Archived Story

Ready to go it alone

Published 11:03pm Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Suffolk Planning Commission has recommended approval of a plan that would commit $36 million during the next five years to the widening of Holland Road. In doing so, planners telegraphed the city’s desperate need for a solution to traffic conditions expected to bring travel along that arterial route nearly to a halt as various trucking and port-related businesses continue to open there and throughout the rest of South Suffolk.

Assuming City Council supports the recommendation that Suffolk set aside $6 million from next year’s budget and $10 each during three of the following four years, the city will be committing to half of the expected cost of widening the road from the bypass to Manning Road.

The commonwealth of Virginia, which cannot afford to allow Route 58 to become a parking lot for trucks headed to and from the Port of Virginia, should put up the other half of the cost.

Unfortunately, that’s not likely to happen soon, considering the intractable debate that surrounds transportation funding in Virginia. That debate is at the forefront of many Virginians’ minds right now. But there’s little evidence in the first week or so of this year’s General Assembly session that any real solution to the problem will be forthcoming.

Gov. Bob McDonnell has had some interesting ideas about how to shake up transportation funding, but they’ll take a very hard sell to pass the Assembly this year. Delegate Chris Jones (R-76th) has contributed proposed legislation calling for a legislative study, but studies won’t build roads, either.

So there’s a good chance that sometime in the next few years, Suffolk will be forced to choose whether to improve the road itself or to wait for state help that may never come while Holland Road begins to resemble the cholesterol-clogged arteries of an obese lifetime smoker.

Just as someone with that kind of medical history would do well to see a doctor before the heart attack actually takes place, Suffolk would be wise to begin preparing today for the chance of being left to improve Route 58 all on its own.

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