Traffic jams in a one stop-light town

One of the by-products of Floyd’s increasing popularity as a visitor destination is traffic — lots of traffic.

On some days it can take three or more cycles to get through the county’s only stop light at Main and Locust Streets in Floyd.

Parking is difficult to come by on Tuesdays when Angels in the Attic is open and visitors are also flocking to the Country Store and other town attractions.

The town’s three primary parking lots — on Locust Street, at the Village Green and behind the Courthouse — overflow.

Traffic is complicated by large trucks trying to turn left at the town’s main intersection and the lack of left turn lanes where U.S. 221 and Rte. 8 cross each other.

It’s a problem, and it’s getting worse.

Widening the streets at the town’s primary intersection means eliminating parking — a move that would not make merchants happy. Even with a new municipal parking lot, parking is at a premium in Floyd, particularly on busy days and during the Friday Night Jamboree and other events.

What’s the answer? Damned if I know. I just live here and — like everyone else, I’m waiting to get through the traffic and find a place to park.

11 thoughts on “Traffic jams in a one stop-light town”

  1. Learn to live with it. The tourism door has been opened. Traffic is only the beginning. This is what happens when you reinvent instead of preserving a community. I fear we are on our way to becoming another Gatlinburg. Tourism is one way to help the local economy. As a friend always said be careful what you wish for you might just get it.

    • Well said Jerry. Preservation would have been much better. The town would have been far more attractive. I am saddened by what I see happening to our once beautiful town.

  2. I doubt it will ever become Gatlinburg. You’d need to build a bunch of go-kart tracks and cheap hotels first. Reinvention and change are needed to prevent stagnation and slow death. Look no further than Pulaski to see that in full force. Good on Floyd for working actively to find formulas that work in the new day. Yes, traffic and other problems are an obvious byproduct, but the Town is doing better than many places in the region, and it’s thanks to that strive to re-invent and change, rather than preserve and wither.

  3. Yes to Quincy and no to Jerry…just go to any number of historic downtowns (Galax, Stuart) where absolutely nothing is happening. There are always grumblers about Floyd but luckily some folks have kept us going. Recently, on a hopping Friday night a local said to me “There goes Floyd.” In what way? Better to have a boarded-up downtown? There’s still something special about Floyd and a few entrepeneurs are keeping it that way…parking? It’s a good problem to have.

  4. Maybe not a Gatlinburg but my point was there are many levels of tourism. Preservation tourism is possible. Do not call reinvention preservation. Not grumbling just stating fact. Did not imply there was anything wrong with the investments in the town. The revitalization project has been successful so far. Careful planning, overveiw and direction is a must.

    • While I understand what you’re saying I think the term “reinvention” is a bit strong for what is being done to Floyd. To me, “reinvention” is a term you use when you get rid of the old and bring in nothing but the new. Floyd is a special crossroads where it seems the old and the new can coexist very peacefully. To me, the growth and revitalization of Floyd is simply our town taking advantage of its official motto. “To Grow is to Prosper”. And if Floyd continues on this track it will certainly be doing plenty of both.

  5. Doing some math here – Eliminating some parking spaces near the light’s intersection would take at most 8-10 spaces. They’ve already eliminated several by moving the stop bars back farther to permit tractor trailers to turn more easily. I’m a proponent of eliminating the relatively few spaces and putting in a leading left turn green. As one who arrives daily during the morning rush and leaves daily during the evening rush, it is readily apparent the biggest problem arises from left turning vehicles being unable to turn because of a long line of opposing traffic coming straight through the light. A simple, but effective change in the traffic flow would mitigate a lot of the back-ups. I’ve always wondered why there are two lights when there’s only one lane. Interesting. Install the left turn arrow and voila, there it is. Of course, we could always petition for a bypass around Floyd – its halfway there now if you think about it. 🙂

    • Plans were in place in the 1990’s for a connecter road from Rt 8 to Rt 221.The plan was to use the current industrial park road then cross Rt 615 thur the Commerce Center to 221. It would have taken a lot of the truck traffic out of town and there would be less traffic on East Oxford street. Every time the subject was brought up, citizens said it was’nt needed and it would hurt the town merchants.

  6. The two signal heads is a Federal safety requirement for if a red light burns out, there’s a second one in place. But yes, a leading left-turn phase would greatly improve the operational efficiency of that signal. Not knowing how the signal is programmed and wired, that might be a $10-25K fix to change the signal heads around, re-work some wiring, and re-program the controller. If memory serves, providing such a left-turn phase for Rte 8 to 221 NB to roanoke and 221 NB to Rte 8 to C’burg would be the 2 most needed. I don’t imagine the other two left turn movements are quite as busy, but I admit I don’t live there so I’m not as familiar as others.

  7. Interesting piece that gets to some of this conversation about tourism:
    http://www.planetizen.com/node/44717
    An excerpt:
    “Most tourism advocates support the industry because it spurs economic development, but their decisions often destroy the very characteristics of place that make the place attractive. Dan Shilling argues that tourism should be an enabler of healthy place-making, not only an economic tool.”

    Doug has done a good job of detailing places across the region where the downtown’s are drying up and blowing away. It’s great to see Floyd’s thriving. I think Jerry’s right that the development does need to be smart and as the Shilling article suggest having the conversations to “identify common ground toward agreed-upon ends” in the community are very important. Pete Seegar liked to tell this story and perhaps it is relevant, “There’s a politician in my hometown, a very nice guy. He used to be a shop steward for the union in the local factory, but for twenty years he represented our town in the county legislature. And he said, “Pete, if you don’t grow, you die.” One o’clock in the morning, I sat up in bed and thought of the next question. If that’s true, if you don’t grow you die, doesn’t it follow the quicker you grow, the sooner you die?”

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