3rd time a charm for road takeover?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Perhaps the third time will be the charm.

The Suffolk City Council – for the third time this year – is gearing up to vote Wednesday on the city’s controversial proposal to take over the maintenance of more than 1,480 miles of state-maintained roads.

The proposal calls for giving the city approximately $15 million annually in state funds to do the job, nearly three times what the Virginia Department of Transportation spends for the same work.

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The vote was postponed in January at the request of new Councilman Joseph Barlow, who wanted additional time to study the issue.

It was delayed last month when Vice Mayor Leroy Bennett was forced to miss the meeting for medical reasons. His son was undergoing emergency surgery during the council meeting.

Mayor Bobby L. Ralph said he was confident council would make its final decision on Wednesday – even though it probably won’t be unanimous.

&uot;I think the support is out there,&uot; Ralph said. &uot;I feel so strongly about this that four votes would please me.&uot;

If council supports the proposal, the city and VDOT would begin working together immediately to carry out the planned July 2006 takeover.