Last chance to comment on road plan Wednesday

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Suffolk News-Herald

Residents will have their final chance to ask questions or make comments on the city’s proposed takeover of 1,480 miles of roads maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation this week.

At 7 p.m. Wednesday, the city will sponsor the last in a string of public meetings on the proposal at the Whaleyville Community Center. After a presentation, several city staffers and lawmakers will be on hand to field questions.

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&uot;I feel like the meetings have been successful,&uot; said Mayor Bobby L. Ralph. &uot;We had fairly decent turnout at most of the meetings.

&uot;The idea was to get the message out about what the conversion would mean if the city took over the road system,&uot; he continued. &uot;I’ve gotten lots of calls and feedback.&uot;

Since its 1974 merger with the City of Nansemond, Suffolk has managed the urban core streets. VDOT has always been responsible for the rest of the roads in the 430-square-mile city.

The city has been discussing the proposal for years, largely because officials say Suffolk could get more bang for the state buck if the city handles the purse strings. VDOT, in a study recently shared with the Suffolk City Council, endorsed the suggestion.

Ralph said he is convinced the city would be better served if it takes over the roads. Nonetheless, he is unsure whether he will support the proposal when it comes before council next month.

&uot;I think it is the right thing to do but I’m weighing whether the timing is right,&uot; he said. &uot;We still have a lot of citizens who are not convinced.

&uot;I was hoping that once the message got out, more people would see it as a positive thing in the best interest of the city.&uot;

The council is expected to vote on the proposal in late February.