ReThink9 enters new phase ahead of schedule with limited opening for traffic through Hillsboro.
The Town of Hillsboro ReThink9 Traffic Calming and Pedestrian Safety project enters its “partially open” phase on Friday, August 14, permitting limited single-lane traffic through the work zone within the Town for morning eastbound commuters on weekdays and westbound traffic on weekends. The new traffic patterns are set to begin at 2 p.m. on Friday, with each of the two new roundabouts functional—nearly two months ahead of schedule.
Hillsboro Mayor and ReThink9 Project Manager Roger Vance, said, “Although our full road closure permit from VDOT extends through Saturday, August 15, we decided to open up westbound on Friday afternoon to offer customers to businesses in Town and west of Hillsboro an extra day of access through the work zone.” He added that law enforcement would be on hand to assist in the change in traffic patterns over the first weekend.
Vance said that while one-lane will open to traffic on limited schedules, it will still be an active work zone. “Motorists who choose to pass through will have to be very cautious, watch for workers and pedestrians, drive slow, and expect a rough ride on what will often be a meandering lane. The regional and local detours will still be the best option for most.”
Beginning at 2 p.m. on Fridays, a single westbound travel lane will be opened and remain open through 5 p.m. on Sundays. “We are opening on Friday afternoons specifically for in-Town businesses and those that are west of Town. Remaining open westbound all weekend will accommodate the important visitor traffic to the area, especially as we emerge from COVID-19 restrictions and enter the busy fall season,” Vance said. Sundays at 6 p.m., the one-lane eastbound will be reopened through Monday mornings until 9:30 a.m.
During the times the Hillsboro work zone is closed to through traffic, motorists will be required to use either the regional detour route of Rt. 340 in West Virginia and Rt. 7, or the local detour around Hillsboro. “A large proportion of commuter traffic—and all through-trucks—have and are likely to continue to use the regional detour,” Vance said, “The local detour is intended for area residents and for visitors to our greater Hillsboro wineries, breweries and farm stands.”
While this “partially open” phase was originally set to begin in late September, a Town water main collapse in early April forced a change in construction schedule and—with a dramatic reduction of traffic because of the COVID-19 pandemic—the Town and VDOT agreed to a complete road closure that began on May 4. “This commonsense decision and our contractor’s nimbleness to completely re-sequence its work plan and marshal resources, allowed a tremendous amount of the project’s heavy excavation and underground utility installation to be completed months ahead of schedule. And, with the emergency action to accelerate the water main installation, the Town was able to lift a 25-year Boil Water Notice in July, many months ahead of schedule.” Vance said.
As a result, two full road closures originally slated for November and December of this year are no longer necessary, Vance said. Instead, the partially open phase will see the work zone in Hillsboro open for travel eastbound each weekday from 4 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. to accommodate morning commuters. After 9:30 a.m. each day, the work zone will then be closed to through traffic until the following morning at 4 a.m. Weekday westbound travelers will be required to use the regional or local detours.
Vance noted improvements to the local detour roadway, reduced speed limits and extra law enforcement have proven successful in promoting safety on the detour route despite increased traffic volume. “We are grateful for the support of the Virginia State Police and the Loudoun County Sheriff Department, and the patience of motorists driving the local detour.” Improvements to the regional detour, including on Rt. 7 in Clarke County, were also completed earlier this year.
According to Vance, the Town continues to work with VDOT to mitigate commuter cut-through traffic using Cider Mill Road, which has been restricted to local traffic only. VDOT has prohibited right turns onto Cider Mill from Rt. 9. The Town has requested a temporary speed reduction on Cider Mill along with increased law enforcement to deter the commuter cut-through traffic.
As part of the Town’s “Open for Business” campaign, some 40 wayfinding signs were installed along the local detour route to guide visitors to the 22 Hillsboro-area wineries and breweries, half-dozen bed and breakfast inns and array of farm stands, restaurants and country stores. Hillsboro Vice Mayor and ReThink9 Deputy Project Manager Amy Marasco said, “We invested heavily in efforts to promote area businesses and remind visitors that virtually all of our businesses and attractions have been directly accessible via Rt. 9 during construction of the project.”
The ReThink9 website, www.rethink9.com, offers a complete guide and detailed schedule of the new traffic patterns, as well as maps and directions to the detour routes. Visitors to the website can sign up for the ReThink9 Dispatch to receive regular project updates and news.