Local drivers traveling through Montpelier will face occasional traffic delays for a little longer.
The second phase of construction is in full swing where Route 54 runs into Route 33, and won’t be complete until the end of the year, at the earliest.
Workers are realigning lanes and building two cul-de-sacs, one on Route 54 by the Montpelier Food Center and Exxon Mobil gas station and another will be located southeast of the Valero gas station.
The project’s main purpose is to “realign the [Route 33 and Route 54] intersection” for better traffic flow and make the intersection safer, said Keith Rider, the project’s construction engineer with the Virginia Department of Transportation.
The total cost is $4.3 million, which covers engineering, construction and land acquisition. Construction began in February and is a part of VDOT’s six-year improvement project.
Rider said the project went forward because Hanover County was pushing for it and a study showed that the intersection was dangerous because of problems with sight distance.
“I think citizens will be grateful for our work and the improvements,” Rider said.
Although Rider said VDOT has not received any complaints from neighboring businesses or motorists, Montpelier Food Center owner, Harry Juj, said it’s impacting his bottom line.
Juj said that the construction did not affect his sales until the project moved in front of his store. That’s when sales dropped roughly 40 to 50 percent after the new roads were finished on Oct. 15.
“Everybody got thrown off,” Juj said.
Both Juj’s gas supplier and Pepsi distributer both noticed that the store’s sales were down and asked him what happened, Juj said.
Part of the construction work is taking place right in front of the convenience store and Juj said many customers were unsure whether it was open or not.
“I had a lady last week tell me ‘Harry, I’ve been here for 12 years and I got lost. I wonder how people from other places are going to figure it out,’” Juj said.
Juj has placed a sign by the store’s main entrance, closest to Route 33, to direct motorists and remind them that the Montpelier Food Center is still open.
As more customers became aware of the new traffic changes, business increased slightly. Juj said sales were down by 15 or 20 percent on Oct. 25 when the Herald-Progress spoke with him.
After the cul-de-sacs are completed, only finishing touches such as re-paving and marking the roads would be needed before the construction is done. Project manager Doug Kisamore said VDOT planned for the project to be done by Nov. 15, but the rainy weather in June and July forced them to extend their timeline. Kisamore hopes the intersection will be completed by the end of the year.