The Kings Highway Bridge – A better idea

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 19, 2003

Editor, the News-Herald:

VDOT plans to hold a public hearing next week on replacement of the aging Kings Highway Bridge in Suffolk. This will be an important opportunity for the citizens of Suffolk to continue to work with VDOT to get the best bridge possible.

The original plan called for replacing the bridge in the current location with a 65-foot high fixed span. Many citizens were concerned that this replacement would result in increased traffic, especially heavy trucks. This could threaten the unique character and quality of life in this area by bringing dangerous intersections, congestion, noise, and pollution. They worried that the historic village of Chuckatuck and surrounding landmarks would be placed at risk. And, because Kings Highway is a narrow, winding country road subject to washouts, costly and disruptive upgrades might someday be necessary.


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Almost three years ago, a coalition of citizens, city and state officials, and VDOT representatives began working together to look at realignment of the Kings Highway Bridge. This alternative would realign the bridge to make a direct connection to Route 10. This would provide a better traffic pattern and solve the problems which replacement would cause. Realignment would also bring new, long-term advantages including promotion of economic development, preservation of Chuckatuck and historic landmarks, better fire, rescue and hospital services, and a superior emergency evacuation route. The original proposal to study realignment had many supporters including a unanimous Suffolk City Council, local state legislators, Obici Hospital, the Sierra Club, fire & rescue officials, many local businesses, and over 2000 citizens. They all understood that realignment meant smart growth for Suffolk and a better investment of our tax dollars.

VDOT has now completed an evaluation of location options, environmental impact, and cost which shows that there are not any significant differences between realignment and replacement.

As time has passed however, it has become very clear that realignment is the preferred choice. The dramatic growth in residential areas and the Route 10 business corridor makes the case for realignment stronger today than it was three years ago – it is the only alternative which supports &uot;Smart Growth&uot; for Suffolk.

Commonwealth Transportation Commissioner Philip Shucet has repeatedly called on VDOT to think creatively about transportation and to work more closely with local government and citizens. The public hearing next week will be an excellent opportunity to do just that. But the public must do its part. Now is the time for the public to stand up and be heard. If you support realignment, come to the hearing on Oct. 29 at 6 p.m. at King’s Fork Middle School. In this way, we can all be good partners with VDOT and make sure Suffolk gets the best bridge possible.

More than three years ago I wrote an editorial supporting the realignment of the Kings Highway Bridge. At the time, columnist Pocklington wondered aloud in these pages if it were possible for citizens to have this kind of impact on state government. Well, a lot has happened since then and it has been an interesting journey. I think we can arrive at the best solution – but not without your support. Will you help us leave Suffolk a great transportation legacy that will last 100 years?

If you would like more information, call 539-2953 or 255-2541 or send an e-mail to

David Levin, M.D.