Traffic Calming

More and more communities are seeking solutions to combat the increased traffic and speeding on their neighborhood streets. 

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) can help your neighborhood and county officials manage the traffic in your area in several ways - traffic calming is one of them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is traffic calming?

Traffic calming slows speeding traffic on residential streets without restricting access to them.

Is any road a candidate for traffic calming?

VDOT's traffic calming program is designed only for those residential streets that provide direct access to homes.

It applies only to existing streets. It does not apply to future roads or subdivision streets under construction. It also does not apply to high-speed, high-volume roads.

How does my community request traffic calming?

First, contact your local county supervisor. The board of supervisors initiates the process by forwarding a resolution for traffic calming on a specific street to VDOT, along with the following support data:

  • The street's functional classification
  • Average daily traffic volume
  • Average speed
  • A description of the study area
  • A petition with signatures

Who decides on the traffic-calming plan?

Representatives from the study area, the homeowners association, the board of supervisors, local transportation staff, police, fire and rescue services and VDOT should develop the plan.

Once the plan is developed, it should be presented to citizens, typically at a public meeting. If there is community support for the plan, the board of supervisors and VDOT must approve the final plan and determine how it will be funded.

What types of physical measures can be used?

Depending on the situation, speed humps, chokers, traffic circles, raised crosswalks, raised median islands, crosswalk refuges or chicanes could be used.

Speed hump - A narrow, slightly raised area crossing travel lanes. Drawbacks: Slows emergency vehicles, drainage problems, increased noise and maintenance cost. Cost: $2,000-$3,000

Choker - A physical curbside constriction that narrows a travel lane. Drawbacks: Drainage problems, increased maintenance cost. Cost: $7,000-$10,000 per pair

Traffic circle - An elevated area in the middle of an intersection; provides counterclockwise traffic flow. Advantage: Reduces left-turn accidents. Drawbacks: May reduce parking spaces and require additional right of way. Cost: $3,500-$15,000

Raised Crosswalk - A raised hump with a 10-foot-wide flat top. Drawbacks: Slows emergency vehicles, potential drainage problems, increased noise and maintenance cost. Cost: $2,500-$8,000

Raised Median Island - An elevated area in the middle of a roadway. Drawbacks: Drainage problems, increased maintenance cost. Cost: $5,000-$15,000

Crosswalk Refuge - A raised median in the middle of a roadway, with a cut for the crosswalk. Advantage: Pedestrian safety. Drawback: Increased maintenance cost. Cost: $5,000-$15,000

Chicane - Alternating curbside constrictions channel travel in a snake-like fashion. Drawbacks: For divided roadways only, drainage problems, increased maintenance cost. Cost: $5,000-$15,000 per set

Who pays for these measures?

The county and VDOT share the responsibility for the funding.

Are there less expensive options than physical measures?

Increasing community awareness about the problem is an important first step. VDOT staff is available to speak to homeowners associations about traffic-calming measures and to help raise awareness about advantages, disadvantages, approximate costs and funding options.

In addition, local police can assist the community with stepped-up enforcement efforts before any traffic-calming measures are implemented.

Finally, less expensive non-physical measures often can be used, such as signs and pavement markings. For example, pavement markings can delineate a parking or a bicycle lane, or simply stripe out an area of pavement, all of which effectively narrow the travel lane.

How do I get more information on traffic calming?

VDOT's Traffic Calming Guide for Local Residential Streets PDF (238 KB)

Page last modified: Oct. 14, 2012