With that in mind, Hillsville Police Chief Steve Williams recently met with officials from the Virginia State Police, Virginia Department of Transportation and Branch Highways to discuss what can be done to mitigate the problems that come with the increased traffic on constricted throughways.
In his report to Hillsville Town Council, Williams presented highlights of the discussions during the councils May 12 meeting.
Two of our biggest problems are the fact that Howlett Street is cut in half, which basically gets rid of our bypass, and 58 from the old Carroll News building to the new crossover will be one-lane traffic, Williams said. In the past, cars have come in two by two.
Williams said that the state police will focus on keeping traffic at the Interstate 77 interchange flowing as smoothly as possible, while Sheriff Warren Manning and the Carroll County Sheriffs Department will take over on one of the intersections that the state police manned in years past.
In addition, Williams said there will be several signs and message boards approaching Hillsville that will make it clear to anybody coming in that there are construction issues. There will also be portable radio stations set up to transmit the messages.
Williams said parking will be a bigger issue than in years past because of the constriction of U.S. 58.
Theres going to be no parking on 58 West, period, this time, Williams said. Normally, once they get below Clouds Clothing, they park on the shoulder all the way out of town. Were going to have to eliminate that.
Williams said a media representative from VDOT said theyre going to try to have uniform information to put on Web sites for Hillsville, the VFW and any other organization that has any involvement with the Flea Market.
Hopefully people that are coming will look at those and eliminate some of the things, the Chief said.
Also, VDOT will be working with television stations in Roanoke, Bristol and Winston-Salem, N.C. with commercials advising folks that Hillsvilles traffic situation will be significantly different than they might remember.
We know were going to have more problems than normal, we just hope if we can get the word out, first of all people will be patient with us, and the second thing is as we go along, well find better ways to do things, Williams said.
Mayor Randall Gravley asked Williams what the message of the ad campaign will be.
The main thing is theyre going to let people know that are coming that there is a lot of construction going on and changes in traffic patterns, Williams said. One of our concerns also is people coming up from North Carolina on 52 that are used to turning on Howlett Street. There are signs there now but they will put up huge signs and message boards that if you turn there, you cant get out.
Williams said one bit of good fortune in the situation is that Branch simply wont have anybody working during the Labor Day Holiday.
Theyre going to shut down Thursday through Monday. Labor Day Weekend, theyre not going to operate at all, Williams said. Theyre going to send everybody home because they knew that would just cause further problems.
Another issue, which will likely hit after the Flea Market, is the imminent closing and rerouting of U.S. 52 around the southern boundary of Hillsville.
Weve been notified that theyre going to have to replace the bridge right at the Corporate Limits on 52 which is going to require closing 52 for three or four months, Williams said. Our fear was they were going to have to do it before the Flea Market.