Over the years, the intersection of South Main Street and Milnwood Road in Farmville, VA has experienced tremendous growth. More than 20,000 vehicles travel through the intersection per day, and in 2012, it had the highest crash rate in Virginia. 


In addition, multiple new businesses have been built within close proximity of the intersection. To accommodate the area’s growth, the Town of Farmville, in coordination with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), set out to upgrade the intersection through the Locally Administered Projects (LAP) program. The 1,500-foot-long project involved widening South Main Street (Route 15), the main north-south corridor in and out of town, to accommodate additional turn lanes at the South Main Street intersection with Milnwood Road. Construction of new intersection roadway, traffic signal reconstruction, and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant crosswalks, sidewalks, curb cuts, and pedestrian indications were included.


We sat down with William Wentzien, PE, PTOE to learn more about this project.


What is your role on this project? What was McCormick Taylor responsible for?

Initially, I served as the Senior Traffic Engineer responsible for the traffic signal design, signing and pavement marking, and maintenance of traffic. I then stepped in as the Project Manager to get the plans developed for the right-of-way submission and continued to manage the project through right-of-way acquisition, final plan development, and construction.


McCormick Taylor was responsible for the entire intersection design, environmental permit coordination, hydraulic design, etc. We used subconsultant partners for surveying, geotechnical investigation, and construction inspection. This project is complete and open to traffic. It looks awesome, if I do say so myself, and functions as we intended. All in all, the final intersection is a high-quality product!


Tell us a little bit about what the project is and who it benefits. 

The project is intended to improve operations at this relatively high-volume intersection in the Town of Farmville that was experiencing a high crash rate. Our team analyzed existing and future traffic operations to determine the optimal intersection configuration. By removing turning traffic from the traffic stream and providing safe, signalized pedestrian crossings and missing sidewalk connections, we were able to mitigate the reasons for the crashes and thereby improve safety, which benefits all roadway users.


Did you come across any challenges or concerns while working on this project?

There were several challenges along the way. With the VDOT LAP program, there is a dashboard of metrics that are reported for milestone deadlines and budget limitations. After taking over management of the project and working with the team, we moved quickly to keep the project on an already tight deadline, which the Town and VDOT asked if we could shorten even further. Our amazing team put in great effort to exceed the clients’ expectations.


Designing new signal poles with a much larger footprint than before was also difficult in navigating the spider web of overhead and underground utilities. The relationships that our engineers have with the local utility partners helped keep this difficult task on track.


In addition, during the right-of-way acquisition process, a fast-food restaurant was approved on one corner forcing us to pivot quickly to incorporate their site plan into our design to avoid new additional obstacles of landscaping, lighting, and irrigation.


What was your favorite part of the project?

Although there were several challenges, this was one of the smoothest projects I have worked on. The design went well, there was no public opposition, the Town was amenable, and we presented a great design to VDOT with minimal comments. Having a solid set of design plans developed by a great team made construction go smoothly.


What has the feedback been like from the community?

Community feedback has been great! The Town of Farmville is in the heart of Virginia with the easiest citizens to work with. They are always willing to try new ideas if the right engineering firm can present sound solutions in just the right way, just like we have done for them here and on several other projects.

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