Lake Frederick fatality spurs call for changes

The Warren Sentinel

LAKE FREDERICK — After a four-vehicle crash Wednesday killed a popular Winchester Costco employee and Front Royal resident, some people have begun an online petition urging transportation officials to make the flashing-yellow and flashing-red signalized intersection where the wreck occurred in to a fully signalized intersection.

The death of Ronald "Shag" Travis has sent shockwaves of grief throughout the Winchester and Front Royal communities. But it also has left some residents asking why the traffic light at the intersection of Lake Frederick Drive and Stonewall Jackson Highway (U.S. 522) does not cycle through green, yellow and red.

Travis was on his way to work that morning when a 2012 Honda CR-V pulled out from Lake Frederick Drive onto the highway, where it was hit by a truck that sent the car spinning into the northbound lanes. Swerving to avoid the crash, Travis slammed into a utility pole on the highwayís right shoulder. He later died from his injuries at Winchester Medical Center.

An online petition on the website by Front Royal resident Brian Sloan began to circulate on social media Thursday. It calls for the Virginia Department of Transportation to convert the intersectionís traffic light for safetyís sake.

"There have been several fatal accidents lately and now there are also school buses full of kids turning out of the neighborhood," the petition states.

As of Wednesday morning, the petition garnered nearly 1,800 signatures.

VDOT spokesman Ken Slack told Byrd Newspapers last week that the light was installed by the developer of the Lake Frederick residential community in 2007, but hasnít been set to full cycle as a result of various traffic studies.

For such a light to be operational, Slack said, the intersection must meet specific criteria, also known as ìwarrants.î That criteria includes traffic count, traffic movement and the number of crashes. So far, Slack said, the light in question has not met the criteria.

"We have to take into consideration, are any of those issues correctable by a traffic signal?" Slack said of the data.

Only four reported crashes happened at the intersection from April 2011 to March 2016, Slack said, citing recently compiled VDOT data.

A majority of the crashes there have been rear-end collisions, he said.

He said VDOT was aware of the publicís concerns, and the department does its best to respond accordingly, adding that the intersection is scheduled for another evaluation in September.

"We have to look at intersections in an analytical way," he said. "And we want to make sure we're not causing problems by turning the light on."

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