Multiple improvements are funded for the East Market Street corridor between Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Burgess Road/Linda Lane, including upgrades to the I-81 interchange (exit 247). The I-81 southbound off-ramp will be realigned and a 500-foot acceleration merge lane will be created to enhance safety and reduce peak period congestion. A 10-ft wide shared use path will be constructed in the median of US 33 (Market Street) from Martin Luther King Jr. Way to Burgess Road/Linda Lane. The path will have pedestrian signals and crossing improvements at four intersections along the corridor. Its location in the median allows it to avoid interchange acceleration and deceleration lanes on the north or south side of the road, where it would otherwise be located, making it a safer location. The East Market Street eastbound to I-81northbound on-ramp will be reconfigured, with a new signal being constructed to allow vehicles to turn left onto the existing East Market Street westbound to I-81 northbound on-ramp to go north. These improvements are funded through a VDOT Smart Scale grant. Replacement of four bridges will also be completed, funded through the VDOT State of Good Repair program.
Additional information and project diagrams are available on the VDOT webpage.
VDOT also created a video that gives an overview of the effort.
Friendly City - Friendly Speeds
Press Release: Speed cameras now in place to protect workers on East Market Street [440KB]
The City of Harrisonburg is implementing a Friendly City, Friendly Speeds education program to encourage the Harrisonburg community and visitors to participate in work zone reduced speed limits. The complicated nature of road work requires the responsibility of road workers themselves, and for surrounding traffic to take care when traveling through work zones. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there was a 10% increase in work zone fatalities from 2020 (38,824) to 2021 (42,915). According to VDOT, in 2022, there were 184 work zone crashes in Virginia resulting in 104 injuries and two fatalities. More in depth information and speed study statistics relating to Harrisonburg may be found in a presentation to Harrisonburg City Council available here: Speed Camera Presentation to City Council [592KB]
The purpose of Friendly City, Friendly Speeds is to build participation in traffic calming measures, such as speed limit reductions in work zones, to ensure the safety of construction zone road workers and travelers. The City of Harrisonburg is implementing a zero-tolerance approach with the installation of speed cameras in the East Market Street corridor where bridge project construction is taking place. The benefits to utilizing speed cameras in heavy construction zones include:
- Deter drivers from speeding through the work zone, putting the driver and road workers' lives in danger
- Reduce the severity and frequency of crashes
- Reduction of stress for the traveler and road worker in congested conditions
Notifying the public well in advance of camera-based speed limit enforcement is of great importance to the City. The City encourages the community to join in the Friendly City - Friendly Speeds effort to enhance the safety of our road workers and travelers, especially in congested work zones. Vehicles recorded going over the posted speed limit during active road work hours will be logged into a system monitored by the Harrisonburg Police Department.
A warning period has been in place June, 2023 - August 15, 2023, in order to let the community become more accustomed to the change in speeds in this area, during which a speeding driver only received a warning letter. An example of what the warning letter looks like is available here: Warning Letter [772KB] Following the warning period drivers will begin receiving speeding citations and a $100 civil penalty by mail. Tickets are being issued starting August 16, 2023.
Q: Why is the City doing this?
A: The City is working to slow drivers in the work zone in order to increase safety for road crews and drivers. AAA shows that the risk of severe injury in a vehicle/pedestrian incident increases from around 25 percent at 25 mph to 75 percent at 40 mph and almost 90 percent at 45 mph. The possibility of receiving a ticket for going over the speed limit will hopefully have the result of slowing down all drivers in this corridor and protecting lives.
Q: Why are you issuing tickets now instead of warning letters?
A: The City allowed a 60-day grace period once cameras were installed to help educate drivers about the changed speed limit and the need to drive slowly. It is not our desire to hand out tickets - it is our desire to educate drivers so they take corrective action to be safer in the work zone. However, after the 60-day warning period we continued to see many drivers exceeding the speed limit. Hopefully, the possibility of receiving a $100 ticket will encourage all drivers to go slower.
Q: What do I do if I have questions?
A: A number will be printed on the back of all tickets where drivers can call if they have questions about paying their bill. If drivers have questions about the speed enforcement program and how it works, they can contact the Harrisonburg Police Department at 540-434-4436.
Q: What does the camera capture?
A: Because of how the cameras are focused, they will only capture the license plate and a small portion of the vehicle. The cameras will not capture images of anyone inside the vehicle.
Q: What if I wasn't the one driving the vehicle?
A: On each ticket, there are instructions regarding how to contest a violation. If someone else was driving, the owner can submit a downloadable affidavit to Altumint as part of the process of reassigning the liability for payment. A person receiving a ticket has the option to request a court hearing by completing a section on the notice of the violation and sending it to the address listed on the form.
Q: When are the cameras in effect?
A: Enforcement with the speed cameras only takes place during work zone hours. However, as work zone hours may change depending on what work is being done, and because traffic shifts may occur inside the work zone, you are encouraged to always go 25 mph in this area. Also, remember that officers may conduct radar or other speed enforcement efforts at any time, anywhere in the city.
Q: Are you going to put speed cameras anywhere else?
A: The current ordinance allows for speed cameras to be placed in work zones and school zones, but at this time the only camera system in place is located in the East Market Street work zone. Additional locations may be added at a later date.
Q: Will the cameras be placed in this location permanently?
A: As work takes place on East Market Street, cameras may be moved depending on where work in the corridor is taking place. Once road work is finished and the work zone no longer exists, the cameras in this area will be removed as the City ordinance only allows them in work zones and school zones.
The Harrisonburg Police Department and Public Works Department thanks the community for practicing Friendly City, Friendly Speeds, keeping all in the community safe.