely wide downhill stretch with no buildings near by and 35 mph on a busy, “pedestrian friendly” area … who knows their rationale.

    1. Funny you should mention this. Now that the lumberyard is closed off, my daughter and I crossed this road several times a week in the morning and the afternoon. It is very very dangerous.

      At the very least, I think there needs to be a pedestrian crosswalk here. But realistically, getting a crosswalk painted would take between three and 10 years for the county to do it.

      1. LOL Jim – just like we got the sidewalk grant for the street in front of Crozet Elementary – 600 ft of sidewalk and a flashing light. 2.5 yrs later nothing done – hasn’t even gone to bid yet. A year ago when we asked and the county employee told the DP that it would be going to bid in early 2012. Who holds these folks accountable – by this time the state has probably taken our money back for the grant.

        1. An email from Jack Kelsey with Albemarle last week:

          “We expect to have the right-of-way acquisition completed by the end of the month. Our consultant will be submitting the project manual/specifications for my review by the end of this week. He is also making revisions to the design plans to address the review comments. We have some unexpected waterline conflicts with our drainage system and will be meeting with the Albe Co Service Authority to work out some design issues. I anticipate the final design plans and project manual will be complete by the end of the month. I’ll then submit to VDOT our certification that all rights-of-way and easements have been obtained, sets of the final plans and project manual for approval, and a request to authorize us to advertise the project. These steps are required because of the VDOT grant funds. ”

    2. Where Crozet Library sits it is either very close to a stop sign so cars are slowing down to stop or it is very close to a stop sign and cars are just starting to move after being stopped. How fast then do you feel they are going when they pass the Library? You could just cross at the stop sign unless you feel that is pretty dangerous as well. Do urban areas make it safe to be able to cross a road where ever you want?

      1. When was the last time you observed driving habits in America? Most drivers do not slow down until right upon a stop sign nor do they take off gradually from a stop sign. My husband who is a police officer, using radar, has observed drivers actually speeding up as they’ve approach a stop sign. How fast are the cars going when they pass the library, most probably 30 to 35, some even as high as 40 according to my husband, and that is too high. Again, why is the speed limit 25 mph on the other three stretches and 25 mph in front of Music Today but not in front of a busy library that has inadequate parking? I do cross at the cross walk in front of the library and most cars just blow on by without stopping to let us cross … most are simply going too fast to stop even though there is a designated cross walk there.

  5. I just want the county to FIX the flashing light they put in there as part of streetscape part one. The box to hit the button (on the north side of 240) was knocked down in less than six months after being installed and has never been replaced. We’ve told county employees, our supervisor and still nothing gets done. Its a simple repair to make the area in front of the library a little safer.

    1. That was a very poor placement for that and if replaced will just be knocked over again. Instead of throwing away more money on this I suggest that an overhead walkway be built. How high is the actual threat level of this road?

  6. 25 mph on the widened jarmans gap with sidewalks is ridiculous. Good for revenue policing. No other thoughtful purpose. 40 is more reasonable. What do we have to do to make that happen?

      1. Unrealistic speed limits are one of the causes of speeding. Does
        not matter how many houses are there since there are wide sidewalks for people to walk on. 35 MPH would e a far more reasonable speed limit. I don’t think the point of fixing that road was to create a speed trap…

Something to say?