City of Virginia Beach Boosts Transportation Safety Measures Along Oceanfront

VHB collaborated with the City to implement safety countermeasures along Pacific Avenue.

June 12, 2024

A crosswalk with new pedestrian accommodations on Pacific Avenue.

Each year, the City of Virginia Beach draws a crowd for its sandy beaches, oceanfront concert series, boardwalk, sporting events, and shopping. With the largest population in the state, and an average of 2.8 million visitors annually, the City prioritizes the safety of all roadway users along its famed oceanfront tourist corridor, Pacific Avenue. While once considered a crash cluster area due to a higher than average crash rate, VHB partnered with the City to undergo a transformative shift in the area to advance safety measures.

The project began in 2018 with the submission of a Highway Safety Improvement Plan (HSIP) grant application, a Federal-aid program to support the reduction of traffic fatalities and serious injuries on public roadways. VHB supported the City throughout the grant application process, conducting a thorough site evaluation along Pacific Avenue spanning from 5th Street to 40th Street. A comprehensive assessment was conducted to identify opportunities for enhancing pedestrian safety awareness and promoting reduced vehicular speed. This assessment included data-informed analyses of crash reduction and severity mitigation for each proposed safety measure, and a cost evaluation of potential improvements to enhance the existing four undivided travel lanes, a mixture of signalized and unsignalized intersections with no formal mid-block crossings, and 35 mph speed limit.

“Pacific Avenue is the main thoroughfare that runs three miles parallel to the oceanfront in Virginia Beach—one of the most popular beaches to visit in the state,” said Tyson Rosser, PE, DBIA, VHB Project Manager. “Our goal as transportation designers for this project was to implement multimodal safety approaches that support anyone traveling along the corridor, providing them with convenience, accessibility, connectivity, and comfort crossing or driving the road.”  

Countermeasures constructed included raised pedestrian refuge islands at non-signalized crossings, high-visibility crosswalks, rectangular rapid flashing beacons and flashing yellow yield signs, variable speed limit signs to lower the speed limit during high-traffic times, and the implementation of more street lighting. On-street parking was also removed to provide for the median refuge construction and safer travel for non-motorized users moving on and across Pacific Avenue, to and from restaurants, shops, the boardwalk, and the ocean. Construction for this project began in 2021 and was completed prior to the summer tourist season in 2023.

Learn more about Safety at VHB or contact Tyson Rosser through email or LinkedIn.

An example of new signage installed along the corridor. An example of new pavement markings along the corridor.