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As former staff counsel to Congressman J. Randy Forbes, I had a professional interest in the Virginia Department of Transportation’s unfortunate decision to close the Kings Highway Bridge. As a new re

Suffolk’s prosperity and quality of life rests in large part on a Nansemond River crossing that now is lost.

The Kings Highway Bridge was a key link between Northern Suffolk, the Godwin Boulevard corridor and the revitalized Downtown hub.

With Obici Hospital on one side and I-664 and burgeoning Northern Suffolk on the other, the closure has ramifications that include not only issues of congestion and convenience, but also public health and safety.

The circuitous detour routes to the north and south cannot meet the increased traffic demands of the present, much less the future.

Regrettably, VDOT found the cost to restore the Kings Highway Bridge, a 77 year-old span that outlived its life expectancy by more than a quarter of a century, too high to bear.

Cost estimates for even a band-aid fix were pegged at $750,000.00.

And, even that figure would have come with severely curtailed crossing restrictions and a requirement that Suffolk accept liability for future catastrophic loss.

Problems that included falling concrete and deteriorating steel beams probably made tolls or any other temporary funding source to retain the bridge an untenable solution to a public safety threat.

While some may question whether VDOT acted prudently in closing the bridge, no one can question the need for an immediate solution.

City, state, and federal leaders should act with all dispatch on the construction of a realigned bridge upstream that would tie Kings Highway directly to Godwin Boulevard.

While the project has been endorsed by the Commonwealth Transportation Board, there is no funding in the

six-year plan for the projected $34 million dollar cost, making a replacement unlikely for six to ten years.

State and local coffers provide no hope of an immediate funding source.

While the task is daunting, it is not impossible.

Congressman Forbes has been instrumental in fighting for federal transportation dollars for projects in the Fourth Congressional District.

While the primary burden for construction of a state highway bridge must fall on the Commonwealth, city and federal officials can demonstrate their commitment to the Commonwealth Transportation Board with a financial contribution.

In neighboring Chesapeake, Congressman Forbes has successfully secured over $30 million in federal funding for replacement of the Deep Creek Bridge, the Gilmerton Bridge, the Dominion Boulevard/Steel Bridge, and the recently dedicated Great Bridge Bridge.

Some of these bridges are owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and mandated a federal contribution.

But any amount city leaders can dedicate from local coffers, federal funds, private partnerships, and even tolls could go a long way in convincing the Commonwealth Transportation Board to move the Kings Highway Bridge up on its priority list.

In fact, Chesapeake’s success owes in large part to a retained lobbyist who advocates for its many transportation projects and fights for scarce public dollars in Richmond and Washington.

Whatever the tactics and whatever the funding source, a replacement bridge within six years must be our goal.

Admittedly, the option of a realigned bridge is not ideal for residents now burdened by the current closing.

But, an open-ended detour is no solution to the problem, and certainly no bridge to the future.

Philip Infantino is an attorney with Pender & Coward, P.C. in the Suffolk office.

He formerly served as staff counsel to Congressman J. Randy Forbes of the Fourth Congressional District of Virginia.

in the Fourth Congressional District.

While the primary burden for construction of a state highway bridge must fall on the Commonwealth, city and federal officials can demonstrate their commitment to the Commonwealth Transportation Board with a financial contribution.

In neighboring Chesapeake, Congressman Forbes has successfully secured over $30 million in federal funding for replacement of the Deep Creek Bridge, the Gilmerton Bridge, the Dominion Boulevard/Steel Bridge, and the recently dedicated Great Bridge Bridge.

Some of these bridges are owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and mandated a federal contribution.

But any amount city leaders can dedicate from local coffers, federal funds, private partnerships, and even tolls could go a long way in convincing the Commonwealth Transportation Board to move the Kings Highway Bridge up on its priority list.

In fact, Chesapeake’s success owes in large part to a retained lobbyist who advocates for its many transportation projects and fights for scarce public dollars in Richmond and Washington.

Whatever the tactics and whatever the funding source, a replacement bridge within six years must be our goal.

Admittedly, the option of a realigned bridge is not ideal for residents now burdened by the current closing.

But, an open-ended detour is no solution to the problem, and certainly no bridge to the future.

Philip Infantino is an attorney with Pender & Coward, P.C. in the Suffolk office.

He formerly served as staff counsel to Congressman J. Randy Forbes of the Fourth Congressional District of Virginia.